Lesson 6 of 10
Players Play Games through an Interface / Experiences Can Be Judged by their Interest Curves / One Kind of Experience is the Story
- Which of the interface tips mentioned are the most applicable to your current step in your game project? What next steps can you take to implement that tip?
- Design around your physical interface
- Theme your interface
- Map sound to touch
- Balance options and simplicity with layers
- Use metaphors
- Ensure if it looks different, it should act different
- Test, test test!
- Break the rules to help your player
- What do you believe the bar graph of inherent interest, poetry, and projection looks like for your game project? Is it where you want it to be?
- If your game has a story, which of the story methods are you currently implementing? After reading this book, are there changes you would like to make?
- The string of pearls
- The story machine
- The “dream of interactive storytelling”
- If your game has a story, which of the story tips mentioned are the most applicable to your current step in your game project? What next steps can you take to implement that tip?
- Have goals, obstacles, and conflicts
- Make it real
- Provide simplicity and transcendence
- Consider the Hero’s Journey
- Mold your story as needed to support gameplay
- Keep your story world consistent
- Make your story world accessible
- Use clichés judiciously
- Create a map (or sketch or drawing) to bring a story to life
Pick some of the lenses below and discuss their questions in regards to your own game projects:
Lens #59: The Lens of Control
- When players use the interface, does it do what is expected? If not, why not?
- Intuitive interfaces give a feeling of control. Is your interface easy to master or hard to master?
- Do your players feel they have a strong influence over the outcome of the game? If not, how can you change that?
- Feeling powerful = feeling in control. Do your players feel powerful? Can you make them feel more powerful somehow?
Lens #60: The Lens of Physical Interface
- What does the player pick up and touch? Can this be made more pleasing?
- How does this map to the actions in the game world? Can the mapping be more direct?
- If you can’t create a custom physical interface, what metaphor are you using when you map the inputs to the game world?
- How does the physical interface look under the Lens of the Toy?
- How does the player see, hear, and touch the world of the game? Is there a way to include a physical output device that will make the world become more real in the player’s imagination?
Lens #61: The Lens of Virtual Interface
- What information does a player need to receive that isn’t obvious just by looking at the game world?
- When does the player need this information? All the time? Only occasionally? Only at the end of a level?
- How can this information be delivered to the player in a way that won’t interfere with the player’s interactions with the game world?
- Are there elements of the game world that are easier to interact with using a virtual interface (like a pop-up menu, for instance) than they are to interact with directly?
- What kind of virtual interface is best suited to my physical interface? Pop-up menus, for example, are a poor match for a gamepad controller.
Lens #62: The Lens of Transparency
- What are the player’s desires? Does the interface let the players do what they want?
- Is the interface simple enough that with practice, players will be able to use it without thinking?
- Do new players find the interface intuitive? If not, can it be made more intuitive, somehow? Would allowing players to customize the controls help or hurt?
- Does the interface work well in all situations, or are there cases (near a corner, going very fast, etc.) when it behaves in ways that will confuse the player?
- Can players continue to use the interface well into stressful situations, or do they start fumbling with the controls or missing crucial information? If so, how can this be improved?
- Does anything confuse players about the interface? On which of the six interface arrows is it happening?
- Do players feel a sense of immersion when using the interface?
Lens #63: The Lens of Feedback
- What do players need to know at this moment?
- What do players want to know at this moment?
- What do you want players to feel at this moment? How can you give feedback that creates that feeling?
- What do the players want to feel at this moment? Is there an opportunity for them to create a situation where they will feel that?
- What is the player’s goal at this moment? What feedback will help them toward that goal?
Lens #64: The Lens of Juiciness
- Is my interface giving the player continuous feedback for their actions? If not, why not?
- Is second-order motion created by the actions of the player? Is this motion powerful and interesting?
- Juicy systems reward the player many ways at once. When I give the player a reward, how many ways am I simultaneously rewarding them? Can I find more ways?
Lens #65: The Lens of Primality
- What parts of my game are so primal an animal could play? Why?
- What parts of my game could be more primal?
Lens #66: The Lens of Channels and Dimensions
- What data need to travel to and from the player?
- Which data are most important?
- What channels do I have available to transmit these data?
- Which channels are most appropriate for which data? Why?
