You may not love Sid Meier’s Civilization games but I do- have for years. So when I saw this I knew I had to mention it. Sid talks about the psychology of game design and I’ll summarize his points from this article.
- Recognize that the player is an egomaniac- the game has to be winnable by the player
- Too much randomness in the game will make the player paranoid- the player has to know they are in control
- Protect players from themselves- too many options kill the enjoyability
- Listen to players- not just to what they say but to what they’re really getting at
Which I will regurgitate as advice for app developers:
- Recognize that the user is an egomaniac- he expects that he is exactly the one you made the app for and it should easily work for him and his unique computer setup
- Too many bugs or unexplained quirks in the app will make the user paranoid- even if you made it work a certain way for a good reason, if the user doesn’t understand what’s going on, he won’t trust the app enough to really use it
- Protect users from themselves- too many options and GUI elements will make the user unsure whether they can actually use the app or potentially lead to a group of custom settings by the user that makes the app useless. Don’t try to make it infinitely customizable- that will just take an infinite amount of time for you to make and an infinite amount of time for the user to set up. Use reasonable defaults with only a couple of options.
- Listen to users- not just to what they say but to what they’re really getting at