Strategy game designers should start thinking about alternatives to “score systems” for their games. In this article I will talk about how and why we use score systems right now, what their weaknesses are, and how we can (as well as why we should) move beyond them. Much of this article is written with respect to designing single player strategy games, but the theory absolutely applies to multiplayer strategy games equally.
Score Systems in Videogames
Score systems have been relied on by all kinds of interactive systems designers since the beginning. Early videogames such as Pac-Man and Galaga had high score boards that players would compete for places on, whereas Super Mario Bros. had a score feature as a sort of extra added feature that really serious players could try to maximize if they got tired of beating the game.
It goes back further than that, of course. Pinball, which laid many of the foundations for videogame design tropes, also used a score system, not to mention some ancient games such as Go. Today, there are strategy games that use score systems, such as games like Civilization, Rogue-likes, or my own Auro: A Monster-Bumping Adventure. They’re appealing to designers because they’re so simple to implement and design; you can pretty easily take just about any simple toy/sandbox activity and slap a score on it, and then it almost instantly feels a little bit more competitive, a little bit more replayable, a little bit more “strategy-game-like”. Continue reading “Against score systems (and for success and failure)”
The game I’ve been working on since about 2015, Push the Lane, is now on Greenlight! Please vote for it and share the news.
Very soon, I will be also launching a Kickstarter for the game. Stay tuned!
It is common to hear players talk about “tactics” and “strategy” in games. In this case, the colloquial understanding of these terms happens to be pretty useful, in that it maps well to something that actually goes on in playing strategy games. With that said, it’s worth taking a moment to clarify these terms:
“Tactics” usually refers to “short-term decision-making”. Questions like “should I move this character two steps forward, or three steps forward” are questions of tactics. Tactics are micro-level decisions in strategy game play.
“Strategy” usually refers to “longer-term decision-making”. Questions like “should I be aggressive early, or be defensive now and attack later on” are longer-scale choices about a game that players make. Strategies are macro-level decisions in strategy game play.
In both cases, we are talking about a grouping of gamestate information over time and how it changes. I refer to this grouping as an “arc”. Continue reading “Arcs in Strategy Games”
I’ve been working on this game since late 2015. It started as an abstract dragging-stuff mobile game like Threes, then become more of a single player turn-based League of Legends, and now has become a strategy/tactics game that doesn’t resemble anything in particular.
Here’s a rundown.
It’s an American Gladiators or Nickelodeon’s Guts! type of TV game show. A sport – played single player, against basically an advanced strategic obstacle course, fighting robotic minions.
Continue reading “Push the Lane!”
Hello everyone. Today I’m talking about a new article I read about permadeath/grinding, as well as what I perceive as the death, or at least curving off of, the world of game design writing.
I also read and responded to a Frank Lantz quote (now on the Dinofarm Forums!) on the topic of structure in games and win rates.
You should also check out the game design subreddit if you haven’t already: http://www.reddit.com/r/gamedesign
(By the way… beware the term “beautiful”.)
As always, you can support the show by visiting my Patreon page.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download
Subscribe: iTunes | Android |
I did a Twitter poll recently:
Most people (almost half!) voted that there “is no default/ideal”. That probably sounds like a safe, reasonable choice, but it’s really a pretty bold claim to say that there is no default or ideal – certainly at least as bold as any of the other options.
In second place was “2 player”, which did not surprise me. What did surprise me was how close the margin was between “2 player” and “3+ player”, though. I would have expected the breakdown to be more like 40% “unanswerable”, 40% “2-players”, 20% “3+ players” and basically no one voting for 1 player. Actually, I still kind of think that if more people took the poll, it would probably head more in that direction. Continue reading “The Default Number of Players is One”