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The
Mechanics
of Magic
7 lessons
from game
design
@cwodtke www.eleganthack.com
I do not have New Year’s Resolutions
I have New Year’s projects. One year it was games

These are the wise people I learned from
Some I interviewed, some I read their books, some I watched their videos, some reviewed this talk…
What is the first game you can remember?
Every project needs a goal that everyone agrees is worth doing.

FIND YOUR NORTH STAR
FUN
Go here to watch full talk: http://youtu.be/VWu4Nu0F4eg

Brenda Romero nee Braithwaite at TEDx Phoenix
Conversion is a crap north star

DESIGN FOR AN EMOTION
Surprise & delight
AFFECTIONATE
compassionate
friendly
loving
open hearted
sympathetic
tender
warm
ENGAGED
absorbed
alert
curious
engrossed
enchanted
entranced
fascinated
interested
intrigued
involved
spellbound
stimulated

CONFIDENT
empowered
open
proud
safe
secure
EXCITED
amazed
animated
ardent
aroused
astonished
dazzled
eager
energetic
enthusiastic
giddy
invigorated
lively
passionate
surprised
vibrant
HOPEFUL
expectant
encouraged
optimistic

(c) 2005 by Center for Nonviolent Communication Website: www.cnvc.org    

GRATEFUL
appreciative
moved
thankful
touched
INSPIRED
amazed
awed
wonder
JOYFUL
amused
delighted
glad
happy
jubilant
pleased
tickled
EXHILARATED
blissful
ecstatic
elated
enthralled
exuberant
radiant
rapturous
thrilled
PEACEFUL
calm
clear headed

comfortable
centered
content
equanimous
fulfilled
mellow
quiet
relaxed
relieved
satisfied
serene
still
tranquil
trusting
REFRESHED
enlivened
rejuvenated
renewed
rested
restored
revived
AFFECTIONATE
compassionate
friendly
loving
open hearted
sympathetic
tender
warm
PEACE
beauty communion ease harmony order
There is no shortage
of “organization
porn” on the web.
We have a deep
seated dream of a
place of tidy
harmony.

There is big
business in selling
peace and order
Frustration
AFRAID
apprehensive
dread
foreboding
frightened
mistrustful
panicked
petrified
scared
suspicious
terrified
wary
worried
ANNOYED
aggravated
dismayed
disgruntled
displeased
exasperated
frustrated
impatient
irritated
irked
CONFUSED
ambivalent
baffled
bewildered
dazed
hesitant

lost
mystified
perplexed
puzzled
torn

DISQUIET
agitated
alarmed
discombobulated
disconcerted
disturbed
DISCONNECTED perturbed
alienated
rattled
aloof
restless
apathetic
shocked
bored
startled
cold
surprised
detached
troubled
distant
turbulent
distracted
turmoil
indifferent
uncomfortable
numb
uneasy
removed
unnerved
uninterested
unsettled
withdrawn
upset
EMBARRASSED
ashamed
chagrined
flustered
guilty
mortified
self-conscious

YEARNING
envious
jealous
longing
nostalgic
pining
wistful

PAIN
agony
anguished
bereaved
devastated
grief
heartbroken
hurt
lonely
miserable
regretful
remorseful
SAD
depressed
dejected
despair
despondent
disappointed
discouraged
disheartened
forlorn
gloomy
heavy hearted
hopeless
melancholy
unhappy
wretched

TENSE
anxious
cranky
distressed
distraught
edgy
fidgety
frazzled
irritable
jittery
nervous
overwhelmed
restless
stressed out
VULNERABLE
fragile
guarded
helpless
insecure
leery
reserved
sensitive
shaky

(c) 2005 by Center for Nonviolent Communication Website: www.cnvc.org     

AVERSION
animosity
appalled
contempt
disgusted
dislike
hate
horrified
hostile
repulsed
FATIGUE
beat
burnt out
depleted
exhausted
lethargic
listless
tired
weary
worn out
ANGRY
enraged
furious
incensed
indignant
irate
livid
outraged
resentful
Should we avoid negative
emotions? Can negative
emotions be fun?
• More pleasure
and excitement
in
active failure
than in success
• However:
passive
experience of
failure makes
players
disengage.
• Attaining a
goal
DECREASES
player arousal
and interest.
Ravaja, Niklas, et al. The
Psychophysiology of Video Gaming:
Phasic Emotional Responses
to Game Events. Digital Games
Research Association International
Conference 2005. Read it:
Obviously Mr.
Right

Could Coffee meets bagel play up the anguish of missing
a match in a fun way that engages you more deeply?
“People find role playing
cheesy, makes them self
conscious.
The game forces you into
uncomfortable situations.
You take a situation and a
pattern and match them
up.. It might be a pattern
you avoid because you
aren’t good at it. And it
creates much more
teachable scenarios.”
Dan Brown’s Communicating Design Game
Until my
players feel
_____, I will
not ship
PICK YOUR NORTHSTAR
TYPES VS
PERSONAS
Grace
(62/ female/ widowed/ Little Rock, AR.)
“I like playing my favorite games online, but if I can play with
friends, well that’s even better!”
  
