Game Design Theory Level 4 – Advanced Game Mechanics and HUD / GUI Elements

Course 404 Section 1 – Game Mechanics


Your game’s mechanics are vital to making a quality game that is consistent and “feels” pleasing to the player. Your goal should be to create a solid base model of physics and movement, power levels and game speeds first. Then you can build upon, customize and upgrade the base model with various tweaks that can be used throughout the game. There are three main gameplay elements that use their own mechanics, and that’s the player, enemies and hazards. The player’s mechanics and the enemy / hazard mechanics, whether it’s their pattern timing, striking distance, or movement speed should be related and complimentary to make your world feel real. Everything should be balanced and every one element have a counter-element. Gameplay elements that do not match or seem to work outside of the normal mechanics of the game should be used sparingly and are an effective way to “shock” the player.

It is important to remember that not every game needs every mechanic. Designing mechanics in a game should not be like checkers, where you use every piece on the board is equal in importance and all must be used to achieve victory. Designing mechanics is more like chess –  you want to use the most important mechanics and pieces in the right combination to create fun, engaging and interactive experiences. If you try to use all of the pieces you will waste your efforts and not get ahead in the game. In most cases there is a limit to how many mechanics players are willing to learn and use in-game, especially if those mechanics do not add to the overall joy of playing the game. For example, the game may offer three different ways of jumping, however, if there is not a compelling in-game reason to master and use all these jumps they will become tiresome, boring or obsolete. 

To start this course, we’ll give you an overview of the most basic mechanics that are at play in most games.