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Subject: What are the more popular Game Mechanics? rss

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Chen Changcai
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It seems that the more popular board and card games (Settlers of Catan, Carcassonne, Ticket to Ride, Agricola, Blokus, Magic the Gathering, Dominion, Race to the Galaxy) contains at least one of the following mechanic or category

1) Territorial Building (eg. city,pattern,route,network,farm,army)
2) Set collection (eg. resources,tickets,combo cards)
3) Fighting (eg. attacking other players' territory,resources)

Just wondering if maybe the majority of people tends to like certain game mechanics? One theory I have - probably humankind still has the cavemen instinct to build and defend a territory, collect resources and fight with other tribes.

If it is true that certain game mechanics are more popular, perhaps we can gear our game design to use such mechanics.

What do you think are the more popular game mechanics?

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Chris Schenck
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ccube78 wrote:
If it is true that certain game mechanics are more popular, perhaps we can gear our game design to use such mechanics.

I try to intentionally tinker around with the mechanics that aren't in vogue at the moment. I find it more refreshing that way.

If you market a good game that follows the current popular trend, you're likely to be sidelined as a copycat or derivative game. To stand out among the current games, your game would have to be excellent, not merely good.

Use a different set of mechanics though, and your merely-good game might really stand out against the crowd.



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Just call me Erik
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ccube78 wrote:
It seems that the more popular board and card games (Settlers of Catan, Carcassonne, Ticket to Ride, Agricola, Blokus, Magic the Gathering, Dominion, Race to the Galaxy) contains at least one of the following mechanic or category

1) Territorial Building (eg. city,pattern,route,network,farm,army)
2) Set collection (eg. resources,tickets,combo cards)
3) Fighting (eg. attacking other players' territory,resources)

Just wondering if maybe the majority of people tends to like certain game mechanics? One theory I have - probably humankind still has the cavemen instinct to build and defend a territory, collect resources and fight with other tribes.

If it is true that certain game mechanics are more popular, perhaps we can gear our game design to use such mechanics.

What do you think are the more popular game mechanics?



I don't know about popular, but my favorites are the high-interaction mechanics of Trading, Negotiation, and auctions.

I think Trading, rather than set collection, is what makes Settlers what it is.
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Gary Simpson

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Quote:
What do you think are the more popular game mechanics?


Game design now is largely towards Logistical* and Tactical** play styles so you will see mechanics that favor those styles. Any source of design has to predict what its end-user will want as the design curve forms.

Getting back to game design, a player has an expectation of the play style of games -- the more a player expects a game to have a play style, the more it becomes popular and the standard. Its a self-feeding system (a game that is popular and has Area Control will spawn several new games with Area Control). The system will continue till players expect something innovative to happen.

As social networking, groupthink, and community building become more commonplace -- a shift towards Diplomatic*** play style is expected and game design will be selected more towards that route (we've already seen the game audience divided into Casual and Hardcore groups and the growing expectation of CO-OP games).

Example of using known play styles to foster game design:
Attack of the Dead (co-op survival horror game)

Logistical: Each player can choose a Class, pickup Items, use Weapons, and rescue Survivors. Each player manages his actions with Ability cards

Tactical: Each turn, a player chooses one of three routes on a location card. As players team up, whomever is in front becomes party leader and decision maker for that turn.

Diplomatic: Any player can be party leader from turn to turn, shaping the probability of how well the party can survive against Encounters. Each player can play co-op by sharing his Ability cards to help his team or he can lone-wolf playing the odds that his decisions alone will be enough.
__________________________________________________________________
* using a set of tools to meet needs, optimize, manage
** reading the situation as it comes then taking action
*** finding an expert/information/similarities, conflict resolution
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Steven Metzger
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ccube78 wrote:
1) Territorial Building (eg. city,pattern,route,network,farm,army)
2) Set collection (eg. resources,tickets,combo cards)
3) Fighting (eg. attacking other players' territory,resources
I don't see any of these three very clearly in Dominion.

1) You could say that the VP cards are building cards, but that's not really the case - they are just points at their core, and help you very little beyond scoring.
2) You could also say that getting chain combos is "set collection," but it's really deck management and collecting the sets is secondary to actually playing them to make a constructive turn.
3) You could even say that there's fighting (with the Attack cards), but the attacks are universal, not directional, which makes it less like fighting and more like dictating terms of negotiation.

In summary, it's hard to define mechanics as solely one type of mechanic because definitions really do vary.

