Thursday, January 19, 2017

Day 69: FotLC through the 113 lenses from The Art of Game Design

Day 69 - Lens 34: The Lens of Skill
To use this lens, stop looking at your game, and start looking at the skills you are asking of the players. Ask yourself these questions:

What skills does my game require from the player?

  • Situational awareness. That is to say the ability to keep track of what is going on around them while they carry out their moves.
  • Short term tactical thinking, the players situation is constantly changing and the ability to quickly make and adapt plans is required
  • Long term planning, players must start working toward a goal as early as possible if they want to achieve it in the rapidly changing landscape of the game.
  • Social Persuasion, characters will face many social 'Challenges' during the course of the game and the ability to convince others of your intentions is very valuable.
  • Spatial thinking? I think that understanding the board requires a reasonable amount of spatial reasoning.

Are there categories of skill that this game is missing?
Physical skill is the least important category for this game, although it requires a higher level of physical skill than most board games.

Which skills are dominant?
Mental and Social skills should be in balance. I think the game is currently leaning a bit more toward social skills.

Are these skills creating the experience I want?
Yes, I keep wanting to change small things to make the fun of using the skills that are important more evident. It sometimes takes players some time to 'get' what the game is doing and to start to enjoy it. It's easy to think that the game is a pure strategy game and become irritated when some social action swings the course of the game... but it's closer to the truth that all of the strategy elements in the game exist to provide a framework for the social game to be meaningful. Maybe I need to telegraph that more... 'A game of tactics and social strategy.'

Are some players much better at these skills than others?
Oh yes. Players that have good territory control tactics dominate the early game and players with great social skills shape the flow of the game for everyone.

Does this make the game feel unfair?
I don't 'think' so because such different skills are useful that it's often the case that different players are better at different skills.

Can players improve their skills with practice?
I think so. Playing a lot of this game would train you to persuade and deceive... much like Diplomacy or Mafia.

Does this game demand the right level of skill?
I would always like high level play to demand more skill, but I am happy with the levels now. Everyone seems able to learn the game on the first playthrough and no one has walked away thinking they have mastered it.

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