Game I could play forever: Mahjong Dark Dimensions
In this puzzle game, the user interacts by clicking a mouse (or a trackpad for a laptop). As the user moves either the mouse or their finger (if on a trackpad) the cursor can be seen moving across the screen. By pressing down and clicking, objects can be selected within the game. These objects are 3-dimensional cubes with different patterns. When cubes are clicked, they light up. There is also a noise kind of like knocking heard when first clicking and selecting a cube. There are two arrows on the bottom of the game screen that can be clicked on to rotate the puzzle. When the cursor moves over them, they light up and a lower sound is heard.
The timing is fairly immediate. While it is possible to move faster than the animation timing, it is not likely unless you are using a mouse. When clicking on two matching cubes to form a pair, they both light up and flash before disappearing. There are 3 different noises that come from matching a pair together, but they seem to be random. There are two sounds that come through in a higher pitched ring, and one that comes through at a lower pitch.
When matching pairs one after another, the words “speed match” appear with “bonus x#” for however many matches you have made in a row without a pause. The sounds do not change and the lights do not change for speed bonuses.
There are no complex actions for the game. It is timed with the goal of clearing the most blocks away in different levels before the timer reaches 0:00. There are blocks in the levels that allow for extra time if matched before their own timers reach 0:00. So, there is incentive for the player to try and clear them off the screen to get the biggest time bonus. More time allows for more matches and more points.
Game that frustrates me: Lep’s World
Lep’s World is a side scrolling platform game for mobile devices. The user holds the phone and uses their thumbs to press buttons on the screen. The buttons make the character (a leprechaun) move and jump. There is also a fourth button in later levels to shoot pinecones at enemies. Holding your thumb on the ammo button will not continue shooting pinecones, so you need to tap it however many times you want the character to shoot. By keeping your thumb on the up arrow on the screen, it will make the character jump higher. A small jump can be done by quickly moving your thumb off of the arrow.
When the character moves left or right, a quiet whooshing sound can be heard. When the character is jumping, a popping sound is heard. The leprechaun can break boxes with his head by jumping from underneath them, and a quiet crushing sound is heard. When collecting coins or pots of gold, a ringing noise is heard almost immediately. Jumping on enemies makes a crunching sound.
The timing between interactions is almost immediate, however, sometimes a screen won’t recognize a touch and the character will not move.
There are two frustrating things about the experience with this game. One is needing to sit through the tutorial levels and not being able to skip through them. The other is needing to wait at the end of a level for the (1-3) pots of gold collected to be counted (again) and shown to you, then being brought back to the map instead of directly to the next level.
There are five tutorial levels that you are made to go through before getting to the actual game. For players that would like to get right to the gameplay, being forced to complete tedious tutorial levels is not something that is good for interaction. It’s annoying to go through the levels again and again if you decide to download the game onto another device. Unless of course, you decide to connect your Facebook to the game, but for those who would like to keep their Facebook separate, you must go through the tutorial levels again. The actual gameplay is not much different than the tutorial levels.
When finishing a level, the player is forced to wait for the game to count the pots of gold collected and factor in any amount of time left on the clock for a final score. The player loses any control over their character. This use of negative reinforcement does nothing for the player, and does not encourage them to play more. After sitting through that screen, players are sent back to the level map instead of directly to the next level. The negative reinforcement of sitting through multiple loading screens just to get to a level that takes less than a minute to complete is not encouraging for players to keep going.