Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Day 25: FotLC through the 113 lenses from The Art of Game Design

Day 25 - Lens 67: The Lens of Modes
An interface of any complexity is going to require modes. To make sure your modes make the player feel powerful and in control, and do not confuse or overwhelm, ask yourself these questions:

What modes do I need in my game? Why?
In a board game these map to the phases of the game maybe? Or perhaps to the actions a player can take. So the main game would be a mode, and the siege on the city/endgame would be a second mode. The actions available to the players change when the mode does. The second mode is 'needed' because it helps focus the last section of play on the endgame and provides a dramatic conclusion.

Also the two actions a player can take in a turn, recruiting or action. In this case the separate mode for recruiting is needed to regulate the rate that players can gain resources in a way that both provides a strategic choice and keeps players from breaking the economy. I tried just having players recruit at the beginning of every turn, but they often forgot and found recruiting to be an annoying task. When it was moved to it's own mode that issue went away.

Oh! And the most obvious mode change: Main Turn vs. Challenge resolution. This mode is necessary to allow for the social dynamics I am trying to create. Trying to allow players to adjudicate challenges in the same mode as the normal turn is both confusing and unbalances the game as the players not engaged in the challenge have much more time to conduct their turns.

Can any modes be collapsed or combined?
I think the endgame is not super critical to the game, but I like it's dramatic effect.
The recruiting as a distinct mode 'could' be eliminated by my hourglass timer idea, but it remains to be seen whether that can be made to work from a practical standpoint.

Are any of the modes overlapping? If so, can I put them on different input channels?
The two turn modes are overlapping between players. One player may be in the recruiting mode while another is in the action mode. This does cause some mechanical complication and needed some special rules to deal with a couple of edge cases where one player was recruiting and placing warriors on a base that was being attacked by another player.

When the game changes modes, how does the player know that? Can the game communicate the mode change in more than one way?
The change from main game to end game is clearly signaled by the removal of the city from the center of the board and the exposure of the city heads.

The change between main turns and turn and challenge mode is signaled by a raised fist.

I don't think that there is a clear signal whether a player is in a recruit mode or action mode. Perhaps there should be... or the signal may just be that the player is doing the actions allowed by a particular mode.