Pondering on a decision about strategic path. Reducing the game’s complexity Encourage Players to Master New Mechanics Personality grows or changes with progression Turn individual battles into campaigns
Unlike avatars, the loss of a single Unit may not determine the final outcome of a game. More dispensable than Avatars. Simulates TEAM PLAY EXAMPLE: CHESS: all the pieces except the king are considered units. EXAMPLE: RTS Games with DIFFERENTIATED UNITS
ACTIONS/ATTRIBUTES: Difficulty, Strategy, Asymmetric/Symmetric, Rock-Paper-Scissors, Coordinated actions. Balanced by giving PRIVILEGED ABILITIES and LIMITED SET OF ACTIONS. INITIAL NUMBER: Determined by Preset, Randomness, Player Actions in set-up PRODUCTION-CONSUMPTION (e.g., Produced in generator, consumed in battle), Converters, Capture of enemy units, Production choices: tech tree, varied gameplay, tradeoffs. TRACKING: Game State Overview, Third Person Point of View, God’s Finger, Attention Swapping AUTONOMY: Ability to act by themselves: Micromanagement / Personality COMPANTION: Companion to avatar
Enemies can actively resist player’s intentions through actions or they can be an explanation for challenges or obstacles in the Game World. EXAMPLE: The Ghosts in Pac-Man EXAMPLE: Opponents in Soul Calibur 2. Note: The most CHALLENGING type of Enemy are HUMAN PLAYERS.
OVERCOME: ELIMINATION, making INTERFERABLE GOALS impossible, or CONVERTING them through GAIN OWNERSHIP. Some enemies have an ACHILLE’S HEEL. NUMBER: Balances DIFFICULTY. ABILITIES: Different abilities provides VARIED GAMEPLAY. Balances DIFFICULTY, especially with PRIVILEGED ABILITIES. LEVEL PLACEMENT: Near Resource or Strategic Locations
PROMOTES: COMPETITION and CONFLICT, by pairing PLAYER GOAL with a PREVENTING ENEMY GOAL, driving the NARRATIVE. PROMOTES: SOCIAL DILEMMA, if the Player can INDENTIFY WITH THE ENEMY. Balance LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY by BLOCKING PROGRESS. Tension Competition Narrative Social Dilemma Objects of Reconnaissance Goals Surprises in Exploration Goals
Achilles Heal: Tactics/Strategies to Overcome/Evade
EXAMPLE: VILE in MEGA MAN X EXAMPLE: SEBASTIAN LACROIX in VAMPIRE: THE MASQUERADE - BLOODLINES
DEFEATED: Typically uses ELIMINATE modulated by OVERCOME.
USE: Modulates TENSION USE: Integral part of the NARRATIVE STRUCTURE USE: STRUCTURE PROGRESS. BALANCE RESCUE GOALS
Their value is that they OBJECTS that allow certain actions or RESOURCES unavailable elsewhere. EXAMPLE: The center of a CHESS BOARD allows Strategic Advantages. EXAMPLE: Controlling CITIES in CIVILIZATION allows Player to build more UNITS.
Gives Players clear Goals and Opponents and gives a clear indication of what players have succeeded and what have failed. EXAMPLE: In FIRST-PERSON SHOOTERS, the main challenge is to kill enemies. EXAMPLE: In FIGHTING GMAES, the focus is on COMBAT, with META-GOALS of unlocking new characters.
Actions are restricted because game is centered on a Limited Topic or to make the game easier to play (but not necessarily to master. POKER: Hit, Stay, Double Down, Split CHESS: Loss of Pieces Limits Future Actions .
FOCUS LOCI: Avatar or Units. Attached to a Unit can lead to ABILITY LOSSES to the player (such as losing some chess pieces may result in an inability to move diagonally). LIMIT: If a player has many actions total, but only a few available at a time, it can create different PLAY MODES.
PROMOTES: STIMULATED PLANNING but can lead to ANALYSIS PARALLYSIS, especially when tied to high PENALTIES. RESTRICTS: possible GAME STATES to maintain NARRATIVE STRUCTURES although it limits Player’s FREEDOM OF CHOICE.(but maybe only on a local, tactical level). When combined with NEW ABILITIES can lead to COMPETENCE GOAL that alleviates FREEDOM OF CHOICE (example: CIVILIZATION).
Players actions could have less of a chance of succeeding or be less successful due to RUNNING OUT OF RESOURCES or hostile actions from enemies. EXAMPLE: Each point of damage in ROBO RALLY gives the player one less card at the start of each turn. EXAMPLE: Polygon Balls in SUPER MONKEYBALL 2 will slow you down.
