Monday, June 25, 2007

Game Design: Categorical Aspects of Games

What follows is a listing of various categories of different mechanical and organizational aspects of games. Rather than being an article, it's more of just an informational listing.

Information Type/Level of Luck:

-Perfect Information
-Limited (Some public, some private, some hidden from everyone)
-Private (Know your resources but no one else’s)
-None (No one knows what is coming next – “Sorry”, “War”, etc.)


-Partial elimination (possible but not required– “Shadows Over Camelot”)
-Elimination (one person left – “Risk”)


-Everyone for themselves
-Changing Teams
Random (“Kings”)
Chosen (“Teams of Enemies”)
-Co-operative (against the game)
-Variable co-op (possible that someone is helping the game)


-Most points
-Most amount of pieces played
-Most amount of pieces acquired
-Balance (least = your score – “Tigris and Euphrates”)
-Larger amounts of small scoring moves
-Smaller amounts of large scoring moves
-Exponential scoring (“St. Pete’s”)
-Mixture of in-game and end-game scoring
-Most consecutive pieces (“Ticket to Ride”, “Settlers”)
-Bonuses for certain accomplishments in the game (“Princes”, “Puerto Rico”)
-Bonuses for certain accomplishments in a given round (“Princes”)
-Limits (“Ingenious” – no more scoring for a color after 18 points)
-Thresholds (“Lost Cities” - must score over 20 to score positively)
-Prisoner’s Dilemma (blind, dual choice conditional scoring)


Card Playing:
-Sets, Runs, Suits,
-One time action modifiers (Offense and Defense)
-Long term action modifiers (Offense and Defense)
-Short term action modifiers
-Trick taking
-Cards act as resources (“San Juan”)
-Cards act as monetary measurements (“San Juan”)

Piece Placing
-Moving (“DVONN”)
-Non-moving (“Blokus”)
-Non-adjacent connected
-Non-adjacent, non-connected

Game Boards
-Collective board (“Risk”, “Blokus”)
-Individual game boards (“Princes”, “Puerto Rico”)
-Combination of individual and collective game boards

-Various amounts of dice (“Risk”)
-Multiple options for using dice results (“That’s Life”, "Can't Stop")
-Bonuses for certain combos (ex. doubles)
-Actions occuring via dice ("War of the Ring")

Direct Attacking
-Known outcome (“Chess”)
-Unknown outcome but fixed (“Stratego”)
-Unknown outcome but random (dice rolling - “Risk”)
-Capturing through replacement (“Chess”)
-Capturing through surrounding (“Go”)
-Capturing through jumping ("Checkers" "Zertz")
-Attacking via proximity (“Wings of War”)

-Closed system ("RA")
-Blind Bid ("Die Macher")

Resource Acquisition
-Single payoff (“Princes of Florence”)
-Continuous payoff (“St. Pete’s”)
-Resource upgrading (“St. Pete’s”)
-Trading ("Settlers of Catan")

-Various attributes, strengths,
and powers for different characters

Role-Taking and/or Variable Phase Order
(“Puerto Rico”, “San Juan”, “Citadels”)

Territory Control
-Only player ("Risk")
-Majority player

Tile Placement
(“Carcassone”, "Tigris and Euphrates")

Collective Influence (on a single area or item)
(“Pirhana Pedro”)

Indirect Influence on another player
(“Robo Rally”)

Plan Setting / Prediction
(“Wings of War”, "Star Wars: The Queen's Gambit")

-Thresholds that trigger events
(“Industrial Waste”)

(“Sleuth”, “Clue”, “Mystery of the Abbey”)

Negative/Positive Turn Requirement
(help opposition, then yourself - “Shadows Over Camelot”)

Additional actions for crossing a threshold

Simultaneous Choice
(“Diamant”, "Cash n' Guns")

Motor Skill / Dexterity

Supply and Demand
(“Power Grid”)

There are numerous mechanics that can be used in games. I find that trying to list them and see what they are can help build a vocabulary of useful solutions to gaming problems in the design phase. However, it's also useful to know what's out there so you can have some perspective on your own designs (i.e. are they truly unique or not).

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