Why Implement Energy?
The original concept for Genopets was that banked steps would be converted automatically into experience points (XP), which would in turn power Genopet level progression. While this mechanic was simple to design and understand from a player perspective, it also limited the range of strategic choice available to the player; in short, too simplistic to support a rich and nuanced RPG-style Move-to-Earn game.
In traditional RPGs, XP gain and level progression also tend to occur automatically. However, the gaining of another level typically presents the player with a new set of strategic choices (e.g., unlocking a number of skill points to be spent, or allowing the player to choose a new trait/feat from a selection). The pairing of automatic leveling with this kind of tiered customization framework is what makes leveling feel dynamic and active within this context.
Time, resource, and platform constraints make this approach less feasible for Genopets. Furthermore, this system limits the player’s agency (the ability to decide and act within the confines of the game) within the game, which in turn caps the amount of investment and fun a player will feel from playing.
Enter Energy - a digital representation of physical activity (steps) and its value in-game.
The Energy framework reduces the passivity of the original mechanic and introduces strategic depth, by forcing the player to decide how they want to allocate the “fruits” of their walking. Once converted to Energy, steps become a tangible, stored, in-game resource, which the player can choose to spend as they see fit. This mechanic imbues each in-game action with increased significance, due to the opportunity costs introduced by the mechanic. The storage of Energy allows players to take multiple approaches to gameplay, since their steps are no longer automatically spent for them. From a game economics standpoint, this framework creates multiple compelling "sinks" for players' steps, giving those same players optionality and agency, which we believe will lead to a more enjoyable game and sustainable economy.
The Banking action also takes on added importance: banking is no longer just about claiming XP for leveling; instead it’s about securing one’s daily supply of a fundamental resource.
By converting Energy into XP, players still utilize steps for level growth. However, under the Energy framework, leveling becomes one possible option among several others, including pet maintenance (Nurture), questing, earning Ki, and battle - all of which will require some amount of Energy. While the increased complexity may feel challenging for some players, committing to a system that increases strategic depth and allows for a variety of different approaches to the game should lead to a richer game experience overall.