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I'm designing a part in my game where the player must notice that his character feels bored about a certain mundane task he is doing, without being boring for the player.

By observing the game mechanic, the player should understand that his character is bored or fatigued. To keep the player interested in playing though, the mechanic has to gamify that mundane process into something interesting or challenging.

How could this be done?

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I've seen games that have a "fun" meter. (Didn't the Sims have something like that?). You can always have the character start to show boredom through animations or by getting distracted and making mistakes. – Byte56 Apr 1 '13 at 19:32
    
Sleeping Dogs had a mechanic where your Face meter (Increased damage state) filled faster if you varied your combat moves. Perhaps a similar method would perhaps be in an RPG where the player is only killing mob X and after a while there would be a penalty to xp gain from "bordom" by the character so changing mobs being killed or just sightseeing would reset the penalty. – Dialock Apr 1 '13 at 19:35
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Putting a face or "fun" meter is surely a direct way to tell the character's feeling. I was hoping for a less explicit way. So that the player gets that feeling by going through the game mechanic, rather than through visualising an emoticon. – xenon Apr 1 '13 at 22:09
    
There are the mini jobs in the Fable games - for example chopping wood. You basically just have to push one button at the right time for each block of wood, but for each consecutive one you get a combo bonus and it gets harder to hit the right point. It's tedious, but at the same time requires just enough skill to keep the player awake. – Christian Apr 1 '13 at 22:18
    
You could make it so the character is bored and thus gets distracted, while the player's job is to keep him focused... depending on the game, you could maybe visualise distactions as abstract icons, that the player has to tap to dismiss. Or, maybe, have the character actually wander away unless the player explicitly stops him. Something along these lines. It would probably destroy any immersion, though. – Nevermind Apr 2 '13 at 13:53

Just a whistle and blow bubble animation would do well.

Because people don't wear wrist watches anymore, you could have the player take out a phone device and start flipping through that.

The classic Sonic waiting animations are good too.

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Though this isn't a game mechanic, it's just a visual animation.

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This is called an Idle Animation. Tons of platform games had it in the 90s, and they were fantastic. ((The Sonic CD one would even have Sonic, after a few minutes of being bored, jump off the level, and would cost the player a life...I would not recommend doing this)) – Zibbobz Apr 15 at 15:10
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Commander Keen sitting down to read a book or play on his watch was pretty good too. :) – DMGregory Apr 15 at 15:41

If you're wanting the design to be central to the game, or at least to the section of the game in which the boredom occurs, you could desaturate the screen.

Since you're wanting to express boredom in a visual/mechanical medium, yet wanting to avoid mechanical boredom, the logical conclusion is to implement visual boredom. Remove a large amount of color saturation while the character is bored, so the mechanics can remain fun while still showing the negative effect on the character. Conversely, when the character starts having more fun, the saturation can be brought back, maybe even enhanced beyond the normal for the game to express the relief/distraction.

Audio could be similarly used, but would be much more subtle and likely to be missed entirely unless the sound of the game is fundamental to the emotional feel throughout the game.

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They can get distracted and disobey and you'll have to make them work by making them concentrate(mashing a button?). Not sure if this is fun, though.

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There was an old video game about vikings. If they were not being instructed to perform tasks, they would pick their nose, scratch their asses, and fight with each other. Hysterical. Remembered to this day.

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I suppose a lot depends on how you want that boredom to affect the player character. Are they just zoning out at a basic work task, like folding laundry or assembling packets? Maybe the gameplay becomes simpler and simpler, starting with multiple inputs to do the first few iterations, then maybe just one click or press per iteration, to maybe even just hold button to continuously complete the task. This makes the gameplay becoming less interesting a metaphor for the lowered interest of the character.

If you want to emphasize how the boredom makes their will to continue working on the task suffer, then perhaps have the character start to look away, sigh audibly, or change the ui text that refers to the text to editorialize its plainness. For example going from "wash plate" to "clean the stupid plate" or "waste more of my life". Or each time the character looks away you have to manually "refocus" the character to get them to continue the task.

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I have never tried this before. But maybe you could have your characters head and the camera turn off to the side every now and then. Like when you are handing in a quest or something have the sound go fuzzy and the camera turn off requiring the player to shake the camera a bit to get the character back on task.

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  • Have the character react with a slight (random but increasing, within limits, short but noticeable) delay.
  • Have the character occasionally turn it's back to the object he should process.
  • Have jump on one leg instead of walking.
  • Occasionally measure wind direction with wet finger?
  • After T of inactivity, let feet innaturally, slowly sink 10 cm into the ground. Corrects upon any action. Or... oh well, maybe make it a constant state?
  • During inactivity, let the character slowly elevate innaturally (balance erratically against physics laws). Or sway.
  • Re-sale characters head a little. Goes towards flat. Any user action suddenly corrects.

I guess i'm proposing to do unexpected, slightly erratic, innatural, comical if possible, small adjustments that are minor enough to just about give a hunch, fetch the users curiosity for "what next"?. Like the big artsts say: Give a small seed and let the audience imagine the rest themselves. Or, well - extensive exaggeration might produce some laughs too :-).

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