Think Like a Player!

From the beginning of any playthrough of the game, the author knows what things happen when, why they happen and what they mean. They even know things that don’t appear in the game at all. By contrast, the player knows only what they’ve seen so far, plus anything they guess or speculate (which may well be totally wrong). The rest of this article talks about some specific problems caused by clashes between these two mindsets, and how, as an author, to create a better game by thinking more like a player. Some of the things I mention overlap with things I’ve discussed previously in my How to Write a Great Game article; if you’re interested in seeing more design discussion from me I suggest reading that. Thanks is also due to Stephen Granade’s article The Player Will Get It Wrong, which covers a number of the same issues I discuss here, from the perspective of one specific author and several games. —Dan ShiovitzThink Like a Player! ( Home Page for Dan Shiovitz)