One-Timer Experience

Yesterday I pondered heavily my two game ideas (“battle” & “zombie browser game”) and one of the things that I kept thinking during the day was “what experience I really enjoy in games?”

My recent plays in PS3 NHL ’10 gave me one answer: “one-timer

  • There’s often human opponent trying to stop the pass or somehow give challenge to making the pass.
  • There’s a good chance that when executed well, the puck ends in the net – giving point to the team. Also, there’s chance that puck hits the post or goes off the goal. These “it was almost there” make it much more fun since you cannot be 100% certain that one-timer would always work. It’s the classical way to make things addictive by giving lil chance in how the reward is given. It’s so obvious, it’s so fun.
  • There’s 2 human players involved: one making the pass, one shooting. The cooperation between these two guys is the interesting.

    Now, what I really like is the last point. There’s 2 human players. Both players need to cooperate well: one guy needs to go to the right place to wait for the puck to arrive, the other guy obviously needs to find a good place to pass the puck… and actually do the pass (sometimes you see players who simply want to shoot the puck instead of passing).

    When one-timer is performed well, I can enjoy the fruits of excellent cooperation. Those one-timers are something I really enjoy in playing the game (in PS3).

    So – there’s puck, there’s shot – like who cares? What this have to do with zombie browser game stuff?
    Patience grasshopper.

    I read doctor Reiner Knizia saying that when he designs new board games he thinks of “what kind of experience the player wants?”. I recently read The Art of Game Design (Book of Lenses) which mentions the same thing. When I’ve done games stuff in the past, I’ve been thinking of it but I’ve been perhaps more interesting in the mechanisms.

    Now, with my “one-timer experience” in my pocket I pondered my game idea candidates and did some “playing in my head” (while in sauna) and it became obvious that there’s a conflict in my thinking. I would wanna create such game that would help players feel this “one-timer experience”, and if I was to create a battle game, that would not happen.

    In fact, if I look from cooperative perspective, there’s a few game ideas that meet this criteria:

    • (Zombie) browser tactical game where 2 unequal forces compete against each other, with several human players on both sides.
    • Co-op stealth game
    • Traitor game

    If there would be some changes in concepts, some of the other ideas could perhaps also meet the “is aimed to create a one-timer experience” requirement:

    • If the tactical battle game would change from 1 human vs 1 computer to 2 sides where there’s for example 3 human players on each side, it might have a chance. Although somehow I fear that it might degenerate into not so fun “rts” with balancing issues.
    • If my “ice hockey career” game would take place online, it might be actually quite interesting. Not sure exactly how it would be possible to get that “one-timer experience” but I think there might be ways.

    Is “one-timer experience” really the experience I want to provide?
    This is a tough question, and it goes back to answering to this question: to multiplay or not?. I’m somewhat leaning into working on a multiplayer game, but same time I has some considerations regarding the scope of the game. Well, maybe a prototyping reveals something useful for me.

  • Juuso Hietalahti