Day 101 - Lens 63: The Lens of Feedback
The player's feedback from the game comes from many things: judgment, reward, instruction, encouragement, and challenge. Use this lens to be sure your feedback loop is creating the experience you want by continuously asking these questions:
What do players need to know at this moment?
Looking at this question at this moment in development, but integrated over the course of the game will show a progression of things that the players want.
At the opening of the game players need to know the goal of the game. Then they need to know how to play the game. Then they need to know how to go about winning the game. Then they need to know that the game will end soon. Then they need to know who won. That sounds kind of silly written down, but in the process of designing it is less clear.
What do players want to know at this moment?
At the opening of the game players want to know what it’s like. Then they want to know who they are in the game. Then they want to know what they can do. Then they want to know why they should be doing it… though they should probably know that sooner. Then they want to know where they are going. In the end they want to know what they have done and why it mattered.
I try to match the feedback that the game is giving the players to their wants and needs. Largely I use the esthetic of the game and then the narrative voice of the Teller in the instructions. I try, though this is hard, to make the shape of the game lend its self to helping the players form the above questions and then discover the answers to them. Given the dynamic nature of almost every aspect of this game and the limits of being a board game that will probably never be as effective or clever as it might sound.
What do I want players to feel at this moment? How can I give feedback that creates that feeling?
I want players to feel intrigued, then excited, then to feel mounting stress… though not to the point of discomfort. Then I want to punctuate that time of tension with spurts of fear and disappointment or elation. Then to feel determination, then suspense then relief and satisfaction with the outcome. (Hey, you asked)
The esthetics and mechanics of the game are intended to create those feelings… or I have watched those feelings emerge from the esthetics and dynamics and iteratively adjusted things to produce them as clearly and reliably as I can.
What do the players feel at this moment? Is there an opportunity for them to create a situation where they will feel that?
I think that the wants of players are les specific than the intended emotional payload of my game! I think that they want to be excited to find out about the game. Challenged by the moment to moment gameplay. I think they want to experience feelings of competence and mastery over the game. Possibly to feel superior to the other players. In the end players want to feel that they understand what happened. If they win they want to feel like they understand why, and that is even more true if they lose.
What is the player's goal at this moment? What feedback will help them toward that goal?
On some level it is to have a good time… by meeting the needs and wants above. The above affordances may provide that, if they don’t then the game is probably the thing that needs to change, not the needs and wants.