Just One More Game...
Martin C. Martin
September 28, 2006
12:50 pm - 1:50pm
Bailey 312
Abstract
The elation of succeeding, the frustration of being stuck - these emotions can captivate players for hours and hours. This talk presents an organizing framework for game design, by asking "how does each element affect the player's ability to play better and better?"

Four principles are developed, hand in hand with examples showing how they apply in a plethora of common situations. Finally, some emerging trends are examined that suggest practical steps.

We've all played games through the night, not stopping because "I'm finally getting the hang of it! I can do better! Just one more game" Looking at this improving mastery sheds a surprising amount of light on game design. For example, creating easier difficulties by simply lowering unit stats can completely change the player's strategy: if enemies are slower, players may run past them, not learning to fight at all. And adventure games offer no way to learn from partial answers: either you think to use the marker on the passport, or you don't.

Game design is typically taught as a collection of principles, but this talk organizes it around its effects on skill learning. Four design principles are developed and explored with many examples. Specific design decisions are addressed, leading to practical advice.

This framework draws together emerging trends from recent work in both game design and practice.

Lunch will be provided in Steinmetz 209 at noon.