Think: Thinking allows beings to make sense of or model the world in different ways, and to represent or interpret it in ways that are significant to them, or which accord with their needs, attachments, objectives, plans, commitments, ends and desires.
Understand: Understanding implies abilities and dispositions with respect to an object of knowledge sufficient to support intelligent behavior.
Reflect and Connect: Arguably, the most important aspects of education is to provide students with knowledge that they can transfer in meaningful ways to other aspects of their present or future lives. For example, we do not teach history simply so students can pass a quiz, but so that they can reason better about the world around them.
Leave a professional and lasting impression. They’re your first referees, either on paper or via word of mouth.
He who has the gold makes the rules!
A core mechanic encapsulates what the spirit of a game is really about at its heart. Usually it is the action that the player uses most frequently in the game and the foundation upon which the other game elements are built. If this basic action is hard to perform, unintuitive, or just not enjoyable, the player might stop playing the game altogether.
A variable ratio reward ratio will produce the highest rate of activity than a fixed ratio.
Primary Reward: Sword Secondary Reward: High Score or Quest Reward
The player will treat the final stage as the actual reward.
The player will continue to do the activity for a long period of time before gradually tapering off.
Still very effective. Experiments on rats show that avoiding shock by pressing a lever shows quick learning to avoid shock.
Players will start boycotting your game.
Using Skinner Box techniques to make a game compelling is a lazy way to make it engaging.
Starting Action: How to put the game into play Progression of Action: Ongoing procedures after starting the game. Special Actions: Conditional to other elements or game state. Resolving actions: Bring gameplay to a close.
JEOPARDY: When a player can’t answer question correctly, other players have a chance to answer. Used for gameplay variation. WAYPOINTS: When the players run out of health, return them to the nearest waypoint. Used to get the game back on track.
Rules restriction actions can fix LOOPHOLES in a game.
Conflict keeps players from achieving their goals directly through rules, procedures, situations, and obstacles. Conflict makes a game more enjoyable by creating a sense of competition or achievement.
Boundaries separate the game from everything that is not that game. Physical or conceptual Discrete or continuous 2D or 3D Have subspaces
Common action in games that have a Game World or a board. Allows players to try and move game objects into favorable positions or try to control or explore a game area. EXAMPLE: Movement is the primary action in MARIO KART. EXAMPLE: Movement abilities distinguish different different types of pieces in CHESS..
The game elements that can AFFECT the GAME STATE. The most obvious elements are ones that can be moved by the player. EXAMPLE: CHESS pieces. EXAMPLE: ASSASSIN’S CREED AVATAR
NUMBER: Several allows for TEAM PLAY but requires ATTENTION SWAPPING and STATUS INDICATORS. Provides RISK/REWARD TRADE-OFFS ACTION: Dictates which game elements players have INDIRECT CONTROL over. Persistence ATTRIBUTES: Difficulty, Complexity, Character Development PERSISTANCE: Attributes or tools (Between Sessions): Emotional Immersion in Game World, Ownership CAMERA: Focus Loci, First vs. Third Person Perspective, Spatial Immersion PERSONALITY: Emotional Immersion, Freedom of Choice vs. Illusion of Influence
A form of RESOURCE that allow the player to remain in the game for as long as there is at least one life left. Gives players a clear CONTINUOUS GOAL to SURVIVE. Lives are usually associated with AVATARS (increasing EMOTIONAL IMMERSION), but UNITS can also use them, Usually also associated with some NEGATIVE EFFECTS in the game. EXAMPLE: SUPER MARIO BROS losing all lives causes you to restart the game. EXAMPLE: COUNTER-STRIKE is regarded as the first multiplayer FPS that made explicit use of Lives. Killed Avatars did not respawn, and the player had to wait until the next level stated, giving the player one Life.
CAUSE: Deadly traps, enemies, other players, not meeting time limits. CONSEQUENCES: Always a PENALTY of some kind. Loss of Score, Tools, Abilities. DOWNTIME NUMBER OF LIVES: Amount determines THREAT. A static number limits the game session time. REPLENSIHMENT OF LIVES Through pick-ups or a minimum score. Provides SHORT-TERM GOALS
BLOCK or SLOW Player’s PROGRESS until they have been MOVED, DESTROYED OR AVOIDED. EXAMPLE: WARGAMES have Hexes that BLOCK or SLOW. EXAMPLE:: LOCKED DOOR that can only be opened with a correct key, such as in Legend of Zelda: Wind Walker.
