Game Heuristics – Part 1

Let’s talk about ‘Heuristics‘ and start with sharing wikipedia thoughts about this word.

Copied and pasted verbatim from here:

In psychology, heuristics are simple, efficient rules, hard-coded by evolutionary processes or learned, which have been proposed to explain how people make decisions, come to judgments, and solve problems, typically when facing complex problems or incomplete information. These rules work well under most circumstances, but in certain cases lead to systematic errors or cognitive biases.

In philosophy, especially in Continental European philosophy, the adjective “heuristic” (or the designation “heuristic device”) is used when an entity X exists to enable understanding of, or knowledge concerning, some other entity Y. A good example is a model which, as it is never identical with what it models, is a heuristic device to enable understanding of what it models. Stories, metaphors, etc., can also be termed heuristic in that sense. A classic example is the notion of utopia as described in Plato’s best-known work, The Republic. This means that the “ideal city” as depicted in The Republic is not given as something to be pursued, or to present an orientation-point for development; rather, it shows how things would have to be connected, and how one thing would lead to another (often with highly problematic results), if one would opt for certain principles and carry them through rigorously.

But here we are more concerned about heuristics as it relates to human-computer interaction in the context of  browser based online game.

A proper Software Requirements Specification (SRS) models the heuristics of how a user will process the information being rendered on-screen. An SRS is ideally shared with the end-user well before the actual Software Design Specification (SDS) is written and the application is developed, so users’ feedback about their experience can be used to adapt the design of the application. This saves much time in the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC). Unless heuristics are adequately considered, the project will likely suffer many implementation problems and setbacks.

We had one very vague  objective when we first started thinking about the design of the game.It was to make sure that we don’t follow the herd but make it as unique as possible.

It was easier said than done.Like any other tech startup,we had no SRS in place .We also faced the challenge of not knowing anything about our target audience,who may or may not have interest in online gaming.After days of painstaking efforts (thanks to Felice),we narrowed down our target audience to a subset of players that were active on other facebook games.Player population was segmented on the basis of some identifiable attributes.There were some segments in this population that were already super active on other facebook games.Some segments were underserved or had very little choices in existing set of games that matched their interests. Genre of the game was selected based on target segment and it was to be our USP(unique selling proposition).


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