Monday, April 22, 2013

GDC2013 - Introducting Machinations: A New Way to Design Game Mechanics

Ernest Adams and Joris Dormans introduced their tool to design game feedback diagrams.
  • There are many types of game mechanics - physics (running, jumping, ballistics, vehicle), economy (collecting, resource management), progression, tactical maneuvering, social, etc.
  • Internal economies appear in most genres. There are many prototyping methods (paper, spreadsheets, software,), but machinations offer a fast, cheap, flexible, and easily playtestable solution. The only thing that machinations have trouble prototyping are physics.
  • The motivation for the framework is to visualize overall structure of game mechanics and economy systems. There are various attempts to systemize game design, but they often try to do too much. Machinations focuses on economic functions and entity flows.
  • Machination diagrams include four main components -- nodes (entities and economic functions), resources (that move between nodes), resource connections, and state connections.
  • The tool offers templated design patterns such as the dynamic engine. In a dynamic engine, a source produces an adjustable flow of resources, players can invest resources to improve the flow, there's a trade-off between short-term and long-term investment, and players upgrade until a certain point and then the game switches over to another system.
  • Another design pattern is the multiple feedback system, in which a single mechanism feeds into multiple ones, each with a different profile. This increases difficulty and learning curve.
  • You can create diagrams to map economies of space exploration games or even first-person shooters.
  • Machinations is no silver bullet. It's a prototyping tool designed to explore game economies. It is better to focus on general structure of the entire game or a detailed structure of individual mechanisms.
  • Future features include multipage diagrams, hierarchical design,, user-defined nodes, standalone app that doesn't run on Flash, and actual integration into game engine architecture.
  • Machinations allows developers to prototype internal economies, facilitate understanding of complex dynamics and emergent systems, and allows methodological approach to game design.
  • Start using Machinations at:

No comments: