The Powers That May Creep

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Many a game developer has run into the terrifying dilemma of “Power Creep” in their video game production. Power Creeping is a process that takes place over the life of a game which can, eventually, destroy all interest for it. And what is this horrible, scary process, you ask? Power Creeping can happen either in the plot of a game, or its mechanics. Story writers who fall victim to power creeping take the quests or storylines on grander and grander scales, such as at first having the player save a person, then a town, then a country, and eventually the entire world, or it could creep even farther out of control. Such writers often just ran out of fresher, more creative ideas, and so decided upping the ante was the way to take the game’s plot.

Similarly, game mechanics can also spiral out of control in this fashion. Eventually, every video game has to reach an “endgame,” where players have gotten as strong as they’re going to be. Which means that they’ll soon want more content or items: things with more variety and power. And stronger players require stronger enemies and more difficult maps to present a playable challenge. Then, once that endgame has been cleared, the players will be clamoring for another.

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The cycle of endgames continues and creeps until, eventually, the game has reached a point where the stats are no longer easily comprehensible or the challenges to ludicrous for even the most talented players; conversely it can also mean that enemy difficulty is no longer a challenge to players who’ve acquired immensely powerful god-tier equipment or abilities. Personally I’ve witnessed a game go so far out of control as to have bosses with health points in the quadrillions, and an in game economy inflated to a point of players having a maximum of 1 trillion currency points (The game I’m mentioning is Maple Story, shown in the image above with shop items in prices up to 4 billion)

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