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Good Mechanic, now what?

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Aquinas
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I've heard a lot of stories of designers that have thought of a really cool mechanic, and make it the heart of their next game. But how the heck to you get from something like a neat mechanic to a whole game idea with scoring and everything?

A good example is Stefan Feld's newest game "Macao." He had a mechanic where you roll 6 dice, each corresponding to 1 of the 6 resource types. You then secretly choose which 2 dice you would like to use (multiple players may use the same die). You then put the number of resource cubes of the appropriate types corresponding to the dice you chose in the corresponding numbered slots around your wheel. For instance, if I chose a yellow 4, I would put 4 yellow cubes in my 4 slot around my wheel. Every round, the wheel is turned one place clockwise, so that all of the cubes move down 1 slot. So in the example, the 4 yellow cubes move down to the 3 slot. You may only use cubes when they become available, which is past the 1 slot on you wheel. You may only use cubes for one turn, any leftover ones are discarded.

Then he built the rest around that mechanic. Boy, how do you do that? Basically, I have lots of ideas for cool mechanics like the above, but fail to do anything with them because I do not know how to build a game around it, or incorporate the mechanic into the game.

Help?

scifiantihero
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Joined: 07/08/2009
Well . . .

You've heard the stories . . . I'm sure there's some good designer blogs out there to read some more, but those may not be how YOU will get there.

If you're looking to utilize people here, a good start might be to talk about YOUR mechanic, and odds are you'll get lots of people chiming in ideas and helping brainstorm a little.

:)

Arvin
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Joined: 05/29/2009
Check out my Mechanics...

Aquinas wrote:
I've heard a lot of stories of designers that have thought of a really cool mechanic, and make it the heart of their next game. But how the heck to you get from something like a neat mechanic to a whole game idea with scoring and everything?

Then he built the rest around that mechanic. Boy, how do you do that? Basically, I have lots of ideas for cool mechanics like the above, but fail to do anything with them because I do not know how to build a game around it, or incorporate the mechanic into the game.

Here are some of my Ideas:

http://www.bgdf.com/node/2192

http://www.bgdf.com/node/2295

If you look at it I started with the first version of the mechanic,
but after that the rest is easy...
What you have right now is the "Spark"... All you need is "Fuel" and the "Engine" will start...
(If you know what I mean)

It only depends on where you want to start,
Since you have a mechanic but don't have a theme...
Here is my advice:
Read your mechanics as much as you can, Study it hard, Think of all the possibilities...
When It is all stuffed in your mind, here is what your going to do...

FORGET ABOUT IT...
Leave at least 3 three days to let your mind rest, just forget everything (trust me)
The longer the days the better (Not over a week though)
Then get back at it, now you have a fresh mind, Believe me all the Ideas will Flow...
All you need is time to let your mind work... don't pressure yourself, just relax.

I've done this many times (Time consuming though) but it's worth it.. :D

Kjev
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Joined: 03/03/2009
Make it abstract

My advice is to think of a game in an abstract way:
> you have players
> that want to reach a goal
> between their current position and the goal is an obstacle (they don't start the game winning it )
> instead, players perform actions to overcome the obstacle
> and by overcoming it, they reach the goal

You have a good mechanic, so you have an idea of something linked to the actions of the player (maybe even the action itself) to overcome the obstacle.

Pick a goal for your game and then think of ways that the mechanic will help (or prevent) players to reach it.

Aquinas
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Joined: 10/27/2008
Good stuff

Seems like it's a lot more intuitive than I thought. Good show!

The waiting 3 days thing is tough, because you think the mechanic is so brilliant you want to make it a game this instant, but I see the value of what you say. I will use it more often!

jeffinberlin
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Joined: 07/29/2008
Original?

"Mechanics" are really a dime a dozen--it's making a complete (and fun) game that's the real work. There are limitless possibilities for "game ideas" or mechanics, and most are not as original as you might think they are. It's often good, then, to share the idea with people you know who are familiar with lots of games, to see if they think it really is original enough to build a game around (and even if it's been done before, you can still make a good game by using it in a new way).

Another option is to find a co-designer who can look at it from a different perspective (but still work with you). Don't expect him or her to do all the work of making a game around your mechanic, but two heads are really better than one, if you don't know how to proceed.

Nix_
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Joined: 09/23/2009
Pick a theme

Pick a theme. Think of what your mechanics feel like; what kinds of things happen this way in real life? What colors or symbols will be used to run the mechanic? If its a battle mechanic then who is battling? Brainstorm as many possibilities for themes that might work with your mechanic that you can.

Once you have a theme for your game and you know how your mechanic will fit into that theme you have a basis to build the game around, adding mechanics and rules to fit the theme as you go. Its hard to choose between the different theme ideas, but usually one should stick out to you.

JB
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Joined: 02/06/2009
I'm not sure I understand.

I'm not sure I understand. How do you know a mechanic is cool, if you don't know what game it's in? What makes the mechanic in isolation cool? To me a mechanic solves a problem. It might make action resolution faster, or rein in a runaway leader, or better simulate the effect of wind on different ships.

So ask yourself, What problem does my mechanic solve? Then just create a game that has that problem.

Arvin
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Joined: 05/29/2009
What happened?

Tell me what happened...

What was the result of the agonizing three days of suppressing your ideas?
very hard huh... But it does pay off...

Aquinas
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Joined: 10/27/2008
Arvin wrote:Tell me what

Arvin wrote:
Tell me what happened...

What was the result of the agonizing three days of suppressing your ideas?
very hard huh... But it does pay off...


Oh it really worked. Really. I've now got 3 ideas I can go for instead of 0! What ended up happening was I came back to my original mechanic, and realized that it was no good, but that another mechanic worked even better! A lot simpler too. Gosh, it was hard to set this next one down for a few days, but it survived it this time. Now I can design games really well (seriously!). Thanks for sharing.

Arvin
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Joined: 05/29/2009
Glad to help you... :D

I'm Really glad to help you...
Just as I thought! IT WORKED!!!

Good Luck in Designing!

Aquinas
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Joined: 10/27/2008
Arvin wrote:Good Luck in

Arvin wrote:
Good Luck in Designing!

Can't I design a game without luck? No dice? No cards?
;-)
Haha, just kidding.

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