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Sharing struggles and inspiration when coming up with new mechanic...

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mike6432
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Joined: 02/15/2010

Hi there,

I just wanted to get support or tips from some of you on coming up with unique mechanics...

As I'm trying to work on my game (I have a theme), coming up with the more critical part, the game mechanics, is a tough battle. I'm wondering, is it nearly impossible to come up with a truly unique mechanic at this point, with thousands of other games out there?

and...does it matter? Does it have to be truly unique? I guess not, so many games are auction, or worker placement...but it seems there's subtle or small differences within that mechanic that seem to make the game shine.

Take Agricola, WP, uniquness at that point I think would be the numerous cards that can come out and having children to have more AP's...etc, compared to stone age...same WP mechanic, but has unique qualities with the dividing your number of workers by X... or Caylus, worker placement, but the idea of sequence on the road seems to be heavily sewn into the WP mechanic.

So I'm curious about your struggles and where you get inspiration from...I'm curious about tips on coming up with that unique "blend" of mechanics. I imagine I wouldn't make anything truly unique, but the chances of coming up with a game that is unique, through a unique combination of mechanics and maybe one or two subtle differences could be feasible.

I seen so many games out there that seem to be repeats of others, etc. so maybe I'm beating myself up too much?

I also seen somewhere a design theory structure of board game mechanics, like a wheel structure? It was some diagram, that showed in the center of this spoked wheel, the main mechanic and outside of it, other smaller mechanics that support the main mechanic. Does anyone know what I'm talking about, or where that is online?

How much should I be thinking of the fundamentals of game design theory in my designs? Also, I don't have to be a staticician or mathematician to come up with a solid game idea...do I?

these are just things I'm thinking about. I'm sure others have shared my thoughts, I'm curious what others think...

Thanks!

Yamahako
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Joined: 12/01/2010
I believe there are still new

I believe there are still new mechanics to find, but they are elusive. I find some of the most interesting mechanics when I simplify two (sometimes more) mechanics I have in a game into 1 more unified mechanic. But I don't think there is anything wrong with utilizing mechanics from other games as necessary. I like to think of mechanics as serving a purpose, so everyone is a tool in your designer tool box. Rarely, someone invents a new tool, but usually you want to use the tools you have in the best way possible.

EvilC
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Joined: 09/10/2009
Definitely new mechanics

There are definitely new mechanics out there. The first to come to mind is Macao's compass rose. And I think many designers are coming out with new mechanics that work.

A game I am working on with dshort involves a new way of revealing cards (good job D!!!), another game in development involves movement and affects of movement along a time line that involves the addition and subtraction of resources, and the last game involves a stacking of workers that allow for drawing of cards. Some of these mechanics may feel similar to others but I believe that they are unique in the way they work and fit into the theme of the game.

I think the key is asking yourself what action does the mechanic have to achieve and what is the result? Then, are there existing mechanics that do a similar task? Do they do they complete what you need? If they don't do exactly what you need then how can you tweak them to fit your game? If you tweak them to fit a different action then in many ways they are a 'new' mechanic. Worker placement is worker placement but how you place the workers can be amazingly different!

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