Article re-posted from June 16, 2014
I’ve been reading up a lot on ‘ride-design’, especially ‘roller-coasters’ (will make announcements within the next couple of months on what I’m doing ), and it struck me as extremely valuable in general for entertainment design.
You see when writing stories, often writers talk about characters and the story-development, and when designing games people talk about ‘gameplay’ as if it’s a gimmick that attracts and keeps players.
The reality is we are designing an emotional experience for the player, and these emotions have a wide range of options that are blended in like a classical music piece (also a great source of design inspiration as each piece has a designed pattern on how/when to lift up the emotions, when to bring them down, when to power them up, etc. -> more on this some other time).
When designing a rollercoaster, the loopings / up’s-and-down’s / corners / etc. don’t just relate to the G-force-design, but they are meant to accurately design an emotional experience in proper proportions for the target audience (usually family-friendly and the widest range possible). Everything is thought through really well as a harmony between the colors, the theme, music, but most importantly ride mechanics itself, and when/which mechanic emerges to build out the audience’s emotional experience.
Let’s go through one to illustrate this further: you go up the ‘slope’ with the roller-coaster carts which builds up excitement and anticipation, this is followed up by a brief moment of heightened anticipation as the carts stop just before the drop.
This then is followed by an incredible speedy long free-fall which delivers on the anticipation and brings chaos and fear into the audience’s hearts. The ride continues to go through corners, while keeping the pace the audience calms down just a bit, yet suddenly a looping emerges in front of them in which the audience gasps for fear yet builds up courage to overcome the ride’s onslaught.
The end approaches and the audience feels broken yet a big sense of satisfactory as he/she overcame one’s fear and triumphed (unless you barfed).
In roller-coasters this is called the ‘architecture of adrenalin’ which I think ‘could be handy’ for adrenalin game designers.
Either way there are many more ride-types in theme parks and for varying audience; there is a big history of design-knowledge to plow through, yet it’s another incredible pool of design inspiration.