Nowadays, in our world, there are countless number of games. Unfortunately, the situation is such that it is hard to find unique and individual ones.
However, chasing after users is gaining momentum every day and developers make efforts to design the product that will catch and hold players' attention. One of the main game components is game mechanics. They are the ones who make games exciting or on the contrary boring to the point we don't want to return to them.
Game mechanics are a set of rules on how something works. Performing A, we will get B. If A is correct, B can be done. In other words, mechanics are rules that affect players, parts of the game, game process (state) and every way of changing this game state.
It is evident that different games have different mechanics. However, indisputably, the same mechanics are supposed to be relevant for the majority of games. This is particularly true for genres and types. For example, all RPGs should have certain basic mechanics without which they cannot belong to this genre. The same applies to shooters, RTS or other games. Nevertheless, it is worth noting that the real diamonds come out and they occasionally change the way we think about genres.
Now, let's see some mechanics based on the Techcrunch site article, which can be applied to most games.
Definition: It is a virtual or physical implementation of any accomplishment. Achievements are usually displayed as rewards.
Example: Badges, levels, points are all that we can accept as a reward can be an achievement.
2. Appointment Dynamic
Definition: It is a dynamic in which to achieve success it is required to come back at a predetermined time and do some actions. These mechanics are often strongly connected with Interval Reward Schedules or Avoidance.
Example: After returning to the game, the player receives a bonus.
Definition: The action that makes the player do something not to get a reward but to avoid punishment. It is raised by a number of sustained actions agreed on time and schedule.
Example: Pull the lever every 30 seconds to avoid getting electrocuted.
4. Behavioral Contrast
Definition: The theory specifies how much the behavior can change according to changed expectations.
Example: The player gets 100 experience points for the first accomplished test. Next time, he receives 5000 experience points. After completing the same quest, let's say for the 10th time, he gets 100 points. In consequence, the player most likely will abandon this quest. There is one more example taken from real life: to do something well, first, make it worse and after that return everything as it was before.
5. Behavioral Momentum
Definition: The tendency in the players' behavior to keep doing the actions they did before.
Example: Farming and grinding in different games, i.e., continuous performance of the same action, hoping to get the desired result or reward.
6. Blissful Productivity
Definition: The idea is to be more satisfied working hard in the game process than resting and doing nothing.
Example: Spending 6 hours at work, we received less than the same 6 hours in our favorite game. It means so-called addiction to positive effects and praise in a game. The more time is spent there, the higher this figure.
7. Cascading Information Theory
Definition: It is said in the theory that the information should be made in minimum possible fragments to achieve the proper level of understanding in every narrative moment of the game.
Example: Presentation of the game plot. Tutorials.
8. Chain Schedules
Definition: The practice of connecting the rewards with the chain of contingencies. Players tend to perceive it as simple, individual events. Unlocking one step in such cases is often considered by a player as a separate reward.
Example: Kill 10 orcs to get to the dragon cave, where the dragon appears every 30 minutes.
9. Companion Gaming
Definition: Companion gaming is a game that can be played by users from different platforms simultaneously.
Example: Games are available on iPhone, Facebook, Xbox with seamless cross-platform gameplay.
Definition: A problem that a user should resolve in a three-part reward schedules paradigm.
Example: 10 orcs block your way.
Definition: Mechanics where the player is given some limited time to perform some actions. This will result in an activity graph that makes the initial player's activity increase dramatically until the time runs out and forced completion happens.
Example: Timer games to receive the maximum possible score. Levels have their own timing. There are options with extreme time conditions, for example, to make it to the shop in half an hour, until it closes at 10, while it is 9.50.
Definition: It is a game element that uses a penalty or changed circumstances to induce changes in behavior.
Example: Loss of health points caused by traps.
13. Endless Games
Definition: Games that don't have a clear end. Most suitable for casual games that constantly update content or games where a static (but positive) state is a reward itself.
Example: Different kinds of casual jumpers and runners, MMO games.
