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Games

Dynamic Elements of

Games

Many different things to talk about

here

1) Defining Emergence

2) Four Properties of Emergence in

Games

3) Play Engines

BIG IDEA 1: Defining

Emergence

"Emergence" is behavior that appears when

system components interact (i.e. are in

motion

– this behavior sometimes can’t be envisioned from

knowledge of what each component does in

isolation

BIG IDEA 2: Four

Properties of Emergence

in Games

Discovery - The emergent properties of a

system form an explorable space. More

complexity generally means more space.

Challenge - A game’s emergent properties

form its “strategic vocabulary.” New scenarios

and obstacles can emerge.

Narrative - story emerges from game events

Fantasy – emergent properties don’t

necessarily support the fantasy.

Contradictions are common creating absurd

fantasies.

Emergence in Games

Discovery - The emergent properties of a

system form an explorable space. More

complexity generally means more space.

Challenge - A game’s emergent properties

form its “strategic vocabulary.” New scenarios

and obstacles can emerge.

Narrative - story emerges from game events

Fantasy – emergent properties don’t

necessarily support the fantasy.

Contradictions are common creating absurd

fantasies.

Conway’s Game of Life

created by Cambridge mathematician, John

Conway in the 1960's

fascination with the idea that the rudimentary

elements could produce fantastic results

wanted to create something super simple -

observable on a 2 dimensional checkerboard

John Conway

Example: Properties of Emergence - Discovery

Iterative Design of the Formal

System

Conway experimented with formal rules

System makes squares on the board

“on” or “off” based on their adjacency to

the other squares around them

He “playtested” different rule sets with

associates at Cambridge for years

Game of Life Rules

If cell is alive, it survives in next

generation if there are 2 or 3

neighbors also alive

there are >3 live neighbors, and

it dies of exposure if there are

<2

in next generation unless

exactly 3 neighbors are alive.

(In that case, the cell will be

"born" in the next generation)

Demo

Demo

R Pentomino

Example: Properties of Emergence - Discovery

Demo

R Pentomino

– Stable patterns emerge

– Oscillating patterns emerge

– Another surprising pattern emerges!?!

xample: Properties of Emergence - Discovery

Stable Patterns

Oscillating Patterns

Glider!

Alive?

Conway thought if a self-reproducing

configuration could be found then his

rules would create a mathematical life

form

Conway publishes a challenge in the Oct

1970 Scientific American

MIT engineers meet the challenge quickly

by hacking a DEC-PDP 6 computer

xample: Properties of Emergence - Discovery

Demo

Glider gun

Puff train

Other fun stuff

field of artificial intelligence)

Link: http://www.bitstorm.org/gameoflife/

Recap: Discovery is a

property of Emergence in

games

Simple rules beget complex behavior

The emergent properties of a system

form an explorable space.

More complexity generally means

more space.

Can anyone think of other Discovery

examples that emerge in games?

Halo: “smart” NPCs

Recap: Challenge is a

property of Emergence in

games

A game’s emergent properties form

its “strategic vocabulary.” New

scenarios and obstacles can emerge.

Can anyone think of other challenge

examples that emerge in games?

© Steve Jackson Games www.sjgames.com

xample: Properties of Emergence - Fantasy

Recap: Fantasy is a property

of Emergence in games

Emergent properties don’t

necessarily support the fantasy.

Contradictions are common creating

absurd fantasies.

Can anyone think of other absurd

fantasies created in games?

ample: Properties of Emergence – Discovery + Challenge + Narrative + Fantasy

ample: Properties of Emergence – Discovery + Challenge + Narrative + Fantasy

ample: Properties of Emergence – Discovery + Challenge + Narrative + Fantasy

ample: Properties of Emergence – Discovery + Challenge + Narrative + Fantasy

The Sims: personal

development?

RECAP BIG IDEA 2: Four

Properties of Emergence

in Games

Discovery - The emergent properties of a

system form an explorable space. More

complexity generally means more space.

Challenge - A game’s emergent properties

form its “strategic vocabulary.” New scenarios

and obstacles can emerge.

