Thursday, December 22, 2016

Day 44: FotLC through the 113 lenses from The Art of Game Design

Day 44: Lens 66 - The Lens of Channels and Dimensions
Choosing how to map game information to channels and dimensions is the heart of designing your game interface. Use this lens to make sure you do it thoughtfully and well. Ask yourself these questions:

What data needs to travel to and from the player?
There is a ton of information to convey to the player, essentially the whole game state is constantly exposed to all of the players. Some private information is only given to a single player, but the players together have all of the information composing the game state.

Here is the breakdown:

Things everyone needs to see:

  • City state (not City State... the state of the City)
  • Player location for each player
  • Available moviment
  • Base location
  • Base defense
  • Alliance state of each player

Things the player should only see about themselves:

  • Number of warriors in tribe
  • Number of warriors in graveyard

Which data is the most important?
Data specific to the player or the action they want to take is most important to the player at any given moment. So the location of paths around their pawn, the number of bases they control when they want to recruit, or the number of guards on an enemy base when they want to take it. All of those are shown on the playfield and are highlighted to the player through proximity to their pawn.

Some information like what roads a player has available to place are proximate to the player location not the pawn location so their importance is static in the interface, however as they represent a constant option to the player that is reasonable.

Then there are hidden pieces of information, those that relate to the state of the other player. They are hidden by bags and are thus available to their owner through touch but hidden from the sight of the other players.

Which channels do I have available to transmit this data?
As indicated above there visual and tactile channels. The playspace off of the board in front of the player and the board itself divided up into the area in front of them, the center of the board, the areas proximate to them and those on the other side of the board.

Which channels are most appropriate for which data? Why?
Data specific to a player is mors appropriately shown next to either the player themself or next to their pawn.

I violate this logic by giving the player the ability to place or control bases that will be important to them on parts of the board that are not proximate to them and if they have moved their pawn not proximate to it. This is intentional and requires players trying to expand their power agressively to have more situational awareness to maintain an understanding of the parts of the board state that are immediately important to them.

Which dimensions are available on each channel?
The visual channels have a color dimension, a size dimension and a shape dimension.

The tactile channels have a texture dimension and a weight dimension... and there it is, the thing I didn't know when I started writing up this lens. Weight.

How should I use those dimensions?
How much things weigh should reflect how important they are to the player! That actually happens with the weight of the bags, but I should make bases weigh more than the paths.

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