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

Have a Variety of Interesting / Useful Things for the Player to Buy


Sometimes it’s the little things that count and introducing a frustrating game element like limiting the player’s breath underwater can be a setup for later solutions. Imagine the player’s joy to find an item that allows them longer time or unlimited time underwater, like a scuba suit at just the right time when they need it to complete a task. There are a ton of different things you can give the player to give them small little benefits and abilities, even if you limit them. Having only a few good items and a bunch of junk is not a good plan for player satisfaction. You want at least two really awesome and really expensive items to pick from so the player has to come back at least once to get the second item. Then you should have 5-10 upper-mid level items, and a bunch of nifty items that are priced at a medium to low level. Have some choice in clothing and weaponry with tangible variations in properties like strength, speed and durability.



The goal is for the player to be able to feel, see and experience the difference between items. It would be a waste to make two items that are nearly identical in stats and function. You also want players to feel a pride of ownership if possible, by giving them the ability to earn status symbols or even trophies to show off their wealth. The Fable series was able to capture this game element well by allowing players to buy a home and decorate it with trophies and items that flaunted their in game status and wealth.


 Build A Fanbase Online by Allowing Status Symbols and Competitive Rankings


When the game is played online or if any kind of competitive play is involved between multiple players then there is an added level of player appreciation for status symbols and items. Emblems and banners, player model modifications, weapons and other goodies are all popular ways of getting players hooked on the game and fostering a community / fan base built around the game. You can also track high scores and achievements online and display the results on public lists or even have prize giveaways for a similar popularity-building effect.


Determine Whether Scoring is Right For Your Game


Scoring in a game is a way to track how well a player did and give the player some motivation and incentive to achieve a high score, get ranked and push for ever higher scores. However scores are not always necessary or a good fit for a particular game. There are other ways to track progress, rank players and motivate players to do their best. You can use checkpoints and bosses to test players and move the game forward. You can rank players by the number of enemies they defeat, the time it takes them to complete tasks or any other measure of game elements that require skill. An few examples of elements that require skill are the number of saves the player uses, the number of times the player is defeated or even the “popularity” of a player in a social game.


You can still rank players by these metrics without scoring, but if you decide to do scoring you need to keep a few things in mind like rewarding players for high scores. Just like with other game elements try to engage every sense the player has when they get a new high score mark. Makes sounds, have visual cues, rattle the controller, give the player some kind of new collectible item, status or symbol. You can also set benchmark achievements by having set amounts like 500 XP – 100,000 XP to reach the next level, with an example of level 100 being the top ranking a player can get. The XP can be given out for all kinds of things during the game like defeating enemies, solving puzzles and completing quests.


Most games assign a rank for players based on their performance during each level and / or their overall XP ranking. Online games also rank players by their win/loss ratios and overall number of wins. Some games will even track silly or backhanded stats like how many times the player almost beat a level and then failed.