Narrative - story emerges from game events

Fantasy – emergent properties don’t

necessarily support the fantasy.

Contradictions are common creating absurd

fantasies.

BIG IDEA 3: Play Engines

Play engines occur when players combine

system components in unexpected ways.

Example: Play Engines

About Gearheads

Designers wanted a competitive game that

illustrated emergent complexity

Had idea that if characters with varying

qualities were let loose on a game board,

each trying to achieve its own objective,

interesting things might result

Created a software prototype using blobs for

each character. Designers could tweak the

values in each blob by adjusting a table of

variables

Example: Play Engines

Character attributes

1. Weight

2. Speed

3. Energy use

4. Movement type (erratic, straight, diagonal)

5. Special qualities (ex: explosion radius, egg-laying time,

punch strength, transformation time, % wind-down, %

wind-up, time between teleports,

6. Immunities (ex: Disasteriod immune to Time Bomb, Big Al

immune to Disasteriod, Zap-bot immune to Deadhead.)

Game rules

1 player or 2 player game

5x9 grid

Up to 12 toys in your toybox

Object: be the first to get 21 toys past your

opponent’s start row

Play Engine Examples

Gearheads

Punching Roaches: quickly many fast moving

Ziggys onto the board where they run out of

energy. Then send a few punching Kangas out to

punch them across the finish line

Bomb Shield: Disasteroid + Walking Time Bomb.

Disteroid destroys any toy in front of it. Time

Bomb blows up all toys near it except Disasteroid.

Send Disasteroid out followed by Time Bomb.

Time Bomb makes Disasteroid walk faster.

Together they form a quick moving path of

destruction across the board.

Mini-Exercise!

Write down two board games, one

card game, and two video games.

Make them all different types of

games.

play video

Example: Play Engines

Play Engine Examples

Magic The Gathering is a hothouse of

emergence and play engines. Sometimes

cards must be banned because engines are

discovered that are too powerful.

Play Engine Example

Deus Ex: LAM’s

Play Engine Example

Warcraft III: expert players to find play

engines that allow them to dominate

online. Sometimes the designers

“patch” the problem by tuning variables.

Sometimes the designers wait for the

online community to figure out a

counter strategy to the play engine.

Example: Play Engines

Play Engine Example

NFL football: 3-4 Defense dominated for years

before offensive coordinators figured out counter

strategies.

RECAP: Play Engines

Another type of emergence occurs when

both system components and players

interact. These are called “play engines”.

Play engines occur when players combine

system components in unexpected ways.

Can anyone think of other examples

of Play Engines?

Design Exercise

Why?

– Hands on exercises best way to

communicate game design concepts

How?

– Break into groups of 2

– Go along with the following Connect

Four slides

Connect Four (normal)

Set up:

Draw a 7 wide x 6 tall grid on a sheet of paper.

One player uses a circle to represent units on the grid

and a second player uses an X to represent units. (Note:

any two symbols or colors can be used as long as they

are different).

Rules:

Decide who goes first. Each player, on her turn, chooses

a column in which to place a unit. She draws units at the

bottom of the chosen column as if gravity dropped them

from the top. Units stack on top of one another when

they "land" in the grid.

Players take turns dropping units until one player gets

four units in a row - horizontally, vertically, or diagonally.

The first player to get four in a row wins the game.

Note:

For all exercises write down the start time and end time

of the game next to the game grid.

Connect Four (alter grid size)

Set up:

Draw a 8 wide x 6 tall grid on a sheet of paper.

One player uses a circle to represent units on the grid

and a second player uses an X to represent units. (Note:

any two symbols or colors can be used as long as they

are different).

Rules:

Decide who goes first. Each player, on her turn, chooses

a column in which to place a unit. She draws units at the

bottom of the chosen column as if gravity dropped them

from the top. Units stack on top of one another when

they "land" in the grid.

Players take turns dropping units until one player gets

four units in a row - horizontally, vertically, or diagonally.

The first player to get four in a row wins the game.

