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Great article. Also worth of pointing out is that, depending on your audience the amount of dimensions can vary. For example: many of the latest fighting games and racing sims are dimensionally large, because they must carry the expectations of hardcore audiences from past games, and is challenging to balance satisfying those players with even deeper experiences and attracting new people with not too much knowledge or experience in the genre. It would be good to discuss how to do that given the framework of concepts you've been working on :).


That's an excellent point.

'Expert' game genres can stand to be more complicated, but as you say they do so at the cost of becoming opaque to more general players. Even at that, however, what you tend to see with such games is that they become collections of main-game and sub-game parts that don't quite fit together.

The main thing is that as long as your players are happy, then you are doing a good job. It's preferable to be doing so with an eye toward growing your player base for the future though.


Johnson Harald

Great post, Tadhg. I don't quite agree about Tiny Wings, as I continue to discover new tactics to gain more mastery of it, but be that as it may... I'm wondering how to add dimensionality to a quiz/test game I'm working on. I'm offering various question/answer formats (true/false, multiple choice, et al), and also Hints, but players either get the right answer or they don't. The only three ways of adding dimensionality I'm considering are: (1) players choosing skill levels, (2) continually adding more questions, and (3) having questions reshuffle into random order on replay. (the total question pool is offered up in 10-question "games") Any other ideas? Thanks.

Joe Cooper


(Not that you asked me but) I tried to build some games around a "quiz" mechanic. The purpose was for "drilling" (things that must be learnt by rote) so it might not be applicable, but I tried embedding the quiz mechanic into a more conventional game and integrating it in some way.

The sign game prototype was first:


It's explained in the second post, but the short of it is that the player chooses a "risk level" by choosing either easy, medium or hard questions based on game state. The 3rd link includes a playable version of the prototype.

There was a second experiment, "Spell Tanks" but it's less interesting here I think.

Johnson Harald

Hi Joe,

I have no problem with you answering if Tadhg doesn't. I know this isn't a How-To forum, but I thought I'd give it a shot. Let me know if I'm crossing over any lines here.

I like your "dynamic difficulty" assessment. Have to give that some thought.

Thanks for the input!


Hi Johnson,

No problem, always happy to give advice. Here's my general thoughts:

Adding more questions and randomised selections of questions are pretty much a given with any quiz game, so to the player they are invisible. Difficulty selection can be interesting, but again if it's just another way of doing the same thing then it's not really adding another dimension to the game as such.

What is, on the other hand, is something like a prize table (as seen in Millionaire) which adds the possibility of losing a lot of money in addition to winning. Another is to have a physical board. Imagine if the questions were all presented on a 5x5 grid for example, and the player had to connect a line of questions (think Bingo).

Dimensionality means giving the player a problem to solve that has multiple levers that they can perceive.

Hope that's helpful,

Johnson Harald

Aha... I'm seeing your meaning of Dimensionality better. I won't be able to implement the two ideas you give in this go-round, but I will remember them for future. But by your last summary statement (a good one!), I believe I have another dimension with my Hint function. The Hint is an optional choice for the player to arrive closer to the correct answer. But his scoring (via countdown clock) suffers if used. And the Hint is only a "hint" of the correct answer. So I see the Hint as another lever that the player must make a tactical decision about using or not. If he uses it, he might get the correct answer, but his score suffers regardless. If he feels surer about the correct answer, not using the Hint will give him a higher score if he is right but no score if he is wrong. Make sense?

Thanks very much for your input. I love this stuff!


I know it's a little late to be commenting on this, but...

Isn't Doom's "change in weapons" really the same as Soul Calibur's "change in dolls" using different mechanics? It seems to me that all either option does is change the effectiveness of the doll.

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