Easily pleased.

Michaël Samyn, May 22, 2012

I made a tutorial today. For the first time ever. I’m not a fan of tutorials. I’m an old school graphic designer: if you have to explain it, it’s wrong. Though I do realize that what is good for regular design is often the opposite of what is good for game design. Since the latter usually wants to make things more difficult for you and the former easier.

That being said, I’ve had good experiences with helping people along a little in our games. Apparently our work is weird. And unconventional interfaces are just too freaky to deal with for some. Unless we clearly explain things. Then they’re usually ok.

Not that I’m just including instructions for the stubborn. I think giving hints will help all players. Figuring out the controls really isn’t part of the play experience I designed. So there’s a few hints at the bottom of the screen when the game starts. You can ignore them and even turn them off.

I was surprised by how satisfying it feels to do what the game tells you to do. Especially given that the only “reward” you get for it is the next hint. It’s really simple things too. The game will say something like “Walk forward by pressing UP” and then you press up and, lo and behold, the avatar walks forward, and then the game says “Turn left by pressing LEFT.” Etcetera. It’s completely simplistic like that. But somehow it’s fun.

Apparently humans find it fun to follow orders. That must be part of why games can be so addictive. As collections of rules, games are in fact nothing but orders and commands. Surprisingly, a big reward is not even required for satisfaction. Simply the acknowledgement that you executed the command correctly is sufficient. Must be some leftover from when cavemen lived in herds. We feel happy when we do as we’re told.

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