Personal Background: Her husband has passed on. She has
two grown kids, both of whom live far away. She misses the kids,
but has a fairly large circle of friends that she spends time with.
 
Technical Proficiency : Limited. Can use her browser and her
email. MS Word confuses her, and she doesn’t like using it. Doesn’t
know what an OS is. Tends to click yes if the browser prompts her
to do anything, and will click wildly until things work.
History with games: Plays crossword puzzles daily and saves them.
Plays card games, PhotoJam, but is offended by South Park
cartoons

2001

Game’s opportunity: If Grace can be convinced to participate in
community activities, she will become a loyal user of the site. She
needs to be sheltered from the sick and twisted content, however.
 
 
Richard Bartle http://www.mud.co.uk/richard/hcds.htm

Drawing: Frank Caron http://frankcaron.com
4 Key Engagement Styles in Social Gaming
Express

Explore

Compete

Collaborate

Amy Jo Kim amyjokim.com @amyjokim
What if Amazon was a Game?

Satisficers

Socializers

Optimizers

Self-discovery
WHO ARE THE
PLAYER TYPES?
LOOP
DE
LOOP
This is a core loop for a very simple game. Start with fish eggs, that you grow
into fish that you sell to buy more valuable fish eggs
Will Wright on Game Design: full talk: http://youtu.be/CdgQyq3hEPo
Build defense
and offence
Attack

Defend
SHOP

REVIEW

BUY
SHARE

REACT

CONSUME
I get
knocked
down
You ain't
ever gonna
keep me
down.

But I get up
again

WHAT IS YOUR CORE LOOP?
MECHANICS
Some of the more sleezy gamification gurus use this term as mind-control tricks. But really they are just what
makes games tick.
Rules are
Mechanics
Just in case you need it
http://www.thinkgeek.com/tshirts-apparel/unisex/generic/b597/
SOMETIMES MECHANICS
ARE CONSTRAINTS
Pinch

The pinch is the place where you run out of something. I.e. You run out of lives in the arcade,
and you reach in your pocked for a quarter. Or twelve.
But it’s ok because I feel something?

SOMETIMES MECHANICS
ARE MANIPULATIONS
6 key principles of persuasion
by Robert Cialdini
Reciprocity
Social Proof
Commitment and Consistency
Authority
Liking
Scarcity
Reward me

ACHIEVEMENTS
Celebrate microwins!
Actions taken successfully
create mini-rewards in the
form of doobers (stars and
slot-machine sounds).
Celebrating
CELBRATING
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
!!!!
Leaderboards
There is a certain satisfaction in kicking a
friends bum. However, if you have a place
where not much social is
happening, be sure to motivate me by
making me beat my own high score. Not
feel lonely.
Leaderboards are used extensively to
motivate behavior
But it can lead to abuse
Amazon handles it by retiring players.
Digg got rid of their leaderboards
ART
FROM
THE
START
We treat designer like
flip this house: give
them wireframes and
tell them to make it
pretty

ITE
E B$
W
Concept design by Min Zhou
http://minzhouportfolio.blogspot.com/

Grace and Glory enemy concept
designs by Yusuke Hashimoto. From
the upcoming video game Bayonetta.
Learn how
to teach
In Bubble
Witch Saga,
they give you
only a couple
instructions in
the first level
And in the next
level they teach
you a few more
game elemnts,
slowly
revealing the
play.
In Tiny
Wings, the
first level
has your
finger light
up when
you should
touch the
screen
To play Dance Central, you have to learn the moves
They make the learning into a game too– if you can
decode the picture, you can get a diamond and skip the
practice
SO YOU THINK YOU ARE
USER CENTERED?
Playtest like you mean it
Sid Meir, Everything You Think You Know Is Wrong.
Full talk http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bY7aRJEoOY&feature=BFa&list=PL8E8E672C0031DC3A
HOMEWORK
Play Bastion

http://supergiantgames.com/index.php/
media/

How do these principles apply?
1.What was the North Star?
2.What Emotion(s) do you feel?
3.Who are the Player Types?
4.What’s the core loop?
5.How did you learn to play?
6. How does the art/music shape
the game?
CHRISTINA WODTKE
www.eleganthack.com
www.boxesandarrows.com
@cwodtke
I can’t be bought, but I can be rented.

