In most current-gen action-adventure or FPS games collectables are common. Usually linked to trophies, they allow designers to extend the life span of their game, by giving the player additional meta-goals to complete. However, making successful collectables is not as simple as just placing random objects throughout your game. I’ve written about issues with collectables before, and in this post have identified some best practises for making successful collectables in a game.
Accessibility is the idea of ensuring that people of all abilities, encompassing a range of disabilities, can play your game. In 2008 Popcap reported that up to 20% of casual gamers are disabled, and hence making your game playable to people of different abilities can have a huge effect on your player base. The last few weeks has seen the release of some initiatives to aid game developers in making games suitable for disabled gamers.
The first are the “game accessibility guidelines”. Created by a panel of game designers and academics, the guidelines are a ‘to-do’ list of features to ensure that your game is playable by disabled gamers. The website focuses on clearly defined, actionable recommendations to ensure that game developers can understand and implement them easily – for example “Provide an option to adjust contrast”.
Helpfully, the guidelines are arranged by both difficulty of implementation, from basic to advanced, and by impairment. They also includes a wide range of examples, to show best practise in popular games such as Skyrim or Angry Birds. For more information, see the game accessibility guidelines website.
The second accessibility related development this week is the release of AbleGamers Foundation’s “Includification” Guidelines. This short book collates best practises and guidelines for a range of disabilities in a short how-to guide (and forthcoming book). They have published the entire booklet on the includification website for free, and it is full of great examples from modern games such as LA Noire and Deus Ex, as well as a set of developer exercises to encourage game developers to think about practical ways this can be implemented in their games.
I like games with interesting ideas and I often try flawed games which feature a unique gimmick. A great experience I had of this recently was Singularity, Raven’s under advertised first person shooter, where the player is given a “time gun” that allows them to manipulate the environment, and enemies, sending them backward and forward in time. Despite being a relatively generic FPS at heart, the gimmick made the game fun, and I would recommend it.
Yesterday I tried MindJack, hoping for a similar experience. It’s a cover based shooter (like Uncharted), where the player is able to manipulate their enemies perceptions – a great idea, however some major usability issues encountered in the first hour put me off the game completely!
The need for good usability when saving games is obvious – players want to know that their data is safe. Unlike the actual gameplay, which requires user experience evaluation, saving a game is a short, goal focused task. However it is still a fundamental aspect of gaming, and can have a huge impact on a player’s perception of a game.
This lends itself to some best practises, derived from reviewing current games, which can be applied to almost any genre of game. In this post I’ve created some saved games rules, and given examples of games where breaking these rules has ruined my day!