Game Development Reference
this path is an interesting puzzle because the player can think through
the jumps without ambiguity or uncertainty since Mario's jumping is con-
sistent and comprehensible. This creates a rich puzzle-solving thought
process as the player's mind spins through possibility after possibility.
And when he sees the solution, he'll know it immediately and fill with a
rush of insight.
The exception to this guideline is when the decision itself only has
meaning in the fiction. A game can offer a moral or character choice that
is totally outside the game mechanics and only affects fictional elements.
In this case, fictional information can be used alone to make the decision
because the decision itself has no mechanical meaning — it works on a
purely make-believe level. But the moment the choice starts feeding back
into the game mechanics by changing stats or level paths or tool upgrades,
it becomes a different type of decision and needs to be fed by unambigu-
ous mechanical information.
Players have more information than what the game itself gives them. They
draw this knowledge, or metagame information , from outside the game
METAGAME INFORMATION is information the player gathers from the
real world outside the game.
Players know a lot about a game even before they begin play. They can
guess its length from genre convention. They know how hard it is because
their friends talk about it. They can predict NPC (Non-Player Character)
behavior and plot twists by watching for clichés or by knowing the habits
of the studio behind the game. They know the limits of computer technol-
ogy, so they know the game will never put 10,000 characters on-screen
at once. They've seen the trailers and the box art, so they might know
key characters, themes, and plot points. None of this is inside the game
mechanics or the fiction, but players still know it, so it still affects their
decision process during play.
Metagame information can twist an experience by giving players in-
formation that the designer assumes they don't have. Often this causes
For example, in many games, players collect and use resources like
ammo and health. Often, the fiction implies that these resources should
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