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LAFS Game Design 10 - Fun and Accessability


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Level 10 of the Los Angeles Film School's Game Design 1 class.

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LAFS Game Design 10 - Fun and Accessability

  1. 1. Level 10 David Mullich Game Design 1 The Los Angeles Film School
  2. 2. Designer Perspective: Sid Meier G4 Icons Episode #12: Sid Meier
  3. 3. The Fun Factor  Play  Living Out Fantasies  Story  Social Interaction  Exploration and Discovery  Collection  Stimulation  Self Expression and Performance
  4. 4. The Fun Factor  Challenge  Reaching and Exceeding Goals  Competing Against Opponents  Stretching Personal Limits  Exercising Difficult Skills  Making Interesting Choices  Construction / Destruction
  5. 5. Surprise Jesse Schell defines “fun” as “pleasure with surprises”. Surprise is one of the most powerful tools in a game designer’s toolbox. Randomness adds a level of drama in not knowing how an event will turn out.
  6. 6. Surprise Does the story in your game have surprises? Do the game rules? The artwork? The technology? When do you know when to surprise the player or to telegraph the situation? The trick is to find the right balance between the randomness of surprise and the importance of making player choices meaningful.
  7. 7. Anticipation The more clearly you allow players to see and anticipate the consequences of their actions, the more meaningful their choices will be. Games with closed or mixed information structures can create anticipation by giving players quick or limited information. This can actually increase the game’s tension. Fog of War
  8. 8. Progress Nothing is as satisfying as seeing the choices you make result in progress, giving the player a sense of achievement. One approach for structuring progress is to design milestones for players. However, there is no reason why you cannot measure progress in several ways at once. Pace the game’s progress so that the player achieves a milestone or has a memorable game event during each play session.
  9. 9. Rewards and Punishments Operant Conditioning: the frequency of performing a given behavior is directly related to whether it is rewarded or punished. The timing and quantity of rewards is critical. If you give the player a steady stream of small rewards, it becomes meaningless. Skinner Box
  10. 10. Reward Schedules  Fixed interval schedule: not very effective  Fixed ratio schedule: more effective  Random ratio schedule: most effective The Skinner Box approach works well for game mechanics that are repetitive and likely to become rote. Skinner Box
  11. 11. Rewards in Games  Rewards that are useful in obtaining victory carry greater weight.  Rewards that have a romantic association, like magic weapons or gold, appear to be more valuable.  Rewards that are tied into the game’s storyline have added impact.
  12. 12. The Resolution After the player has spent many hours playing your game, do you reward them at the end? Multiplayer games have the built-in reward of the satisfaction of beating the other players, but in a single-player game, can you reward the player with a meaningful animation?
  13. 13. Punishments Game designers often emphasizes the rewards while limiting the punishments. However, the threat of punishment, if not the actual punishment itself, carries dramatic tension. Getting killed is not fun, but sneaking past the guard and avoiding that threat can be a lot of fun.
  14. 14. What’s Fun About Monopoly?
  15. 15. Fun in Monopoly  Goal of owning all the property on the board  Competition among players  Fantasy of being a real estate tycoon  Socializing with other players  Construction/destruction of houses and hotels  Collection of property sets
  16. 16. What’s Fun About Tetris?
  17. 17. Fun in Tetris  Goal of clearing all your line of blocks  Simulation of catchy music, colorful blocks  Collection of all the blocks in a single row  Construction/destruction of row of blocks
  18. 18. What’s Fun About World of Warcraft?
  19. 19. Fun in World of Warcraft  Main goal of growing your character with smaller goals of quests and adventures  Competition among players  Fantasy of being in a sword and sorcery world  Social interaction with online players  Exploration of huge fantasy world  Stimulation with 3D graphics and sound  Self-expression through role-playing  Huge story and cast of characters  Character construction and monster destruction  Collection of inventory items
  20. 20. Is Your Game Fun? Here’s how you can tell if your game is fun: ASK THE PLAYTESTERS. If there they say “no”, here are some things to look at to find out where your game may be lacking in the Fun Department.
  21. 21. Micromanagement There is a fine line between granting your hardcore players control and burdening your average player with unwanted chores. Micromanagement takes place when a task becomes repetitive or tedious to the player. The best way to find this out is to ask your playtesters.
  22. 22. Micromanagement Possible solutions:  Simplify your game system by eliminating lesser decisions  Combine many microdecisions into one macrodecision  Give the players the choice of automating certain tasks
