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Looking in nature for mechanics model

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larienna
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My girlfriend has studied in interior design and she said that many design model were taken directly in nature. For example, she once said that a green shirt could match brown pants because this color match exist in nature: it's a tree. The spiral on a snail shell spiral is more beautiful than others spirals.

So I was wondering if we could get model in nature and history for game design. I think the answer is yes. You probably heard me saying once that many games, especially euro ones, has counter immersive mechanics. Which makes the theme pasted over the game and gives you no feeling at all.

I played Phenicia lately and in this game the "theme" is that you manage a civilization. But in this game, you acquire technology/buildings by auction.

Now tell me, when did it happen in history that a civilization acquire technology by auction? It Never happened.

You could have technology race, like players compete to invest more ressource to develop a technology before the other does, but an auction, even if similar, does not represent well a technology race.

So here the auction machanic is counter immersive, because in real life you do not auction technology. By thinking about it, there is very few situation in real life that use auctions. Still auction is over-used in euro games.

So in pheonicia, you do not really feel like you are managing a civilization and this could possibly because of the auction. It's probably for that reason why I do not like games with auction, it's because it's always used in unnatural situations.

Another example that I always use, in starcraft, the placement of actions order in reverse order is again counter-immersive because it never happens in real life that you plan what you are going to do in reverse order. It does not mean that the mechanics is bad, this mechanic would have been awesome in a time travel game but not in starcraft.

So the general idea is that if you use real life situation information to design mechanics you will use mechanics that fits better with the theme and it would increase the level of immersion of the game.

scifiantihero
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I think maybe . . .

grouping nature and history together might be a little . . . broad?

I think both are excellent topics for discussion, and would be really interesting to explore.

I agree that it is frustrating sometimes to see mechanics that aren't exactly tied to what they're being used to represent.

I think the idea of looking to nature for mechanics models is a good idea. Does anyone know any games/ designers that do this? Could certain ratios make interesting scoring models? Could game choices follow branches that look like a real tree?

Hmm. I wonder!

;)

End of Time Games
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Keep exploring

This is an interesting idea. I like where your going with this. In my own creations, whatever they may be, I tend to use processes that relate to other fields of creation. I can definately relate to what your saying. Are familiar with the "golden section"? Chew on it. Math.....Nature...Art....Music....game theory...they seem to sleep together.

End of Time Games
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yes

Be a builder and a game designer. Be a Professional X and a game designer ... Be a musician and a game desinger ... be a game designer and a artist/whatever, be a game designer and a marketing and business person... what els?

domd
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Two separate discussions

I also look to nature or even physical/chemical processes (an extension of nature) to find ideas for new game mechanic design. However, by the time I read the end of the post I was much more intrigued by what this forum's perception is of keeping game mechanics in check with the reality of the theme. Given that some themes are clearly in the fantasy realm, even within that fantasy there would need to be a semblance of the realism of the mechanic. For instance there would not seem to be a reason to have an auction for the best weapon to kill off zombies after dark. But what is better in that scenario? Having fun using an auction to acquire extremely cool weapons? Or, having a more realistic way of acquiring really cool weapons, such as a mechanic where they are randomly found in an armory? I would love to hear what others feel about this.

larienna
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If for example, you have the

If for example, you have the idea of having an auction for selecting weapons to kill zombies, I don't mind that you could use this idea. In fact we must still allow designer to use their creativity.

But at least give a very good reason why it would happen. For example, you could be in somekind of TV show where you auction a weapon and then get thrown in a maze full of zombies. That could make sense (try evaluate how bad is the level)

But if you are a few survivor lost in a city full of zombies, there are actually no reason to have an auction.

CloudBuster
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OOOOOH! I like this topic!

Would this hypothetical scenario work with the auction mechanic?

Since everybody is probably familiar with Fighters, Mages, Thieves, etc. I'll stick with those for my example.

In many games, certain classes of characters can't use the weapons/items of a different class because they don't have the skills. For instance, a fighter can't use a Mage Staff because he doesn't use magic, or the magic he has isn't the right "kind" of magic he needs to use the staff. He's been trained to fight, not cast spells. (Yes...there are exceptions to this...maybe our hero can light a fire with magic, or perhaps he can magically repair his weapons...these are still in character, though. They're practical to his life and his occupation).

Now...just because he can't use a mage staff, doesn't mean he can't find one on his adventures, yes? What if he kills a Mage somehow? Perhaps the mage is occupied with something/someone else and our hero simply bashes him on the head from behind? Whatever the reason, our Fighter now has a mage staff he can't use. What does ANYONE do with something he/she can't use? You can give it away, or you can sell it, right?

So now we have our game. Could one of the options on a player's turn be to have an auction and sell items to the highest bidder? That might be interesting, because the other players are rivals for whatever spoils the game has to offer. "I don't really want to give the Fighter all this money, but I REALLY want that staff!"

