Designer Player Trust Building

Darren Torpey's Notes:

  • The running mechanic in Mirror's Edge was all about managing players' expectations
    • The red-items-are-for-actions mechanic was there to offset what could have been a crushing lack of confidence in a player's mind that taking long jumps, etc. was worth the risk
  • Sometimes games explicitly develop the expectation that they will betray the player's trust. See: Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels
    • (I Wanna Be the Guy is another good example of this)
  • Conversely, surprise is also important to a lot of good game design
  • Portal is a good example of balancing surprise and trust successfully
  • Like Mirror's Edge, it develops a strong visual language to communicate with players
  • Having a regular reward schedule can help a lot
  • Consistency is important: e.g. a random green turtle will not explode (in Super Mario Bros)
  • Breaking the 4th wall can also be a part of player trust
  • In Donkey Kong Country, the game teaches players that where there is a banana, there is something to keep you from dying while jumping or tumbling to grab it
  • We inherit trust from past games we've played
  • But as designers, it can be tricky knowing what games your players will have played and what they've learned from those games
  • Advanced example: Far Cry 2 teaching players to say "fuck it" and accept a high level of chaos is a really great triumph of player trust — when it works (which for many, it doesn't)
  • It's important to let players know why they failed — or they may stop trusting the game to be fair and understandable
  • It can help a lot to give players an explicit "out", for example: time-rewinding in Prince of Persia and Braid
Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License