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What are "Game Mechanics" ?

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Anonymous

Ha!

Just realized that I might learn something by asking. I -think- I know, but that's happened before.

I did a forum search but, like, 127,916 items came up.

Basically, I guess I'm looking for something on which I can base or create a "checklist" of sorts to keep going to in order to make sure I'm creating balanced play.

Thanks!
Andrew

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Re: What are "Game Mechanics" ?

Turner wrote:
Ha!

Just realized that I might learn something by asking. I -think- I know, but that's happened before.

I did a forum search but, like, 127,916 items came up.

Basically, I guess I'm looking for something on which I can base or create a "checklist" of sorts to keep going to in order to make sure I'm creating balanced play.

Thanks!
Andrew

It's not that easy I'm afraid. First, you have to ask yourself "What is balanced play?" Your definition and someone elses' might be completely different. Proof is in the pudding, so to speak. I.E. you won't really know until you playtest it. Of course, with experience you can get a pretty good idea beforehand what will be unbalanced and what won't, but that's more of a gut instinct than anything.

-Darke

Anonymous
What are "Game Mechanics" ?

Hey Darke -

I guess it's mostly that I don't know exactly what falls into the idea of "mechanics" - is it *everything* about a game that isn't its actual "physical being" ?

Or, is it a range of more specific and esoteric things such as "price", or "distance", or "symmetry", or "sandwich-osity" and the rules that apply to them?

OR, is it just the rules?

I'm guessing that mechanics include things like "risk" and "dice rolls", but I just don't know!

Hopefully, getting more of a grasp of this idea will help me design better games..

cheers
Andrew

IngredientX
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What are "Game Mechanics" ?

I'd define "game mechanics" as the abstract (not physical) elements of a game, defined in the rules, through which the players interact. The interaction can be with other players, or with the game environment itself.

Most games are a combination of several mechanics. For example, in Monopoly, a player figures out how far to move by rolling the dice. That's one mechanic right there; the idea of basing movement on a "random" dice roll. It's the "roll-and-move" mechanic, which is pretty old (and some would say, long in the tooth). Note that the dice themselves aren't a mechanic; it's the idea that the dice tell you how far you have to move that's the mechanic.

For a very good list of mechanics, go to http://www.boardgamegeek.com/searchform.php3 and scroll down to their list of mechanics. That's a pretty good starter list of a bunch of mechanics, many of which I'm sure you'll recognize.

As far as what mechanics balance a game best... that's a question that only playtests can answer.

Anonymous
What are "Game Mechanics" ?

Good list!

"Pick up and Deliver" - huh!

Thanks!

Anonymous
What are "Game Mechanics" ?

IngredientX wrote:

Quote:
I'd define "game mechanics" as the abstract (not physical) elements of a game, defined in the rules, through which the players interact. The interaction can be with other players, or with the game environment itself.

A good definition of game mechanics, but I would extend it to cover not just the rules but the way that the rules interact with eachother as well.

Darkehorse wrote:

Quote:
It's not that easy I'm afraid. First, you have to ask yourself "What is balanced play?" Your definition and someone elses' might be completely different. Proof is in the pudding, so to speak. I.E. you won't really know until you playtest it. Of course, with experience you can get a pretty good idea beforehand what will be unbalanced and what won't, but that's more of a gut instinct than anything.

True. But I feel that there is some part of play balancing that is not so subjective as you indicate.

One method of balancing game mechanics it through intransitive relationships (e.g. scissors beats paper beats rock beats scissors) between game elements (e.i. game pieces, strategies, etc). The good thing about this is it will always create a balance between the elements.

This however cannot cover all aspects of the gameplay (or mechanics) and so good playtesting, gut instinct and experience are needed too. Just remember that a game mechanic (or group of mechanics) may be balanced but it will interact with oter mechanics and create an imbalance somewhere, also you must take into account wether the mecanic alos adds to the fun of the game.

A good resource is the first section book "Game Architecture and Design" by Andrew Rollings and Dave Morris by Coriolis. It mainly deals with computer games, but the design techniques can be translated over to boardgames.

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