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mont blanc fountain pens melbourne Game Design Strategies Kevin Sheehan's Design Journal Home About Kevin Tag Archives: PENS Oct 22 2013 Leave a comment Design Journal Motivation & Engagement in Gameplay

At the peak of my academic career, there are numerous theories and frameworks that I interface with on a near-daily basis. From PENS, to MDA/MMDA, to Flow and intensity/engagement curves, I am surrounded by proposed solutions for the various shortcomings of game design theory.

Now, to attempt to combine all of this research into a single, unified practical framework would be completely foolhardy. So here I go:

What You Need to Know

There are a few things that are essential to know before going any deeper. I will quickly outline the frameworks and theories I reference below:

PENS – The Player Experience of Need Satisfaction  is a heavily-researched framework that theorizes that sustained player engagement (retention) can be measured by a game’s ability to deliver on three central axes: autonomy, competence, and relatedness.

MDA – The Mechanics/Dynamics/Aesthetics framework explores the relationship between the components of a game (mechanics) and the end-user experience (aesthetics).

MMDA – Developed by Benjamin Ellinger (DigiPen), the Multimedia/Dynamics/Aesthetics  framework is a more thorough, detailed breakdown and extension of the MDA framework.

Flow – A psychological state of focus and immersion first proposed by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, flow takes place in a mental channel between anxiety and boredom.

Intensity/Engagement Curve  – The theory that the most resonant experiences have an intensity/engagement arc that corresponds to the standard structure of the 3-act story arc.

Aesthetics and Motivators

MDA/MMDA focuses on building a library of often-interconnected gameplay aesthetics (high-level gameplay experiences, such as “challenge” or “discovery”). These aesthetics can be broken down into their dynamic and mechanical constituents, but this process can become fairly nebulous when transitioning between each lens. To help improve our ability as designers to achieve sustainable gameplay from a desired aesthetic, let’s try combining MDA/MMDA with PENS:

Here we’ve taken each of the standard MDA/MMDA aesthetics, and derived a rough distribution of the PENS axes to represent how they achieve sustained engagement. Each distribution is fairly unique and can direct a game towards the desired aesthetic if each axis is properly represented.

But there is still room to go deeper from here using both flow theory (to explain growth) and engagement/intensity curves to explain exact execution.

Reinforcing Engagement Pillars

The next step in being able to use these theoretical frameworks in a unified, practical process is dissecting how to deliver on each of the three PENS axes. To do that, we’ll need to better define each PENS axis:

Autonomy – “The experience of volition or choice in one’s decisions and actions” ( PENS , 11).  At its core, Autonomy is about freedom, and can manifest itself in a variety of forms, including personal expression and identity development.

Competence  – “The intrinsic need to feel a sense of mastery or effectance in what one is doing” ( PENS , 5). Competence is more about the sensation of excellence; the state of being greater than one once was, and that one’s time invested in the game has been appropriately rewarded.

Relatedness – “The intrinsic desire to connect with others in a way that feels authentic and supportive” ( PENS , 13). Relatedness, at its essence, is about a feeling of purpose; that whatever one does and has done will impact others either directly (playing together in-game) or indirectly (discussing stories out-of-game).

Now what if we were to see each PENS axis as having its own flow channel for maximized performance and learning? It would probably look something like this:

Now we can look at each axis as having its own flow channel that must be maintained. This also inherently means that it is possible to be in flow state for one axis while being out of flow for another. This occurrence is not only possible, but is also expected, as players will be constantly transitioning between axes (and subsequently flow channels).

And that brings us to the final piece of the puzzle that will complete this unified framework.

Pacing Flow States

Intensity/Engagement curves have been used extensively in design theory to discuss gameplay pacing as it relates to the 3-act structure of storytelling. In theory, all contained gameplay experiences share the following attributes with the three-act structure:

Hook – A promise of what the central conflict will entail.  The player spots an enemy soldier amidst an ongoing firefight.

Call to Action – The moment when the hero decides to get involved in the central conflict.  The player raises the rifle and looks down the scope at the target.

Rising Action – Small, episodic conflicts that progress the central conflict.  The player attempts to line up the reticle with the target. The target keeps moving, extending the conflict.

Crisis – Something crippling happens to the hero.  The player takes the shot, and becomes vulnerable for a moment while the bullet travels (and the player begins to reload).

Climax – The central conflict is resolved despite the crisis.  The enemy is slain.

Epilogue – The relevance of the central conflict’s resolution is exposed for closure.  The player proceeds to take his fallen enemy’s weapon.

Even in the warfare example above, there is a rough adherence to the 3-act structure that leads to a stronger, more meaningful storytelling experience. And wherever you find strong meaning, you begin to encroach on a flow state. So for the last piece of the puzzle, let us combine flow theory and intensity/engagement curves:

Instead of seeing intensity/engagement curves as a single-branch measurement, we are now looking at several concurrently developing curves – one curve for each PENS axis flow channel.

