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Game Design Glossary

Browse the most commonly used Game Design terms and definitions and see how they are being used in practice using Machinations

Abstracting

When modelling game systems, it isn't always necessary or productive to model them in perfect detail, especially if it doesn't help answer the questions the model is designed to answer.

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Abstraction

Agency

The player's choices have a tangible impact on the game world, and/or the player perceives this to be the case

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Agency

Allocation of Earnings

Some players have a preference for spending their earnings (e.g. gold) on one currency sink over others, based on things like interest, affordability, perceived pay-off, supply and demand, etc.

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Allocation of Earnings

Bayes Theorem

Bayes' theorem is a fundamental principle in probability theory and statistics that relates conditional probabilities. Although it is not specifically tied to game design, it can be applied in the context of game development and analysis. Bayes' theorem allows us to update our beliefs or probabilities based on new evidence or information. In the context of game design, Bayes' theorem can be used to model and analyze various aspects, such as player behavior, decision-making, and balancing game mechanics. It provides a framework for understanding how new information can impact the probabilities associated with certain outcomes or events.

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Bayes Theorem - Web3 Games

Buffer Mechanic

The player has a fixed time window to perform an action. The more precisely they time the action, the better their score.

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Buffer Mechanic

Comeback Mechanic

A "comeback mechanic" in video games refers to a game design feature or system that provides a disadvantaged or losing player or team with the opportunity to recover, catch up, or even turn the tide of a match. These mechanics are often implemented to maintain a competitive and engaging experience, ensuring that matches remain close and exciting even when one side is falling behind.

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Comeback Mechanic

Cumulative Cost

All costs incurred to get to the present state of a system

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Marginal and Cumulative Cost

Cycle

In video game design, the term "cycle" related to decay typically refers to a gameplay mechanic or system where game elements or conditions gradually deteriorate or worsen over time. This decay cycle introduces a sense of challenge, urgency, and the need for player action to prevent or mitigate the negative consequences.

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Cycle

Dead Zone

In game design, a "dead zone" refers to an area or region within the game's control input system where little to no response or effect occurs despite player input. It represents a range of input values that are ignored or have no impact on the game's mechanics or actions. The purpose of incorporating a dead zone in game design is to account for the natural imprecisions and variations in input devices, such as controllers or joysticks. These input devices may have slight physical imperfections or sensitivity inconsistencies that can result in unintended movements or actions by the player. The dead zone helps mitigate these issues by disregarding small input variations within that specified range.

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Deadzone

Decay (Dynamic)

Decay (Dynamic) in game design refers to a mechanic or system where certain elements or conditions gradually deteriorate or change over time in a dynamic manner. This decay can affect gameplay by introducing new challenges, altering the game world, or forcing players to adapt their strategies. It adds a sense of urgency and evolution to the game, requiring players to make timely decisions and actively manage resources or situations affected by the decay.

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Decay (Dynamic)

Decay Counter

In games that incorporate mechanics involving limited resources, it is possible to introduce decay counters. These counters are implemented by either placing the opposing element or player in a situation that compels them to consume a limited resource or by imposing a requirement for them to use a limited resource. The intention behind this approach is to deplete the opponent's resources over time, rendering their strategies that heavily rely on the depleted resource no longer effective or viable.

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Decay Counter

Defensive (Playstyle)

Defensive playstyle in game design refers to a strategic approach where players prioritize defense, protection, and cautious tactics over aggressive actions. Players adopting a defensive playstyle focus on fortifying positions, evading or mitigating damage, and waiting for opportune moments to counterattack. This playstyle often emphasizes tactics, patience, and calculated decision-making rather than aggressive and direct confrontation.

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Defensive (Playstyle)

Difficulty

Difficulty in game design refers to the level of challenge or complexity presented to players. It encompasses the range of obstacles, enemy AI behavior, puzzle complexity, and skill requirements within a game. Game designers aim to strike a balance in difficulty to provide players with an engaging and enjoyable experience. Difficulty levels may vary, allowing players to choose a challenge that suits their skill level and preferences.

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Difficulty

Distinct Section (Variation)

Distinct Section (Variation) refers to a specific segment or part within a game that offers unique gameplay mechanics, aesthetics, or narrative elements that differ from the rest of the game. These sections often introduce variety, break monotony, or provide a refreshing change of pace. Distinct sections can include boss battles, puzzle sequences, vehicle segments, or alternate gameplay modes that add diversity and enhance the overall player experience.

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Distinct Section

Dominant Strategy

Dominant Strategy in game design refers to a strategy or course of action that consistently provides players with a higher chance of success or advantage over other available options. It is a strategy that, when adopted and executed optimally, offers the best results regardless of the opponent's actions or decisions. Identifying a dominant strategy can impact game balance and depth, as designers strive to create varied and viable strategies to promote player choice and strategic thinking.

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Dominant Strategy

Double Blind Encounters

Double Blind Encounters are gameplay situations where neither the player nor the opponent has complete or prior knowledge of each other's actions or intentions. It introduces uncertainty and requires players to make decisions without knowing the opponent's moves or plans. Double Blind Encounters often occur in competitive multiplayer games, creating suspense, mind games, and strategic thinking as players must anticipate and react to hidden information.

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Double Blind Encounter

Double-Tapping

Double-tapping in game design refers to the action of tapping a control or input twice in quick succession to ensure the system registers the command. It is commonly used to trigger specific actions or abilities, such as performing evasive maneuvers, executing special attacks, or activating context-sensitive interactions. Double-tapping adds a layer of skill and timing to gameplay, rewarding players who can perform the input sequence accurately and swiftly.

