Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
Interview with Janus Anderson: Gaming and the
Social Graph—cont'd
and all of a sudden you become a pawn and get traded back and forth,
undermined by people more powerful than you. It was incredibly hard
to balance. Shielding new players from the core nature of the game
was hard.
Q: So were there lessons there about accessibility and how to design games
for the mass market?
A: Yes. I've made a lot of strides. It's been difficult because Warstorm
was not a mass-market game in a lot of ways. And when it was picked
up by Zynga, it didn't do anywhere near the numbers we were hop-
ing, because it wasn't terribly accessible. Basically, it was a Magic
the Gathering type of game—though a lot more accessible than Magic
because you got to play asynchronously. You could kinda play with-
out understanding the rules of the game. But just because it was a card
game, where you're looking at the cards and clicking on them on the
screen, 95 percent of your market looked at it and thought, “that's nerd-
ville.” From a presentation standpoint.
The problem is that people who make games a lot of times are gam-
ers, and we build games for gamers. And gamers like lots of numbers,
and they like stats, and interesting complexities and strategies and
details. And they want to take something that they've seen before and
change it. A common design mistake that I've seen before with a lot of
designers is they'll take something and want to add a bunch of stuff to
it. “I really like that game, but it needs to have this, and have this other
thing!” And what happens is you increase the complexity and increase
the barrier to entry. The first-time user's experience is harder for people
to get their heads around. If you think about it in terms of the original
Madden football game, it was easy for people to pick it up and play. But
if you take a modern Madden that is rolling out of EA, I wouldn't even
know where to start with that game. Because there are so many differ-
ent modes and different things that you can do. And it's just because
they wanted to appeal to that one audience, and each edition had to add
some more stuff to it. And they never took anything away from it. And
it became a complicated mess. I'm very much a reductionist designer.
There's a quote I like: “Perfection is not achieved when there's noth-
ing left to add. Perfection is when there is nothing left to take away.” So
when I design games, I always start with the simplest set of things that
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