Day 108 - Lens 59: The Lens of Control
This lens has uses beyond just examining your interface, since meaningful control is essential for immersive interactivity. To use this lens, ask yourself these questions:
When players use the interface, does it do what they expected? If not, why not?
The 'interface' is a little complicated, in that the players have a reasonably large number of pieces that they can manipulate. Each piece does a small number of things, and the rules are reasonably clear, but there are still a good number of parts laid out in front of the player at the beginning of the game. I think that while the parts are abstract that their function is inline with their appearance even it it's not self evident from just looking at them. That is to say that paths look like paths and bases look like bases. Your 'pawn' or main piece is larger than your 'warriors' which are less important, and they are larger than the citizens which are least important.
Intuitive interfaces give a feeling of control. Is my interface easy to master, or hard to master?
I think that the interface is easy to master, or at least players have mastered it by the end of the first game. I have yet to see a group of players play more than two games due to the limits of my playtesting opportunities... also to see a couple of new players play with a majority of experienced players.
Do my players feel they have a strong influence over the outcome of the game? If not, how can I change that?
I don't think that players feel this enough. Because of the player driven nature of the game it ironically can feel like things are out of the control of any individual player. I 'think' that in experienced gameplay that players will behave more predictably and that experienced players will feel like they can predict that behavior more reliably and thus feel like they have more control... but that has yet to be proven and I am nervous about it.
Feeling powerful = feeling in control. Do my players feel powerful? Can I make them feel more powerful somehow?
When players take decisive actions they feel in control, ironically these kinds of actions often weaken them in the long term, but that is often not obvious to new players and can leave them later feeling powerless. Even though there is a certain satisfaction for the other players in seeing the mighty fall I don't think that this is a good thing... but again that kind of behavior is a new player thing and may not occur in experienced play.