Facts of IF: Why did Astounding Castle Do So Well?

If you’ve been following the theorizing here on OneWetSneaker, you’ve heard me hammering away at the fact that Comp scores tend overwhelmingly to follow immersiveness ratings.  But that’s not always true:  sometimes a game completely pigs out when it comes to immersiveness, but scores much better.

Yon Astounding Castle of some sort, for example, was rated at 3.75 for immersiveness; but it scored an astounding 5.34 — which *is* astounding for a game with such a low immersiveness rating.  How did YAC do it?


Looking at the profile of the game, we see immediately that, although it had a low immersiveness score, its puzzle and playability scores were pretty high.  And this largely explains the difference between the game’s immersiveness and score.  The math is:

Yon Astounding Castle

Immersiveness: 3.75 x 60% = 2.25
Puzzle Design: 5.62 x 20% = 1.12
Playability: 5.81 x 20% = 1.16
predicted score = 4.53

This still leaves us with .8 of the game’s score unaccounted for.  I’m tentatively marking that up to our mystery variable — “creativity,” or something, that I didn’t think to measure.

That puzzle design has a weaker influence than immersiveness on the final score can be seen from the graph of the correlation between puzzle design and score:

Playability has a weaker influence than immersiveness, too:

In comparison, immersiveness has quite a strong influence:

–yet, immersiveness can still be outweighed by strong puzzle design and good playability.

So we see here the converse case of _Byzantine Perspective_:  BP is a strong puzzle game that is very playable but that was hurt in the Comp by its weak narrative.  YAC is a narratively weak game that was boosted by its strong puzzle design and high playability.

The interesting thing here is that, while we can say, with the advantage of hindsight, that BP ought to have included a narrative, there’s no simple way Tiberius could add a story to YAC.  It is a classic puzzle game in the tradition of Zork.  The player opens up new areas of the map and collects treasure.  That’s the design.

Really, the only way to add narrative to this kind of game is to make it something like _Myst_, where every so often we give the player a new nugget of back-story.  That’s a weak narrative — it’s not about the PC and it’s not interactive — but it would be something.  However, the amount of re-engineering that this would take makes one wonder if it’s worth the approximately 1.5 x .6 = 0.9 point gain in the Comp score.

Only Tiberius can know for sure.  For the rest of us, the moral seems clear:  don’t make dungeon crawls.  Or, if you do make one, set it up more like _Interface_, where the story is built in to the game from the start.

Published in: on November 18, 2009 at 8:36 pm  Comments Off on Facts of IF: Why did Astounding Castle Do So Well?  
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