More essential than the idea of separate curves is the understanding that these curves are not (and should not be) identical; each curve will create different peaks and valleys as the game experience develops, and each PENS axis will typically be emphasized in an alternating fashion.

The exact structure of these curves is essential to the gameplay experience, but cannot be determined at the theoretical level without limiting the creative possibility space of the designers.

Overview

There are a number of theories and frameworks traversing the world of game design theory, but little progress is being made to help unify these frameworks. By locating crossover territory between MDA/MMDA, PENS, Flow Theory, and Intensity/Engagement Curves, we’re able to see a new theoretical network:

Rough ideas beget MDA/MMDA aesthetics Each MDA/MMDA Aesthetic begets a PENS axis distribution Each PENS axis is developed through Flow, the mental state of optimal experience And each Flow channel is built through an Intensity/Engagement curve

Given the fractal nature of intensity/engagement curves, this progression then continues recursively until the mechanical workspace of the designer is too minute to effectively adjust. And while the exact execution of the intensity/engagement curve are still left up to the creative minds of designers, we can begin to construct a more consistent, procedural way to create sustained engagement from even the simplest game ideas.

—————————–

* Updates *

10/23/13 – Updated the Relatedness flow chart to read “Overdependence” instead of “Insignificance”. This better illustrates the anxiety involved with having too many social obligations (too many people are dependent on you).

Tagged design , flow theory , game design , games , MDA , MMDA , PENS Search for: Recent Posts Ludic Narrative Modernizing the RTS Motivation & Engagement in Gameplay Reversion in Outbreak Dawngate [Beta] – Designer Review Archives December 2013 October 2013 September 2013 August 2013 July 2013 January 2013 December 2012 November 2012 October 2012 September 2012 May 2012 March 2012 January 2012 Categories Design Journal Meta Register Log in Entries RSS Comments RSS WordPress.com Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Pens-Islanders game blacked out on all channels (12/21)?? Discussion in ' DIRECTV Programming ' started by n3ntj , Dec 22, 2007 .

