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We currently have a simple slot machine in our online virtual world game.

You set the amount you want to bet (in virtual money) and pull the lever, and depending on the 3 figures (there's only one line) you get a reward, a free round, lose some more money, or most of the time, get nothing at all. You can instantly pull the lever again. The previous bet will be maintained.

At the moment this slot machine isn't really fun to play. The chances of winning something are pretty low (though when you win, you can win a lot). When you pull the lever, the result is determined (though not shown) immediately, so there's also no way influence the outcome of the wheels.

How can it be made more fun?

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Accept some previous answers. –  The Communist Duck Jun 14 '11 at 9:22

5 Answers 5

up vote 5 down vote accepted

I think it's important to draw a distinction between "fun" and "addiction". Slot machines are not fun, and never have been; they are skinner boxes which apply feedback according to a simple reward schedule when the user pulls a lever, in an attempt to condition the user into repeated behaviour. As such, they can be fabulously addictive. Adjusting prizes and reward schedules will never make a slot machine fun; they will only make it more (or less) addictive.

If your goal is really to make the game fun (and not just make it more addictive), then you're going to need to add some play dynamics, so that the player can make meaningful choices which affect the outcome (as happened with video poker), or can affect the outcome via application of physical skill (as happened with pinball).

Or in other words, in order to make a slot machine actually be fun, you need to make it no longer be just a slot machine; it needs to be something that will stimulate the mind.

On the other hand, if addiction is actually what you were aiming for, then the answers from AttackingHobo and Tetrad are pretty much spot on.

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+1. Same applies for Facebook games. :) –  Jonathan Connell Jun 14 '11 at 9:38
    
Can't really comment on Facebook games, personally. I understand that a lot of them are built around models of addiction, but I don't see any technical reason why they would have to be. Slot machines, on the other hand, have pretty standard rules, and really are a pretty good case study in how to encourage compulsive behaviour. My answer isn't necessarily trying to say "designing for addiction is evil", just pointing out that "addiction" and "fun" are two unrelated things, and that fiddling with reward schedules isn't actually going to increase how "fun" @Bart's game is. –  Trevor Powell Jun 14 '11 at 11:05
    
I was just commenting on how a lot of online games, especially facebook games, work on the same addiction model to get you to spend money, I read a great article about this somewhere, if only I could find it... –  Jonathan Connell Jun 15 '11 at 9:29
    
cracked.com/… –  Jonathan Connell Jun 15 '11 at 9:30
    
Add rewards other than cash, like items, make leveling up give the player more stuff to do. Add winnable mini-games with player interaction. –  DogDog Oct 15 '12 at 16:40

There are a lot of articles out there that a simple search will yield answers to, but here are some highlights from what I've found:

1) You absolutely want to give out small rewards. Most slot machines actually have a pretty high payout ratio (on the order of 70-95%) of what's put in. A good percentage of the time you'll make your money back. Of course, over time slot machines are guaranteed money makers for the house, but you want to string people along.

2) The idea of risk vs. reward is important. Almost all slot machines let you place higher than the advertised minimum, and scale up the rewards accordingly. So a $1 slot machine is really a $3-5 slot machine since players will naturally want to put more money in after they see that their winnings could've been higher.

3) The "almost" win is an important psychological factor. Consider showing the images above and below the one you are scored on so you get the occasional "so close" thought.

4) It needs to be flashy. Spins need to be quick so that they can play again quickly. Sounds are important.

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First off, do some research on the psychology of gambling.

You can't expect something that most of the time constantly eats your money without any reward to become addictive.

Don't give out free rounds, give out money equivalent to free rounds. Have a constant streams of wins and losses

Adjust the payout so that after 1000 spins, the bank is ahead, but not by much.

Also it seems you have a enter bet, and then press to spin. You should have a few quick bet buttons, with a preset amount, that pays and instantly bets and spins. As well as a way to enter a custom amount, if you really need to have one.

When the player wins, make sure to have flashing lights and bells going off sounds of coins falling, etc. If can set up an area in the world with lots of slot machines with different prices and rules, it will make it more likely that a user will move around to try change his luck or to have some variation. If you can sync these areas up to allow other users to see/hear winners it will also increase everyone's excitement.

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It's probably worth adding some elements of skill to the gameplay. Even something as simple as nudge and hold buttons would add some depth.

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My own ideas:

  • Instead of a few big rewards, give more smaller rewards, so the player wins more often.

  • Instead of just handing out more money, also reward the play with special items he can't get anywhere else in the game.

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