Indirect Control in Game Design

While designing games, we make use of indirect control to avoid unnecessary texts on the screen or to make the player feel that he/she is making the decisions on their own. But most of the times it just ends up being a shiny object in the distance or shiny object nearby, which to me is an easy way out.

So, let’s say you are playing a game which has 5 levels where the difficulty increases with every level. Instead of meaningfully increasing the difficulty, I have seen designers just get rid of these hints. This makes the level difficult but not challenging. This is one of the reasons why I never felt that issue going through Uncharted 4 : A thief’s end.

As the story progresses, you come across challenging puzzles in the game, but it was never because of lack of information provided to the user. One of the reasons was using visual concepts and minimal UI that makes the user feel that he/she is allowed to do whatever the user wants. Some of the best examples were the use of frame within a frame to direct the user to the next location or an AI companion who used to sigh or give some hints which in no way felt pushing the limits or breaking the immersion.


indirect control.jpg

So, I have made my friends playthrough this entire game because I wanted to see how some of my naive friends react and make decisions. The observations were that they always felt that the game allowed them to do anything and they were smart enough to figure it out. It is amazing how well designed this game is.


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