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Additional tour basics: game translation

Page history last edited by Anonymous 15 years, 1 month ago


Matt Almer recently wrote an Article on Gamasutra.com with the self-explanatory title: “The 13 Basic Principles of Gameplay Design”. Since several tours both in- and outside museums use some type of gameplay or linear story, this article triggered my curiosity and eventually led to translating it into the article you see below. It is a list of things to keep in mind before / while developing a tour with possible gaming elements.



For who is this article:

-(multimedia/pda) Tour delevopers who like to use gaming elements;

-Tour developers who want some additional information before starting development.





Several steps that help with creating a multimedia tour with possible gaming elements





  1. Focal Point

    Never allow your audience to guess what they should focus on, but at the same time, always allow secondary subject matter. It’s the developer’s job to clearly provide the primary focus at all times.

Example: Clearly defined plot points and objectives during tour progression.

  1. Anticipation

    Time is needed to inform the audience that something is about to happen. Always factor in Anticipation when designing and implementing events and behaviours.

    Example: A train sound effect occurs before the audience sees the train. (in for instance a video about a train station that used to be here).

  2. Announce Change

    Communicate all changes to the audience. This short step occurs between Anticipation and the event itself.

The important part to remember is maintaining a hierarchy of notable changes.   


A good rule of thumb is degree of rarity. If a change occurs a hundred times in an hour, the announcement may not be required. However, if the change occurs five times throughout the entire tour, a number of visual cues could be needed.


This principle is so obvious, it can be taken for granted and sometimes overlooked. Be diligent in knowing what changes the audience should be aware of at the correct time and on the correct event.

Example: Show the audiences progress in the tour/game, for instance if they complete an assignment or a part of it.


  1. Believable Events and Behavior

    Every event or behavior must occur according to the logic and expectations of the player. Every action, reaction, results, emotion and conveyance must satisfy the players' subconscious acceptance test.

    Example: Characters in your tour are happier after the audience has helped them with something.

  2. Overlapping Events and Behavior

    Dynamic is lost if only one change occurs at a time. Discover the right amount of events to occur at any given moment of time.

    Example: Points accumulate in the score while each assignment + score is individually shown on screen.

  3. Physics

    This will not be applicable in tours for a long while. But if you take a look at this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BUOHfVXkUaI Physics could play an important part in the future. So if you’re planning something like Roku’s Reward, here’s an on screen example: Ensuring a hole in the floor is the correct size for the correct purpose. Whether it is part of the path of level progression, or simply for visual aesthetics.

  4. Sound

    Ask yourself, "What sound does it make when ________ happens?" "Is the sound appropriate?" "Is the sound necessary?" "Does it benefit the experience or hinder it?" If players close their eyes, the sound alone should still achieve the desired effect.

  5. Pacing

    Keep in mind the desired sense of urgency, the rate in which events occur, the level of concentration required and how often events are being repeated. Spread out the moments of high concentration, mix up the sense of urgency, and change things wherever possible to achieve the proper affect.

    Example: Visit areas for the audience to admire the view, versus areas where the audience feels the need to continue.



  1. Spacing

    Spacing is the only factor on this list, for which I didn’t find a tour alternative. So if any of you have ideas for this, please add!



  1. Methods: Linear Design versus Component Breakdown

    Linear Design involves solving challenges as they come. All solutions and possibilities hold the same institutional value. Focus can be lost with this method, but it provides creative and spontaneous solutions.

    Component Breakdown involves systemic categorization and forming a logical hierarchy of all solutions. This method can restrict innovation but preserves clarity of primary design objectives.

    This principle does not mean designers must choose one or the other. There are times during development where one method is more appropriate than the other.

    For instance, pre-production provides plenty of time for breaking down a sequence of events. However, when the publisher drops a "must have" change after pre-production, linear design can provide an acceptable solution quickly.




The final three principles mark the foundation of gameplay and tour design, which are listed in reverse order of importance.





  1. Player / Audience

    How does the audience factor into this? How does the audience interact with everything that has been designed? More than just device input, address how the audience contributes to the experience. If it's a good idea and you're able to convey it correctly but the audience is not into it, change it or scrap it!

    Example: Orchestrating progression so that the player feels empowered, determined, anxious, etc.



  1. Communication

    Is the appropriate team member correctly aware of the objective? Are the appropriate developers clear on the solution? If it's a good idea but you can't communicate it correctly, it might as well be a bad idea because it's very likely to be received as such.

  2. Appeal

    When addressing anyone, ask yourself, "Does this draw the audience in?" This applies to (but is not limited to) the player, the spectator, your fellow developers, the publisher, and their marketing team. If it's not a good idea, there's no need to continue until it becomes a good idea or is replaced by something better.

    Example: Running down the street is not fun, but running down the street while being pursued by government secret agents is.





That was the list!

I Hope it’s valuable to (some of) you. Please add or alter if you like!

I would also like to point out once more, that the original list and thoughts are from Matt Almer. ‘Translating’ it to tour design was easy because of the mayor similarities. So all credit goes to Matt!



Here’s a link to the original article:


Comments (1)

Nancy Proctor said

at 9:46 pm on Apr 13, 2009

This is great - thanks so much!!

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