Day 95 - Lens 61: The Lens of Virtual Interface
Designing virtual interfaces can be very tricky. Ask these questions to make sure that your virtual interface is enhancing the player experience as much a possible:
What information does a player need that isn't obvious just by looking at the game world?
Players need to know that alliances are between other players. This 'could' be hidden information, but exposing it through an interface allows for more strategic play and avoids rules mistakes.
How many warriors they have in their tribe.
What the other players will do next!
When does the player need this information?
You need to know the state of alliances constantly as it effects not just your direct interactions with players but also your movement through your allies territory, and the movement of your opponents through the territory of their allies.
You need to have a general idea of your warrior number at all times but need to be able to check it when you place warriors and when you are in a challenge with another player.
You need to know the thoughts and plans of other players constantly, but most when you are in a challenge with them.
How can this information be delivered to the player in a way that won't interfere with the player's interactions with the game world?
The alliance state uses tokens placed next to the player's base on the board to show his alliances.
You can asses your warrior count by lifting your tribe bag to get a general sense of how many warriors you have, and look into the bag when needed to get an exact count.
Your opponents faces are your window into their thoughts. Because this is a board game we have real human faces, and reading them is a time honored and engaging part of competitive games. Challenges pause primary play allowing the time needed for this kind of interface access ;)
Are there elements of the game world that are easier using a virtual interface (like a popup menu) than direct interaction?
I think the elements I identified were easier to indicate off of the game board. I could have done something more tied to the pawn for the alliances, Like having a washer of the alliance color that would slip over a bolt attached to the pawn... I 'think' associating the alliance with the player not the pawn is better... but it's something to think about.
What kind of virtual interface is best suited to my physical interface?
I think that in the context of a board game a 'true' virtual interface would be a secondary player board or character sheet. I have eliminated any need for those in my game outside of the alliance tokens and warrior bags. Because the game is real time those kinds of interfaces are just to slow and fiddly to be viable. So any virtual interfaces used must be very simple and fast to use and read.