Goals in music games

Goals differentiate games from other types of play and are usually established by the rules. In game design, you don't consider only one type of goal. They might be:

  • long-term or short-term,
  • explicit or implied,
  • optional or obligatory,
  • strictly or broadly defined,
  • achievable or not.

Victory condition — A rule that decides who wins the game.

Co-optionality — A feature of a game — co-optional game may be played both cooperatively and competitively during a single playthrough.

There might be usage for all the types of goals in many combinations. For example, the long-term goal, connected to win condition is better to be strictly defined. On the other hand, Co-optionality is easiest to implement with imprecise goals.

Implied goals and the first rule of music games

There are some goals that don't result from rules but directly from the situation of playing. We'll mention just two of these that might be the most worth considering when designing our type of game. The first implied goal we may even frame as the first rule of music games:
The main aim of playing a music game is to play good music.

Notice the vagueness of the term "good music" — music games may allow participants to share exactly the same notion of what is "good music" but don't have to. You can even use the expected differences of approaches between players to your advantage as a designer. Nevertheless, from the player's or facilitator's perspective, it's usually good to know and respect others' idea about quality of music.

The second implied goal, following the rules, may not be considered as a goal, for different reasons:

  • in sports — when rules are not followed, most often the game stops, foul play is announced and some penalty is applied (as described in the rules), so sometimes, the aim of players is to strategically break the rules;
  • in computer games — rules are implemented automatically, so they don't need to be explicitly followed;
  • in board games — the game state from before the obstruction of rules might often be recreated, and then the game is continued.

In music games, the music/game goes forward even if someone breaks the rules, so you just try to make as few mistakes as possible. Following the rules during a music game is often challenging enough to serve as an enjoyable goal. A win condition of the game may just be to be the last player that breaks "the rules".

Connecting foul play with a drop-out mechanic (player elimination) is not advisable as it causes large downtime.

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