Sunday, January 8, 2017

Day 59: FotLC through the 113 lenses from The Art of Game Design

Day 59 - Lens of Skill vs. Chance
To help determine how to balance skill and chance in your game, ask yourself these questions:

Are my players here to be judged (skill) , or are they here to take risks (chance)?
In playtesting I have had both kinds of players. I think they have very different motivations and needs from the game. I think the game provides an experience that has elements that are attractive to both kinds of players. But I also have observed that it has elements that both kinds of players find difficult. I'm trying to make the game compelling enough that the difficult elements are perceived as challenge rather than bust being sources of frustration.

Situational awareness, guard placement, base defence, path and base placement are all skill based elements. They are all public and players are constantly judging each other by them during the game.

Challenges are not chance based per se, their outcome is not random, just based on the actions of the other player, which can be anticipated but not predicted.

Skill tends to be more serious than chance: Is my game serious or casual?
My game is entirely skill based. The risk in the game does not come from chance so I get the excitement without the randomness or 'frivolity' so the game is very serious. At the same time play of the game is often funny, or at least generates laughter at the unexpected, or expected outcomes of challenges or other risks that the players take.

Are parts of my game tedious? If so, will adding elements of chance enliven them?
If players are moving things along and acting in their best interests I don't think the game has many tedious elements, or at least they are short lived. For instance there are perhaps half a dozen moves at the beginning of the game, that while they have variation in their execution are clearly the best things to do to get started. Thus most games begin the same way. Bue since players all move at once and turns can be only seconds long this part of the game may take a minute or less with experienced players. Even then during that minute the players need to be engaged as the dynamics of the game begin to take shape based on those variations.

Do parts of my game feel too random? If so, will replacing elements of chance with elements of skill and strategy make players feel more in control?
When FotLC is perceived as random it's not because of the randomness/skill divide it's because players have failed to perceive the state of the game and use that to predict the actions of the other players. That failure may well be because the game fails to present a understandable problem within the context of the speed of gameplay and the number of players (6).

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