Image form Baston: great game!
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/basti

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Mechanics of Magic: Lessons from Game Design

Editor's Notes

  1. See notes: http://www.eleganthack.com/?p=3233
  2. Notes on the new Year’S project http://www.eleganthack.com/give-up-your-resolutions/
  3. What is the first game you every played? What were the rules? Children playing ring around a rosie in one of the better neighborhoods  of the Black Belt, Chicago, Illinois, 1941 Edwin Rosskam http://historyinphotos.blogspot.com/2012/05/edwin-rosskam.html
  4. What is a north star? It is the goal, the thing you are aiming for, and when you arrive, you can launch. http://www.boxesandarrows.com/view/building_a_vision_of_design_success,
  5. Game designers have an inherent North Star because they are building a game. It’s FUN. Game designers constantly ask “Is it fun yet” and if the answer is no, they don’t launch. And their team doesn’t launch. Even when it’s late late late. Because there is no point in launching an un-fun game.
  6. We are limited in how we talk about emotion in Web Design. We talk about delight, and frustration. But there are many more words we could be designing for…
  7. This is the power of farmville; a place to hide from life’s madness http://www.eleganthack.com/farming-and-knitting/
  8. Boys seek peace and control also
  9. So much missed opportunity here!
  10. As well, Game designers are much more comfortable with creating negative emotions than wed designers, who Mostly aim for “happy.” But as part of a sequence, a slight negative can increase a positive.
  11. • More pleasure and excitement in active failure than in success • However: passive experience of failure makes players disengage. • Attaining a goal DECREASES player arousal and interest.
  12. Dan Brown’s Communicating Design Game. Sometimes stress can teach.
  13. This is a classic persona my old company CarbonIQ made for a casual gaming site. It was useful. But….
  14. Understanding behavioral patterns in player types, and what features support the behavior desired is also useful. Maybe more useful.
  15. Amy Jo Kim has developed different player types that you find in Social Games. Each one has his or her own play style. Knowing these needs shapes the feature set and core loop.
  16. Will Wright on Game Design: http://youtu.be/CdgQyq3hEPo Watch 30:27-33:27 http://www.tubechop.com/watch/1003252
  17. Backyard Monsters takes the classic tower defense loop (build defense, get attacked, redo) and adds complexity by letting you also attack and build offensive as well as defensive tools.
  18. Chumbawamba's, "Tubthumping"
  19. Paper beats rock, rock beats scissors, scissors beats paper. The game of rock paper scissors lizard spock adds In two more elements for added complexity. And nerdity.
  20. A constraint is usually about resource management. How much energy/money/stuff you need.
  21. The pinch is the place where you run out of something. I.e. You run out of lives in the arcade, and you reach inyour pocked for a quarter. Or twelve.
  22. Energy is a typical social game pinch. You can solve with money or with being “social” i.e. begging from friends. When you run out of energy, you have to Spend money for more energy Ask friends for help (virals) Go away and come back later
  23. In cityville, real estate is an excellent pinch. You could just buy more land, but you could also upgrade to better buildings, rearrange your items, or store something. More options + more fun play.
  24. In Castleville the pinch is also part of the play. New land is shrouded in shadow, so you may discover new mysteries as you look to expand.
  25. Manipulation is tough. We go to the theater to be manipulated. We like a certain amount of orchestration of ourfeelings. But we sure don’t like being taken advantage of.
  26. Name the persuasion techniques being used by these social games. Trust me, a little time on Facebook andyou can collect all six. And find a few new ones.
  27. Zynga invented the “doobers” which is when something good happens you see an outflowing of stars or coins. It’s the equivalent of the slot machine flowing out, and very satisfying.
  28. There is a certain satisfaction in kicking a friends bum. However, if you have a place where not much social is happening, be sure to motivate me by making me beat my own high score. Not feel lonely.
  29. Moving from a novice to a master is why we play tennis, chess or even do things like knitting or woodworking. We humans love to know we are getting better at something.
  30. Moving from a novice to a master is why we play tennis, chess or even do things like knitting or woodworking. We humans love to know we are getting better at something.
  31. Make it pretty, make a profit. Often web and app design just slaps some pretty on it at the end.
  32. Most web app designers through learning into a quickie tutorial in the beginning. But game designers, focusedon mastery and that satisfaction weave it through the game.
  33. Dance Central: you have to do the moves along with the dancer to earn points
  34. Dance Central made learning the moves a key part of the game, not just a simple add on. You feel like you are really learning to dance.
  35. You goal? You too can replace your help site with a joke.
  36. Again, game designers seem way more user centered than most others. They don’t say “we’ll do two rounds of testing.” They’ll test over and over until fun arrives.
  37. Watch 18:40-23:53 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bY7aRJE-oOY&feature=BFa&list=PL8E8E672C0031DC3A