Sunday, January 1, 2017

Day 54: FotLC through the 113 lenses from The Art of Game Design

Day 54 - Lens 54: The Lens of Accessibility
When you present a puzzle (or a game of any kind) to the players, they should be able to clearly visualize what their first few steps would be. Ask yourself these questions:

Before I get started answering the questions, two things: 

  1. Day 54, lens 54... I guess there is a 1 in 113 chance of that happening each day. Though it would be modified by the results of the previous days being eliminated and the number of cards remaining. So if a card on today's number has already been chosen then the chance of drawing it is 0. And if it has not then the chance is 1 in the number of cards/days remaining. So for today's card it would have been a 1 in 59 chance once it was established that it had not been drawn before. If I didn't know if the card had been drawn before then it would be more complicated to figure out... in any case, hey look! The day and the lense number match.
  2. Accessibility in games has come to mean the affordances made to people who's ability to play is in some way limited. Things as minor as color blindness, to being blind, deaf or having mobility limited in some way... perhaps the lens should have a different name to avoid confusion?

How will players know how to begin solving my puzzle, or playing my game? Do I need to explain it, or is it self evident?
How to play the game is not self evident. I have tried with many elements of my design to make it 'more' self evident. Little things like putting hexes on bases and not on paths to make it less appealing to place guards on paths. Or making the warrior limit for a base equal to the number of hexes on it... but in the end the rules have to be explained.

Does my puzzle or game act like something they have seen before? If it does, how can I draw attention to that similarity?  If it does not, how can I make them understand how it behaves?
In some ways my game behaves like a board game and that helps. You put pieces on the board and move them around. You are trying to control as much of the board as you can... but in so many ways it subverts the expected behavior. Probably it goes too far down the 'breaking players' and breaking rules' paths. I think it makes an interesting 'good' game, but it's probably not a design 'feature'.

The tutorial section of the rules I think does a good job of teaching the rules while getting players to immediately engage with playing the game. That's something that I think other games would do well to imitate where possible. To some degree once the rules are explained the players just have to interact with the game systems and see what happens until they understand them well enough to form strategy and win the game. The question is whether I have made that fun to do!

Does my puzzle or game draw people in, and make them want to touch it and manipulate it? If not, how can I change it so that it does?
I think that the visual presentation of the game does a lot to draw people in. I have tried to make the game as tactilely pleasing as I can with heavy nicely textured pieces so that it is physically pleasing to touch and manipulate the game.  I know that the game doesn't appeal to all player types, but it is very engaging to even players who don't end up liking it. I have never had a player get up and wander away due to being bored. Though I did once have a player leave in the middle of a demo game due to personal conflict with another player (not related to the conflicts in the game).

Can I make the puzzle of the game more appealing? I don't think I can do a lot more physically, but the narrative changes are intended to make the game more intriguing and compelling. I should try to weave in the challenge and mystery of playing the game in that narrative.

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