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The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses

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Story and Game Structures Can Be Artfully Merged with Indirect Control / Stories and Games Take Place in Worlds / Worlds Contain Characters

Matthew Colon October 14, 2020

Lenses

Pick some of the lenses below and discuss their questions in regards to your own game projects:

Lens #79: The Lens of Freedom

  • When do my players have freedom of action? Do they feel free at these times?
  • When are they constrained? Do they feel constrained at these times?
  • Are there any places I can let them feel more free than they do now?
  • Are there any places where they are overwhelmed by too much freedom?

Lens #80: The Lens of Help

  • Within the context of the game, who is the player helping?
  • Can I make the player feel more connected to the characters who need help?
  • Can I better tell the story of how meeting game goals helps someone?
  • How can the helped characters show their appreciation?

Lens #81: The Lens of Indirect Control

  • Ideally, what would I like the players to do?
  • Can constraints get players to do it?
  • Can goals get players to do it?
  • Can interface get players to do it?
  • Can visual design get players to do it?
  • Can game characters get players to do it?
  • Can music or sound get players to do it?
  • Is there some other method I can use to coerce players toward ideal behavior without impinging on their feelings of freedom?
  • Is my design inducing desires I’d rather the player not have?

Lens #82: The Lens of Collusion

  • What do I want the player to experience?
  • How can the characters help fulfill this experience, without compromising their goals in the game world?

Lens #83: The Lens of Fantasy

  • What fantasy does my world fulfill?
  • Who does the player fantasize about being?
  • What does my player fantasize about doing there?

Lens #84: The Lens of the World

  • How is my world better than the real world?
  • Can there be multiple gateways to my world? How do they differ? How do they support each other?
  • Is my world centered on a single story, or could many stories happen here?

Lens #85: The Lens of the Avatar

  • Is my avatar an ideal form likely to resonate with my players?
  • Does my avatar have iconic qualities that let a player project themselves into the character?

Lens #86: The Lens of Character Function

  • What are the roles I need the characters to fill?
  • What characters have I already imagined?
  • Which characters map well to which roles?
  • Can any characters fill more than one role?
  • Do I need to change the characters to better fit the roles?
  • Do I need any new characters?

Lens #87: The Lens of Character Traits

  • What traits define my character?
  • How do these traits manifest themselves in the words, actions, and appearance of my character?

Lens #88: The Lens of the Interpersonal Circumplex

  • Are there any gaps in the chart? Why are they there? Would it be better if the gaps were filled?
  • Are there “extreme characters” on the graph? If not, would it be better if there were?
  • Are the character’s friends in the same quadrant, or different quadrants? What if that were different?

Lens #89: The Lens of the Character Web

  • How, specifically, does each character feel about each of the others?
  • Are there any connections unaccounted for? How can I use those?
  • Are there too many similar connections? How can they be more different?

Lens #90: The Lens of Status

  • What are the relative status levels of the characters in my game?
  • How can they show appropriate status behaviors?
  • Conflicts of status are interesting – how are my characters vying for status?
  • Changes of status are interesting – where do they happen in my game?
  • How am I giving the player a chance to express status?

Lens #91: The Lens of Character Transformation

  • How does each of my characters change throughout the game?
  • How am I communicating those changes to the player? Can I communicate them more clearly, or more strongly?
  • Is there enough change?
  • Are the changes surprising and interesting?
  • Are the changes believable?
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