ABILITY LIMITED or NON-RENEWABLE RESOURCES so players have to make RISK/REWARD decisions about taking the Action. AFFECTS: PLAYER BALANCE BALANCING: Mitigated by having a TIME LIMIT on the loss or giving IMPROVED ABILITIES. Reduces DIFFICULTY without reducing COMPLEXITY.
RESTRICTS LIMITED SET OF ACTIONS available and FREEDOM OF CHOICE. DANGER: If PERCEIVED CHANCE OF SUCCESS is too low, it can affect ILLUSION OF INFLUENCE.
EXAMPLE: RESPAWNING in FPS Games without Weapons. EXAMPLE: Game Masters in RPG to enforce PLAYER BALANCE REDUCES COMPLEXITY and INCREASES DIFFICULTY.
BALANCING: Mitigated by having a TIME LIMIT on the loss or giving NEW ABILITIES. BALANCED BY: UNITS, NEGOTIAION, NEW ABILITIES
USES: PENALTIY for failing Goals, the effect of OPPONENT ACTIONS, or different PLAY MODES. When part of NARRATIVE, create VARIED GAMEPLAY. In games having UNITS with PRIVILGED ABILITIES, adds goal of UNITS SURVIVE. Promotes Player Killing and Elimination
Consequence of PRIVILEGED ABILITIES
PLAYER: Allows DIFFERENT EXPERIENCE UNIT: Makes PLAYER SYMMETRY POSSIBLE and aids in BALANCING
SUPPORTS: SYMMETRIC GOALS. BALANCES CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT
WEAK ASYMMETRY fosters TEAMWORK; STRONG ASYMMETRY allows VARIED GAMEPLAY within SAME GAMESPACE.
Opposing force can be OTHER PLAYERS or ENEMIES. EXAMPLE: Fighting Games like SOUL CALIBUR. Overcome through ATTACKS that Opponent cannot Block or Dodge. EXAMPLE: CHESS, overcome by ELIMINATING the Opponent’s PIECES and skillfully placing your own.
WHO: PLAYERS, ENEMIES, BOSSES, Different types of ENEMIES provide FREEDOM OF CHOICE and REPLAYABILITY. TESTS: COMPLEX: Simple comparison of NUMBER OF UNITS to a long sequence of tests in TOURNAMENTS. DIFFICULTY: Increasing Difficulty produces HIGHER-LEVEL CLOSURES as GAMEPLAY PROGRESSES. (Example: BOSS BATTLE at end of Level). TIES: Tied Results often associated with SHARED PENALTIES.
Supports Delivery, Stealth, Rescue Goals COMBO GOALS: TRANSFER OF CONTROL OF RESOURCES or TOOLS, AREA CONTROL, ELIMINATE (Object) or PLAYER ELIMINATION (including LAST MAN STANDING), GAIN OWNERSHIP, CAPTURE
Usually involves UNITS (but sometimes PLAYERS) to avoid Monsters, Falling Rocks, Bullets or suffer the consequences. Can make AIM & SHOOT actions more difficult. EXAMPLE: GO, players have groups that will be CAPTURED if they are ENCLOSED.. EXAMPLE: PAC-MAN has the goal of AVOIDING GHOSTS. PROMOTES: MOVEMENT SINGLE GOAL: Only when combined with TIME LIMIT.
ENEMIES: With constant MOVEMENT, can be combined with DEADLY TRAPS and MOVEMENT LIMITATIONS. PENALTIES: Damage, Loss of Life, Control of Unit ROLE-REVERSAL: GAIN OWNERSHIP of TOOL for OVERCOME goal. (PAC-MAN)
TENSION COMBO GOALS: With OVERCOME, players create tactics of offense and defense. SUPPORTS: TRAVERSE and DELIVERY Goals. PREVENTS: CAPTURE
REAL-TIME action requiring DEXTERITY SKILLS and SKILL of ALIGNMENT of two points along a straight line, as well as TIMING EXAMPLE: FLINTHOOK, Players shoot a Grappling hook. EXAMPLE: POKEMON: SNAP, Players aim a camera.
RESOURCES: Can introduce TENSION and requires RISK/REWARD Choices. MODULATED BY: EVADE and TRAVERSE Goals.
