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Game Design 2 - Theory of Fun

Game Design 2 - Theory of Fun



Game Design Course: Excerpts from Course Book - Theory of Fun by Raph Koster

Game Design Course: Excerpts from Course Book - Theory of Fun by Raph Koster



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    Game Design 2 - Theory of Fun Game Design 2 - Theory of Fun Presentation Transcript

    • Jay Crossler Senior Software Engineer Serious Games & Game Design Lecture 2 : Course Book Review - Theory of Fun, Player Archetypes
    • The Theory of Fun Why is work usually not fun?* *at least, for most people
    • Consider tic-tac-toe
      • Kids will play it continuously… and always lose
        • Victory seems just barely outside their grasp
      • And then… one day, all games become draws
        • At this point, they don’t enjoy playing it anymore
      • Did mastery and understanding come so suddenly?
        • Do they understand it’s a limited game with an optimal strategy?
        • Or, do they just see a pattern, and not really understand it?
        • To us, does it matter if it’s a O(n) problem, O(n 2 ), or O(n!)? Then, do we really understand it?
    • The Problem
      • Games are very multidimensional
      • Game Development has mostly been an art, not a science
      • Not many teachers understand them
        • Even fewer agree that it’s a valid area of study
      • No one really understands what makes something fun
      • And, in the US, video game fun is a $10B/year industry
        • Even more important, games teach values and problem solving skills, both to children and adults
    • Why are games not fun?
      • People quit when it’s too hard to win
    • Why are games not fun?
      • People quit when it’s too easy to win
    • How do we think?
      • Humans take in vast amounts of information and chunk it into smaller pieces
        • Humans can see up to 72 frames per second (60 is adequate)
        • Humans can distinguish millions of colors (women 30% more)
        • Can recognize image (afterblurs) even at 1/220 th of a second
        • 100M neurons in the retina
        • The eye processes 10 Million point images/sec
        • Brain holds about 100M Megabytes
        • Yet, we are always taking mental shortcuts
          • Brain only notices √ of what we see (estimated at 2000bits/frame)
    • MIPS/Megabytes program growth
    • “ The best programmer is a lazy programmer”
      • To fight this huge onslaught of data, we chunk and create “icons”
      • Interface standard – Only give 3-7 options
      • Most people can only make judgments about 4 things at once
    • Chunking isn’t always good
    • Discovering patterns is fun
      • People dislike chaos, they prefer ordered, chunk able patterns
        • But there is a thrill of delight when you get it , and discover the pattern
    • Grokking
      • “ Grok” – from R. A. Heinlien’s Stranger in a Strange Land
        • When you understand something so deeply that you become one with it… even love it.
        • Grokking something is understanding it beyond intuition
        • Very similar to muscle memory
      • Brain has three levels of thought
        • 1 – Conscious thought – logical, mathematical, list-based
        • 2 – Intuitive, associative, integrative – chunking, no words
        • 3 – Autonomic nervous system – whole sets of decisions
    • Practice is building a library of chunked skills and decisions
    • What is fun?
    • What are games?
      • Games are real
        • They’re just abstracted pictures of reality
        • A “Magic Circle” of disconnection… a formal system
        • Their pattern may or may not exist in reality
      • Games are puzzles to solve
        • We learn underlying patterns, grok them fully, then file them
        • Very similar to learning the piano, or learning to drive, or fight
        • Only real difference is that stakes are usually much lower
      • Games are concentrated chunks of reality
        • Abstracted and iconic, already prepared for our brains to use
        • They are formal systems, and don’t have messy details
      • Games are very powerful learning tools
    • Play vs. Game vs. Sport
      • Iconified representations of human experience that we can practice with and learn patterns from
      • What’s the difference between a game and a book?
        • Books offer patterns to the highest level of your brain
        • Games offer patterns to one level lower
        • In a book, you can read “weather is important to armies”
        • In a game, you can get your army beaten and really feel it
        • You can not practice a pattern or run permutations with a book
    • Is fun just learning?
      • Play, Games, Sports
