Day 75 - 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?
Well this is a board game so the re are very defined rules, as opposed to a sandbox video game where there might be seen to be no rules and complete freedom. I think that would be a false perception and that all the rules in the video game are just hidden behind the experience that the player is accepting as their free reality. Things like how the player moves, what they can climb, swim across, hid behind, fight with, eat, kill etc. are still being defined by the game.
That aside I think that within the framework of my game the players have a great deal of freedom, probably more than in just about any other game. I think that once they know the rules players feel something close to the level of freedom they find in a sandbox game. Though the end goal is clearly defined for them how they get there is pretty open.
When are they constrained? Do they feel constrained at these times?
Players are constrained within a turn, they are constrained to the results of a challenge and to the order that time imopses on the game. I think that when one of those things gets into the way of their intention they feel constrained in a negative way. I hope that that mostly happens when they are learning the rules, but there are rules that constrain player actions into the shape of the game... I'm not sure that there is a way around that.
Are there any places I can let them feel more free than they do now?
I keep adding in and removing little bits of freedom. I added freedom by removing the movement limit, that allowed other players to use path removal to limit movement which deepened play and added more choices to the game. I added in the ability to place warriors in empty slots, that added complexity, but I am not sure how much it made the game better and I may remove it later... that kind of thing.
Are there places where they are overwhelmed by too much freedom?
At the beginning of the game. I created the tutorial document to address the sense of being lost and overwhelmed that I saw and had reported. It seems to have helped by supplying extra structure to the beginning of the game. The things that the players are 'forced' to do during the tutorial are really just the best move choices in the opening moves. They still have plenty of choices and can play differently from each other, I just took away the option for them to shoot themselves in the foot while they learned the basics in the first few turns.