How many different mechanics can you handle in a game?

Discussion in 'Game Design' started by DKoding, Jun 4, 2015.

  1. DKoding

    DKoding New Member

    Feb 24, 2014
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    I am currently in the process of creating a 2D statless action RPG. The game engine I have created is very versatile, it currently contains 2d physics, lighting and particle effects, quests, weapon upgrades, both for sidescrolling and top down action.

    Just to see what the engine could do, I have created a lot of different avatars and control schemes, for example: A sidescrolling vehicle simulation using accelerating/braking, a top down tank simulation, a spaceship using newtonian controls, war planes using direct controls, a platformer with double jumps and wall jumps... the list continues.

    During development I realized that this allowed for a lot of good and varied storytelling, and dreamed up a lot of scenarios where you first had to invade a planet, drop a space buggy and drive over dangerous terrain, invade a beach with a top down view and explore a cavern using the side scrolling view.

    So - here is the question: How many mechanics do you think is viable to put into the same game? GTA V does it well, and so do some other games, but I am also targeting mobile and with just touch controls you are a lot more limited. Would you find it annoying/confusing having to switch between different control schemes during the course of a mobile game?

    And - would you play a game like this on mobile, or should I just skip that platform for now and create the game for keyboard/mouse/controller input?
  2. buto

    Original Member

    Oct 2, 2006
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    I think one limiting factor to the number of mechanics you can employ is how many resources you've got to polish each. This includes movement controls, camera behaviour, enemy behaviour, level layout, sound effects, ...

    Another one is how they blend together. If you plan to separate mechanics by levels, one mechanic per level, then the different mechanics probably won't benefit from each other. The best thing you could hope for in this case is that none of the mechanics breaks the flow of the game.

    If the focus of your game is on the story, and the evolution of the story is the main factor that motivates the player, then different mechanics (one for each level) can possibly make some sense. However, the gameplay most likely won't benefit from that decision.

    Using mechanics that blend into each other in one level (e.g. walking/driving in GTA) has the benefit that a player can possibly generate a story in his/her head and that this personal story itself is a motivating factor to continue playing (e.g. running from something, finding a car, using that to escape, etc.). However, there's a reason for the budget and resources that games like GTA and other open world games require.

    Depending on your budget and the number of people who contribute to your project, you should probably ask yourself if you can afford to focus on and polish many different mechanics for one game or if it would make more sense to focus on one mechanic, explore it in depth and build a game around that one.

    I think that carefully exploring one single mechanic in depth gives a player more gameplay variety than presenting him several more shallow, possibly unconnected gameplay mechanics.

    This is obviously just my personal reasoning and may be absolutely irrelevant for your situation.

    Kind regards,
  3. kaufenpreis

    kaufenpreis New Member

    Aug 1, 2014
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    That's a good questions actually. But usually you are in the mood for one thing at a time, not all of them. When people feel in the mood for a sidescroller and jump around they will pick just that. If they want to play something with uniform movement they will pick a top down game etc.

    But mobile games have to be simple to be attractive, ideally a simple set of mechanics with a twist and nice flow.

    I personally wouldn't mind a game with that sort of variation, if it does all of it right.

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