🪙 Types of Game Currencies | Skill Tree #42
Content: 1) Types of Game Currencies 2) Crafting the world-hopping puzzles of Cocoon 3) Getting Gamers in the Zone: Understanding Flow
gm! This week we’re taking a closer look at the different types of game currencies. While tokens can be designed in a way to fit into existing currency categories, the more interesting approach in my opinion is to see if we can figure out new types. Something that’s not possible with a non-tradeable offchain currency.
Crafting the world-hopping puzzles of Cocoon - the lead game designer of Cocoon, who previously worked on Limbo and Inside, shares his approach to puzzle design
Getting Gamers in the Zone: Understanding Flow
🪙 Game Currencies: Types & Usage 🔗
Javier Barnes, game designer and economist with 10+ years of experience and currently Senior Product Manager at King, gives a primer on the different currencies used in (mobile) games.
I summarized his insights into a graphic
🧩 Crafting the world-hopping puzzles of Cocoon 🔗
Jeppe Carlsen, the lead gameplay designer of Limbo, Inside, and the newly-released Cocoon, shares how he came up with the word-switching puzzles of the game.
The puzzles are based on players hopping between multiple worlds to solve them. Quickly, Jeppe realized that adding more complexity to this mechanic is not the right way. Over time, he developed an intuitive feeling for how the game should play.
He ended up with a concept he calls mental staircase. Difficulty starts low (“what is the first step I could ask players to take that utilizes the hierarchy of worlds concept but is also the most general one I could come up with?“) and slowly increases over time (e.g. multiple entry and exit portals). Whenever players struggled with a specific puzzle, he'd inject an extra step to bridge the knowledge gap.
By following his intuition, Jeppe discovered that not all puzzles should built around being challenging. Some are just there because they feel satisfying. Or because they help create a connection to the game world. Or because they help players understand a mechanic.
The world hopping mechanic began to be used more sparsely in game and level design. It’s the little spice that makes the game unique, without pushing it into player’s faces at all times.
Jeppe also noted the importance of playtests, as what feels intuitive to you might not be obvious to most of the player base. Giving players the right feedback if something doesn’t work is important for them to learn.
⚗️ Getting Gamers in the Zone: Understanding Flow 🔗
The often cited secret ingredient of game design is flow. A psychological phenomenon that keeps players captivated; an experience of high focus and engagement (“in the zone“).
A flow state appears when a player is in the flow channel, the perfect balance between skill and challenge.
But skill and challenge should not move in lockstep. Sometimes, skill might sprint ahead, giving a sense of accomplishment. In other situations, the challenge might feel harder, creating a sense of tension, followed by a payoff. This creates an interesting rhythm - like life.
The flow channel of each player is personal, determined by personality, motivation, and skills. Some players are more frustration-resistant than others. Therefore, game designers are looking into personalization of difficulty based on a player’s in-game performance.