When you are in the early stages making your game, ask yourself, why would a player want to do this action? Why would a player want to this action over another? What is it that would make a player pick action x over action y?
When we work on our games, we take this approach and there are times when this approach will change mechanics, throw them out. We also find that by the time we get to the testing phase, we have spent the time thinking about what players might want to do. Because we have asked ourselves why a player would want to do x or y, we have multiple theories in place we can test during our play tests. We can see the decisions players are making during the game and have an idea of what was most important during different stages of the game.
Not only does thinking about player motivations early in the process make for a better game out of the gate, but it makes for a more fruitful testing process.
Do you take this approach when you are building your games? Have you made changes to the initial idea because you could not think of a good reason why a player would want to take one action over another? Tell us about it.
If you have any comments or questions, leave a comment here or email Chris at email@example.com
If you have made it this far, would you like to go a little farther? We have a regular Google hangout with other designers. We talk about the games we are working on and share helpful tips and ideas on how to make designing our game easier. We meetup every other Saturday. Either comment here or tweet me or email me and I will add you to the list and send you a link to the Google hangout.