“Imaginability” in Game Design

I’ve been doing some retrospection on the design of SkyBoats and Militia, and I noticed that at least for me, Militia seems to be more appealing for me to boot up and play. Note that I’m not saying that SkyBoats is less fun WHILE playing, but that Militia has some factor that encourages playing it.

I’m thinking that it comes down to the fact that it’s easy for me to imagine playing the first few turns of Militia, and deriving some satisfaction out of it. For example, I can picture in my minds eye attacking a row of enemies including a captain in Militia, and how that might be a fun thing to do. In SkyBoats, most satisfying actions are very nuanced (involving specific setups of boats and wind patterns), and difficult to imagine when not actively involved in playing the game.

(It’s easy to imagine moves like this, and how they might be satisfying)

So I’ve been thinking a lot more about this concept of the “Imaginabilty” of games, and rating games on this axis. For example, It’s easy to imagine attacking with a bunch of creatures in Magic for lethal damage or pushing a ton of monsters into the water with Gale in Auro, but it’s more difficult to imagine what it might be like to play Agricola or Mount and Blade. (Note: I think this effect becomes mitigated as you become more familiar with a game).

Imaginabiilty requirements can be covered by even a small aspect of the full game, as is the case with last-hitting in Dota 2 (or League of Legends) or microing marines in Starcraft. The key is that the actions are:

1) Simple enough to be imagined in the minds eye and

2) Intrinsically rewarding in some way

Can you think of other examples of games with poor or exceptional Imaginability? Can you think of a better word for the concept? Let me know in the comments :).


The BrainGoodGames Collection is Here!


Ta-da! The @BrainGoodGames Complete Bundle, featuring all three of our titles! 10% off that stacks with the 40% off Militia sale! In other news, Militia has just been updated with Keyboard/Controller support so you can now get your single player strategy fix all the way back on the couch.

You can grab the bundle here: http://store.steampowered.com/app/421260/

or Militia here: http://store.steampowered.com/app/421260/

Many thanks to all of our players, this time in the form of a loyalty discount! Keep on keepin’ on!