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Altering player perception is a powerful design tool, says X-Wing Miniatures dev

"The perceived value [of a game mechanic] might matter more than the actual valve," argues the development team behind the tabletop game X-Wing Miniatures.

"The perceived value [of a game mechanic] might matter more than the actual valve."

- X-Wing Miniatures dev Frank Brooks makes his case for the power of player perception

If there’s one thing the developers of the tabletop game X-Wing Miniatures have learned from observing video games, it's that the staging of a design choice can often have a bigger impact on players than the design element itself. 

Speaking during a livestreamed interview last week, Frank Brooks of Fantasy Flight Games dove into how altering the perception of a mechanic can sometimes have a more profound effect on gameplay than altering the outcome or even the core mechanic.

“Different ways of delivering the same numbers give the players a very different feel,” argues Brooks. “They can end up being almost mathematically the same, but the experience the player has can feels very different."

For example, rather than having players roll four dice to calculate damage, tasking players to roll five and then letting remove one roll from the number pool can make players feel more in-control without really altering the possible outcome of a roll.

Tying things back into video game inspirations, fellow developer Max Brooke likens this phenomenon to how video game developers can sometimes be accused of changing the overall damage or effectiveness of an in-game weapon when, in truth, all they altered was a sound effect or animation. 

To hear more from the X-Wing Miniatures team, be sure to check out the full stream right here. After that, why not follow the Gamasutra Twitch channel for even more developer insights and gameplay commentary.

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