When you create a game, what you want is to get people to play it, but also keep them, playing until they have reached the end. You want to keep them engaged. Now, this can be achieved by implementing great game mechanics (see previous posts) and you need to increase their positive feelings (e.g., amusement, excitement, etc.) but also decrease their negative feelings (e.g., frustration). So today’s post will focus on the later: how to reduce player’s frustrations and make sure that they enjoy (and keep playing) your game.
Among the many factors that can frustrate players, the following may be quite important to account in your game; so let’s go through each of them.
Audio is very important in your game, and it plays an important role for immersion; however, forgetting some simple rules can be very detrimental to your game; so it’s always good practice to vary the type of sound that you play in your game; this can be done at specific moments by using ambient sound or more intense scores when the action becomes intense (e.g., fight-scenes) and by making sure that you make it possible for the player to mute the sound also (both sound effects and ambient music).
2- Information & Feedback
Players, while they like to discover, need to know what they have to do to win; with no instructions and doubt as to what is to be done next, they can really lose motivation and end-up not completing the game; In addition, information also provides them with feedback on their progress so that they keep motivated. So you can give information in the form of briefing or debriefing, performance indicators (e.g., score, number of lives, or hints), and at the end of the game (e.g., ranking, or score). All these types of information provide valuable cues to the player as to what they should do and how they have done.
3- Help & Support
At any moment while playing the game, players should be able to avail of help; this can be through a help button, that provides them information about the controls or the objectives of the game. The idea here is that they don’t feel stuck and avail of help, if they need it. Now, of course, ideally, the game rules could be so simple that there is no need for extra information or help, which brings me to the next point
4 – Simplicity and Clarity
Ideally your game should take “a few moments to learn and a lifetime to master”; great games such as tetris or pacman have used this principle successfully by allowing the player to learn the rules very quickly but yet, providing a game that is challenging. This could mean: simple rules, simple controls (e.g., arrow keys for 2D game), and also a simple interface, that includes only key information.
Like anything in life, we all love to have choice and to feel that our input, to some extend, has made a positive impact. So for players, its quite the same, they need to know that their actions have an impact on the outcome of the game; but more importantly, that they have a choice in the game as to how this can be dome; so allowing players to complete a quest in different ways, to use different weapons, or explore different paths will really make a difference.