Basic Introduction to Game Design

Game System Dynamics

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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