  23. 23. Stagnation Stagnation is where nothing new seems to be happening for a long period of time and choices stay at the same level of importance and impact. One source of stagnation is when players are forced to do the same task over and over. The game designer needs to find ways of varying the action and communicating to the player how progress is being made.
  24. 24. Stagnation Another type of stagnation is when the balance of power between players keeps shifting so no one achieves victory. The solution is to create a condition that tips the balance of power so far in the favor of the winner that he can defeat the other players. A third type is a reinforcing or balancing loop where the player gets so far behind, he can never catch up. One solution is to create a random event that can shake things up. The last type is where it feels like nothing is happening because nothing is happening due to poorly define goals. The solution is to make the game’s goals clearer.
  25. 25. Insurmountable Obstacles Insurmountable obstacles are situations that appear to be impossible to solve to many players. The best solution is to make sure that the game has some way of recognizing when the player is stuck and provide them with help for overcoming the obstacle without ruining the challenge for them – such as game characters placed in strategic spots to provide clues.
  26. 26. Arbitrary Events Arbitrary events are random situations that disrupt the player experience. Bad surprises need to fit in with the players’ expectations for the game and be telegraphed in advance so that they can make preparations. A good rule of thumb is to warn the player at least three times before hitting them with anything catastrophic. Random events that have lesser impact require smaller warnings or even no warning at all.
  27. 27. Predictable Paths Games that give the player only one path to victory can become predictable. Consider giving each object in the world a simple set of behaviors and rules for interaction rather than scripting each encounter separately. Another solution is to give players a choice from among several objectives.
  28. 28. Consequence For a game to engage a player, each choice must alter the course of the game. The decision needs to have “risk vs. reward” potential.  What type of decisions are your players making?  Are those decisions truly meaningful or are they tangential to the main objective?
  29. 29. Consequence You shouldn’t have too many choices in your game that are inconsequential. But not every choice needs to be life or death either. An engaging game has peaks and valleys in its tension level. CRITICAL IMPORTANT NECESSARY MINOR INCONSEQUENTIAL Life and Death Direct and Immediate Impact Indirect or Delayed Impact Small Impact. Direct or Indirect. No Impact or Outcome..
  30. 30. Decision Types  Hollow Decision: No real consequences  Obvious Decision: No real decision  Uninformed Decision: An arbitrary choice  Informed Decision: Where the player has ample information  Dramatic Decision: Taps into the player’s emotional state  Weighted Decision: A balanced decision with consequences on both sides  Immediate Decision: With an immediate impact  Long-Term Decision: Has an impact will be felt down the road
  31. 31. Dilemmas A dilemma is a decision in which no matter what the player chooses, something will be gained and something will be lost. A well-placed dilemma and tradeoff can resonate emotionally with a player when encountered within the struggle to win your game.
  32. 32. Cake Cutting Scenario The cake cutting scenario is an example of a zero- sum game – the chooser gains the crumb lost by the cutter. The Minima Theory states that there are rational ways to make choices in a zero-sum game, and these are scenarios game designers need to avoid.
  33. 33. Cake Cutting Scenario Chooser gets a slightly bigger piece. Chooser gets a slightly smaller piece. Chooser gets a bigger piece. Chooser gets a smaller piece. Cut as Evenly as Possible Cut One Piece Bigger Cutter’s Strategies Choose Bigger Piece Choose Smaller Piece Chooser’s Strategies
  34. 34. Prisoner’s Dilemma Neither Rats: Both get 1 year in jail Both Rat: Each gets 3 years in jail. One Rats: Rat goes free, the other gets 5 years in jail.
  35. 35. Prisoner’s Dilemma Temptation > Reward > Punishment > Sucker The question put before the two prisoners does not have an obvious or optimal decision. Games in which players can communicate and negotiate can make for even more compelling strategic gameplay. Mario = 3 years Luigi = 3 years Mario = 5 years Luigi = 0 years Mario = 0 years Luigi = 5 years Mario = 1 year Luigi = 1 year Rat on Mario Don’t Rat Luigi’s Strategies Rat on Luigi Don’t Rat Mario’s Strategies
  36. 36. How Much Agency do Games Need? Extra Credits: How Much Agency do Games Need?
  37. 37. The Lens of Meaningful Choices  Which choices am I asking the player to make?  Are they meaningful? How?  Am I giving the player the right amount of choices? Would more make them feel more power? Would less make the game clearer?  Are there dominant strategies in my game? Jesse Schell, Lens #32
  38. 38. Course Evaluation  Go to the following link and fill out the course
  39. 39. 1. Playtest 3 of your fellow students’ games 2. Fill out playtesting form for each