Day 48 - Lens 10: The Lens of Holographic Design
To use this lens, you must simultaneously see your game structure and the player experience. You may shift your focus from one to the other but it is far better to view your game and experience holographically.
What elements of the game make the experience enjoyable?
For most players the social interaction is the most enjoyable part of the game. The act of putting down pieces to form the board and gaining mastery of controlling the space that way seems to be enjoyable, probably partially because it's unique, partially because the physicality of the pieces is pleasing, and perhaps because the mechanic is genuinely fun?
I think that the buildup to the end of the game is enjoyed by players, the end is clearly visible and the stakes escalate...
Sneaking into other player's territory when they aren't paying attention and taking their things. When a player gets to hear 'Hey, when did you take my base?!' they always grin.
What elements of the game may detract from the experience?
The results of the showdown at the end of the game are not clear enough to players... or they are unbalanced. Players have not been reporting as much satisfaction with the outcome of the game as I would like. Taking the last city feels too powerful to them in terms of winning the game. At the same time taking it does not guarantee winning the game. So it doesn't feel powerful enough.
The learning curve is still a problem. The new tutorial helps a lot but players don't see the whole of the game until it's over so the flow of the first game always feels a little unexpected.
How can I change the game elements to improve the experience?
Either I need to change the scoring so that the bases, which are the obvious scoring mechanism are more important bu making them be directly worth points, or I need to make the way they work now more obvious? It 'feels' to my design head like the way the mechanics work now is deep, and that's needed for long term play. But if players don't enjoy their first game and feel like the winner is arbitrary then there won't be repeat play...
Maybe wording in the tutorial can help make the game flow more obvious? An outline of what is to come before the letting players go to play through the mid game?
In the broader sense I want to increase the importance of situational awareness, which increases the chances to sneak through an opponent's defenses and feel clever. The real time timers might do that. I don't think it will ever be more than an alternate play mechanic though since it will make the game so much more stressful that it will deter all but the most hardcore players.