Saturday, March 15, 2008

Designing Experience

Everyone has different play styles and methods in gaming, which, depending on the methods and play styles used, will alter one's gaming experience. Sometimes this can be seen as negative, such as laughing your way through Doom 3 or playing Guitar Hero with your feet, but as long as keeps the player engaged it shouldn't be considered a bad thing. In fact, it is sometimes the diversity in play style and demographics that can enhance the gaming experience to more enjoyable or even hardcore levels (such as Tekken Torture).

I ran an experiment a long time ago, back in grade 11 when my friends and I would run LAN parties at a local private hall. We would play Unreal Tournament until the waking hours, usually co-op or team oriented (CTF) game modes, but occasionally the odd Deathmatch. These matches were usually dominated by a select few but it wasn't until I decided to demo record a few of the matches that I began to see how very different everyone played from each other. Some were very methodical about their killing, cautious and clear headed taking their time. Some were rather frenetic, bordering on the berserk, running into empty rooms with guns blazing shooting at invisible spirits like they were Ghost Busters or something. A few were even timid, hiding for the majority for the map until they could pick up the most overpowering weapon in the arena and blow everyone to high hell with it. There were even a few who were rather care free in their placement of... well themselves, which I would simply call 'suicidal'.

Below: Clan war screenshot from 2003 (Gr 11)

Whatever the playstyle, I was surprised to see that everyone still had as much fun playing the game as I did, even though we were all on very different skill levels and all had our own ideas about how to play the game. This free form, 'play-it-how-you-want-to' style of gaming has really influenced my ideas of how games should be made: with freedom. Freedom of play allows players to explore the gaming experience at their own pace without any unnecessary pressures or expectations. They will develop their own tactics and strategies which (as mentioned from a previous post) they will even carry on to other games of similar caliber.

This sort of game design of 'Designing for Experience' is something worth considering especially when making co-operative or competivite games (not necessarily FPS).

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