Motivational Design

Lenses and Patterns for Motivational Game Design

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Juicy Feedback

Providing excessive positive, multimodal, immediate, varied feedback on relatively small user actions can instil a sense of competence, self-efficacy, curiosity and surprise.

In the 2007 casual puzzle game Peggle, players have to shoot all orange pegs off the screen using a cannon with metallic balls. Clearing all balls in a level triggers the words “Extreme Fever” flashing on the screen, a firework crackling out of the place where the winning metallic ball fell into, a rainbow appearing, bonus points counting up, and the tune “Freude schöner Götterfunken” playing.

Use to ...

  • afford an experience of competence even when there is no big challenge to overcome – for instance in casual or social network games;
  • produce a caricature exaggerating expected ways of system behaviour to instil surprise;
  • stoke curiosity by adding unexpected variation to feedback, inviting exploration of the possibility space of variations by the user.

Can be instantiated by

No known instantiations.



A stock trope of first-person shooters like DOOM (1993) are barrels that explode when shot, damaging (and sometimes sending into flight) surrounding actors and objects. Relative to the typical feedback a shot produces in a first-person shooter, an exploding barrel is unusually spectacular and produces less predictable results.

World of Goo

In the physics puzzle game World of Goo (2008), players are tasked to construct edifices of little living goo balls to help them reach certain points in a level. Picking up, moving, placing, releasing a goo ball all come with little forms of rich and not completely predictable multisensory feedback: the goo ball “squeaking”, a snatching sound from a goo ball becoming detached from others, a splashing sound when the goo ball is released and attaches to others, visuals from squirting droplets of goo as goo balls get detached, transported, reattached, the goo ball rolling its eyes, and so on. Overall, this gives the core interaction of World of Goo – moving goo balls – a very “tactile”, satisfying feel.


The “juiciness” of feedback has been described as what makes an interface feel tangible, responsive, inviting, and fresh [2]. Since most game interfaces still reduce the multisensory experience of interacting with the real world into keyboard, pointer, and touch input and audiovisual output, they can quickly lack in the experience of affecting “tangible” change in the world. By exaggerating feedback relative to users' expectations of game interfaces, juicy feedback attempts to reinstate the satisfaction of effectance and combine it with the enjoyment of a type of sensory feedback that is unusual and therefore curiosity-satisfying – like popping bubble wrap, or discovering that you can produce a sound by rubbing your wet finger over the fringe of a thin glass.

Here is how Gray and colleagues [1] describe it:

”'Juice' was our wet little term for constant and bountiful user feedback. A juicy game element will bounce and wiggle and squirt and make a little noise when you touch it. A juicy game feels alive and responds to everything you do – tons of cascading action and response for minimal user input. It makes the player feel powerful and in control of the world, and it coaches them through the rules of the game by constantly letting them know on a per-interaction basis how they are doing.

Some juicy examples you may have experienced might include:

  • Alien Hominid – enemies exploding and flinging blood to an almost unjustified extent
  • Mario Bros. – bouncing through a room full of coins, blinging with satisfaction
  • Pachinko - a never-ending gush of balls all under your control
  • Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo – animation and sprites abound on multiple chains”

Don't interrupt the user's goal pursuit

Good feedback should not get in the user's way while she is still in the process of accomplishing a goal or task. Hence, juicy feedback – which tends to absorb a non-trivial amount of time and attention – is appropriate when the user has achieved the closure of a certain goal or arc: the more involving the feedback, the more significant the closure should be.

Ensure slightly unpredictable variety

Users get accustomed to any kind of feedback quickly, such that the surprise value and sense pleasure of juicy feedback can diminish to the point where a drawn-out celebratory sequence where the user is denied agency may become boring, trite, and frustrating. Consider how you might add variation to the feedback to keep it fresh, or to include a slow reveal of information in the feedback to keep the user interested.

Systematically think through "interesting moments"

One useful way of thinking through how you might increase the juiciness of feedback is to systematically map out and work through what interaction designer Bill Scott has called ”interesting moments”: all the minute sub-states and steps of a single interaction, e.g. mouse movement, hover, click, initiated drag, continuing drag, hovering over valid target, mouse release in a “simple” drag-and-drop interaction. World of Goo (see above) provides a nice illustration of this in practice.


This pattern is industry standard, but not yet empirically validated.



  1. Gray, K., Gabler, K., Shodhan, S., & Kucic, M. (2005). How to Prototype a Game in Under 7 Days. Gamasutra. Retrieved from
  2. Hunicke, R. (2009). Loving Your Player With Juicy Feedback. dConstruct 2009. Slides: Transcript:
  3. Juul, J. (2011). A Casual Revolution: Reinventing Video Games and Their Players. Cambridge, MA; London: MIT Press, pp. 45.


lenses/juicy_feedback.txt · Last modified: 2014/03/12 04:37 by codingconduct