This is a conversation I had this morning with Martin Nerurkar about information management and pause mechanics in Cultist Simulator. It references this blog post (written almost exactly a year ago today!) which, if you’re putting your brain in this, is worth reading first.
Feedback and discussion in the comments is welcome!
I still like the desktop approach, but I do get a lot of feedback that ppl are overwhelmed
democritus [9:32 AM]
Hm. My thinking is that this isn’t the desktop approach, it’s the amount of tokens in play. You’d still be overwhelmed if it was a large list of things.
But we may want to think about adding a search or filter functionality to the game
It is absolutely the quantity of tokens in play
this is a problem with the kind of games I make, and I always struggle with the info overload
but the desktop metaphor exacerbates it; partly because it’s not in a tabulated format, but mostly because there are several choices simultaneously relevant
generally in other stuff I’ve done whenever the player is presented with a choice, they have just that to worry about, unless they want to back out and do something else
here, there are several ongoing potentially relevant things all the time
which is *deliberate*, and is part of why I like the desktop approach
but it imposes an extra burden of clarity
so dw, I’m not beating up on the desktop idea;
I am only saying that it now predisposes my answer to any design choice to be ‘whatever presents the least new information’
(which hasn’t always been the case)
I also think the time-limit adds to the overwhelming feeling of the game.
Radical suggestion: Time doesn’t go manually. But you make it go.
Press a button to advance 10 seconds.
this would change all timers to be more segmented bars (5 more presses and then this thing is done)
than fluid things
but take out all the stress and change the way people interact. Not sure if that’s what you want.
Middle ground would be: To have a pause button and a “skip forward” button
ak [10:14 AM]
I think it would make it a different kind of stress
democritus [10:15 AM]
that’d just run 10 seconds in 1 and pause again.
sort of like the >> 30 debug button
ak [10:15 AM]
Civ stress rather than Starcraft stress
‘have I 100% optimised my board for the next turn’ rather than ‘ahhh what’s happening???’
democritus [10:15 AM]
but the pause already takes out the starcraft stress, if you play with it.
so civ stress is already an option for the player.
it’s just not as explicit
and – hot take / radical notion – would it be bad for the player to find the stress they like and play that way? 🙂
ak [10:16 AM]
yes; so by the same token, we *already* have an optional turn-based system
if someone wants to play that way
democritus [10:16 AM]
including achievements of: never went out of pause and got to the goal X or never paused and got to goal Y
ak [10:17 AM]
I want to push them in the direction of the kind of stress I want as a designer
“and – hot take / radical notion – would it be bad for the player to find the stress they like and play that way?”
yes, it would :slightly_smiling_face:
because that means I have to design for both play styles
democritus [10:17 AM]
fair enough 🙂 But then I could argue that pause is wrong to be there at all?
ak [10:17 AM]
this, on the other hand:
>Middle ground would be: To have a pause button and a “skip forward” button
I don’t want a skip forward button, but I do want a ‘fast forward’ button
(probably ‘fast forward until next timer completes’)
“I could argue that pause is wrong to be there at all?”
I would be happier if pause wasn’t there at all, but I just can’t justify taking it out
players have to be able to pause, because they might be old or have babies or have slow reading speeds, there’s no way round that
damn them, with their squishy biological bodies and fallible human eyes
I am however considering making it impossible to slot cards during pause
I think the better way is to tune the speed and the interactions so it feels satisfying to play at moderate speed
you play Crusader Kings or Stellaris at all?
you can pause whenever you like, you can take all actions when paused, the optimal thing is to do that
sometimes when things are stressful you’ll do exactly that
but I, and I think most people, mostly play on fast speed and pause only in crises
cos it’s just more fun
and the rhythm subtly encourages that
democritus [10:22 AM]
Haven’t played it but I remember the same thing from… uh? was that sim city possibly? or sims?
Something along those lines.
but maybe instead of a pause just different speeds?
that way you can adjust to your current intensity level or personal skill / biological fallibility
a very slow one – but still ticking, always ticking, never stopping.
a regular one
and a fast one for when you just want to get that one timer done
ak [10:25 AM]
now *that* is interesting
we would still need a legit pause, but that could be escape-menu-pause rather than interact-with-the-game pause
I’m adding a note to consider that
democritus [10:26 AM]
ak [10:26 AM]
I do like the idea, and it is very testable; I could drop it in an early build and see if people hate it
also I am now considering posting this conversation online; do you mind me doing that?
democritus [10:28 AM]
no sure, go right ahead