Hi, Sabo here.
It’s about 1 year now since I finished my bachelors in CS. Had a great time making indie games first parttime and now for about the last 7 months full time. So far I have been working alone, because well working together with people is quite a drag.
But now after working alone for so long I got tired, I miss working together.
Have been in a discord chat with fellow game developers were we can share our struggles and help each other out for a couple months now and this surely adds to the game developer experience for the better.
I feel like giving teamwork another shot. At this point however I don’t feel ready yet to start working in teams as I feel my game design skills are lacking for teamwork.
It was about 2 years ago I started making indie games on Newgrounds and still now with new games I notice there is one area I am still lacking.
I have an idea in my mind of how the game should be played that seems perfectly logic to me and then I make it and players do something completely different and I have no clue why they are doing that different thing. After asking some fellow game designers I found out about this thing called “affordances” which exactly described the issue!
It is about how design teaches us without words. Let me illustrate with some examples.
Green rectangles and silver circles mean nothing to a player on their own.
Put them next to an overturned cash register and suddenly they have become dollars and coins in the mind of the player.
Now let’s continue with an example from one of my games:
Here you are the green car and a yellow car drives towards you.
In the mind of the player it seems perfectly logic to dodge the car otherwise you crash into the car. Now let’s see what to me seemed logical.
Me: I am this crazy driver which is driving against traffic and wants to scare people by dodging them at the last moment so they dodge in order to not die and will crash into the trees.
And then you have to time your dodge so they will crash into a tree. That seems perfectly logical, that an incoming car would dodge you if you don’t dodge them and that you use this to scare them into crashing into trees.
And then what ends up happening is players don’t get it, they think they have to avoid the car to not die and then they get frustrated because they feel stupid because they don’t understand the game.
Now this is not the only game, can you guess the other 2 affordance mismatches in these 2 games? There is one in each game, hint: test on your parents.
Besides affordances there are of course many other areas of possible improvement.
Right now I am working on a project where I am paying special attention to not only affordances, but also elegant game design and frustrationless play (game oil).
For the next blog I am thinking about showing some examples of how I applied affordances, elegant game design and game oil (frustrationless play).
If you got interested and would like to know more about these concepts you can read here:
Elegant game design: Page 227, lens 43: http://www.sg4adults.eu/files/art-game-design.pdf