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HCI for Computer Games

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  1. HCI for Computer Games Lynne Hall

  2. Types of Games • Role Playing Games • build up character • build up stats • Adventure • puzzle solving • less focus on character • Edutainment • Games that are learning experiences

  3. Types of Games • Retro Games • recreation of old favourites in new environments • Arcade packs • Simulations • computer simulations of real world environments (flight simulators)

  4. Types of Games • Sports Games • playing the sport • managing the sport • God Games • control of a simulated environment • Sim worlds such as SimCity • Strategy Games • similar to God games • often involve wargaming

  5. Types of Games • Hack & Slash / Shooters • body count games • if it moves, kill it • Quake, Half-life, Hexen • Fighting Games • combat between player and computer or 2 players • Mortal Kombat

  6. Types of Games • Platform Games • involves levels • gets harder as levels increase • Donkey Kong, Prince of Persia • Hybrids • many games cross more than one category

  7. Platforms • Cart-based • Nintendo / SEGA • PC-based (Stand Alone) • Network-based • biggest growth area • move from single user to LAN and internet based multi-user versions (Quake)

  8. History • Text-based games • UNIX “Adventure” • MUDs • Bartle’s MUD, LambdaMOO • Simple Graphical Games • Space Invaders, Tetris • Complex (2D/3D) Graphics • Doom, Myst, Quake, Half-Life • Multi-User Graphical Games • Everquest, Half-life

  9. Game Playing involves • A set of decisions which the player controls and, based on their skill and intelligence, by which they ultimately decide the outcome of their game.

  10. The Point of Games Design • Key issue for Games design is INTERACTION • Player interacts with the medium, distinguishing the game from most other passive recreational activities • Player controls the game world

  11. Game design should: • Entice people to play • Provides the storyline • Gives an emotional feel and provides a realistic tone • Incorporates many other aspects of creative / recreational media

  12. Designing for Playing • Playing involves making decisions • Need to create situations in which: • player decides what to do • player performs an action • game responds to action • game creates new situation

  13. Design Aims • Entertaining interaction • Easy way for player to perform actions on the basis of decisions about the current situation • Interesting outcomes from actions • Coherence and continuity between situations and actions

  14. Issues • Plot, Information, Mechanics • Graphics, Sound, Animation • Artificial Intelligence • Avatars, Tokens • Resources, Skills • Communication, Social aspects • INTERACTION

  15. Key elements • Resources - things that you must manage efficiently to achieve your aims • money in RPGs • combat strength in strategy games • forest in Simworlds • Tokens - means of managing resources • character uses money as they wish • manipulation of armies • parameters such as climate

  16. The Plot • Linearity vs freedom of action • If plot is linear, interest may be increased by including random encounters • Chris Crawford’s “web of plot nodes” • permit multiple paths • game different each time you play • Entering game from different places • multiple paths • convergence at key moments

  17. Realism versus Fantasy • Immersion • Physical laws (gravity, environment, etc) • Character Impact (death, abilities) • Abstraction (reality up to a point) • Clear understanding of fantastic mechanics for user

  18. Providing Information • User needs to know what aspects of the game effect their interaction • weather affects army success • player needs to know • impact of weather (better fighting in sun) • weather status • to enable them to take appropriate decisions

  19. Presenting Information • Design for standard size monitors • Provide sufficient information • Hiding Information • must be possible to work out hidden facts • player must have some idea of possibilites • Avoid overload • information needed must be appropriate to situation and time for decision

  20. Incorporating Game Mechanics • Controlling avatar • Managing inventory • Controlling other units / characters • learning game skills (jumps, manipulations) • using game elements (skill points, objects)

  21. Presenting mechanics • Interesting • Absorbable (ie not overwhelming) • May need • manual • tutorial • Good design can avoid extra instruction • layering skills • development over time

  22. Special Effects • Will not rescue a poor game • Design for the game not for the available technology • Does each special effect used • make the game more fun • make sense to the user • add to the feel of the game

  23. Pacing • Pace should vary • fast / energetic • fighting • escaping • medium / situational • solving a puzzle • navigating • slow / contemplative • object / character creation • difficult puzzle solving

  24. Pacing over entire Game • Initial rewards essential • builds confidence • builds and sustains interest • Getting somewhere in mid-game • moderate, apporpriately spaced out rewards • hard to achieve but not too hard • Finale • Hard to gain rewards • Sense of high accomplishment (avoid anti-climax….)

  25. Multi User Games • Huge body of literature on text based games (MUDs, MOOs, MUSHes, MUCKs) • Graphical games have still not solved communication problems • still text based • players rarely communicate • focus on selling (auctions), party formation, • often detracts from main action • big issue fordesigners

  26. Multi User Games • Communication • Cooperation • Collaboration • Conflict

  27. Evaluating Games 1 • Am I creating interaction? • Does my design create a decision dilemma for the player or not? • Are clear situations provided to the player? • Is there enough information in the game (graphical/sound/text) to illustrate to the player what situation they are in?

  28. Evaluating Games 2 • Am I providing them with the proper information to make decisions? • Is the interface by which the player commands the game clear and easy to use? • Does the interface provide the proper information to them to help them input desired actions?

  29. Evaluating Games 3 • Do the outcomes of the player's decisions end or continue the game? • Does skill and intelligence of the player produce the outcome? • Is it entertaining?

  30. Social Impact • “Don’t underestimate the power of the playstation…” • Computer Addiction • Virtual Communities • Different ways of “knowing” people • Interactive TV