Game Mechanics 101: The 24 basics of game mechanics

During our games design introduction lecture this week we discussed the 24 basic game mechanics on a basic level. I took these 24 basic game mechanics and decided to look into some of them in more detail. So, here are the 24 basics of game mechanics we discussed.

Game Mechanics 101
The 24 basics of game mechanics
List of 24 basic game mechanics

• Achievements

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Achievements can be seen as both virtual and physical representations that you have completed a particular task or objective. For many achievements I have personally seen, the achievements for a game tend to range in difficulty so that a player may need to have additional skill or dedication to a game to gain particular achievements. Achievements can be gained by a single player or by a group, and can also vary in regards to if it is something that must be done online or offline. When an achievement is not yet gained it is considered ‘locked’ until the player has achieved the particular goal, in which then said achievement becomes unlocked. Most games have achievements, and those that are considered to not have achievements are most likely to have been remastered or remade with the mechanic added. For example Runescape used to only have ‘capes’ given to players who have gained 99 on a particular skill. If a player achieved 99 in woodcutting they would receive a woodcutting cape, but due to recent changes they have made additional capes for when players reach midway points. For example they can claim a ‘mid-way’ cape for a skill at level 50 rather than wait all the way to 99 so they can show off their current level.

• Appointment dynamics

This is when something such as an objective or a rare item which can only be accessible at particular times or locations. The user would have to log on at such time in order to be able to partake in the activity.
• Bonuses

A bonus in regards to gaming is something that is achieved after completing a set amount of tasks sequentially. Bonuses allow the player to achieve additional things such as experience or items.

• Combo

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A combo is basically when repetition is used or by doing a chain of things in order to create a ‘combo’. For example if a character was to kick and then punch 5 times in a row this would create a combo. This mechanic is used to create excitement for the player and aids in disregarding how much repetition is being used. Typically when a combo is achieved, there tends to be additional bonus qualities for completion of a combo. A combo doesn’t have to be a series of moves, but could in fact be a combination of actions or achievements in a row.
• Levels

a ‘level’ is a visible progressive aspect of a game which shows the user where they currently are and where they will be once they progress. For example on Pokemon if one of my Pokemon achieved Level 11, if I was to compare this against a Level 20 Pokemon, it would signify that the opposing Pokemon is stronger.
• Infinite gameplay

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Infinite gameplay basically means when a game doesn’t have an end and can’t be ‘completed’. Some examples of games with infinite gameplay include games such as Farmville, Cityville, Pac Man, Tetris and Bus Simulator. When a player has ‘finished’ a game play session, scores are still shown but this game can be played with no completion. Infinite gameplay is considered repetitive and consistency with player engagement as the player begins to feel that if they stop playing they ‘fail’.

• Epicness

Epicness is when an element within a game is too perfect/amazing/great/awesome that players have an obligation to complete/obtain it. An example of epicness is defeating the boss of all bosses, and once you have defeated him you achieve epicness.
• Behavioral Momentum

This is where a player will do something over and over, this is typically in order to gain levels in a particular skill on games such as Runescape and WoW with things such as woodcutting and fishing.
• Ownership

Ownership is where the player begins to grow attached emotionally to digital items or life forms such as creatures within a game which the player has a close relationship or own the particular subject. An example of ownership could be a sword a player has had since the start of a game which they could lose which would cause a player distress, or even something like the loss of an in-game pet.

• Loss Aversion

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Loss Aversion to summarize is the human characteristic of fearing loss. This is used in games such as Runescape by a player being unable to use a particular item if they do not have a membership. Another example within Runescape is the loss of the Quest cape if you do not keep up to date with the latest quests. Even if you do achieve the cape once, you must consistently complete quests otherwise you lose the cape. Loss aversion doesn’t have to be from losing something you have actually possessed but also applies to other things such as loss of time or not achieving the end result.

• Urgent Optimism

Urgent Optimism is the act and idea of being able to complete a task as soon as possible with little to no trouble because you believe that you can complete a task with ease. An example of this could be a novice quest which a level 10 could do, and you are at level 50.

• Quests

A quest is simply a group of challenges that a player must overcome, and once the player has reached completion is usually issues a reward either this be an item, money or experience would vary on the quest.

• Status

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This mechanic is basically referring to how a player shows their success of a game, such as their current level or rank. People tend to like status as it gives them motivation for improvement in order to be better than their friends. Status can be shown typically through wealth, titles, level, rank or owning particular items such as crowns which are wieldable. Some games that use the status mechanic include World of Warcraft, Fable 3, Crazy Taxi, Runescape and Guild Wars.

• Productivity

productivity is being able to complete a task in the most efficient and cheapest way so that money, time and effort can be reduced but with the same outcome as if you were to still complete the task as previously completed. An example could be taking a quicker route to a mining field to mine ore, or to use a better axe in order to collect more wood when woodcutting.

• Free Lunch

Free Lunch is just the idea of obtaining something for nothing, for example if you were in a group, then free lunch would be gaining experience without doing any contribution to the group during a battle.

• Discovery

Discovery is literally that, to discover. In regards to game mechanics, Discovery is giving experience to players for discovering new locations or if they were to obtain a new item for the first time.

• Countdowns

This dynamic is when a player has a set amount of time to complete a task, such as the objectives within Dead Rising 2, where the player is constantly limited on the time for each objective, otherwise missing out.

• Virality

Virality is when something is shared usually online from one player to another. For example, when a game allows you to request a players help, and if they were to complete this task they would obtain an item or experience.

• Progression

Progression is a visual representation of where the player is currently in regards to things such as experience to next level, how far through a quest etc. It is shown on bars or using statistics to give the player quick information so they are constantly being informed by simply just observing the visual representation.

• Collaboration

Collaboration is just team work or working with another individual to achieve common goals, such as a quest, challenge or even just exploring an environment together.

• Lottery

Lottery mechanic is when a player will gamble in game to hopefully win something. These tickets can be purchased with in game money but sometimes requires the player to purchase using real money.

• Points

This is one of the oldest forms of visual reward in games. Points are values which are displayed to the player on the screen. An example of points being used effectively is when it displays your kill count at the end of a match, for example if you managed to kill 28 players during that match. It is useful as it gives the player an indication of how well they have done.

• Rewards Schedules

This mechanic works around time, it is basically when a player is rewarded for completing a task within the game during a set period of time. Iv seen this occur on some games when missions are completed in what is considered ‘fast’ so instead of just simply completing a common quest, you are rewarded additionally for completing it within a set time frame.

• Cascading information

Cascading information is just information that is displayed in short text, managing to inform the player in few words as possible. This normally appears when you walk towards an item to view it, and you would gain a brief description of the item itself.

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