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  • Designing For Accessibility In Fake Illusions

    - Tom Hermans

  • Difficulty

    Since this game is very focused on spotting visuals, you have to take into account that not everybody's eyes or screens are equal.

    One of the playable illusions in the game is the Hermann Grid, where players have to find an actual gray square in the intersections between larger black squares. When I was playtesting the game during a network lunch, I noticed that the "faker" gray square was not visible on this screen. Apparently, the monitor ignored the very light shade of gray and turned it into full white. For this reason, the brightness slider was very important to add.

    Fake Illusions settings screen with the difficulty slider & settings button displaying a smiley.

    This game has a difficulty slider that indicates how much the faker is allowed to stand out. At the default level it offers a fair challenge, but it can be set much harder but also much easier. The range on the slider is actually pretty wide, with the extremes making the puzzles either trivial or nearly impossible, to suit every type of player. I think this offers a much more dynamic control over difficulty compared to Easy/Medium/Hard settings that are currently the standard in many games. The slider appears in the settings menu, but also in-between levels while playing the illusion.

    If the player changes the difficulty beyond a certain point, a smiley (or frowny) in the interface indicates this. This is mostly to make sure that the player knows it's a globally applied setting and to remember them they've set it to a non-default value, and that they can follow a breadcrumb trail to the settings menu where they can adjust it back.


    To complete Fake Illusions, you only need to beat around half of its content. Meaning you don't have to play every illusion if you don't want to, for whatever reason.

    Fake Illusions intermission screen.

    The game encourages the player to take breaks, or at the very least, switch between illusions from time to time. There's an intermission screen each time the player beats a level of the illusion, and if the player has unlocked something new in the meantime, an exclamation mark is displayed on the "back to menu" button. Then the same exclamation mark is displayed on the thing the player unlocked in the level select.

    At first the progression worked that only a fully completed illusion would unlock others. But I changed it so that every completed level (each illusion has around 5) would add up to unlock things. Players can still beat everything if they want, but it gives those who might get stuck more freedom to continue towards the end of the game.

    Level select with an exclamation mark on one of the levels.

    As a final detail, the last level in the game is the Shuffle mode, which gives the player hard versions of random illusions. The player will only encounter illusions here if they've already beaten the first difficulty of that illusion earlier, to make sure they only get puzzles for which they've already been onboarded. It's a small feature, but one of which I'm certain will ease frustration.


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