Thread Status: Not open for further replies. Dec 22, 2007 #1 of 13 n3ntj Hall Of Fame 5,772 13 Dec 18, 2006 Lancaster,... Any idea why the Pens-Islanders game last night was blacked out on all channels is was supposed to be on? The guide showed: FSN NY HD 624 FSN Pittsburgh 628 and 628-1 NHL Network 215 But on each all I got a was a black screen and 'channel not available in your area'. I am NOT in the Pittsburgh DMA and normally get the Pens and Islanders games no problem as part of NHL CI. Did anyone else not get this game and was supposed to?   Dec 23, 2007 #2 of 13 MrBill64 DBSTalk Club Member 181 0 Aug 3, 2006 n3ntj said: Any idea why the Pens-Islanders game last night was blacked out on all channels is was supposed to be on? The guide showed: FSN NY HD 624 FSN Pittsburgh 628 and 628-1 NHL Network 215 But on each all I got a was a black screen and 'channel not available in your area'. I am NOT in the Pittsburgh DMA and normally get the Pens and Islanders games no problem as part of NHL CI. Did anyone else not get this game and was supposed to? Click to expand... You are not alone. I too was blacked out and at least one other poster was too. Some had no problem viewing the game so the black out was on a limited basis. Bill   Dec 23, 2007 #3 of 13 scarzy Mentor 35 0 Oct 14, 2007 I was blacked out as well in Chicago on the normal FSN stations, but the game was broadcasted on NHLHD - channel 215. If you are a Pens fan, you did not miss much unfortunately. I have no idea why I was able to see it on NHLHD.   Dec 23, 2007 #4 of 13 Mocco71 Godfather 365 0 Jan 13, 2007 n3ntj said: Any idea why the Pens-Islanders game last night was blacked out on all channels is was supposed to be on? The guide showed: FSN NY HD 624 FSN Pittsburgh 628 and 628-1 NHL Network 215 But on each all I got a was a black screen and 'channel not available in your area'. I am NOT in the Pittsburgh DMA and normally get the Pens and Islanders games no problem as part of NHL CI. Did anyone else not get this game and was supposed to? Click to expand... Very strange... I am in the same HLLY DMA as you and I was able to watch the entire broadcast on 628-1 (and a few minutes on 628 when the HD had a drop-out.) I subscribe to both CI and Sportspack.   Dec 23, 2007 #5 of 13 MrBill64 DBSTalk Club Member 181 0 Aug 3, 2006 scarzy said: I was blacked out as well in Chicago on the normal FSN stations, but the game was broadcasted on NHLHD - channel 215. If you are a Pens fan, you did not miss much unfortunately. I have no idea why I was able to see it on NHLHD. Click to expand... Everyone should have been blacked out on the RSN's except those in the Islanders and Penguins DMA. This happens when the NHL network covers a game. The local teams DMA are the only ones not blacked out of their local RSN's. Bill   Dec 23, 2007 #6 of 13 REDSKINSFAN47 Legend 223 0 Sep 2, 2007 Woodbine,MD I watched it on 628-1,i have sports pack and am able to watch all caps and pens games in my dma   Dec 23, 2007 #7 of 13 JMartinko Legend 195 0 Dec 16, 2006 Game was blacked out on all the NHLCI and Sportnet feeds here too, but 215 NHL was open and just fine here in Colorado. Sounds like another regional blackout issue. Be sure to at least email D* so there will be aware of the problem even though it is too late to fix it. You might help prevent it from happening again next time if they know about the areas with the problems.   Dec 24, 2007 #8 of 13 n3ntj Hall Of Fame 5,772 13 Dec 18, 2006 Lancaster,... Yeah, 628 and 624 should have been blacked out (in my area) since NHL Network had the game, but it was also blacked out.   Dec 25, 2007 #9 of 13 Billsfan69 Legend 223 0 Nov 9, 2007 n3ntj said: Yeah, 628 and 624 should have been blacked out (in my area) since NHL Network had the game, but it was also blacked out. Click to expand... It could be that Directv has you as receiving FSN Pittsburgh when you actually don't. Directv blacks out FSN Pittsburgh like they are supposed to but they also black out the NHL Network. This happened to me for the Duck games. I went to the Sports package section of Directv's website and they had my 14043 area code as receiving prime ticket with the premier package for ducks and clippers games, which since I am on the other side of the country is definitely not correct. They still black out the duck games on prime ticket for me, but also black them out on NHL network. I thought it weird that I was only having a problem with Duck games.   Dec 25, 2007 #10 of 13 Billsfan69 Legend 223 0 Nov 9, 2007 JMartinko said: Game was blacked out on all the NHLCI and Sportnet feeds here too, but 215 NHL was open and just fine here in Colorado. Sounds like another regional blackout issue. Be sure to at least email D* so there will be aware of the problem even though it is too late to fix it. You might help prevent it from happening again next time if they know about the areas with the problems. Click to expand... I sent Directv an e-mail today about this issue. The problem seems to be that they have the RSN's and what we receive wrong.   Dec 25, 2007 #11 of 13 n3ntj Hall Of Fame 5,772 13 Dec 18, 2006 Lancaster,... I've always received FSN P'burg games when I am supposed to via NHL CI and MLB EI. Never had a blackout issue from that channel, and I've had D* since 1998. I emailed D* but didn't get a reply yet. I'm assuming it was just a screw up.   Dec 26, 2007 #12 of 13 Billsfan69 Legend 223 0 Nov 9, 2007 n3ntj said: I've always received FSN P'burg games when I am supposed to via NHL CI and MLB EI. Never had a blackout issue from that channel, and I've had D* since 1998. I emailed D* but didn't get a reply yet. I'm assuming it was just a screw up. Click to expand... It is more than a screw-up and you were samrt to e-mail Directv like I did. Directv has you incorrectly in their system as receiving FSN Pittsburgh as one of your RSN's. If you have NHL center ice, you still get the games on that channel like you should. The problem is when the Pens are on the NHL network, FSN Pittsburgh must be blacked out for NHL CI subscribers, so even though they have you listed as receiving FSN Pittsburgh as an RSN, you are supposed to be blacked out on FSN Pittsburgh when the games are on NHL Network. This part is working correctly. The problem is you are also being blacked out of games on NHL Network because of the mistaken listing. I am in the 14043 zip code, which is in the Buffalo area and I am listed as receiving Prime Ticket as an RSN for Ducks games which is why I am blacked out of Duck games when they are on NHL Network.   Dec 26, 2007 #13 of 13 n3ntj Hall Of Fame 5,772 13 Dec 18, 2006 Lancaster,... Billsfan69 said: It is more than a screw-up and you were samrt to e-mail Directv like I did. Directv has you incorrectly in their system as receiving FSN Pittsburgh as one of your RSN's. If you have NHL center ice, you still get the games on that channel like you should. The problem is when the Pens are on the NHL network, FSN Pittsburgh must be blacked out for NHL CI subscribers, so even though they have you listed as receiving FSN Pittsburgh as an RSN, you are supposed to be blacked out on FSN Pittsburgh when the games are on NHL Network. This part is working correctly. The problem is you are also being blacked out of games on NHL Network because of the mistaken listing. I am in the 14043 zip code, which is in the Buffalo area and I am listed as receiving Prime Ticket as an RSN for Ducks games which is why I am blacked out of Duck games when they are on NHL Network. Click to expand... You're in the Buffalo area and they have you setup as getting FSN PT as your local RSN? Nuts! Good luck getting that changed... now, if I could just get D* to set me up as if I am in NYC and make MSG HD, FSN NY HD, and YES HD as my 24/7 RSNs, I'd be happy. Here, we're stuck with CSN DC and MASN. :lol:   Show Ignored Content < Previous Thread | Next Thread > Thread Status: Not open for further replies. Share This Page Tweet Your name or email address: Do you already have an account? No, create an account now. Yes, my password is: Forgot your password? Stay logged in

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