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

Victory Condition Mechanics


Let’s look more closely at a common mechanic in most all games: the Victory Condition. Just like it sounds, this mechanic determines if and when a player has won or lost. Seems simple, right? Actually, there are alternatives to the simple victory condition formula. In this topic we are going to examine in detail, defined victory conditions, Game over conditions, and even games that never end.


Victory conditions can vary greatly from game to game; but, usually when a victory condition is achieved the game ends. Note, however, that victory conditions are not always the same as game-over conditions. Sometimes games have defined victory conditions, and some have undefined victory conditions, while some many have none at all.

victory condition mechanic


Games with Defined Victory Conditions

Most games provide a clear victory condition for players to work towards. As stressed earlier, it is important to give players clearly defined mechanics they must master as well as a not too difficult to identify path to victory. That doesn’t mean the mechanics to achieve victory have to be boring. Chess for example is fairly simple in its mechanics and the victory objective (take the King) is clear and simple. Actually achieving the victory condition in a good game of chess can be a bit more challenging. It is the brilliant design of chess that also allows the mechanics to inform and alter the players’ perception of how close each of them is to achieving victory over the course of the game. In other words, in chess, the closer one player comes to victory, the easier it becomes and the more obvious it becomes.

defined victory conditions


In chess, each player goes through a series of lesser victory conditions that built toward the ultimate objective of taking the king. In video games, we can create similar rules for games with multiple layers and systems, but the basic victory condition mechanic stays similar enough that the structure has merit. Take for example the computer game Civilization V. Players each have a broad understanding of certain victory conditions they must achieve to win the game. When those conditions have been met, the game will be over.