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Thinking from the player's perspective
by David Lin on 04/24/14 10:16:00 am

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 

As game developers and designers, we often express ourselves in the game we craft. And while doing so, some of us (at least I know I do sometimes) often dive in too deep and try to shape our so-called 'ideal game'.

As a result, we often forget to pause and think about a really important question. What is going through the person's mind when he or she is playing the game that I have made? 

With Small Chronicles, I have made some changes after attempting to think from the player's perspective.

 

Gameplay Cirumstances

Before we go on, first compare these 2 short gameplay videos -

 

 

Notice the difference? Imagine that you play games on your mobile device. That could mean that you play games on the move (maybe on transit) quite frequently. Even though I have encouraged players to put on their headphones/earphones while playing Small Chronicles (with in-game tips), playing with the speakers turned on may not be an option (depending on your culture and if you have earphones/headphones).

As Small Chronicles is currently a mobile-only game, players would sometimes (or most of the time) play without turning the audio on. Without any audio (as demonstrated above), players are left with what they can see visually.

If I didn't stop to think about the cirumstances in which the player plays the game, I wouldn't have thought to add that jump animation in.

 

For Convenience's sake

When adding a new feature to a game, do we stop to think how it might affect the player's gameplay experience? Does it make it easier for the player to get to what's important - playing the game? Or does it interfere with it?

Although it differs from traditional RPGs, at its core, Small Chronicles is still very much filled with elements of an RPG game. And in an RPG game, you definitely have to deal with items and places to store them - your inventory.

Remember that moment when you want to purchase a new item/equipment but realise that your inventory is full? Don't you hate that you have to go back to your inventory to sell or destroy some of your old stuff to make way for the new?

I always try to think as a player before I put on my crafting/developer hat. So if I were the player, I would wish that things weren't so inconvenient as far as managing inventories was concerned.

Introducing swapping items on-the-fly. By adding this option, players can immediately replace an old item with the one intended for purchase. While that may mean more coding for me (i.e more effort from the developer), it certainly is worth it if it makes the player's life easier (from their perspective).

 

Sharing is loving

We all love to share. We post things on Facebook, Twitter, Google, Vine, Pinterest and the list goes on and on. Once again, if we think from a player's perspective, what would he or she want to share about? Would it about completing a new achievement? Defeating a really tough boss? Or is about getting that legendary item?

Whatever it is, images seem to be the prevalent choice to share that happy news with. Well sharing images definitely seem like the most suitable thing to do since they speak a thousand words. But what's even better than images? Videos!

Showing how they have defeated that tough boss or an opponent in league matches is much more interesting! With Small Chronicles, and leveraging on Everyplay's SDK, players will be able to share their recorded story stages or league matches easily with their friends.

 

Caring too much?

But wouldn't caring too much about player's perspective jeopardize our vision about what the game should or should not look like? This is where our judgement comes in. Do we want to include everything in our games that we feel our players would definitely love but would consume all our resources?

As with life and any other decisions, there must be a balance. Throughout the journey of beta-testing Small Chronicles, I have had valuable feedback from players all around the world. Changes were definitely made to the game from listening to some of the feedback.

If I had changed the game as suggested by every feedback I see, Small Chronicles would have become a game with a tunnelled vision in the end.

We have to accept that we can't please everyone in this world. However, through our character and judgement in balancing what's important and what's not, we will be able to focus on what really matters - making the game fun, from their perspective.


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