One of the trickiest interface challenges in sims is to motivate a player to wait. How can a simulation convince the player to hold off on doing something they want to do immediately? This is critical, as so many Big Skills (such as security and relationship management) require, to apply them successfully in real life, plenty of appropriate holding back.
Recharging Shield. In Halo: Combat Evolved, the player may best want to take cover and wait for the shield to recharge before jumping into full battle.
Here are some ideas, including both that can be learned through experience and visualized in the interface:
- Saving up: This is the most straightforward. Players have to earn a certain threshold of some resource before they can move ahead. For example, they may need to earn $35 before they could buy a bus ticket. There can also be variations, where the longer one waits and earns, the better solution can be bought. For example, one can earn $35 for a bus ticket but if one waits and earns $200 and one can buy a plane ticket.
- Charging up: In a charging up situation, the longer one waits (over the course of a limited time), the geometrically more powerful the effect of an action will be. So with a certain type of weapon, charging it for two seconds and will result in a blast of power 10, but charging it for four seconds will result in a blast of power 100. Likewise, at a staff meeting, not talking for a while may earn the group's attention when you do have something important to say.
- Limited inventory: In some cases, the player only has a non-renewable amount of some resource, and spending it badly leads to missed opportunities.
- When things are going well: Here, everything is going well, and the player has to realize that getting involved may hurt, not help.
- Earn interest: Here, any unused resource grows. The higher the interest rate, the more motivation for a player to wait. In other words, doing the same thing one turn later results in having more.
- Window of opportunity: Here, there is simply a time when an action is effective, and a time when the action is either ineffective or counterproductive. A level-ending boss may only be injure-able after firing his or her own weapon. This can be absolute or more subtle. For example, Company A may best buy Company B when Company A's stock price is at its highest and Company B's stock price is at its lowest.
- Probing/ identifying: In some cases, there may be a question as to even do an action or not. A person coming out of the fog may be an enemy or a colleague. Waiting can result in more information to make that decision.
- Dry powder: In some cases, there may be better options later, or an environment where surprises come up that need resources to either make things much better or keep them from being much worse.
We are all so used to twitch games. But some of the most interesting sims have us as tense holding back as striking out.