Game Design: “Too many minds”

“Too many minds”

That was the advice to Tom Cruise’s character in “The Last Samurai” as he kept getting beaten while training with wooden swords against other samurai.

His failure was caused by his internal conflict – too many thoughts and emotions – he was fighting himself and his opponent at the same time.

I played a lot of the top selling games (Xbox, PS3, Wii) games during the holiday.

I was surprised that some were not as good as I expected and how one of those in particular felt over designed. It had the core game idea and then was overloaded with too many “so so” features.

Instantly made me think “too many minds”.

This kind of design pattern is usually a symptom of too many people (designers, team members, managers, company executives) directing the design and mandating features.  The game fights with itself for simple clarity.

With FarmVille, we followed the philosophy of a single strong voice to guide the game. It works well.

If your design ever feels flat, confused or uninspired, check in on whether there are “too many minds”. Reducing to one creative voice might make things better quickly.

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