Note:

For all exercises write down the start time and end time

of the game next to the game grid.

Connect 4 (alter movement

properties)

Set up:

Draw a 7 wide x 6 tall grid on a sheet of paper.

One player uses a circle to represent units on the grid

and a second player uses an X to represent units.

(Note: any two symbols or colors can be used as long

as they are different).

Rules:

Decide who goes first. Each player, on her turn, places

a unit in any open cell on the grid.

Players take turns placing units until one player gets

four units in a row - horizontally, vertically, or

diagonally.

The first player to get four in a row wins the game.

Note:

For all exercises write down the start time and end time

of the game next to the game grid.

Connect Four (alter turn procedure)

Set up:

Draw a 7 wide x 6 tall grid on a sheet of paper.

One player uses a circle to represent units on the grid and a

second player uses an X to represent units. (Note: any two

symbols or colors can be used as long as they are different).

Rules:

Decide who goes first. Each player, on her turn, chooses a

column in which to place a unit. She draws units at the

bottom of the chosen column as if gravity dropped them

from the top. Units stack on top of one another when they

"land" in the grid.

After she places the first unit she then chooses a different

column and places a second unit. After the second unit has

been placed her turn is complete.

Players take turns until one player gets four units in a row -

horizontally, vertically, or diagonally.

The first player to get four in a row wins the game.

Note:

For all exercises write down the start time and end time of

the game next to the game grid.

Connect Four (alter turn procedure two)

Set up:

Draw a 7 wide x 6 tall grid on a sheet of paper.

One player uses a circle to represent units on the grid and a second

player uses an X to represent units. (Note: any two symbols or colors

can be used as long as they are different).

Rules:

Decide who goes first. Each player, on her turn, chooses a column in

which to place a unit. She draws units at the bottom of the chosen

column as if gravity dropped them from the top. Units stack on top of

one another when they "land" in the grid.

After she places the first unit the player then places a second unit in

any column she wishes. She has the option to place the second unit

in the same column as the first. After the second unit has been

placed her turn is complete..

Players take turns until one player gets four units in a row -

horizontally, vertically, or diagonally.

The first player to get four in a row wins the game.

Note:

For all exercises write down the start time and end time of the game

next to the game grid.

Connect 4 (alter number of players)

Set up:

Draw a 7 wide x 6 tall grid on a sheet of paper.

One player uses a circle to represent units on the grid and a

second player uses an X to represent units, a third player uses a

triangle to represent units. (Note: any three symbols or colors

can be used as long as they are different).

Rules:

Decide who goes first. Each player, on her turn, chooses a

column in which to place a unit. She draws units at the bottom

of the chosen column as if gravity dropped them from the top.

Units stack on top of one another when they "land" in the grid.

Players take turns dropping units until one player gets four units

in a row - horizontally, vertically, or diagonally.

The first player to get four in a row wins the game.

Note:

For all exercises write down the start time and end time of the

game next to the game grid.

Dirty Work

Set up:

Draw a 7 wide x 6 tall grid on a sheet of paper.

One player uses a circle to represent units on the grid and a

second player uses an X to represent units, a third player uses a

triangle to represent units. (Note: any three symbols or colors

can be used as long as they are different).

Decide who goes first. Each player, on her turn, chooses a

column in which to place a unit. She draws units at the bottom

of the chosen column as if gravity dropped them from the top.

Units stack on top of one another when they "land" in the grid.

Players take turns dropping units until one player gets four units

in a row - horizontally, vertically, or diagonally.

The first player to get four in a row wins the game.

Note:

For all exercises write down the start time and end time of the

game next to the game grid.

???? (make your own variant)

Set up:

Draw a ?????? grid on a sheet of paper.

One player uses a circle to represent units on the

grid and a second player uses an X to represent

units, ?????. (Note: any ???? symbols or colors

can be used as long as they are different).

Rules:

?????

Players take turns until one player gets ????

The first player to get ???? wins the game.

Note:

For all exercises write down the start time and

end time of the game next to the game grid.

Discussion

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