Full indie 2016 : Design constrains in narrative exploration games

Nels Anderson shared some of the things he has learnt making Firewatch during 2016th Full Indie summit. Being more of a systems designer, he has learnt a lot working on a narrative exploration.

Unlike puzzle games like the Talos Principle or The witness, narrative exploration games (sadly known as walking simulators) don’t rely on puzzles to keep the player going. Unlike Life is Strange or Tales of Borderlands, the player is the one deciding where he’s taking the adventure.

As a result, Nels had to learn to face five challenges which he shared with us : being shackled by the premises, working in present tense, communicating information to the player, making the game work when narrative is all there is, and playtesting this kind of game.

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Full Indie 2016 : Let’s get physical – lessons from the real world

Zach Gage shared with us some things he has learnt from making physical games to re-use in video games. I’ve collected some of the rich thoughts from his talk on card, dice and billiard.

I found his comments on handling randomness and adapting incentives to player skill particularly interesting. On top of gameplay ideas, I like the idea of making board games to experiment with video game mechanics as a cost-effective way to learn from a concept before writing a single line of code.

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Full indie 2016 : Learning from Brigador’s mistakes

Stellar Jockeys made a unique game with a lot of hooks to get players on board. It had unique art, a fully destructible environment and a cool soundtrack. Game engines are like wood, no matter what you’re carving into it you’ll end up following  the natural flow of it.

Brigador was made on a custom engine to really work in destructible environments from the core of the game. It had great reviews on metacritic and on steam. If you take in account the issues that were fixed since they were reviewed, Brigador would have 97% positive reviews. Yet is sold less than 10k units. Why is that ?

Hugh Monahan had the courage to share his story with us, and we thank him for that.

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Full Indie 2016 : How to create 4D games

At Full Indie Summit 2016, Marc ten Bosch taught the audience to think in 4 dimensions. Now most of you probably have no idea what that means, and no, the 4rth dimension is not time. So how does it work ?

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How to teach players your game?

In this article, we’ll have a brief look at different types of tutorials and typical player behaviour when they encounter them. We will use the 2048 games as a reference because they exist in many forms and shapes and are simple enough to illustrate typical situations.

While creating efficient tutorials for more complex games may require more, the fundamental points this article aims to highlight are valid no matter the complexity of what needs to be taught.

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Does your game user experience suffer from blindness to change ?

Change Blindness is a perception phenomenon where  theobserver does not notice a change in a visual stimilus. It was first studied as part of memory and eye movement studies, and became largely researched for its applications in eyewitness testimony and distractions white driving.

This common perception phenomenon can greatly influence your user’s experience.  In interfaces, this means people often overlook changes in the design. It can affect error messages, or information in menus for example, and lead users to fail their tasks. Web users fail to notice errors or changes in products, or player can completely miss out on your games features.

So does your game suffer from change blindness?

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How games user research lead us to make our game harder

Making user friendly games doesn’t mean making them easier. Regardless, developpers still often make this mistake. The purpose of games user research is to ensure the player’s experience matches the designer’s intent. This can lead to simplify interfaces and remove unwanted challenges from the game, such as confusing controls. It does not imply removing any meaningful challenge though.

To illustrate that games user research can actually lead to making games harder, I will tell you the story of Olympus Naumachia. Game user research made this game quite a bit harder, yet less complicated.

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Mobile user interaction behaviors

The user’s position and context greatly influences their interaction with their mobile device.

Walking users almost exclusively use their mobile one handed. Walking mobile users are commonly finishing an activity they started before walking, and putting their phones away afterwards, or walking on with the phone in their hand, but without interacting with it. Walking mobile users usually do so while walking more slowly than usual, and pick up speed as soon as they are finished with their interaction. Walking users can also be found on the phone in conversation or looking at maps for orientation, as a help for their primary activity : reaching their destination point “B”.

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6 month of social network activity on game accessibility

A study based on the analysis of 856 mentions online – excluding facebook and linkedin

The hype started begin of august and the rush lasted half a month. Accessibility became a huge topic until begin of October, and fell back to regular levels of mentions. Begin January show a new increase in mensions. Articles on the topic were massively shared on twitter and on websites mainly in the USA but also in UK (not so much on blogs and forums). Canada and France don’t seem to have noticed anything really – or remained quieter about it on those networks at least.

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