Definition: Extinction is a term used to describe the effect of stopping giving a reward. It usually triggers the players' anger out of feeling deceived when they don't receive any expected rewards. As a rule, it causes negative Behavior Momentum.
Example: The same as in Behavioral Contrast, but in the case of Extinction, players don't get any experience.
15. Fixed Interval Reward Schedules
Definition: Fixed interval rewards schedules are based on the mechanics of giving a reward after a fixed amount of time.
Example: In farming games, a harvest appears after 30 minutes of expecting.
16. Fixed Ratio Reward Schedule
Definition: Mechanics of Fixed Ratio provide a reward after doing a certain number of actions.
Example: Kill the princess and save the dragon in order to complete the quest.
17. Interval Reward Schedules
Definition: Mechanics of mixed interval reward allows receiving a reward after a certain amount of time. There are two types: variable and fixed.
Example: Wait for N-amount of minutes and collect rental payment.
Definition: Game mechanics by which the winner is determined randomly.
Example: Numerous gamblings and scratch tickets.
Definition: Modifiers are devices which affect the completion of other actions. We can usually obtain them by performing a number of tasks or main functions.
Example: Modifier X2 doubles the points after taking a specific action.
Definition: The idea is that some information is private and isn't designed for public distribution.
Example: The scales publish a weight every day on Twitter (The really existent way to keep a diet). Public broadcasting of geolocation after every time you do some action. (It is an invasion of privacy and must be avoided).
21. Progression Dynamic
Definition: Dynamic by which the success is partly displayed and measured in the process of completing detailed tasks.
Example: Different indicators, leveling up from level 1 to level 60, progress bars.
22. Ratio Reward Schedules
Definition: The relation of awards provides a reward at the end of several actions. There are two types: variable and fixed.
Example: After killing 10 orcs, one gets a level up.
23. Real-time v. Delayed Mechanics
Definition: Information that comes in real-time is free from delays. Delayed information is only received after some time interval.
Example: Scores are updated in real-time, causing an immediate reaction (gratification or demotivation.) On the other hand, delay leads to ambiguity, which can cause a significant activity due to the absence of ranking certainty.
Definition: It is a reward we can receive in case of completing the expected action in the three-part paradigm of reward schedules.
Example: Gaining a level after killing 10 orcs.
25. Rolling Physical Goods
Definition: Physical goods have an actual cost and can be won by anyone on a permanent basis if the winner meets characteristics.
Example: Being the first in something.
Definition: Player's rank or level. The wish to achieve a higher level or status stimulates the player.
Example: White paladin level 90 in WoW.
27. Variable Interval Reward Schedules
Definition: Mechanics of variable interval reward gives a reward after approximately the same time periods.
Example: Wait until the weapon appears 30 minutes after the end. Then, check as often as you like, but it won't make the process go any faster. Players usually have a hard time understanding this.
28. Variable Ratio Reward Schedule
Definition: Mechanics of variable ratio rewards provide rewards after an approximately (unknown) number of actions.
Example: It is required to destroy about 20 ships to gain a level.
29. Fun once – fun always
Definition: It is an idea that action brings enjoyment no matter how much time it repeats. It is usually related to the simplest activities. There is also a limit to the general level of fun brought by one action.
Example: Various tasks to explore a new location.
30. Virtual Items
Definition: Digital prizes, rewards, objects found in-game. We can often sell or give them away.
Example: Equipment in RPG, gifts in Facebook, badges.
As for the features of mechanics testing, it is easier than it seems, but still, it has its own difficulties. First of all, we need to determine the testing mechanics. Next, it is essential to know What to test and only then How. Finally, once the mechanics and its components are determined, we need to start making chains of sequentially connected tests that will cover all elements of these mechanics. Let's not forget to add checks with interactions between mechanics. There is a need to consider all the possible options between the player interaction with mechanics and the effect that mechanics has on the game process in general.
It doesn't matter what actions will be performed, as long as they relate to one of the game mechanics.
To summarize, we conclude that mechanics are components of one system. They cannot function by themselves, but together with other elements, they constitute the whole functional system where mechanics perform their significant role.