Thursday, 24 January 2013

Easy Mode Unlocked

One of the hardest thing to do when making a game, is to balance the difficulty.

Of course, at the start, you want your game to be as accessible as possible.  Then, over time, as the player progresses, you smoothly ramp up the difficulty to keep the player engaged.

Today I wanted to focus on the beginning of that : Just how easy is easy?

Easy for Me

The natural instinct of the indie developer is to make the first level really easy for themselves.  It turns out that's not a fair test.  You've been playing the game for a while now and you know all the controls and every obstacle.  You need to look elsewhere, to someone who's never played the game before.

Easy for You

The next step is to focus test.  Find everyone you know, especially your friends, who don't play games that much.  And then make it easy for them.  As you go through this process you'll find your game becomes more and more accessible and the learning curve becomes more and more navigable.

Easy for Everyone

But can we do even better than that?

If you watch young kids playing games on a tablet, you'll know how engaging they can be.  And frustrating too, with the constant restarts, and the accidental taps on adverts and in-game consumables.

Zen Arcade

In keeping with this spirit, this morning I added a special "Zen Arcade" mode to my next game:

There's no enemies or time pressure.  There's no way to lose.  It's just a calming, peaceful experience that anyone can play and enjoy.

I even made the pause button a little smaller to avoid accidental clicks, and removed the options to use the power ups.

What tips and tricks do you use to increase accessibility of your game?  Why not let me know in the comments below!

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