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5 game design tips from Sims creator Will Wright

Game Thinking TV · Youtube · 1 HN comments
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Youtube Summary
Learn 5 game design tips that Will uses to create breakout hits - then get Will's Masterclass here:

Have you ever wondered how the genius behind The Sims approaches game design and innovation? Find out in this video summary of Will Wright's amazing game design Masterclass. These tips will help every product leader create more engaging experiences.

Learn about Will's Masterclass & get your FREE Cheatsheet:

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Will Wright defined the "Simulator Effect" as how game players imagine a simulation is vastly more detailed, deep, rich, and complex than it actually is: a magical misunderstanding that you shouldn’t talk them out of. He designs games to run on two computers at once: the electronic one on the player’s desk, running his shallow tame simulation, and the biological one in the player’s head, running their deep wild imagination.

"Reverse Over-Engineering" is a desirable outcome of the Simulator Effect: what game players (and game developers trying to clone the game) do when they use their imagination to extrapolate how a game works, and totally overestimate how much work and modeling the simulator is actually doing, because they filled in the gaps with their imagination and preconceptions and assumptions, instead of realizing how many simplifications and shortcuts and illusions it actually used.

>There's a name for what Wright calls "the simulator effect" in the video: apophenia. There's a good GDC video on YouTube where Tynan Sylvester (the creator of RimWorld) talks about using this effect in game design.

>Apophenia (/æpoʊˈfiːniə/) is the tendency to mistakenly perceive connections and meaning between unrelated things. The term (German: Apophänie) was coined by psychiatrist Klaus Conrad in his 1958 publication on the beginning stages of schizophrenia. He defined it as "unmotivated seeing of connections [accompanied by] a specific feeling of abnormal meaningfulness". He described the early stages of delusional thought as self-referential, over-interpretations of actual sensory perceptions, as opposed to hallucinations.

RimWorld: Contrarian, Ridiculous, and Impossible Game Design Methods

5 game design tips from Sims creator Will Wright

>Tip 5: On world building. As you know by now, Will's approach to creating games is all about building a coherent and compelling player experience. His games are comprised of layered systems that engage players creatively, and lead to personalized, some times unexpected outcomes. In these types of games, players will often assume that the underlying system is smarter than it actually is. This happens because there's a strong mental model in place, guiding the game design, and enhancing the player's ability to imagine a coherent context that explains all the myriad details and dynamics happening within that game experience.

>Now let's apply this to your project: What mental model are you building, and what story are you causing to unfold between your player's ears? And how does the feature set in your game or product support that story? Once you start approaching your product design that way, you'll be set up to get your customers to buy into the microworld that you're building, and start to imagine that it's richer and more detailed than it actually is.

Not sure it's applicable in this case as Reverse Over-Engineering depends on adequate but imperfect knowledge (it's ok if you think Pong paddles spin the ball) whereas actual reverse engineering is about things that seem (to most players) irreversibly complex being readily and deterministically reversible.
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