The Line Between Confusion and Discovery

Here’s a video of a Hyper Light Drifter player discovering how the chain dash works, and it’s just an utter delight! He struggles around with it until about 12:12, when it finally starts to click, and he gets SO excited at the discovery!

Walking the line between making sure your players understand the mechanics to be able to effectively play your game and leaving room for the delight of discovery is one the HARDEST calls to make as a game designer, I think.

Here’s something to keep in mind: If you were watching this person playtest, how long do you think it would have taken before you got squirmy and wanted to explain how it works? Subtract that timestamp from the one where he figures it out. Next time you run a playtest and get the squirmy “they aren’t understanding it” feeling, wait at least that amount of time more.

There’s also other factors at play: Was he more apt to keep trying because he had an audience? Is he just the sort of person that keeps hammering at stuff to figure it out? If so, is that who your target audience is? THESE ARE HARD GAME DESIGN QUESTIONS.

(Spoiler alert, he makes it to 800)

One thought on “The Line Between Confusion and Discovery”

  1. One moment of this I remember was the Swingshot in R&C1; the HelpDesk didn’t make it clear that you had to hold down Circle in order for it to work properly, which took me five minutes to figure out. I also stumbled an abnormal amount in Uncharted 3; for some reason that particular level design made it less obvious where the climb out was, so I was constantly lost and stuck.

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