May 25, 2010

[Gaming/Design] Good and Bad Design

As much as you might think I would write about part 2 of roach patch notes, I realize that the new patch changes a bunch and therefore my old dislike against the 2 food roaches is rather out of date. Needless to say, Overseer's are super buffed and I believe will become really useful in zvt and zvz play.

I'll get back to Starcraft 2 later, but now to the actual post. One thing I noticed while playing certain games and certain websites is ineffective design. This can influence the difficulty of games as well as the effectiveness of websites, sharing information, and so on. when a game is difficult, it can be difficult because of two things:

1)The gameplay itself is difficult
2)the design of the game makes the game difficult

An example of the 1st one is a Touhou game. The game gives you the options and ability to complete the game, score high, and beat insanely tough levels. The UI doesn't take away from the game and displays information in an effective manner.

While large, the sidebar doesn't interfere with game play. Also each characters maneuverability, while different, are all able to beat each level. This means that the game play itself makes the game hard instead of the controls and design of the game. While you can argue they are essentially both designed, one is on purpose and one is coincidental.

An example of the second is Assassins Creed 2. In the game as you play you run into special puzzle dungeons where you have to clear the area using various free-running abilities that you have. While these puzzles are fun, these areas are frequently made harder by bad game design. In the game, the puzzle areas tend to force certain camera angles on you. This is to reveal and help show where you are supposed to go from a certain part, but more frequently it just causes you to mess up. One such part is shown in this video:

If you don't expect the camera to change it is very hard to recover from it. This is an example of a game being more difficult by design than by gameplay.

Of course there are anomalies of these, which I like to call Starcraft. In this game, the flaws in the design actually ADDED to the game depth instead of taking away from it. Mutalisk Stacking, worker AI, pathing, and so on added an extra challenge to the game which allowed more advanced tactics to be used as gameplay and the skill of the players evolved.

One things that games do that most education websites do not is centralize information. All the necessary information for a game can be put on one screen for easy use and browsing. Most online courses, however, fail to do so. Admittedly there is much more information in a course than in a game, but the accessibility of that information is as important in an online course as a video game. Many times schools will only use their established means and not develop effective software to make a solid or easy experience for the user.

Basically, my rant is very simple: If a player or user of a website/game has to ask them selves (assuming that this isn't part of the experience)"how do I manipulate the game to do what I want" which causes them to try and break the game, there is something wrong with the design.

I'll get back to music posts, but I haven't really been listening to anything new or different since the Circa Survive latest album. I'm sure there are plenty of fun new albums to explore, but right now I don't have time to do so.

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