Meh. I don't know. I can see flaws with this, but maybe I'm being too specific? What if you're playing a game and you've got some extra inventory, or perhaps you don't WANT to sell your stuff, but you need healing potions or some other necessity? A player-run auction might be kind of a cool option to have on your turn. Perhaps you have to get to a town before you can start your auction? I was toying with this idea in my current game. Either an auction or a trading option on a player's turn. My game takes too long to play at the moment, and I abandoned the idea because I thought it would slow things down.

Specific mechanics aside, do you think this general idea would work?

domd
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Exactly!

Only a situation as absurd as a board game about a TV game show where weapons are auctioned off so that you can kill zombies to win fabulous prizes would make sense for that mechanic. That seriously made me laugh out loud - nice work!

red hare
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lemmings!

I totally agree that nature (also history) is a great source of inspiration for games. Sometimes the myths and associations surrounding say an animal, like a lemming, is more interesting than the actual facts. Case in point is that oh so simple creature, the lemming. Though those silly little creatures aren't supposed to be keen on committing mass suicide, that old computer game "Lemmings," where you build detours and contraptions to stop them from running over a cliff, is fun.

Like what other posters have said, nature can provide logic to a game in that a certain thing "would" or "would not" behave in a particular way. If the game mechanic goes against that, then it doesn't fit.

larienna
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Quote:Could one of the

Quote:
Could one of the options on a player's turn be to have an auction and sell items to the highest bidder?

That would be OK, because it make sense that you could auction what you don't need in a real life situation.

Still, players have to evaluate if there are any takers. If there is only 1 mage in the group who could actually buy and use this items, it means that the auction will not go very high. So it could be a disadvantage in this case for the player to initiate an auction.

But maybe another player has a mage contact that could be interested in this item so he might try to buy it in order to resell it to him.

For the Zombie game: Yes, it could be a "Smash TV" zombie edition.

Nix_
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Implementing in an RPG

Cloud Buster if your looking at a game where characters collect equipment, and can only use the ones that fit there character you should take a look at WoW the boardgame. Its multiple mechanics like that in a game that the WoW game have great replay value.

CloudBuster
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Kinda sorta

My ramblings were mainly meant as illustrations of how an auction might work. That's why one of my comments said something like, "Meh. I see holes in this." for the exact reason the OP mentioned. If you don't have a lot of Mages, then your auction won't be worth much. BUT...I think I was too specific....I wonder if there's a way to implement some type of inventory/items list in a game where there's a potential for EVERYONE to what want you have. Perhaps a special key that lets you get to a certain room, or a different realm. If you've already got that key and you've been to the realm in question, if you grab any more of those keys the other players might want them.

I didn't know WoW had a board game variant. Sounds interesting!

larienna
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In fact, there is 2 WOW game.

In fact, there is 2 WOW game. I played one of them ( not the adventure game with a map like Arkham Horror) and it is horribly bad. The only good thing I found in this game is that object and abilities can combine themselves together to create powerfull combos.

Ex:
Ability A: If you roll 7-8 you get a special bonus.
Ability B: You can change any of your die roll to a value of 8.

So ability B helps ability A to occur.

sunnysong
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sunnysong
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Taavet
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Limited Resources

Thanks for contributing sunny, and welcome to the forums, roflol!

I think is what sunnysong is trying to say is that just like in the natural world you don't have enough time or resources for everything you want or need, we can apply that to boardgames. Limiting the amount of resources in a game helps to create tension and fuel a healthy competition.

As for my input, I think the wonderful thing about boardgames is that there is such a wide spectrum. You can find educational games with real life references and applications or you can play a completely absurd, abstract or fantastical game. Different preferences to suit whatever type of entertainment you are looking for.

Mankind has always looked to God's creations for inspiration in design/mechanics. The better we understand nature the closer we can come to obtaining that same level of perfection. From a Pirates peg leg, to the modern flexible and functional prothesis. From an eggshell to a dome or an arch.

Wise designers will always look to the master designer for inspiration. And why recreate the wheel?

Yort
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In with both feet

The risk (at least in my book it is a risk) is designing a simulation rather than a game with nice flow. Many American 80's games were tests of endurance where players spent hours looking numbers up in charts to try and simulate reality. In some instances of sheer boredom with no other obligations in life this may be fun.

I think the upswing in board game interest over the last decade is that they feature more interesting player interaction, which has its own logic (nature). Things like auctions, alliances, negotiation are all fun ways to interact and can lead to interesting choices. If a theme feels rather pasted on and this is insurmountable to your enjoyment, perhaps the author should have just done a better job picking a theme (a pitfall you should avoid), or perhaps you should consider how boring it might be to simply make the development of your technology a straight out matter of arithmetic and accounting with some luck thrown in.

Rather than let your game imitate nature, let nature (human nature) be facilitated by your game.

red hare
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boardgames have a future!

Yort makes a good point about how interesting games allow players to interact in fun ways. A great game allows us to compete or cooperate and not just match accounting skills or win the luck of the draw. It seems to me the fact that this occurs face-to-face and within a limited time frame (45 min to 3 hours) is what sets boardgames apart from computer games. And the fact that adults usually only have a few hours for entertainment at a time makes boardgames even more appealing. You're spending time with friends and family as opposed to solely disappearing into a WoW world.

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