Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Day 113 FotLC through the 113 lenses from The Art of Game Design

Day 113 - Lens 81: The Lens of Indirect Control
Every Designer has a vision of what they would like the players to do to have an ideal play experience. To help ensure the players will do these things of their own free will, ask yourself these questions:

Ideally, what would I like players to do?
Explore, come into conflict, ally and betray, claim victory or not and then think about what they have done.

Can constraints get players to do it?
I think that they of course help. The rules of the game are designed to shape that play pattern. You must place pieces to move onto. You must place bases to recruit from, you can challenge players when you are next to them. The high player number gives many chances to ally.

Can goals get players to do it?
The goals you have for points mean you need the territory and resources that other players have. In the end the rule that gives you an explicit choice about winning causes the players to reflect on the game in a way that I want. I was unsure if that would work but so far I have gotten positive feedback.

Can interface get players to do it?
I think that the layout of the game encourages the kind of play that I want. Presenting the player with the pieces they can place encourages exploration. Showing the position and progress of other players encourages securing your territory and defending it, or attacking your opponents weakly held territory. Showing the alliance tokens openly encourages players that have not allied to do so.

Can visual design get players to do it?
The game's thematic presentation as a game played in an apocalyptic wasteland helps put players in the ruthless aggressive mindset that I am looking for while distancing them from the real world so that they don't take the actions of other players as seriously as they might if they were playing as themselves... that is only true to the degree that players take on roles.

Can game characters get players to do it?
Well the Teller is literally telling them to behave that way so hopefully that works! Beyond that I hope that my plans to have back story created for the tribes (clans?) will help the players to identify with them and both increase investment and make the actions of other players seem less personal. Those two goals are in conflict and I am not sure to what degree it is possible to pursue both.

Can music get players to do it?
Perhaps. Many board games have provided soundtracks and I have thought of having a stretch goal of creating music for each of the tribes, the game and the climax... that is a huge cost though since I can't do it myself. I may recommend playlists for the game and I could try playtesting it with them and see if it enhanced the game.

Is there some other method I can use to coerce players towards ideal behavior without impinging on their feeling of freedom?
I think that in my case I use the story premise of the game, that it is a reenactment of a event that happened. To justify the rule based goals of the game and give players one more reason to act out the scenario that I have designed to be the most fun.

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