Video games nowadays are more immersive than ever before. A big reason behind this is customization. Customization gives players the freedom of choice on how they want to play. Recall the flexibility usability heuristic from the UX exercise - allowing players to customize their gaming experience.
Providing flexibility can be as simple as adding the following options:
- Game settings: Allow players to change settings like resolution, language, sound levels, etc. We could let them edit UI colors or change HUD transparency.
- Gameplay tweaks: Allow players to affect gameplay with character or weapon customization, adding the ability to change playstyles at any time, and even tweaking the way AI behaves by changing difficulty levels.
- Quality of life: Adding quality of life features such as weapon load-outs, fast travel, skippable cutscenes, and fast restarts also goes a long way in improving the gaming experience.
- Accessibility: Enable players with disabilities to feel most comfortable by changing the UI and game controls.
However, letting gamers play the way they want is a double-edged sword. Providing too many options can overwhelm players, especially new gamers. Adding customization that affects gameplay can break balancing, especially in multiplayer games. Always ensure the added customization doesn’t significantly alter the intended game experience or take away from the story or emotion we’re trying to convey.
The best customization options are the ones that barely affect the game’s design. It’s even better when integrated into the game’s world or story. Fast travel, which allows players to travel further distances in less time, can easily be inserted into the game’s narrative.
Remember that customization is not necessary but pay close attention to player feedback. Players often overlook flexibility in video games unless it’s missing.
Take a look at a screenshot of the settings menu in Forza Horizon 5. This racing game includes a plethora of options to adjust the difficulty of Drivatars (cars controlled by the AI). Every option, such as manual shifting that makes the game harder to play, increases the bonus currency awarded at the end of each race. Notice other configurable options the game offers, such as accessibility, HUD, and language selection.
Head on over to the next exercise to finish this lesson!