Here’s an extremely good, short article about game design.
The final line:
And telling people, “Do whatever you want!” is (almost always) extremely
unhelpful. Too many choices is no choice at all.
Shouldn’t there be goals in games? Have we gotten too far away from that, that there are no new metrics to use to benchmark progress in a game? D&D had experience points, and you knew how well you were doing by your XP total, or by the level of your character. Not that these are absolute goals, but they serve to indicate how well you are doing.
On the other hand, do we need to have artificical and external rewards? Can’t the realization of in-game goals serve as the best metric for success?