Actions whose effects are determined by how the player physically performs them. The effects of the actions do not have to be directly connected to what the player is physically manipulating for the actions to be dexterous. EXAMPLE: JETPACK JOYRIDE_ MANEUVERING TO AVOID OBSTACLES COMBAT: Especially AIM AND SHOOT
ACTION RESPONSE TIME If response time is too long, they do not seem to the Player to be DEXTERITY-BASED ACTIONS. This can be mitigated with games with few SURPRISES and either using TIMING for single-actions with PROGRESS INDICATORS, or RHYTHM-BASED GAME where delays can be ignored.
SPEED of MISSILE, SHOOTER, and/or TARGET
LAFS Game Mechanics - Tactical Mechanics
The Los Angeles Film School
The ongoing procedures after the game’s set-
up, leading to a desired resolution.
Making Progression More Meaningful
Add a Strategic Component
Shaping Learning Curve
Reward Most Engaging Way To Play
Enhance Narrative and Character
Provide Cohesion and Consistency
Strategic Location Design
What Makes Location Strategic?
Explicit or Implicit
Why Designers Use Strategic
Memorization For Strategic Knowledge
Balances Player Actions (especially
Supports Traverse, Gain Information, Gain
Ownership, Reconnaissance, Exploration,
and Guard Goals
Actions where the intent is to eliminate or
otherwise overcome opponents.
Avatars vs. Units Combat
Fighting Games or RPGs
Tools and Improved/New Abilities
Health Points, balanced by Lives, Stuns,
Forced Retreats, Resistances
Attention Swapping and Privileged
Damage Points, balanced by Achilles
Heels and Strategic Locations
Turn-Based vs. Real-Time Combat
Actions and Timing
Combat Design Considerations
Avatars or Units?
Turn-based or Real-time?
Attack Success (Blocking)
Lives or Damage?
Damage Amount (Reduction)
Information about Enemy/Boss
Why Designers Use Combat
Supports Eliminate, Overcome, and
Limited Set of Actions
Players can only have a few actions to
Limited Actions Design
Why Designers Use Limited Set Of
Balance Units or Teams (through Privileged
Limits Freedom of Choice
Analysis Paralysis (especially with high
Player’s chance of succeeding with, or the
effect of, an action is decreased.
Decreased Abilities Design
Cause of Decrease
Type of Descrease
Direct: Ability Attributes
Chance to Succeed
Design Analysis: Decreased Ability
Why Designers Use Decreased
Balancing Difficulty, Complexity, Players,
Characters, Skills, Units
Freedom of Choice
Chance to Succeed
Illusion of Influence
The loss of ability to perform an action in a
Ability Loss Design Considerations
Cause of Loss
Effect of Loss
Length of Loss
Design Analysis: Ability Loss
Why Designers Use Ability Losses
Supports Gain Competency Goal
Supports Gain Ownership of Tools
Restricts Freedom of Choice
When players or game elements do not have
all the same actions available.
Asymmetric Ability Design
Design Analysis: Assymmetric
Why Designers Use Asymmetric
Team Play (Collaboration, Negotiation)
Balances Gain Competence Goals
Extra Credits: Can One Game Cater To Many Play Styles?
Weak vs. Strong Asymmetry
Players share some game mechanics
Great for fostering teamwork
Abilities to use together should be obvious
Requires signals for when to use abilities
Few or no shared game mechanics
Requires strong team communication skills
Better for varied gameplay within same boundary
Defeat an opposing force in a test, or series of
tests, involving attributes or performance of low-
Evade Design Considerations
Enemies to be evaded
Penalties for failure to evade
Why Designers Use Evade Goals
Prevents Capture Goals
Supports Traverse and Delivery Goals
Choose one of the following games to play:
Carcassonne (2-5p, 45m)
China (3-5p, 45m)
Emerald (2-5p, 45m)
Fearsome Floors (2-7, 45m)
Design an analog game prototype using
mechanics supporting one of the following goals:
Aim and Shoot
The act of taking aim at something and then
Aim and Shoot Design
Turn-based or Real-Time?
First-Person: Fairly easy, unless there is movement
Third-Person: Movement of Focus Loci is necessary
for view of target
God’s View: Difficult, due to lack of Spatial
Missile Speed and Range
Moving Target or Shooter
Tools or Resources Required
Why Designers Use Aim and Shoot
Balances Resources and Tools
Supports Combat with Capture, Evade or
Actions where success or failure depends on
some form of dexterity, usually hand-eye
Dexterity-Based Action Design
Why Designers Use Dexterity-Based
What Determines Response Time For A
Dexterity-Based Aim & Shoot Mechanic?
Boss Battle Ahead!
There will be a test on Levels 1-3 the next
time we meet!