The larger solution to user frustration, Meier said, is to add difficulty levels, something he admitted being wrong about just a few years ago. "In the past I said four difficulties were perfect...I was wrong about that. We need nine." Meier did this in his hit game Civilization 4, which celebrates its five-year anniversary later this year. As Meier explained it, offering more paths for a player to go through will plant a seed in their mind of "what if," as in "what if I try this battle or part of the story again. Will it be different?"Meier urged developers not to spend too much time on these different paths though, at least if they're trying to save money and time. "No matter how good the graphics are, and how good your technology is, the player can always imagine something more compelling and more dynamic. Often we don't have to show everything that's happening in the game." Part of that, Meier said, is to tap into knowledge people are already bound to know from outside of a game. "This worked with Pirates," Meier said about his 2004 game title. "If [a player] sees a swordsman with a curly mustache, they probably know it's a villain they have to fight. So we don't need a whole lot of background on how he got there, or what his childhood was like."But what about creating new experiences for things players have never seen before? Meier's answer to that was simple, in something he calls the "unholy alliance," an unspoken agreement players and developers make with every game they play "I'm going to pretend certain things exist, and so are you to make this a better experience," he said Followed shortly by, "this is an idea I should have trademarked".
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