Self-Balancing Mechanics

I read a post on BGG today about a fan who felt that a resource in one of our games was a bit too strong (Influence Points in Argent). Another fan replied to him that if the person who got the most of this resource always seemed to win, then he should probably fight over it harder, and that in his group they often fight so much over this resource that the cost of acquiring it changes.

That got me to thinking–there are a lot of self-balancing mechanics out there, and these are great tools which designers can use to make their lives easier when building games both symmetric and asymmetric. I’ve brainstormed a few of these, and I’d love to hear your suggestions as well in the comments.

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Information Oriented Game Design

Good game design is not enough–in order to build a good game, the designer must also think about the agents that will interact with the system he or she has created, the players. Players are the most important and integral component to your design, and you need to think about how they will interact with what you’re building as well.

I started thinking about this problem when we designed early versions of Millennium Blades. The game was fun, but after only 2 hours it was exhausting. Players felt mentally stretched and fatigued by the amount of information they had to store and process at once. I started thinking about why that could be, and what could be done from a designer perspective to account for it.

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Game Design Lessons I Learned from Playing Hearthstone

A blog post on game design from D. Brad Talton, Jr., founder of Level 99 Games

If you haven’t heard of Hearthstone yet, I encourage you to give it a look. This online collectible card game from the makers of World of Warcraft does a lot of things right, and holds some excellent lessons for game designers.

Like zen, good game design is impossible to teach. It has to be experienced. I can tell you all about the great things in Hearthstone, but until you experience it for yourself, it won’t truly register. If you haven’t played Hearthstone yet, go try the tutorial, and maybe even put in a few dollars to see what opening packs or playing in the PvE segments is like.

Here are a few lessons about good game design that I learned from playing Hearthstone. See if you agree, and see if you’ve learned anything different. Keep in mind that these are lessons on design. Things like “have a good tutorial” and “balance the game thoroughly” are lessons in execution, not design, so I won’t be mentioning those here, though Hearthstone holds a wealth of lessons in good execution as well.

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The Worst Game Feature Ever

We play games–all kinds of games from sports to board games to video games–in order to do. When you play a game, your choices will hopefully determine your ultimate success or failure. Those who make the best choices or perform most successfully will have an advantage to win the game (if not guaranteed victory, in games that do not utilize randomness as a mechanic).

So what is the worst feature you can pack into a game? 

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What 10 Games Would You Keep On Your Shelf?

I was challenged by our community manager, JR Honeycutt, with a question "If you had to prune your collection down to 10 titles, what would they be?" This is something I think about pretty constantly, to be honest, since space is limited in my home. (You can read JR's list here)

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Care to try the Draft?

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about one of my favorite game mechanics–so much that I thought to write a blog post about it. Some of you may know about Drafting. Some of you may not. Today, if you follow along, you will see why this powerful and underused mechanic is one of my personal favorites.

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