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Granularity in game design

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bluesea
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Can anyone offer (hopefully with some examples) a definition of and appropriate use of GRANULARITY as applied to game design.

I've been reading about it some, but I'm not sure if the authors of what I have been reading are using it in the same way.

Sorry if this is a silly question.

John

Yogurt
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Granularity in game design

I know as soon as I post this, a game theorist is going to come in and paddle my definition, but to tide you over...

In game design terms, I think of granularity as a measure of (1) how many options there are within a range and (2) how different they are in size. For example, can players earn a lot of little bonuses or just a few big bonuses?

In a game with a lot of granularity you might have fifty opportunities to score 1, 2 or 3 points. In a game with little granularity, you might have two opportunities to score 5 or 25 points. Scoring badly a few times in the first game is no big deal. Scoring badly in the second game is a disaster.

Games with little granularity tend to have more tension, because of these high-stake tipping points. (Although this can translate into frustration if large rewards are doled out randomly or if there's no way to catch up from an early setback.)

But granularity doesn't just apply to score.

If you can buy only a $1 sword that does 1 damage or a $10 axe that does 10 damage, you have decide carefully where to invest your money. A wrong decision will leave you weak or broke. But if you can sharpen your weapon at any time for $1/damage point, then you have a continuum of values and a wrong decision might not have big consequences.

Torrent
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Granularity in game design

I think Granularity is a concept that you can apply to several aspects of a game or a design. I think in general Granularity is how fine or coarse an aspect is represented in a game.

Granularity comes to mind with wargames and army type games. A very finely grained game might have individual uints moving and attacking and getting hit, while a more coarsely grained game just looks at the pawns as entire brigades.

If you have a context you are trying to understand it, that might help in giving answers.

bluesea
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Granularity in game design

Quote:
If you have a context you are trying to understand it, that might help in giving answers.

Let's start with scoring.

How would one rank the following games, from coarsest to finest?

-Football
-Soccer
(Can we PLEASE not make this a football/soccer debate :) :) :) )
-Baseball
-Tennis
-Basketball
-Cricket [EDIT: added due to thread below]

*Extra Credit*
-Golf

Granted these are not board games, but I'm certain that there are board game equivalents, and for me a least, it is a good reference point.

Thanks

John

Scurra
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Granularity in game design

OK, I'll give it a shot. Of course, not being from the US, this wouldn't be my preferred selection of sports... :-) Also please note that I am overgeneralising deliberately.

bluesea wrote:
How would one rank the following games, from coarsest to finest?

-Soccer (games are often decided on a single goal, which doesn't necessarily reflect the actual play of the game.)
-Basketball (one type of score but a system that is well designed to keep the scores level so that the result can be down to luck.)
-Baseball (single points are usually scored at a time, but don't necessarily reflect the work that goes into scoring them)
-Football (two types of scoring. IIRC one is half of the other to try and indicate their relative difficulties - yes, I know there's a bonus point too, but that's irrelevant in this case. The very structured possession system makes it surprisingly like Basketball.)
-Tennis (each game consists of at least four points but you have to win by a clear two which means that you have to have demonstrated your superiority.)

The scoring systems should indicate which team/player did best, but there also needs to be room for good luck and quirks of circumstance. However, a system in which someone wins purely due to a quirk of circumstance is usually bad. This is why larger team tournaments are typically played in a group "all-play-all" model before knockout stages are reached. Tennis is an exception to this, but the individual sets within matches could be considered "group" games...
Thank you for inspiring such an interesting tangent. I shall probably find myself thinking about this all day and then come back and edit everything I have written ;-)

bluesea
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Granularity in game design

Scurra wrote:
OK, I'll give it a shot. Of course, not being from the US, this wouldn't be my preferred selection of sports...

... I shall probably find myself thinking about this all day and then come back and edit everything I have written ;-)

Having lived in London for two years (including the AMAZING summer when England won the Ashes) I am happy to include cricket in the list as well, as the scoring is rather interesting, i.e., the defense scores, generally, instead of the offense, or at least that is my interpretation...oh man, this is going to turn into a cricket thread isn't it?!? :)

I'm going to be trying to wrap my head around this all day too. Tennis is throwing me for a loop.

cheers

John

bluesea
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Granularity in game design

I realised I didn't explain why tennis is throwing me:

In tennis, you can actually score more points (i.e win more games), and still lose. So how does this figure into granularity, or am I just overthinking things?

E.g., 5 set match scored: 6-1, 6-1, 4-6, 4-6, 4-6. player A loses to player B 3 sets to 2 sets, but won 24 games to the other players 20 games. I guess this is because the game is centered around set victories and not game victories. It isn't just important to win, but also when you win.

I wonder if this can be incorportated into a combat mechanic...hmmmmm.

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