Thursday, June 05, 2008

Help, I Cant' Stop Learning!

Help, I Can't Stop Learning!
Presenter: Sid Meier

So they managed to find the appropriate cable so they can display an XBox 360 on the projector.

And as they finish setup - the high schoolers brought in to enjoy this part of the conference get a picture with Mr. Meier and the president of DAU. Very cool that they get an opportunity to be exposed to other potential uses for gaming.

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As he talked to people asking why they enjoy games

People don't want to be educated. Want to learn.
- Won't advertise that they learn
- They keep coming back because they feel they are improving.
- The improvement path is motivating

Developing more skills is a powerful part of the appeal.

Gotta present in a way that is fun and entertaining and encouraging and empowering.

Empowerment is key - player feels that he/she is in charge and is making key decisions.
- If it's theirs to win or lose - more important.

Civilization Revolution (coming out in 1 month) - Xbox360.

(showed the preliminary introduction. AMAZING graphics and audio detail.)

Creating a sense of anticipation, what yet to come very powerful.

"One more turn" phenomenon. People want to see what's going to happen next.
- Separate paths.
- Players mind always looking towards "what's going to happen next."
- The introduction is the layout for what is going to happen next. Something to look forward to.
- What is the big picture? Where are we going?

Always trying to create sense of anticipation.

Never let the player thing they are being educated.
- All of the great leaders have some reality to it.

Keep the level of the presentation as high as possible.
- Make visuals interesting and colorful.

Each civilization has particular values. All positive. All based on history.
- Always encouraging the player.

Gives tips while loading!

Give some further information (background info, options, objectives) in the introduction.
- All of this happens before you really do anything.
- Again - anticipation

There is a tutorial available - how to play the game, control. Available early and an option.
- People don't want to be in a separate learning area.
- Will indicate what is important.

Also elevate you into role (in this case - king).
- You can be people and go to places that you wouldn't go to or be in real life.

Choices within the tutorial. Learn about food? Learn about production? I like the way things are working.

Icons - powerful way to burn a concept into the players brain.
- I.E. apple = food. See apple = enough food.

First time we see the concept - the tutorial tell us what to do, then leave us alone.
- Still get a chance to see what's coming
- Get to see the branching. What technology leads to what.

Also has an area where you can get more information. (Civilopedia)
- Available in multiple media (text, video, etc)

We are not educating you. You are planning strategy for conquering the world (oh yeah, and you are learning about stuff like technology and history).
- Include internet links for more information.
- Layers, digging deeper, more in players control to determine what people learn.

As you play - concepts more familiar.

People who play find they learn amazing things in spite of themselves.
- Information now makes sense to them.

By using concepts players already understand - players feel at home.
- If player succeeds using their own knowledge - makes them feel more confident.
- The stuff learned at school can be useful more immediately.

Multiple paths to the end.
- Also plant idea - hey, want to try another path next time.

Replayability and trying different paths and trying other options turns it into a much longer and more enriching experience.

(I want this game!)

Key that the interface feels natural. Rule of any interactive technology.
- If you have to think about what to press, you lose the player.

Most players push every button to see what it does
- There are still conventions
- Gotta make it simple and clear - x for not allowed. Arrows for where to go.

The game starts small and self contain. Reveal as play.
- Want to make it easy to start playing.
- Introducing a few concepts to start.
- Don't present a ton of ideas at once in beginning, you will lose them.

The clearer we can present the information as they need it - the better.
- Give the info you need.
- Chances for success. (math of probability)
- Then show what reward is.

Always something fun to do (combat, of course, is the most fun for a lot of people).

Civilized assumed good.

Important to have fun while making the games.
- Shows in the making of the product.

Player begins to see the repetition of the user interface. Becomes more comfortable.

Instant feedback - tone, words, facial expressions.

Payoff - to see what it's like to be this character (lead a civilization).
- more can remind and encourage, the more powerful the experience.

All wrapped around staying in the fantasy of the game or pop out of the game.

the more you can get the mind churning about the possibilities, the better.

There are multiple paths and objectives. The path and objective is the end-user's choice.
- Cultural, Economic, Technological ways to win the game
- There are also AI civilizations also racing with you to accomplish the same thing (a dominant civilization).

The competitive element sharpens the decisions that you make.

Fun for player, but also learning to enhance the game experience.

Dealing with multiple languages: Localize the text, but use "Firaxlish" for the audio.

Key decisions - what do you leave out? What is essential?
- Player has to be having fun. Not about showing off my knowledge, but player using the information they have.
- Research after the game is finished. Focused on common knowledge, research only to make sure what have is right.

If it ever got out that this is "educational" - sales cut in 1/2

Also "requirements" if use an "educational" game.
- A "syllabus."
- There has to be a specific end
- Has to meet safety specs

Really its about the end-user having their own experience.

About the stealth learning. Be great to do more directed learning, but the overlap is tricky.

Online play in Civilization Revolution competitive - each has own civilization.
- Can team up - cooperatively with own civilization. Or work alone.
- Can change from cooperative to rivalry.

Multi player online cooperative play becoming more powerful and featured more frequently (see WoW).

To design a bad game:
- Pick an obscure topic that no one cares about
- Make it text based
(see bargain bin of GameStop)

"Find the Fun"
- What are the interesting decisions does the player get to make? Highlight those.
- One right answer not interesting as a game.
- Let them make wrong choices and go off the path.

We are teaching more process, decision-making than the right answer.

Cheat codes - he hates them.
- We've failed as a designer if the player wants cheat codes.

Civ IV available for Mac.

The first step - the idea of community in the downloadable content.
- Not just playing the game but talking to others also interested in the game
- The online interactive community is becoming a more important part of the gaming experience.
+ Research
+ Problem-solving
- Learning from peers and others going through the same experience very powerful. Moreso than being fed.

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