Trust Emotion in Aegis Wing
What is it?
Abstractly, trust can be described as a feeling of confidence or certainty attributed to something else. In games, it is often expressed most intensely in multiplayer games, where some aspect of the game requires reliance on another agent.
Because games are based around choice, games require a spectrum of an emotion to be explored. In the case of trust, this mean the game system must also allow for mistrust as an option. Thus, a "trust mechanic" is an encounter that asks a player to interpret to what degree they have confidence in something else.
In Aegis Wing, there were two key mechanics that involve exploring the concept of trust.
Mechanic #2: Hide or partially expose game information - Many mechanics that have hidden information ask players to make a vote of confidence in their own understanding of the current game state. The classic game of memory is a simple example, where the player makes a decision based upon confidence in their own memory to find a matching card. A more resonant example is Poker, where players must decide how much they trust the other player's betting patterns and tells.
The hidden information in Aegis Wing is a bit different, given that it is a cooperative game. Players have the ability to communicate at their disposal. To start, a player has little information to build their model of confidence from. But by engaging with players, forming plans, and watching other's past successes, the player can build an imperfect but improved model to inform their decisions about who to collaborate.
Here are some useful lessons learned that can be applied to make these types of mechanics resonate even more:
- Make both the manager and user of the resource human players. Human relationship decisions almost always resonate more because of the built in complexity of human communication.
- Repeat the choice cycle often so that the player has a long history to evaluate when making a vote of confidence.
- Offer players the ability to shake other's confidence in them by offering incentives to betray. By offering this option, when players do not take advantage of it, it can build a stronger trust bond. The point is to not ignore the sometimes negative side of an emotional spectrum. Doing so degrades the value of achieving the positive.