- Which dimensions are available on the different channels?
- How should I use those dimensions?
Lens #67: The Lens of Modes
- What modes do I need in my game? Why?
- Can any modes be collapsed or combined?
- Are any of the modes overlapping? If so, can I put them on different input channels?
- When the game changes modes, how does the player know that? Can the game communicate the mode change in more than one way?
Lens #68: The Lens of Moments
- What are the key moments in my game?
- How can I make each moment as powerful as possible?
Lens #69: The Lens of the Interest Curve
- If I draw an interest curve of my experience, how is it generally shaped?
- Does it have a hook?
- Does it have gradually rising interest, punctuated by periods of rest?
- Is there a grand finale, more interesting than everything else?
- What changes would give me a better interest curve?
- Is there a fractal structure to my interest curve? Should there be?
- Do my intuitions about the interest curve match the observed interest of the players? If I ask playtesters to draw an interest curve, what does it look like?
Lens #70: The Lens of Inherent Interest
- What aspects of my game will capture the interest of a player immediately?
- Does my game let the player see or do something they have never seen or done before?
- What base instincts does my game appeal to? Can it appeal to more of them?
- What higher instincts does my game appeal to? Can it appeal to more of those?
- Does dramatic change and anticipation of dramatic change happen in my game? How can it be more dramatic?
Lens #71: The Lens of Beauty
- What elements make up my game? How can each one be more beautiful?
- Some things are not beautiful in themselves, but are beautiful in combination. How can the elements of my game be composed in a way that is poetic and beautiful?
- What does beauty mean within the context of my game?
Lens #72: The Lens of Projection
- What is there in my game that players can relate to? What else can I add?
- What is there in my game that will capture a player’s imagination? What else can I add?
- Are there places in the game that players have always wanted to visit?
- Does the player get to be a character they could imagine themselves to be?
- Are there other characters in the game that the players would be interested to meet (or to spy on)?
- Do the players get to do things that they would like to do in real life, but can’t?
- Is there an activity in the game that once a player starts doing it, it is hard to stop?
Lens #73: The Lens of the Story Machine
- When players have different choices about how to achieve goals, new and different stories can arise. How can I add more of these choices?
- Different conflicts lead to different stories. How can I allow more types of conflict to arise from my game?
- When players can personalize the characters and setting, they will care more about story outcomes, and similar stories can start to feel very different. How can I let players personalize the story?
- Good stories have good interest curves. Do my rules lead to stories with good interest curves?
- A story is only good if you can tell it. Who can your players tell the story to that will actually care?
Lens #74: The Lens of the Obstacle
- What is the relationship between the main character and the goal? Why does the character care about it?
- What are the obstacles between the character and the goal?
- Is there an antagonist who is behind the obstacles? What is the relationship between the protagonist and the antagonist?
- Do the obstacles gradually increase in difficulty?
- Some say “the bigger the obstacle, the better the story.” Are your obstacles big enough? Can they be bigger?
- Great stories often involve the protagonist transforming in order to overcome the obstacle. How does our protagonist transform?
Lens #75: The Lens of Simplicity and Transcendence
- How is my world simpler than the real world? Can it be simpler in other ways?
- What kind of transcendent power do I give to the player? How can I give even more without removing challenge from the game?
- Is my combination of simplicity and transcendence contrived, or does it provide my players with a special kind of wish fulfillment?
Lens #76: The Lens of the Hero’s Journey
- Does my story have elements that qualify it as a heroic story?
- If so, how does it match up with the structure of the hero’s journey?
- Would my story be improved by including more archetypical elements?
- Does my story match this form so closely that it feels hackneyed?
Lens #77: The Lens of the Weirdest Thing
- What’s the weirdest thing in my story?
- How can I make sure that the weirdest thing doesn’t confuse or alienate the player?
- If there are multiple weird things, should I maybe get rid of, or coalesce, some of them?
- If there is nothing weird in my story, is the story still interesting?
Lens #78: The Lens of Story
- Does my game really need a story? Why?
- Why will players be interested in this story?
- How does the story support the other parts of the tetrad (aesthetics, technology, gameplay)? Can it do a better job?
- How do the other parts of the tetrad support the story? Can they do a better job?
- How can my story be better?