Attaining Swivelightenment
Posted by Patrick on Sunday, October 24, 2010Sun, Oct 24, 2010

Last night I was playing an idle game of Swivel before bed. I posted a score of around 3,500,000. A few days before that I posted 800,000. Until that point I had a threshold of about 250,000.

I must admit I felt like some kind of Zen master racking up a 65x chain combo. It was a curiously placid experience, however, as if my brain managed to read the pattern of blocks and knew what to do with it. Eventually the difficulty curve kicked in and it was all about survival, but for a moment, just a moment, I was unstoppable.

It made me happy to realize there is more depth of skill that can be mastered than I originally thought. It was one of the things I was worrying about: would the mechanic get too hard too quickly? Was the ceiling for how good a player can get too low?

Learning the game skill is fundamental to fun. As Daniel Cook explains, the series of “aha!” moments feeds the exhilaration of accomplishment and makes the whole experience enjoyable.

Breaking boundaries is fun, ergo there should be a range of boundaries to break in a game to keep the momentum of fun energized. Ideally the player should always leave with a potent mixture of accomplishment and the nagging feeling that they can do better should they try again.

One does, after all, want them to try again.

So I’m excited there’s more there than I thought. But having tasted how exciting the early game can be, I’m a little concerned about the nature of the end-game. It’s more frantic, but less rewarding. How should this be addressed? The leaderboard certainly does not tell the story. Perhaps the rewards should ramp up by level too. This may be a question for beta testers.

Speaking of which, Swivel is almost ready for initial beta testing — at least, the single player mode is. Keep an eye on my Twitter feed if you’re interested.