Game Design #4 Location, Location, Location: Hurdle or Wall?

It’s becoming clear that incorporating location data into a mobile
game concept is a bit of a siren’s call. It’s an alluring one given the
profile it has at present, thanks to applications like FourSquare, but
it presents my design with some major challenges.

The biggest headache at present revolves around the user’s location
relative to the geolocation data available, e.g. physical building
descriptions such as your local store, schools, offices etc, and
making the interaction fun. There is a huge amount of real world
information at your fingertips through various APIs and this leads to
numerous flashes of excitable rhetorical questions. A dangerously
addictive drug for the developer, it normally surfaces as questions
that start “Wow, what if you could do this… imagine if we could…”
and the next thing you know you’ve been hacking a house of cards
together for a few weeks.

I’ve fought off that urge, primarily as I have to write about it too
and that’s forcing me to think it through, perhaps overly so.
Therefore, I am trying to forget about the ‘what if’ scenarios to
focus on ‘what now’ and ‘what next’. My conversations with Lee, Peter
and Keita have, for better or worse, got me focused on the mechanic of
user interaction and chaining those interactions into something fun.

Using this technique here reveals I have some location data, great,
but what next? This is the core of my issue with it. I have a
rudimentary game design based around using this data but it requires
the player to be relatively near in order to interact with it and if
they are not, what next? If the user doesn’t actually travel that much
or is always travelling near the same locations, what next?

My main question now is whether to push further into the problem to
find a solution or don’t use it in such a restrictive way or ditch it
entirely. The main reason for trying to leverage it was that I’m quite
familiar with their APIs and that it’s an interesting area right now
for games to explore. However, the appropriate question here is “is it
fun?” These are all straightforward questions but when you introduce a
time constraint it makes the decision crucial. I think I can only
branch off at this point once.

What happens next?

Leave a Reply