Game Design 2 - Theory of Fun


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

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Game Design 2 - Theory of Fun

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