PATHS BLOCK: Balanced PRIVILEGED ABILITIES and PRIVILEGED MOVEMENT SIZE: It can be an entire AREA. Or it can be an OUTSTANDING FEATURE of the Game World. INACCESSIBLE AREAS: If not, then there might be LONGER PATHS one can take. HOW BYPASSED: Ones needing a specific RESOURCE or TOOL may involved RESOURCE MANAGEMENT. Those requiring TIMING may involve DEXTERITY-BASED SKILLS. OTHER PENALTIES: Penalties include SLOWING, DAMAGE, LOSS OF LIFE.
Leaps of Faith Decisions Narrative Structure Hindering Aim & Shoot Actions Balancing Traverse or Exploration Goals
EXAMPLE: PITS in Super Mario Brothers. EXAMPLES Falling blocks, Lava, Fire, Machinery, Fast-Moving Vehicles, Falling Bridges.
EFFECT: Balanced by the amount of damage TIME DELAY: Is there a time delay between setting the trap and it going off? DETECT Trap and Effects: Trap is VISIBILE and Effects are CLEAR: Usually allow Player to BYPASS the trap by TIMING or RHYTHM-BASED actions. OUTSTANDING FEATURES can warn player. Noticeable by EXAMINATION of Surrounding Area. Require Player to observe OUTSTANDING FEATURES in the environment. Can’t be detected before ACTIVATED. Creates SUPRISES and promotes MEMORIZATION. The last two usually don’t kill the player instantly but give a TIME LIMIT to react, providing TENSION in the game.
Rhythm-Based Actions and Maneuvering Memorization Surprises Narrative Structure Supports Rescue and Survive Goals (without opponents) Balances Evade, Exploration, Reconnaissance Goals
Player’s perception of the area depends on their LOCATION and knowledge about GOALS and DANGERS. EXAMPLE: Ghost Generator in PAC-MAN, EXAMPLE: Areas of LEGEND OF ZELDA that are behind boulders, locked doors, or other obstacles.
HOW BLOCKED: May be blocked by an OBSTACLE or it may itself be one big DEADLY TRAP. ACCESS: If Water blocks access, then only BOATS may be able to access it. If Enemies can’t enter, it may be a SAFE HAVEN. WHEN: Might be accessible at start of game, but not later, such as to protect SPAWN POINTS. Or, players may be to COMPLETE GOALS first. WHAT ACTIONS (BESIDES MOVEMENT) CAN AFFECT IT?: Can you shoot inside it?
ENLARGE GAME WORLD: Balances GAME WORLD NAVIGATION EASTER EGGS: Increases REPLAYABILITY SMOOTH LEARNING CURVES: If Satisfying Goals is necessary to enter MOVEMENT LIMITATIONS: Balances GAME WORLD NAVIGATION (while RESTRICING FREEDOM OF CHOICE) PROTECTION: Spawn Points, Enemies, Resources
They create ASSEMETRIC ABILITIES which can affect PLAYER BALANCE and TEAM BALANCE. EXAMPLE: Different movement abilities of CHESS pieces EXAMPLE: Different character classes in an RPG.
BEGINNING: PLANNING STRATEGY DURING: PLANNED CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT, TEAM DEVELOPMENT DURING CERTAIN TIMES: TIMING WITH POWER-UPS, AREA CONTROL, CHARGERS; STRATEGIC LOCATIONS
WHAT IS THE NATURE OF THE ACTION: Move differently, avoid penalty effects, allow special actions in Combat, create resources,, being able to pick up cards form a discard pile or look at other player’s cards. Even the ability to take no action. If too powerful, can be balanced by BUDGETED ACTION POINTS or TIMING WHICH FOCUS LOCI HAS ACCESS TO THE ACTION: ORTHOGANAL UNIT DIFFERENTIATION. (Rock-Paper-Scissors). Affects ABILITY LOSS when teamed with a TIME LIMIT. WHICH PLAYERS HAVE ACCESS TO THE ACTION: If Tools or Units have the ability, allows for TRANSFER OF CONTROL through stealing or capture. TEAM PLAY: Cooperation in ASSYEMTRIC Competence Areas, but in Team vs. Teams, balancing may be difficult with Asymmetric Abilities. Can be mitigated by BUDGETED ACTION POINTS or by deciding when players have access to certain abilities.
