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Game Design 2 - Theory of Fun
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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