Saturday, December 31, 2016

Day 53: FotLC through the 113 lenses from The Art of Game Design

Day 53 - Lens 79: The Lens of Freedom
A feeling of freedom is one of the things that separates games from other forms of entertainment. To make sure your players feel as free as possible, ask yourself these questions:

When do my players have freedom of action? Do they feel free at these times?
Given that this is a board game there are a set of rules. I have worked hard to make those rules as minimal as possible and as unrestrictive as possible. That was hard for me and I was luckily asked some hard questions by a fellow developer. I had turns set up in a very structured way that had... I think 16 possible choices. My friend asked, why can't I do everything each turn. The answer turned out to be that there was not a good gameplay reason. I removed a huge chunk of restriction and the game was much better for it.

When are they constrained? Do they feel constrained at these times?
There are some constraints in the game, from the verbs available to the players to the division of the game into phases and turns... I 'think' those are the minimal limitations needed to give the players meaningful choices and to give the game shape.  I think that mostly the players feel either free or overwhelmed with choice, at least during their learning games.

Are there any places I can let them feel more free than they do now?
In a previous update I talked about removing the restriction on placing guards on ally and enemy bases. That may both give players more choices and make the board harder to read... I will need playtesting around it. But the more I think about it the more it seems worth trying.

Are there any places I where they are overwhelmed by too much freedom?
Oh yes! Particularly at the start of the first game. I have tried to deal with that by giving the tutorial section, but it's still a bit of a problem. I think it's ok at this point, but there is a learning curve.