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Drake Coker
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Having some way to win is pretty popular (well, for boardgames anyhow).
cool
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Michael Ornelles
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I think as a game designer you have to let your topic or subject dictate the type of mechanics used. For example, in Storm Over Arnhem, an area control and impulse movement and fire system was used because the battle for control of the bridge area involved small unit actions in differing parts of the city. In Midway by AH the cat and mouse aspect of the battle was simulated by the blind search system and the limited search capability of the Japanese was simulated by less search radious for them.

I would first decide what aspect of a game I am trying to simulate and then what kinds of difficulties or decisions I want players to have to overcome or make. Then tailor the mechanics to represent these without (a) slowing the game down (b) making it too complex as to be unplayable and (c) allowing for a mixture of results that are a combination of luck and strategy/tactics.

You do not want the mechanics to FORCE a repeating outcome from game to game. Instead the mechanics should give players options within a framework that CAN lead to differentiating results. Example: In many diplomatic heavy games players can choose WHO to try and sway or ally with based on their position in the game.

In playtesting mechanics for a game I would make sure that the mechanic used does not produce wildly impossible results (unless thats what your aiming for). Example: If you make a game for ship combat and a PT boat can somehow sink a battleship in a gunnery duel....maybe that mechanic needs some tinkering.

Audience is important too. Are the people who will play the game going to be grognards, newbies, or somewhere in between? Is interaction between players important? If so make sure mechanics don't involve players sitting around for hours while other players take their turn.

Physical geography is important too. If the game is meant to be fast and furious and can involve lots of players, a mechanic that involved taking up lots of table space might not be something to consider. How much randomness do you want in the game? I have heard some players of games complain that they make good, sound decisions in certain games only to have their well laid plans blown apart by the wild swing of some event card or other mechanic that totally unhinges the games end result.

In games with more than one player I enjoy mechanics where interaction, diplomacy, and bluffing are used. In wargames on a tactical level I like area-impulse games. In more strategic level wargames hex movement is preferred. In card games where the action is meant to flow I hate any record keeping-the cards should be all you need to play. Check out the mechanics used in AH's Up Front Card game...where no dice are needed and the numbers on the cards are used to determine random rolls required in the game.

I think the coolest new mechanics in a card game I have recently seen are in Dominion. It took a few games to get used to deck building and disposing your whole hand each turn but it really makes the game shine and accomplish its goal based on the theme.
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Eddie Mittelstedt
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cbs42 wrote:
I try to intentionally tinker around with the mechanics that aren't in vogue at the moment. I find it more refreshing that way.


I agree with Chris, though I'm never without my Popular Mechanics issues. This is my #1 reference to what mechanics are hot. If I want to design a game during a particular month, I make sure my mechanics are not in that issue.


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Chen Changcai
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metzgerism wrote:
ccube78 wrote:
1) Territorial Building (eg. city,pattern,route,network,farm,army)
2) Set collection (eg. resources,tickets,combo cards)
3) Fighting (eg. attacking other players' territory,resources
I don't see any of these three very clearly in Dominion.

1) You could say that the VP cards are building cards, but that's not really the case - they are just points at their core, and help you very little beyond scoring.
2) You could also say that getting chain combos is "set collection," but it's really deck management and collecting the sets is secondary to actually playing them to make a constructive turn.
3) You could even say that there's fighting (with the Attack cards), but the attacks are universal, not directional, which makes it less like fighting and more like dictating terms of negotiation.

In summary, it's hard to define mechanics as solely one type of mechanic because definitions really do vary.


My opinions on the case of Dominion are
1) I would think that the player is building a deck. Perhaps the Territorial Building can be generalized further to just Building. The player may feel more attached to the game as he created something during the game.
2) The player has a certain strategy in mind and buys cards every turn. This is a collection of things which the player thinks will be beneficial to him. Perhaps Set Collection can be generalized to Collection. There is some similar between Collection and Building. I think the difference is that Building usually refers to the process of putting something on the board, while Collection usually refers to collection of resources that enables the Building process.
3) Fighting can be generalized into "Affecting others and gaining an advantage". Kind of lengthy, but in simpler terms it just means an option of saboteuring others.

Interestingly, the 3 mechanics that I mentioned are very evident in Real-Time Strategy (RTS) and Role-Playing (RPG) games. For FPS and games like Street Fighter, the only mechanic I see there is Fighting.

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