In this post, I wanted to present the main assumptions of Player Journey Map. But I found that this picture would be incomplete without fully understanding the meaning of the game. Why do we play and what is most important to us?
Quest for the Holy Grail
Holy Grail after Monty Python. The title chalice was not the main subject of the errant knights’ expedition. The expedition itself was the subject of these considerations. The goal of the game is entertainment. Delivering certain emotions. This means that a well-done game should lead the player by the nose. He can’t do this forever because he’ll get annoyed. The gameplay itself cannot be endless. Online games and all kinds of rivalries are an exception, but this is a topic for a separate post.
The carrot is right there
Since keeping the player in the game as long as possible is crucial, then how do you show it. I don’t like this metaphor, but it’s probably the most interesting mechanism of keeping interest: a carrot on a stick. The goal is at hand – it’s right there. It depends of course on the type of game, but it’s all about keeping the player as long as possible in the belief that it is about to be fun.
UX Game balance
You gain new levels and defeat better and better enemies – any moment you will be ready to defeat the final boss. You get better every moment, but the challenges grow with you. As game developers, we must keep this balance between the player’s development and the development of the game.
It is well solved, f.e. in last Assassin`s Creed, where you have, you can raise or lower the level of enemies. The best solution I have come across is the latest production of People Can Fly – full visualization of the levels and dependencies resulting from it.
Visualization of the goal of the game
All progress bars. Development trees. Crafting ingredients and recipes for potions. This is all a progress bar that we know well from web interfaces, which has been transferred to the game world. This helps the player visualize the path he is taking to be better and better equipped, to be ready for anything.
Such visualization has its basis in psychology. We remember about started tasks easier and longer. We want to complete a certain stage in order to have the satisfaction of completing something 100%. And the trick is to immediately show the player a new target. A new carrot.
UX player expectation
One player will want to sneak for half an hour, the other will like confrontations and playing with a typical “tank”. It’s nice if you can let them do that, but let’s face it – you won’t please everyone. Don’t look for the golden mean.
The most awarded game of all time (The Last of us II) is practically linear. Leaves little room for maneuver. The carrot is constructed differently there. I don’t want to spoil it, but this is the most powerful gamechanger in plot building in my opinion. Yet this is not a role-playing game.
Find your game idea and start building some concept of player freedom and control around it. Control within the limits of reason. Build expectations and find the emotion that will be the core sense of the player’s experience. Show him the carrot.