        • All about recognizing goals and patterns, just usually have different risks and rewards
      • Why, then, do some people not think learning is fun?
    • How can a game be fun?
      • Games are exercise for our brains
        • As we learn the patterns, more novelty is needed
        • Practice can keep a game fresh, but soon we’ll grok it
        • Games are thus disposable, and boredom is inevitable
      • Formal games are very susceptible to this
        • They usually don’t have enough variables to be interesting
        • The pattern is too easily figured out
        • The more formally constructed a game is, the more limiting it will be
        • Adding physics, psychology, multiplayer all add variables
    • Is this fun?
    • The theory of fun
      • Fun is about our brain feeling good
        • Brains release endorphins into our system
        • Our brains are on drugs all the time
      • There’s a chemical release when we master a task
        • Our “moment of triumph” is rewarded by the brain
        • Notice someone always smiles when they “get it”
        • Needed for survival of the species
      • It is the act of solving puzzles that makes a game fun
    • What is the opposite?
    • What is boredom, then?
      • When a game stops teaching us, we feel bored
        • Boredom is the brain looking for new information
        • It happens when there are no new patterns to absorb
        • When a book is dull, it’s failing to show a captivating pattern
      • Don’t underestimate the brains desire to learn
        • The brain craves stimuli
        • Not necessarily new experiences , just new data to make patterns
          • Experiences force new chunking, and the brain doesn’t like to do more work that it has to (That’s why it chunks in the first place!)
    • The Theory of Fun in Games
      • Games must navigate between boredom and overload
      • Watch out for:
        • Tic-tac-toe – “Too easy”
        • Baseball RBI scores for 20 years – “Fun but not worth my time”
        • Don’t see any patterns – “Too hard”
        • Patterns shown too slowly – “It’s too repetitive”
        • Patterns shown too quickly – “It got too hard too fast”
        • Players mastered the pattern – “I beat it”
      • Fun is just another word for learning
        • A successful game is one that teaches everything it has to offer before the player gets bored and stops playing
        • Is this the same for XML classes, then?
    • For more… buy the course book “ Theory of Fun ”, by Raph Koster
    • Are grokers experts?
      • 1. Experts notice features and meaningful patterns of information that are not noticed by novices.
      • 2. Experts have acquired a great deal of content knowledge that is organized in ways that reflect a deep understanding of their subject matter.
      • 3. Experts' knowledge cannot be reduced to sets of isolated facts or propositions but, instead, reflects contexts of applicability: that is, the knowledge is "conditionalized" on a set of circumstances.
      • 4. Experts are able to flexibly retrieve important aspects of their knowledge with little attentional effort.
      • 5. Though experts know their disciplines thoroughly, this does not guarantee that they are able to teach others.
      • 6. Experts have varying levels of flexibility in their approach to new situations.
    • Player Archetypes Why do people play games so differently? also An introduction to Massively Multiplayer Games
    • How people choose games
    • Bartle Personality Types
      • ♦ Achiever
        • Players give themselves game-related goals, then vigorously set out to achieve them. Build cities, accumulate treasure.
      • ♥ Socializer
        • Use communication facilities for role-playing or to converse and interact with others.
      • ♠ Explorer
        • Try to find out as much as possible about the game. Search areas and mechanics, fight every monster, do every quest.
      • ♣ Imposer (Killer)
        • Provide game tools to cause distress on others. Usually involves applying a powerful sword to another players head.
    • Bartle Personality Types
      • ♦ Achievers Say:
        • "I'm busy." "Sure, I'll help you. What do I get?" "So how do YOU kill the dragon, then?" "Only 4211 points to go!"
      • ♥ Socializers Say:
        • "Hi!" "Yeah, well, I'm having trouble with my boyfriend." "What happened? I missed it, I was talking."
      • ♠ Explorers Say:
        • &quot;Hmm...&quot; &quot;You mean you don't know the shortest route from <obscure room 1> to <2>?&quot; &quot;I haven't tried that, what's it do?&quot;
      • ♣ Killers Say:
        • &quot;Ha!&quot; &quot;Coward!&quot; &quot;Die!&quot; &quot;Die! Die! Die!&quot; &quot;N00b!&quot;
    • Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOs)
      • Are MMOs:
        • Games? Like chess, tennis, D&D? Yes - to achievers.
        • Pastimes? Like reading, gardening, cooking? Yes - to explorers.
        • Sports? Like huntin', shooting, fishin'? Yes - to killers.
        • Entertainments? Like nightclubs, TV, concerts? Yes - to socialisers.
    • People play what is familiar
    • MMO Demographics Source: The Daedelus project
      • In MMOs:
        • Average age is 26
        • 50% work full time
        • 25% are teenagers
        • 36% are married
        • 22% have children
        • 60% have played more than 10 hours continuously
        • 20% play with a romantic partner
        • 28% play with a family member
        • MMO players spend an average of 22 hours/week playing
        • Americans spend an average of 24 hours/week watching TV
    • Time spent “in game”
      • Given a hypothetical pool of 1000 players:
      • 840 would be male
      • 160 would be female
      • Of the 840 male players:
      • 193 would be playing a female
      • 647 would be playing a male
      • Of the 160 female players:
      • 5 would be playing a male
      • 155 would be playing a female
      • In other words:
      • About 1 out of every 2 female characters is played by a man
      • About 1 out of every 100 male characters is played by a woman
    • Occupational Status
    • Profession Types, Life Lessons
    • Activity Matrix
      • People’s interests can be broken down into 12 main categories
    • Activity Matrix
      • These types-of interests correspond highly to categories of game-player
    • What do players want?
      • Players want a Challenge
      • Players want to Socialize
      • Players want a dynamic Solitaire experience
      • Players want bragging rights
      • Players want an emotional experience
      • Players want to fantasize
    • What do players expect?
      • Players expect:
        • A consistent world (one that they can chunk and grok)
        • A world with understandable bounds
        • Reasonable solutions should work
        • Direction towards success… goals
        • Accomplishment of tasks incrementally… subgoals
        • Immersion
        • … to fail
        • … a fair chance
        • … not to need to repeat themselves
        • … never to be hopelessly stuck
        • … to do, not to watch
    • How do you satisfy people?
      • Use Interface conventions
      • Let them rely on their existing knowledge
        • A familiar topic helps people get right into the game
      • Give a lot of positive feedback early in the game
        • Give them the idea they’re on the right track
        • Everything they do, the computer acknowledges it, recognizes it, and thinks it’s really cool
      • Prototype!
      • In 2 years of development, 1.25 of it is for playing/testing
        • Balance so that it’s not boring/too hard is crucial
    • “ Subgames” can meet the needs of different personalities
      • In Sid Meyer’s Pirates , you have subgames for:
        • Sword-fights
        • Navigating your ship
        • Raiding a town
      • In Sid Meier’s Civilization , subgames are integrated :
        • Military system
        • Economic Stock Market system
        • Production systems ..all of these are intertwined
        • “ Do I invent a new chariot, or give the people that stadium?”
      • Scale: Starting small with one settler, building an empire
        • Started with Will Wright’s Sim City
        • Notice that in some games, there are no goals – you infer what they should be from real life
    • Classic arcade game traits
      • Single Screen Play .. Easy for old graphics cards
      • Infinite Play .. Keep putting in quarters
      • Multiple Lives .. Make you think you have a chance
      • Scoring/High scores .. Players want bragging rights
      • Easy-to-learn gameplay
      • No Story
    • Classic arcade games
      • Input
        • How responsive do you want to be to the users inputs?
      • Interconnectedness
        • Keep everything in theme with related metaphors
      • Escalating Tension
        • Building speed, with temporary periods of relief
      • Player Focus
        • Keep their attention concentrated on one spot
        • Minimize the superfluous distractions
    • The point?
      • Game designers now either build a game completely targeted to one or two personality type
        • Mortal Kombat (Killer)
        • Doom (Explorer, Killer)
        • The Sims (Socializer, Achiever)
      • Or, they build games aimed at balancing across each
        • Star Wars Galaxies
          • Professions for: Dancer, Chef, Image Designer, Architect, Droid Engineer, Pistoleer, Bounty Hunter, Commando, etc.
        • World of Warcraft
          • Each class has parts which satisfy desires of each personality archetype