Last week’s playtesting post was picked up by a podcast which discussed the ideas I raised in the context of how they applied to computer games. Talking about the cross proliferation of ideas between industries reminded me of how many lessons I ported over from Extra Credits when I got started. That in turn caused me to start rewatching those again, which inspired this week’s blog post. On some level this is about Skyrim (one of the writers of which contributed a scenario for Wizard’s Academy – gawd game desing an incestuous world).
I’m coming towards the end of my latest set of blind playtests for Escape the Nightmare. The testing was divided into three waves and the feedback from each wave lead me to change things for the next wave – one of the things that changed every time were the questions that I asked. I thought that it might be interesting to share the questions that I’ve ended up asking the third and final wave and have some discussion of how our choice of questions influences the quality of the feedback that we receive as designers.
The Magic: The Gathering design team design team uses a concept called the colour pie. This is the notion that each colour specialises in particular kinds of effects and so when designing cards those effects should primarily occur in the appropriate colour. Most magic players would score significantly above chance if asked to predict which colour a given card would be, just from its mechanical effects.
I’ve been working with a graphic designer on the cards for Nightmare and have been treated to more of a close up look at the process of designing the cards than I’ve seen before. I wanted to talk about textures because I was particularly impressed with what a stark difference they made to the cards. I don’t have an image of the untextured card, because we didn’t save that one, but it looked something like this:
While there are some exceptions, it’s generally preferable for a game to offer meaningful choices. These choices need to have an impact on the outcome of the game and that outcome needs straddle the line between “predictable” and “unpredictable”. Too predictable and there’s no choice, just an obvious best option. Too unpredictable and there’s no choice, because the outcome is random. I’ve talked about all of this before so let me get to the point, today we’re talking dimensions.