by Ken Pilcher, R&D Lead Designer
I am no psychologist, nor am I a sociologist, but understanding what our players and society want in a game, more specifically our game, is very important to its success. Being the R&D Lead Designer it is my job to make sure that every player finds something to fall in love with about The Spoils. Other games have analyzed player psychologies and I agree that this is highly important. The different mentalities of each psychological profile can be broken down to fairly clear and specific archetypes but in the real world these definitions are usually mixed at different levels for each person.
I would like to introduce you to five profiles of gamers. We have named them Dominic, Deckster, Victor, Artimus, and Archibald. While other games have come up with other names, we have decided to identify each profile with an intuitive name. These intuitive names were chosen to help identify the overall psychology and make them easier to remember. Let’s enter an arena where we can meet these “players” and look at what makes each one of them tick.
Dominic, The Dominator
Enter the Arena of Battle, Dominic, The Dominator! Dominic slowly walks in with his giant hammer, dragging it through the arena dirt. Preparing for battle he psyches himself up with some ancient battle cries while pounding his fist on his chest, then stomping his foot, driving dust into the air. Dominic has been preparing for this day. He has gone through all of the ways he plans on using his enormous hammer to crush his opponent, this is fun for Dom. He chooses a weapon he enjoys. It may not be the best weapon but it is his favorite. He knows it’s going to be a blast. No matter what, even if he loses this battle, he knows it will be fun and he will be sure to make it exciting for both himself and the crowd of friends. Dominic is also wearing his huge spiky battle boots, boots that are much too clunky to be wearing in an all out brawl, but he doesn’t care, they are lucky and awesome looking!
Dominic is waiting in the arena for his first match-up and is excited to see that it’s a two on one. “Oh this is going to be a hell of a good time!” he says in excitement. He is not only excited for the challenge but also that this battle will not be the same as all the rest. Each opponent he is facing looks to be approaching this battle in a different way.
Victor, The Victorious
On the other side of the arena, Victor stands to face Dominic,poised and ready to prove his worth. He wishes this was a one-on-one contest as he would be able to prove that the win was all his, not in any part his “partner’s.” Victor adorns the normal battle gear. Nothing unique or special but it is the best of its kind, proven in many arena fights as the best there is. As Victor looks over Dominic, he knows just how to handle this guy. Victor has studied Dominic’s kind (and also studied just about every fighting style out there) and knows both Dominic and his weaknesses all too well. He knows Dom is just here for fun and while the fight may be brutal, Vic is sure of his victory.
Studying every mechanic of battle as a whole, as well as his own mental and physical skill set, is his focus when not in the arena. Always keeping a personal best score, he knows he is more prepared for this fight than his previous match. Victor is not here for the fight, he is here for the win.
Deckster, The Mad Scientist
A few steps behind Victor, Deckster is hovering. This guy looks like a crazed wizard-scientist with a police belt full of vials and some very unorthodox tools and weapons. It looks like he is prepared for every situation you can think of. Each of his tools is branded with a little custom ‘Deckster’ emblem. This guy loves his toys. Deckster wants to show the crowd that he is the most interesting and creative of the bunch. He doesn’t need a huge hammer for smashing, nor does he need the top of the line battle gear. Deckster just needs a few seemingly harmless “toys” that can be put together for an amazingly big bang! Deckster wants to take some of those lesser used items, weapons, and armor and make something impressive happen. He has an idea of how to approach this fight before he even gets on the arena floor. Most of Deckster’s tools he makes obvious to everyone, he wants the crowd to see how he is going to win this fight. The win for him is the ‘oohhs and ahhhs’ he hears from the crowd as he pulls off the complex/fun/weird combos!
As the crowd goes wild about what’s about to happen on the arena floor, we raise our gaze to one of the private balconies. Here, two figures are silently observing the action below. While not down on the floor of the arena today, they never miss the action.
Artimus, The Appreciative
Artimus is one of the types that loves the art of this game. He himself is also a fighter at times, but when he isn’t in the arena he loves to paint the fight scenes and write stories about the battles he witnesses. He takes in every little bit, from the fighters’ nicknames to what they wore to battle that day. Artimus is appreciative of more than just the fight and how the winner won, he likes the unique ways in which the participants carry themselves. You will often find him searching for autographs of not just the fighters but also the weapon and gear makers that create the equipment the fighters use. Artimus also loves to watch the crowd. He loves to see how they react to the announcement of the fighters’ names, and the battle, and finally the winning blow! Artimus’ favorite thing is when he completely connects with a fighter. When a competitor comes out and his name fits the looks of his gear, fits his weapon of choice, and fits his fighting style, this gives Artimus goose bumps. When that warrior meets up with another warrior that also has “the complete package” and the fighting styles compliment each other, the weather fits the mood and the crowd is eating it up, the arena becomes a thing of poetry and art for Artimus. He is inspired by all of these things and tends to try to apply it to himself so that when it is his time to shine, it is more then just an event, it is art in motion.
Archibald, The Architect
Archibald watches every step of every move and counter move. He has studied every weapon and every armor. He prides himself on understanding each style of fight. Archibald, although every bit a fighter, wants to someday be a trainer and a referee. He loves the structure of the events he participates in and watches. When he looks at Victor’s choice of weapon and how it can be used in a multitude of ways on its own but also works perfectly with his armor choice and his fighting style, it makes Archibald’s special place tingle. He appreciates the tools Deckster has chosen as he knows that those tools will create havoc when combined correctly. The fact that Dominic has his giant hammer and the strength to wield it puts a smile on Archibald’s face. He likes it when the choices a fighter decides upon make sense for that situation. He will note every fight for later review, wanting to know exactly what happened, and why. Archibald appreciates when things work together but he is more about the beauty of the individual functionality in each piece. This beauty in functionality, the calculating moves in a style and the pushing of the limits within the rules is where Archibald the Architect lives.
Each one of these participants in our fictive event above will exist, or already exists, in our player base. Some players will, first and foremost, consider themselves to be Artimus but will have traces of Victor and Deckster in them as well. Some may be mixture of Dominic and Archibald. No one player is only one of these archetypes but this gives us as designers, and you as players, a way to really look at the cards we create (and you create in Open R&D) with those extremes in mind.
We plan to dive even deeper into these ideas as we continue to build this world we all play in. Based on these personalities, and as we at R&D get a more refined map of our player base, we will bring you even more tools that fit your style.
Until then, continue to submit your designs to Open R&D (we ARE watching!!), continue to build decks that exploit the essence of these personalities, and continue to play the Spoils!
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