Day 97 - Lens 8: The Lens of Problem Solving
Every game has problems to solve. To use this lens, think about the problems your players must solve to succeed at your game. Ask yourself these questions:
What problems does my game ask the player to solve?
There are a normal set of game problems posed: How do you optimize your resource collection, when should you attack your fellow players, when should you make alliances and break them. But there are also some less normal ones like how should you connect the parts of the play spaces to each other so that you maintain control over them in real time play when you are not near them. Or, what should you pay attention to in a game where there are too many things happening for you to track all of them reliably.
Are there hidden problems to solve that arise as part of the gameplay?
I think that most of the interesting problems are hidden. They are things that are not part of the rules but that players realize as they play the game for the first time. I often hear comments like "I thought this was a game about 'X' but halfway through I realized it's actually about 'Y'! The comment is usually said in a pleased way, the players don't feel tricked, they feel clever for having discovered a deeper understanding of the game.
How can my game generate new problems so that players keep coming back?
I think, hope, that players strategies will develop in ways that continually challenge the players to try new strategies and make the game very replayable. I have resisted adding more complicated layers of play to the game because I want to have the simple mechanics generate the complexity through interaction with the players. Having six players means that even a little added mechanical complexity would make the game vastly more complex. However, adding to the mechanics is always a possibility if the game as it stands now fails to generate enough strategic depth.