Casual games are usually very demanding in terms of attention and focus. That means that we become unaware of the events happening in our environment. This becoming unaware has a huge cost and we really keen to overcome the condition. All or Nothing (AON) tries to not let you lose your awareness of your environment. Immersion without loss of awareness is possible.
I am making this claim on the basis of observation of several rounds of gameplay by strangers. The game is absorbing but not distracting. Players don’t lose cognisance of all their parallel engagements. And this statement can be verified to be true or false based on playlists that you can organise. That is part of the idea of making the game open source. I do not want the game and my relationship with it to be in the way of understanding what the game is in reality.
Our minds have a tendency to wander, towards sometimes events on the outside and sometimes towards events on the inside. Being in the moment is what an ideal board or card game should allow. But games designed by designers/artists sometimes carry the weight of vanity and self-centred beliefs with them. So the story goes, that if the game is any good, it will be fully absorbing. There is no negotiation, either fully absorbing or not at all. What about other games? They are somehow not good enough. I disagree with this logic in the context of the AON game.
AON deliberately and consciously lets your life while playing the game. This makes the game. is opposite of most casual games. This doesn’t make AON into only a casual game but it gives it one salient, relatable feature. It is basically a number game, pizza slices gives it a context and a real-world story that is a good analogy for it. But in one of the future versions that might change. Instead of pizza slices the game might either choose some other analogy or just go back to plain numbers.
Besides changing the analogical context, the game’s objective could also be changed. The analogy and the objective are two of the many things that could be changed first. The goal is to make a game that is a good balance between immersion and joy. The mind space that the game could trigger could be a kind of ‘peaceful presence’. With ‘peaceful presence’ I can calm my mind down enough to understand how body is responding tp its environment. How our bodies are responding to their environment is important. If I have a good understanding of how my mind responds to different kinds of stimuli in the environment, I will have enough data to feel calm & collected, no matter what happens in the outside world.
AON could have different kinds of moods as different emotional states as their objective. In the subsequent versions — this could be the workflow. How I do that remains to be seen though.