Design Dive #25
Paul Stephanouk - Design Director of Candy Crush. Previously EA, Zynga, Bossfight, Schell Games, Big Huge Games. 20 years experience building and running creative teams.
Kelly Tran - Co-founder and Game Designer at Evolved Play. Previously, Game Design Professor researching games and players at High Point University. PhD in learning and tech. Solo Twitch - Group Twitch - Website
Ian Schreiber - Senior Game Designer Oxide Games, previously Assistant Professor Rochester Institute of Technology.
Brandon Dolinski - Level Designer Eidos Montreal. Previously Mass Effect Andromeda and Dragon Age.
Christopher Schmidt - Game Design Director at Bioware.
Mohamed Abdel Khalik - Head of Game Design Relations at Machinations.
No universal rule centered around putting players in a flow state.
Mental state zoned out, the world shuts down, you’re one with the game.
Not unique to games - programmers enter the space, athletes enter the space.
Games are excellent toys to take you into that state.
People find it compelling and pleasurable to enter that state.
Repeated tasks that have enough variance to not be boring.
Shooters, puzzle games are good examples for this.
The games that have this property are almost infinitely replayable.
Flow Theory - Csikszentmihalyi
High performing people at the top of their craft.
Time seems to go away.
Not aware of body.
State of pure concentration and pleasure - zen.
Presenting the player with a rapid-fire series of lightweight decisions that all connect to a larger goal but not the point of overwhelm.
Rate of information appropriate to the game.
Overwhelm = frustration.
Consciously think of information the player has to hold in their head in any given time.
Skill not enough to rise to challenge of game = frustration.
Easy but player has high skill level = boredom.
Flow channel = in between frustration and boredom - that’s the goal.
Flow state isn’t about dopamine hit (Skinner Box).
It’s about slow burn where the player is interested.
Overlap occurs - you can flowstate slot machine and skinner box slot machine.
Retaining flow state = monetization opportunity. I want more lives to continue..
Pay to extend.
Need to have goals so you know what the flow looks like and how you feel.
Teach them why the actions they take will make them successful.
Flow comes from consistent mastery, but in order to teach they have to discover where the edges are and fail. Do they end up in flow during failure? Maybe. But if they surpass this phase without frustration they end up in better flow.
Failure loop is very elastic. Can be short or long.
Deeper flow states for narrower group of people = CIV.
Flow state for everyone = Candy Crush.
Chess is a board, the flow state is in your mind.
There is no room for any other thoughts in their brain.
Immersion and Flow are different.
Immersion you feel you’re part of the game.
Aesthetics really helps with that.
Not immersed when playing Candy Crush.
Not in flow when playing Skyrim.
Kinesthetics are important because bad input controls can break flow.
Action and awareness merging.
Being absorbed in the action that it becomes second nature.
Heatmap of screen
Cluster resources to make sure information is grouped by
Lots of user research
Look at their face, not just at the screen.
Information fatigue is real but you won’t get it in player feedback.
The simpler the game the easier it is to get into flow state.
Novice Designer - barely any info to player - people understand what we understand.
Intermediate Designer - too much info - overwhelming players.
Expert Designer - Right information at right time. That facilitates flow.
Flow is not the only thing that make a game pleasurable.
Self Driven goals produce extended flow state.
Sandbox games are great for entering flow.