Last week I asked two questions:
What elements of design make it fun?
Would it still be fun if the same game was played but with all of the cards showing?
Solitaire works because of the anticipation it creates for the player. The end result is just sorting cards in a particular way, and the game provides a structure that doesn’t allow for much variation from the initial horizon of extent. But it’s is a good example of how powerful anticipation can be in game design. It keeps the player engaged knowing that the next set of cards they flip over may be able to help them progress through the puzzle.
To the second question: No. The anticipation is the only element that drives the player to continue to play through the game. You could argue that a jigsaw puzzle is similar and all the pieces are visible from the start, but the end result of what the player sees is the anticipatory element.
A normal jigsaw puzzle also contains a lot more variation to where pieces look like they are close to fitting but they are not, and mentally we feel that each one brings us closer to finding the right one.
A similar approach is taken by slot machines in casinos. They often supply a “near miss” to make the player feel like they were extremely close to winning and gives hope that a win is near. In reality it is just another loss, no different from any other.
That’s everything for this week. Follow me on twitter for more interesting game development stuff. @BigRookGames
If you found anything from this week’s digest valuable, consider signing up to receive it in your email weekly as well as emails with free development assets: