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  • Designing For Short And Long Term Fun

    [08.20.19]
    - James Kay

  • Long-term

    Some of the trophies cannot be earned by simply playing the game but by doing specific things, be it finding secrets or making sure you clear every puzzle without using clue roulette. This is for the completionists and adds an extra layer of experience.


    Map screen (placeholder statistics!)

    Once you've completed the story the player can dive back into the world and seek out all these extras. For this purpose a completion counter was added to the map screen. Here you can get a complete overview of all the trophies, puzzles and secrets you have ticked off and what your overall clear percentage is.

    Conclusion

    Obviously the "immediate" experience is the one most players will encounter most of the time. It takes the bulk of your play time and must be as smooth as possible. I've spent a long time of Piczle Cross Adventures development on this before even working on the other aspects.

    Second by second: Do the puzzles control nicely? Is controlling Score-chan satisfying?
    Minute by minute: Is clearing the puzzles fun? Is uncovering the objects in the world fun?
    Hour by hour: Is the player earning trophies? Are new areas being discovered? Is the story engaging?
    Day by day: Is clearing areas completely fun? Is finishing the story fun? Is finding all the secrets fun? 
    Week by week: Are players engaged enough to come back? Are they trying to collect all trophies? Are they engaged enough to seek out all secrets?

    Not all games need to have all layers of the experience graph, though. I personally feel that the "immediate" experience is a must for all games across all genres, but also that to have a decent long-term experience is behooves a designer to think about the short-term and intermediate experiences as well. A graph with either or both of those layers missing would create a very unbalanced gaming experience.

    Obviously, this design trick, like most, is extremely obvious and barely needs writing down. But it has helped me formalise it so that I can, at stages in development, ask myself the right questions to see if the game's balance needs to be addressed.

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