Step 1: Observe the Status Quo
Step 2: Maximize the Power
Step 3: Minimize the Power
Step 4: If you can’t make Step 2 or Step 3 work… Stop Here!
Step 5: Balance the Power with the Clarity and Usability
The easier an ability to use, the less powerful it should be. The more difficult it is to observe, the less powerful it should be. These are the grey areas in which your will and judgement as a designer comes into play.
Step 6: Beware the Theme
While a deep enough topic for another time, be wary of your Theme.
Consider for example, an explosion. In the real world, an actual explosion is a very dangerous thing. A ball of fire would nearly kill or at least permanently injure anyone actually struck by it. While Super Mario 1 could get away with that, other games cannot.
Thus it’s important to try to give enough power to satisfy the expectations of the player, while keeping the value of the ability within the safe constraints of your game. If your fireball can only ever do a tiny amount of damage… consider changing the theme of the ability and make sure the art reflects its lack of power. Choose a tiny spark of light and not a nuclear holocaust.
Tuning is more than Power
|The Witch Doctor|
- Play carefully until you get a star
- Run recklessly around the level, killing everything
- If you fall into a hole, die or otherwise lose the star, you become irate and frustrated until the next Star comes along.
- You generally play very carefully until you learn a level
- Slowly over time, your mastery over the level increases and you can play more recklessly
- While exploring, you occasionally find Stars which allow you to play recklessly for 10 seconds.