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Links 1 through 10 of 39 by Tom Armitage tagged mechanics

"Board games are different. Sure, while you might love a board game for the sense of immersion it provides, or the way the game lifts off the table and fills the room, you also might love it for how beautiful the mechanics are. It’s like looking inside a clockwork watch. That fascination, as you see how all the pieces fit together, how everything is timed to perfection, how balanced it all is. With a beautiful board game design, you can love it for that craftsmanship you can feel with every turn." Yup. But, of course: this is, increasingly, why I like any game. It's just much more visible in boardgames - where you have to wrangle the rules yourself. And everything else - the immersion, the involvement - will come too; it just comes from that clockwork heart.

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"...what Civilization provides is a story with a beginning, middle, and end, which is three times more than what you probably started with. If you play the game in particularly interesting way, then you can be rewarded with a delightful, surprising experience that you can’t help but weave into a story, inventing characters and lovers and intrigues all round. This story might tug at you so insistently that you begin to jot down notes and timelines, writing diary entries and newspaper reports of battles. Eventually, you might join all those pieces up, rewrite them, throw it all away, and rewrite it again – and then you might call yourself a storyteller." And this is one of the kinds of storytelling that games are best at: collaborative tales weaved between ruleset and player, between man and machine.

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"In cinema and theater, we often hear about method acting, a technique by which actors try to create the situations, emotions, and thoughts of their characters in themselves in order to better portray them. In creating Cow Clicker, I rather felt that I was partaking of method design, embracing the spirit and values and ideals of the social game developer as I toed the lines between theory, satire, and earnestness." Bogost calls it Method Design; I've been describing it as "systemic satire" - the making of satirical mechanics.

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"But imagine if the writer came up with a "story" before the rules.  A "pre-rules story."  At that point, you could create the rules around that story, and even if the rules seemed unconventional or unbalanced, you could be confident that they would work as long as the story works." Erm, not really; crap rules are crap rules, even if they make sense within the story. This paragraph directly contradicts his previous (accurate) paragraph, that stories must follow the rules of the game. To then say: "but we can retrofit rules onto the story if the latter was done first" just feels wrong. One more thing on my pile of "stuff about rules".

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Just beautiful: an implementation of a Turing Machine, as described by Turing; not only is it ingenious - reading characters written on tape with pen via OCR - but it's also a beautiful piece of hardware; it feels as elegant as the point it is illustrating.

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"Just because you give a game a theme, doesn’t make a game about that thing. … A game’s mechanics give it meaning. It fundamentally does not matter how you theme a game, the mechanics ultimately determine what a game is about." Soren Johnson is smart.

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"In 1986, Williams High Speed changed the economics of pinball forever... Pre-1986, the replay score was hard wired into the game unless the operator manually re-programmed the software. High Speed changed all that. It was pre-loaded with an algorithm that adjusted the replay score according to the distribution of scores on the specified machine over a specific time interval." Good article on how the economics of pinball are wired into the machine.

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"The voice in Dear Esther doesn't tell you where to go - it only reads, at set moments, from a random selection of letters to Esther as you wander over a deserted and increasingly disrupted Scottish island. The letters are randomised, so no playthrough is the same, and a fragmented narrative of a car crash, a grieving man and a stolen library book is glimpsed but never resolved. When I asked Pinchbeck whether this strictly constitutes a game, he said that it was a game engine, a nice distinction in both senses." Dan fills in his Wired piece on Dan Pinchbeck with some supplementary material. It is very good.

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"Introducing the Dice-O-Matic mark II, now generating the dice rolls on GamesByEmail.com. It is a 7 foot tall, 104 pound, dice-eating monster, capable of generating 1.3 million rolls a day." They roll real dice. They roll lots, and lots, of real dice.

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"I find the watchclock fascinating not simply because it’s a kind of steampunk GPS, a wind-up mechanical location-awareness technology. I’m further fascinated at how this holistic system of watchclocks, keys, guards, and supervisors succeeded so completely in creating a method of behavioral control such that a human being’s movements can be precisely planned and executed, hour after hour and night after night, with such a high degree of reliability that almost a century goes by before anyone thinks of ways of improving the system as originally conceived." Fantastic.

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