John Evans' Blog

Game design: Note to self

by on Apr.13, 2006, under Uncategorized

A lot of times I’ve created mechanics and put them into games without explaining them. Kind of a thing, “Let’s see how long it takes the players to find this and figure it out”.

Note to self: This is NOT a good idea.

Well, like many things it’s all right in moderation; a reward for players dedicated enough to put time into really searching the game and trying things out. But major features that you want everyone to use…well, everyone should know about them and how they work. This also ties into the idea of giving more feedback. Don’t just assume players will figure out “Well, if I have this item, then this spell has a larger effect, so the item must give some bonus”…print out the bonuses so players are aware of an arena where they can apply their minds and figure out strategies.

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1 comment for this entry:
  1. morbid_curious

    Agreed – that kind of thing vexes me sometimes, too. Even when it’s not something that’s critical to gameplay, it strikes me as the kind of “feature” that’s meant to sell strategy guides – either that, or just poor QA when it comes to documentation/playtesting.

    I think it’s probably a good idea to do finaly testing on a few “fresh” players who haven’t seen the game being played or developed before – long-term playtesters get to know the features pretty well through repetition, and may continue to play in a certain way because they’ve seen those features go in, rather than because they’re easy to pick up.

    Basic controls and basic strategies should of course be pretty much immediately intuitive. More powerful strategies may take more skill to control/manage, but in the end I feel they should still be relatively easily discoverable through natural gameplay/documentation, rather than relying on chance or excessive, obsessive min/max powergaming. That’s what easter eggs are for.

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