Lesson 4 of 10
Some Elements are Game Mechanics
- How do the seven mechanics in Schell’s taxonomy play a factor in your project? Which ones are more dominant to your gameplay, and which are less dominant?
- Objects, attributes, and states
Pick some of the lenses below and discuss their questions in regards to your own game projects:
Lens #26: The Lens of Functional Space
- Is the space of this game discrete or continuous?
- How many dimensions does it have?
- What are the boundaries of the space?
- Are there subspaces? How are they connected?
- Is there more than one useful way to abstractly model the space of this game?
Lens #27: The Lens of Time
- What is it that determines the length of my gameplay activities?
- Are my players frustrated because the game ends too early? How can I change that?
- Are my players bored because the game goes on too long? How can I change that?
- Would clocks or races make my gameplay more exciting?
- Time limits can irritate players. Would I be better off without time limits?
- Would a hierarchy of time structures help my game? That is, several short rounds that together comprise a larger round?
Lens #28: The Lens of the State Machine
- What are the objects in my game?
- What are the attributes of the objects?
- What are the possible states for each attribute?
- What triggers the state changes for each attribute?
Lens #29: The Lens of Secrets
- What is known by the game only?
- What is known by all players?
- What is known by some or only one player?
- Would changing who knows what information improve my game in some way?
Lens #30: The Lens of Emergence
- How many verbs do my players have?
- How many objects can each verb act on?
- How many ways can players achieve their goals?
- How many subjects do the players control?
- How do side effects change constraints?
Lens #31: The Lens of Action
- What are the basic actions in my game?
- What are the strategic actions?
- What strategic actions would I like to see? How can I change my game in order to make those possible?
- Am I happy with the ratio of strategic to basic actions?
- What actions do players wish they could do in my game that they cannot? Can I somehow enable these, either as basic or strategic actions?
Lens #32: The Lens of Goals
- What is the ultimate goal of my game?
- Is that goal clear to players?
- If there is a series of goals, do the players understand that?
- Are the different goals related to each other in a meaningful way?
- Are my goals concrete, achievable, and rewarding?
- Do I have a good balance of short- and long-term goals?
- Do players have a chance to decide on their own goals?
Lens #33: The Lens of Rules
- What are the foundational rules of my game? How do these differ from the operational rules?
- Are there “laws” or “house rules” that are forming as the game develops? Should these be incorporated into my game directly?
- Are there different modes in my game? Do these modes make things simpler, or more complex? Would the game be better with fewer modes? More modes?
- Who enforces the rules?
- Are the rules easy to understand, or is there confusion about them? If there is confusion, should I fix it by changing the rules or by explaining them more clearly?
Lens #34: The Lens of Skill
- What skills does my game require from the player?
- Are there categories of skill that this game is missing?
- Which skills are dominant?
- Are these skills creating the experience I want?
- Are some players much better at these skills than others? Does this make the game feel unfair?
- Can players improve their skills with practice, leading to a feeling of mastery?
- Does this game demand the right level of skill?
Lens #35: The Lens of Expected Value
- What is the actual chance of a certain event occurring?
- What is the perceived chance?
- What value does the outcome of that event have? Can the value be quantified? Are there intangible aspects of value that I am not considering?
- Each action a player can take ha a different expected value when I add up all the possible outcomes. Am I happy with these values? Do they give the player interesting choices? Are they too rewarding, or too punishing?
Lens #36: The Lens of Chance
- What in my game is truly random? What parts just feel random?
- Does the randomness give the players positive feelings of excitement and challenge, or does it give them negative feelings of hopelessness and lack of control?
- Would changing my probability distribution curves improve my game?
- Do players have the opportunity to take interesting risks in the games?
- What is the relationship between chance and skill in my game? Are there ways I can make random elements feel more like the exercise of a skill? Are there ways I can make exercising skills feel more like risk taking?