Friday, January 25, 2013

Challenge the Player

There are a couple of things you most certainly need when making a game and challenge is the first and foremost. If it isn't challenging it becomes just a set of interactive graphical 'stuff'. Like a lot of those watered down tycoon games available all over the mobile app markets. It takes me about five or six minutes of play time in those games to get utterly bored out of my mind. They look cool and fun but they play like money drops. Arcade games were designed to be money drops too although I would consider the arcade games to be works of art where as the new Story style games are works of monotony and dullness no clear goals to achieve no end game but the biggest thing about those is that they don't have challenge.

Arcade versus Story games

So what makes them different well Arcade games there were good ones and there were bad ones. You could spend more than a few dollars just playing the first level/stage of an arcade game. But they had goals that were hard to achieve. The Story games I've played always had a fast track to all the unique items, buildings, etc which is pay some money. Arcades didn't guarantee that the closest I've seen to that with Arcades is Insert Coin to Continue. That is a very different concept because your reward is different. Instead of being rewarded with a hammer head shark building to place in your city so you and your friends can see your wonderful new statue you paid money for and really does nothing. I think the difference there is the incentive. Arcade incentive - insert coin to not loose all the things you've worked up to to this point the further you are in the game the more likely you will be to put in another coin and the more coins you've put in so far the more you want to keep going and finish a play session. So the games had to be difficult but not too difficult. No story game I've played yet has presented me with any challenges. There are no downsides to actions there aren't any real upsides either. Placement of buildings well most of them allow you to move the buildings at anytime anywhere instantaneously so you can go wrong where ever you place them. Need I go on I feel like I could keep going about the bad design choices of these games and the lack of challenge, but that would just be cynical.

How to achieve a challenge?

One of the problems when designing games that I've had is that yes I didn't think about how to challenge the player and most of my prototypes or earlier development builds turn into the Story game where it's just a bunch of mechanics and so I look at it and say to myself, "I'm done it works move on". And I am bored of my own idea and move on. So I have decided to breath a breadth of life into my games. I hereby declare I will make my games impossible, I will find ways to only make a prototype you cannot win. Then once I know I could play for hours and still not win, and I'm not talking about not having an end game like many of these games today. There must be an end game or else what the hell is the player playing for. So Impossible game, with an End Game that you might be able to achieve but it's just humanly impossible. Then come up with mechanics or tools if you will for the player to have a better chance at solving the impossible. Beating the impossible boss. I think that type of thinking exercise should help create games that will have interesting choices present a goal a true game goal, "do the impossible".

Tip: Do the impossible! If the player doesn't feel like it's an impossible task i.e. trying and failing then in the players mind it isn't impossible but one thing that is expected of a game at the end of the day is that it is beatable. This mindset can create new solutions you never thought of before, which is very exciting.

Tip: Make a game out of it, say to yourself when thinking about your next game, "What monster can I create that is the most bad arse biggest badiest creature to ever set foot on the interwebs, what bfg will he have that kills you even if your blocking" Then the followup "what weapon item or tactical manuever can I give the player so he can defeat said bad arse creature."