Sid Meier- Psychology of designing games
During GDC I watched Sid Meier (of civilisation franchise fame) give a lecture on the psychology of designing games.
He explained that the main reason people play games is to win. The fact that whatever happens in the story, players expect to win at the end. Nobody who plays games plays them to lose.
Designers need to keep in mind that players will play the game again after winning, because of this different ways to win and complete the game must be available in the game.
Another way to keep the player interested in the game is showcase some of the “cool” stuff that you can do later in the game when progress is made. He says this gives the player a taster of the skill and power you can posses in game when you put the hours in. Sid says this period should be no longer than the first 15minutes of a game as to not give the illusion to the player when the skills are taken away that it will take 10x as long to get the skills back.
He argues that more than four difficulty levels add more joy to a game. In civilisation games there are roughly 9 levels of difficulty. The idea of progression from a lower level to a higher level, gives the player a greater sense of reward when completing the game on a greater difficulty than before.
The main clause in keeping the gamer playing the game is to make them feel good about themselves. One way this can be done by giving themselves a sense of achievement from in game A.I reacting to the players actions
When the action is taken out of the players hand, people becoming annoyed and feel the game is out to get them. This is one reason why Civilisation is a turn based game. It makes the player feel like the star of the show and that everything in the world can be affected by their own decisions in game.
The lecture was almost and hour long, but the way Mr Meier explained his ideas through experience and logic was very interesting and made the time fly by. Well worth a watch for anyone who is interested in designing computer games