When you Break It Down it becomes clear that there are a handful of shared game vectors that make good games good and bad games boring: Learnability, Playablity, Newness…etc. These all propagate or not the emergence of fun.
Hopscotch, COD, Draughts, Poker… they all share these. But they share them differently.
Hopscotch lacks something that Patience has. Perhaps more than one thing. Even without investigating we can imagine that whatever is lacking from Hopscotch is an aspect that continues to contribute to the playability of Patience over time.
I think the ninety year old would affirm that “I play patience for fun” just as much as the nine year old player would.
One game attribute is Winability. This is distinct from Challenge, I think. Winability it is about the pure competitive aspect of the game, internally and externally and how that aspect needs a sweet balance to maintain fun over time.
Winnability is a key concept in CGP.
Tic-Tack-Toe, like its identical twin, Naught’s and Crosses, and also like battleships and Connect 4 and Hangman are all examples of games with an decreasing winability profile. There might be a bit of a jump at the start, but after that it is a pretty accelerating drop.
For example: If you think about the opening tactics of Connect 4 you can see the key structures that cause the jump in Winability. But after this and, say, the value of diagonals, and so on, the winnability plummets. It lacks Depth and Complexity and it has a small possibility space.
Connect 4 is a good game. I have played it much and will play it again. But I could never play it always.
Winnability can be seen as the learning the harmonies between wining, loosing and neither. It is about how this harmony evolves as a player’s game evolves.
If you win every game then that game is not going to be fun. If you loose every game, the same.
In the middle, somewhere, is the harmonic where the lasting fun can happen.I continue with with chess and uniwar. It may stop one day.
Winability needs to self optimise. We see this often in Backgammon. New tactics entail new strategies and victories.
I havent got much better at Chess over the years. But my winability has been balanced.
If winability isn’t balanced then the player’s engagement will fade. It will either have become too easy or too hard and with too little variance from this.
The potential for online games means that Winability can be normalised. Is this good? You could have it so that players always played demonstrably equally skilled players.
I think that Imbalanced Winability is one of the key reasons gamers stop playing a certain game, especially because it is hard to maintain over time.; Diminishing Returns on all Parameters.
If you look at any ongoing tournament, in any game, you will see self organisation in action. The players by and large settle at the level of their comparable players.
In order to balance winability the game and the opponents(s) must interact in a way that requires an increase in the game smarts and skills.
It is not just about the wining the game it is about understanding the win, whoever wins. If you can see why you have lost then there is a level at which you have won.
Should you continue playing a game you know you will loose?
I think Winability cannot be maintained without a big enough possibility space. I guess it needs depth and complexity, but I am not sure. A game like Bejeweled is shallow and simple but because of the hand/brain/eye aspects Winability emerges outside the rules. It is external to the game, from the player’s body and mind. This doesn’t happen with chess, does it?
Winability is ones ability and interest to see the game in full. It has to be fun.