We can think of the game as an object, which players use. In order to make this use (playing the game) pleasant it has to be intuitively clear, not demanding special skills and not overloading user with data. Say, you don’t think about frequencies when switching channels on a TV.
“Analog” thinking is natural for a human being. When someone works with numbers, he/she has to turn on inner analog-digital “converter”. When we get numbers, they transform in analog terms. For example, $1500 price for laptop is “average”, cheap cigarettes left is “runnig out”, 30 kilos – “heavy” and so on.
Did you ever answered on a question “How are you” with something like “Moral is at 35 points”? May be doctor said that you are 86% healthy, but you should wait for 100%? Or may be picking up one more kilo in your backpack makes you unable to move? We don’t think so. Then why games give you so many numbers? Some of them look like electronic chart.
We think, this approach has roots in a past:
- It always was like this. First games had only score numbers, next ones had resources, power, health displayed with numbers too. All the battle systems that came from tabletop-games have complicated core, which was managed BY PLAYERS themselves. You can see this kind of “inertia” in many modern titles, giving player a lots of numbers to collect and modify.
- Programmers like numbers. They just think “digitally”, their code work with numbers and complicated transformations. You can see some games, where programmers influence GUI design. They force players to work with numbers too.
- Users like to “investigate”. Yes, there are always some hardcore people, who disassemble every aspect of the game system, who create charts with parameters for others. Their fan-sites are always full with numbers and they have long discussions on forums about how to get higher levels faster.
Just looked over recent games screenshots (again), we should say that there is a good tendency – less numbers in interfaces, more visual content. We like this natural process, especially in common desire to make all the games more casual.
As one of the important goals in “Alternativa” we see a denial of traditional “25/100 HP”, “+4 to attack” and other excel-like trash and replacement it with clear visual messages. Indicators and interface elements are built based on “analog” perception. This will lower “entry barrier”, free casual player from “numbers crunching” and give them an ability to pay attention to social and other game events.
And sorry for my english :)