When tied to AVATARS or CHARACTERS:, allow for CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT. Can affect TEAM DEVELOPMENT and SOCIAL STATUS, as well as SOCIAL INTERACTION for coordinating abilities. GOALS: When combined with NEW ABILITIES, allows for GAIN COMPETENCE Goals. Empowerment Planning Character Development Team Development and Social Status Balances Movement, Combat, and Construction Investments in Competence Areas Supports Gain Competence Goals
EXAMPLE: WARGAME UNITS allocate movement points to units. EXAMPLE: RPG;s may have MANA POINTS for CASTING SPELLS
ACTIONS What actions are budgets? HOW ARE ACTIONS BUDGETS: Limited Resources
EXAMPLE: SPACE INVADERS.TETRIS, the goal is to survive as long as possible.
WHAT GAME ELEMENT SHOULD SURVIVE?: Usually the AVATAR, but it can also be a CERTAIN PERCENTAGE OF UNITS surviving (LEMMINGS). WHAT DANGER EXISTS: Deadly Traps, Enemies. Finding out the dangers can be SUPPORTING GOALS for STIMULATED PLANNING. WHAT ACTIONS AVOID THE DANGER DEFENSIVE (more Hit Points or Concealment), PREMPTIVE ATTACKS DEATH: PLAYER ELIMINATION, Lost LIFE, RESPAWNING LIVES: Balancing
EXAMPLE: Moving a pawn to the opposite side of the board in Chess. EXAMPLE: Moving Mario from the beginning of the level to the end.
WHAT ELEMENT MOVES WHAT GAME SPACE DOES THE ELEMENT MOVE THROUGH: ONE PATH or DIFFERENT PATHS? The latter involves STRATEGIC LOCATIONS as well as ENEMIES/OBSTACLES. IN WHAT WAYS DOES IT MOVE?: Can be linked to RISK/REWARD tradeoffs. Balanced by PRIVILEDGED MOVEMENT and CHARGERS IS THE GOAL POINT LOCATION KNOWN: If yes, then FREEDOM OF CHOICE
Games in which the players controls vehicles or characters that move in real-time often have OBSTACLES or ENEMIES to avoid. Requires maneuvering of game objects. EXAMPLE: Maneuver AVATAR in FIRST-PERSON SHOOTER to avoid enemies. EXAMPLE: Maneuver vehicle and obstacles around enemies and obstacles.
WHAT OBJECTS MUST BE COLLECTED OR AVOIDED: SPEED: Controlling the SPEED (Dexterity-Based Actions has balancing effects.) NUMBER: A large number may require ATTENTION SWAPPING
SPATIAL IMMERSION requires either a 1st or 3rd person view. Moving Obstacles and Deadly Traps may cause EVADE goals, while Pick-Ups could invoke COLLECTING goals. Puzzle Solving Spatial Immersion Balancing Aim & Shoot Actions Supports Evade and Collection Goals
LAFS Game Mechanics - The Core Mechanic
The Los Angeles Film School
1. Core Mechanics
2. Progression Mechanics
3. Tactical Mechanics
4. Resource Management Mechanics
5. Social Mechanics
6. Information and Game Mechanics
7. Randomness and Game Mechanics
8. Narrative and Game Mechanics
9. Balancing Game Mechanics
10. Replayability and Game Mechanics
20%: 10 Labs
30%: 10 Assignments
30%: 3 Tests
2% Extra Credit for playtesting Game Fair games
* 35%+ absences is an automatic fail.
Game development is a team sport. Each of
your labs is a group assignment in which
everyone must participate.
Having one of these is
At all times.
Do your homework assignments on the LMS
(Learning Management System).
Word counts are there for a reason.
Use them wisely and avoid:
Going off topic
Padding by stating the obvious in a way that
takes quite a lot of words but really isn’t
saying anything new
Repeating yourself but in a different way
Padding, wadding, lining, extemporising,
extraneous content or going on any other
kind of Synonym Safari TM
Deliver Work On Time
Develop a habit of delivering work
In the game industry, when work is
late, people don’t get paid.
Pssst....Sometimes developers make false
internal deadlines to avoid calamity such
as missed milestone payments. Maybe you
could do the same if graduation is at
Study for your tests! Refer to the
If you see on a slide, it will
probably be on the test.
