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Basic Introduction to Game Design

Chance and Skill in Game Design

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Welcome to the fifth week of class in the course: Basic Introduction to Game Design. Make sure to read the syl­labus and course infor­ma­tion before you con­tin­ue. Today, we are going to dis­cuss chance and skill in game design. This text fol­lows close­ly from our text­book (Challenges for Game Designers, Chapter 5 and 8). I also take inspi­ra­tion from Schell’s The Art of Game Design (Chapter 10, pp.150–170) and Adams’s and Rollings’s Fundamentals of Game Design (Chapter 11). However, this is the part when I break free.

Games, which fea­ture mean­ing­ful deci­sions, do not always have to require or evoke skills from a play­er. Some games oper­ate entire­ly by chance. Games that rely more heav­i­ly on chance than on skill are often found in the con­text of chil­dren’s games or gam­bling. Why does this dif­fer­ence mat­ter? The play­er is going to play, play, play, play, play — are they not? Do not shake off the notion of chance too swift­ly. Games of chance can be very engag­ing, because they can allow play­ers of dif­fer­ent skill sets to engage in a bal­anced com­pe­ti­tion. Games are for every­one; for peo­ple, who are used to rolling the dice and peo­ple, who like to feel the fear in their ene­my’s eyes. Some peo­ple even think it is fun to lose and to pre­tend. However, games of luck in par­tic­u­lar seem to fea­ture more attain­able goals and are winnable by more peo­ple.

On the oth­er hand, games like Tic-Tac-Toe are entire­ly skill-based and can be mas­tered, once a play­er fig­ures out a dom­i­nant strat­e­gy. See this exam­ple lec­ture for form­ing a Tic-Tac-Toe strat­e­gy via rea­son­ing:

 

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Basic Introduction to Game Design

Game System Dynamics

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Welcome to the fourth week of class in the course: Basic Introduction to Game Design. Thanks for com­ing over from GameCareerGuide if you read my guest post there. Make sure to read the syl­labus and course infor­ma­tion before you con­tin­ue. Today, we are going to dis­cuss sys­tem dynam­ics in games. This text fol­lows close­ly from our text­books (Game Design Workshop, Chapter 5, Challenges for Game Designers, Chapter 2, and Salen and Zimmerman Rules of Play chap­ters 13,14,16,17,18). In pre­vi­ous lec­tures, we have dis­cussed the util­i­ty of rules. As game design­ers, we use rules to deter­mine the actions play­ers can take and the out­come of those actions. In dig­i­tal games, the game log­ic often pro­vides parts of the rules of your game. The audio­vi­su­al man­i­fes­ta­tion of your game (even the sto­ry of your game) is how­ev­er not con­sid­ered a com­po­nent of the for­mal ele­ments of games. When audio­vi­su­al ele­ments influ­ence the for­mal struc­ture of your game, this should be con­sid­ered as a fac­tor of your game rules. Salen and Zimmerman dis­tin­guish between con­sti­t­u­a­tive rules and oper­a­tional rules as well as implic­it rules.

  • Constituative rules are all about a game’s inter­nal events. They are the main log­ic behind your game. In a dig­i­tal game, these are con­tained direct­ly in the code of your game.
  • Operational rules are all the rules need­ed to run the game (not just the con­sti­t­u­a­tive or inter­nal events) includ­ing all exter­nal events relat­ed to your game, such as input and out­put of the game, the way that you express choice in your game and how out­comes are defined for play­ers.
  • Implicit rules are the unstat­ed assump­tions of a game (often sim­i­lar to a play­er’s hon­our code, but also relat­ing to the nature of the com­put­ing plat­form that your game runs on). Implicit rules often relate to the con­tex­tu­al sit­u­a­tion of a game that we are tak­ing for grant­ed. However, this con­tex­tu­al sit­u­a­tion can be played with, to exper­i­ment with inno­va­tions in game design.

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