🎮️ Game Design
Game Mechanics

Updated at 2016-10-27 11:30

This note is about game mechanics and how to design them.

Mechanics are the rules of the game. There usually is a concept of resources and rules that give you resources or remove resources from you. Resources are used to gain power and the power is used to tackle challenges and ultimately achieve the goal.

Resources -> Powers -> Challenges -> Goal ^ ^ ^ | | | --- M E C H A N I C S ---

Games consists layers of mechanics. There should be semi-logical progression from one layer to the next.

From Core Mechanics To The Ultimate Goal: Move => Jump => Remove Enemies => Clear Levels => Save The Princess. Chat => Fight => Complete Quests => Gain Levels, Clear Areas => Save The World. Fling Birds => Remove Pigs => Complete Levels => Save Your Brethren. Build Units => Move Units => Win Battles => Win Campaigns => Save Your Species.

Core mechanics should be simple and fun. Best game mechanics are simple, but allow enough depth that they can be utilized multiple ways.

Easy to learn, hard to master.

Creating innovative game mechanics is easier when the game mechanics are build around the experience the game focuses on:

  1. What is your game about? Not the environment, genre, theme or setting but what you want the player to experience and feel when they play the game.

  2. How is your game about that? What mechanics are related to this experience? Remove all other mechanics.

  3. How does your game encourage this behavior? You are always left with some mechanics that don't straight relate to the experience e.g. character movement. Direct player to play the game in the way that they get the experience you intended them to.

  4. How do you make that fun? Utilize all the entertainment models appropriate for the game context.

    Example 1

    1. Love Triangle.
    2. Mechanics related to charming.
    3. Competition against other lovers.
    4. Advancement in personal stats. Winning the other lovers.

    Example 2

    1. Tragedy.
    2. Everything on character sheet is a plus and a minus.
    3. Style points given from drama. Direct players to the right mind set. When you expose a weakness.
    4. To see how the story unfolds while allowing you to affect it.

You may break the mechanics later for emphasis.

Mechanic of dying has a strong mental image but on many games a boss monster resurrects after death.

Play board games to learn new mechanics. Board games have many very cool and unique mechanics that can give an unique twist in a video game.

Battlestar Galactica/Lupus in Tabula: All players are dealt cards that tell if they are playing co-op or against the team. Those cards are kept in secret.

Provide as many different acting actors as possible. If there isn't enough variety, the player will get bored doing the same thing. Make sure the actors all do different things: walk, fly, shoot, climb, steal, give, etc.

Each enemy can have game altering ability e.g.: - Skeletons with shields cannot be hit from front. - Zombie raises after it has been dead for 5 minutes. - Boss monsters should be totally different from previous enemies. In general, boss should not be killable by only one way, that makes it a puzzle. - Consider giving enemies more unique skills on higher difficulty settings. - Game will never be boring if you introduce new aspects all the time but it might end up feeling like Mario Party.

Design mechanics for emotion. Create mechanics that support player stories. Player can execute something rare and awesome they want to tell other people.