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Key Aspects of Game Play #1 Vision

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Key Aspects of Game Play #1
An essay
By Tyler Tinsley

Vision in relation to game play is a players ability to see possible moves and the consciences there of, and guess at the possible response of the opponent. The use of vision in a games’ design is of the up most importance, for it determines just how people will play the game, and just why people will enjoy the game. There are many ways a player’s vision may be altered by game design. The most prevalent ways are these three, the overload, hid, and obscured.
The overload is where players are given a multitude of possible moves at any time so that always seeing every possible move is quite a challenge. A classic example of this is chess. Unless the players have a truly good understanding of the game there can always be a surprising move. The overload is commonly associated with strategy games.
Vision is hidden from a player when there are preexisting variables that the player is not aware of. Vision is generally only partially hidden allowing for play such as bluffing and deduction. An example is the game of draw poker, the type of cards in a player’s hand is unknown but the amount of cards he returns and the amount that he bets are know to all players. Hidden vision allows for unpredictability while still allowing for deduction of possible best moves.
Obscured vision is when there are multiple random outcomes to a single action. Obscured Vision can be archived in many cleaver ways by a game designer but the most common way is dice. It’s used in many themed games to represent the variable outcomes one action can have in a realistic setting. Obscured vision is most commonly associated with “luck”.
It is a rare that a game uses only one of the ways to alter a player’s vision, in fact nearly all games use combinations of all these aspects. The devices used in games typically lend them selves to having a mix of these. Dice for example, when rolling two or more will create outcomes that are more likely than others thus allowing for players to see what outcome has better odds. There is no right mix of vision modifiers, as it is really up to the player to decide what types and mixes they prefer.

Tyler Tinsley is an unpublished game designer seeking to build connections in the board/hobby game industry and is available to blind test or review any game. You can contact him at

what do you guys think? am i right, full of crap, or almost there?

Scurra's picture
Joined: 09/11/2008
Key Aspects of Game Play #1 Vision

Some very good points there, somewhat obscured by the spell checker you used mangling some of the words :)

But in general I think your analysis is sound - the different types of choice offered to a player can be usefully described in that way.

Key Aspects of Game Play #1 Vision

"Some very good points there, somewhat obscured by the spell checker you used mangling some of the words"

If anyone could act as an editor for me I would really appreciate it. As my biggest failing is communicating with text.

Can anyone come up with a vision modifier I did not discuss? I have not gotten to play as wide range of game as I have liked, so there is possibly something important missing.

Joined: 12/31/1969
Key Aspects of Game Play #1 Vision

What is the real difference between hidden vision and obscured vision? It seems that in both situations you want to "play the odds", whether those odds are determined by cards and imperfect information on what cards are drawn or on the future roll of dice.

Is it the fact that with hidden vision you might be able to deduce some information through the actions of opponents whereas with obscured vision there is no human component? In the former situation a player that has a good knowledge of psychology and the behaviour of his opponents has an edge, whereas in the latter situation a player good at calculating odds would have an edge.

So, is it the human aspect that makes hidden vision different from obscured vision, or do you mean something else?

- Rene Wiersma[/i]

Key Aspects of Game Play #1 Vision

Hi Super and Zaiga,

I've been thinking about a different concept that may be suitable for this Hidden vs Obscured discussion. The concept I've been thinking about is the difference between randomization and variation.

Randomization is obviously the use of some form of chance factor. Thus you are talking about the probability or likelihood of a particular event happening. However, probability is all it is; there is no depth or meaning that can *usually be attached to it.

*(By saying usually, I am talking about the difference between independent (rolling dice) events vs dependent (drawing a card) events.)

Variation on the other hand allows for different events to take place but are determined by the actions of the players. Thus, Human Choice is the primary factor. For example in Chess, a player may move one of their pieces and this determines whether their Bishop or Knight is taken - which in turn leads to different scenarios which may be more or less "wanted" by the players involved. As such, players choose the outcome to the limit of their foresight. Sometimes, this involves "luck" in that an opportunity is presented that might not have been foreseen but really, this is the extent to which "luck" is involved in variation.

Applying this to our vision discussion, I feel that randomization is akin to this Obscured Vision while variation is more applicable to Hidden Information. In this way and to support Zaiga's concepts, I feel that Human interaction is the defining difference between the two.

Joined: 12/31/1969
Key Aspects of Game Play #1 Vision

Holding off for a bit on replying to Sam, I wanted to suggest that the word "visibility" is probably more appropriate than "vision" ans I see it applying to game elements and not the players.

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