Guidelines for Strategy Game Design

A functional and lightweight game design manual by Level 99's D. Brad Talton Jr,
on how to create tense, dynamic, decision-driven games.

§ 4.0 - No more than it needs to be.

§ 4.0 - No more than it needs to be.

§ 4.0 - No more than it needs to be.

Whatever else they are, strategy games are about victory.

There are considerations like self-expression, identity, strategic diversity, and hitting key notes of a simulation, but all of these considerations need to be tied back to winning the game if they’re going to be relevant to play.

As a designer, sometimes this means trimming the fat off a design, and sometimes it means changing the conditions of victory so that the parts of the game you want to keep are relevant to the ultimate goal. If there’s any activity or component in your game, it needs to justify itself to a player who only cares about winning, in addition to fulfilling its other roles.

Thematics are important in games. But all relevant themes need to be tied to victory. Never expect a player to interact with a component merely because of its theme. Rather, strategic players will interact with as few components of the game as necessary to achieve victory. Thus, if you wish to add emphasis to a particular thematic component, then you must bind that component tightly to the victory conditions.

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