If you don’t know the answer to a test
There are no points deducted for wrong
answers on multiple-choice questions
I will award some points for clever or
knowledgeable answers on short-answer
questions, even if they weren’t the answer
I was looking for.
First Rule of Success: Show Up
DON’T BE TARDY
But if you know you will be
late, EMAIL ME!
DON’T BE ABSENT
But if you know you will be
gone, EMAIL ME!
School Is Your Job
Yes, these are important:
But don’t neglect your school work!
Your colleagues and
faculty will most likely
be your doorway into
How do you want them
to think of you?
Action: What players actually do in the
Purpose: The reason why players are
The Core Mechanic(s)
The action(s) that the player uses most
frequently to progress in the game.
Examples of Core Mechanics
Game Core Action Core Purpose
Chess Position pieces to capture opponent’s pieces
Candy Crush Match 3 pieces to destroy them
Tetris Rotate pieces to create lines
Super Smash Bros Attack to knock opponent back
Doom Run and shoot to kill enemies
World of Warcraft Kill to earn experience
Write down an activity of any kind – related
to work, school, fun, chores, anything.
Come up with a verb, based on this activity,
that you think would make a good basis for
The Core Loop
Volition: The power of
using one's will.
A type of learning
where behavior, or
volition is controlled
by consequences. B.F. Skinner
Reward Ratios In Games
A player must shoot down approximately 20
enemy fighters to gain an extra ship, but the
precise number is randomly generated each
Reinforcement with Extrinsic
A reward that satisfies
a biological need.
with a primary reward.
What Would Be A Primary And Secondary
Conditioner In Games?
What happens if there are multiple stages to
Example: Kill 10 orcs and take each one’s loot
before entering the dragon’s cave, where it is
guarding a treasure.
What happens if you stop providing the
Example: The player suddenly stops
receiving gold for killing orcs.
What happens if the reward is to keep bad
things from happening?
Ultima Online: Visit house to prevent
Farmville: Harvest crops before they wither.
What happens if expectations change?
Player receives 1 gold coin for killing orcs, and
then later starts receiving 10 gold cold coins.
Reward is then switched back from 10 gold coins
to 1 gold coin.
The Skinner Box
Extra Credits: How Games Condition Us To Play More
The action of moving game elements within
the game boundaries.
Why Designers Use Movement
Game World Navigation
Supports Race, Capture, Stealth, Herd,
Delivery, Traverse, Collection goals
Movement Design Characteristics
What Can Move?
How Does It Move?
What Can Enhance
What Can Limit
Design Analysis: Movement Characteristics
The game elements through which the
player’s actions are taken.
Why Designers Use Focus Loci
Ownership Design Analysis: Focus Loci Uses
Focus Loci Design Characteristics
Design Analysis: Focus Loci
The number of chances a player has in a play
session before it is terminated.
Why Designers Use Lives
Balance Game Elements:
Balance Game Goals:
Last Man Standing
King of the Hill (with elimination)
Life Design Characteristics
Causes for Loss
Number of Lives
Design Analysis: Lives Characteristics
Game elements that hinder players from
taking the shortest route in the game.
Obstacle Design Characteristics
Design Analysis: Obstacle Characteristics
Why Designers Use Obstacles
Game World Navigation Paths
Non-Deadly Movement Limitations
Game events that kill avatars and units if they
are within the trap’s area of effect.
Deadly Trap Design Characteristics
Trap is visible and effects are
Trap and effects can be
detected by examination
Trap and effects can’t be
detected before activation
Design Analysis: Deadly Trap
Why Designers Use Deadly Traps
Deadly Movement Limitations
Inaccessible Area Limitations
Parts of the game world that the player can
perceive but cannot currently enter.
Inaccessible Area Design
What Has Access
When Is It Accessible
Design Analysis: Inaccessible Area
Why Designers Use Inaccessible
Enlarge Game World
Abilities that let players perform actions not
readily available to all other players.
Timing of Privileged Actions
Beginning of Game or Turn
During Game or Turn
During Particular Time Intervals
With Power-Ups and Other Game
Privileged Ability Design
Which Focus Loci
Team Play Impact
Design Analysis: Spellcasting
Why Designers Use Privileged
Balances Movement, Combat, and
Budgeted Action Points
Resource used to determine what and how many
actions can be performed during a player’s turn.