After 15 years as a software designer I have hung on to only a few universal truths about the work that I do. Reading this article on the design of Duels of the Planeswalkers over lunch today brought one into sharp focus …
Software should be designed to prevent errors from happening.
Case in point …
Davidson believes veteran Magic players who have played previous editions of Duels of the Planeswalkers are choosing the game’s highest difficulty setting, Planeswalker, not realizing that this level of challenge is meant to be returned to when they have a more well-rounded card collection.
He goes on to characterize this as a result of bad communication on the part of the publisher.
It is, in fact, a problem with software design.
If a game mode was meant for a time when a player had reached a certain threshold in gameplay, then that mode should not be made available until that threshold has passed. It should not be a setting – it should be an achievement or in game milestone.