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Double Tapping

Effort

Effort in game design refers to the level of exertion, skill, or mental investment required from players to achieve specific goals, overcome challenges, or progress in the game. It can include physical dexterity, strategic thinking, problem-solving, or memorization. Game designers carefully balance the effort required to maintain engagement, ensuring that players feel appropriately challenged and rewarded for their accomplishments.

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Effort

Elegant Solution

An Elegant Solution in game design refers to a well-crafted, efficient, and streamlined approach to solving

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Elegant Solution

Emergence (Gameplay)

Gameplay emergence in video game design refers to the dynamic and unpredictable interactions that occur within a game's mechanics and systems, leading to unique and unscripted experiences for players. It occurs when a game's rules, elements, and AI systems combine in unexpected ways, allowing players to create their own strategies, solutions, and narratives, often diverging from the designer's intended path. This concept enhances player engagement and replayability by fostering a sense of agency and discovery, making each playthrough a distinct adventure.

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Emergence

Equilibrium

A system which has a tendency to settle on a certain value or pattern over time. Non-dynamic equilibria tend towards a fixed value. Dynamic equilibria tend towards a fixed rate

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Equilibrium

Expanded Gameplay Idea (Maybe Crouch Jump)

An Expanded Gameplay Idea, such as the Crouch Jump, refers to the introduction of a new mechanic or feature that extends the range of actions and possibilities available to players within a game. In the case of Crouch Jump, it involves combining the crouch and jump actions to access higher platforms or perform specialized maneuvers. Expanded gameplay ideas enhance gameplay depth, offering players more creative approaches and increasing the skill ceiling of the game.

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Expanded Gameplay Idea

Exploit

In game design, an exploit refers to the unintended or unanticipated use of game mechanics, features, or glitches to gain an unfair advantage or circumvent intended gameplay limitations. Exploits can disrupt game balance, undermine fair competition, or negatively impact the overall player experience. Game designers strive to identify and address exploits through patches or updates to maintain fairness and ensure a balanced playing field.

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Exploit

Extrinsic Motivation

Extrinsic Motivation in game design refers to the drive or desire to engage in gameplay activities based on external factors or rewards rather than inherent enjoyment. It involves pursuing goals or achievements, earning points or rewards, or seeking recognition from others. Game designers leverage extrinsic motivation by implementing progression systems, leaderboards, and rewards to encourage continued player engagement and provide a sense of accomplishment.

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Extrinsic Motivation

Fairness

Fairness in game design refers to the principle of ensuring that all players have equal opportunities, access to resources, and chances of success within the game. It involves avoiding situations where certain players or strategies have an unfair advantage, promoting balanced gameplay mechanics, and enforcing rules that prevent cheating or unfair practices. Designers strive to create an environment where success is determined by skill, strategy, and decision-making rather than external factors.

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Fairness

Flow

Flow, a concept coined by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, refers to a state of optimal engagement and immersion experienced by players during gameplay. It occurs when the challenge level of the game aligns with the player's skill level, creating a sense of focused concentration, time distortion, and effortless action. Achieving flow is a goal in game design, as it leads to a highly satisfying and enjoyable experience, often described as being "in the zone."

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Flow

Fog Of War

Fog of War is a gameplay mechanic commonly used in strategy or real-time strategy games to simulate limited knowledge or visibility of the game world. It represents unexplored or inaccessible areas that are concealed from the player's view. The fog of war adds strategic depth by requiring players to gather information, scout, and make decisions based on partial knowledge. It creates uncertainty, encourages exploration, and introduces a dynamic element to the gameplay.

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Fog of War

Folded Level Design

Folded Level Design refers to a design approach where game levels or environments are interconnected or folded upon themselves, creating shortcuts, hidden passages, or complex spatial configurations. This design technique promotes exploration, puzzle-solving, and non-linear gameplay experiences. Folded level design offers players a sense of discovery, rewards curiosity, and enhances replayability by revealing new pathways and secrets as players navigate through the intricately interconnected spaces.

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Folded Level Design

Frame Trap

A Frame Trap is a strategic technique employed in fighting games where a sequence of attacks is deliberately designed to create a situation where the opponent has limited options for counterattacking or escaping. It capitalizes on the recovery frames or animation of an opponent's move, leaving them vulnerable to follow-up attacks. Frame traps test the opponent's reactions, timing, and defensive abilities while rewarding the player's understanding of game mechanics and anticipation of opponent behavior.

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Frame Trap

Gambit

A Gambit in game design refers to a strategic move or decision made by a player that involves a calculated risk in exchange for potential advantages or gains. It is a tactical choice that challenges opponents, creates uncertainty, and requires careful consideration of potential outcomes. Gambits are often employed in competitive games

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Gambit

Game

A game is a ludic construct characterized by structured rules, objectives, and challenges, designed to facilitate interactive engagement and recreation. It encompasses diverse manifestations, such as board games, video games, sports, and more, wherein participants, whether solitary or in groups, navigate within predefined parameters. These parameters guide decision-making and action-taking, ultimately influencing the pursuit of established goals. Games serve as a medium for cognitive stimulation, social interaction, or skill development, rendering them a multifaceted tool for entertainment, competition, or educational purposes.

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Game

Goal

In game design, a goal refers to an objective or target that players strive to achieve within a game. It provides a sense of purpose, direction, and motivation for players to engage with the gameplay mechanics and progress through the game. Goals can vary from completing quests, reaching specific milestones, defeating enemies, solving puzzles, or mastering certain skills. Well-designed goals offer clear guidance, challenge players appropriately, and provide a satisfying sense of accomplishment upon completion.

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Goal

Griefing

Griefing is a term used in multiplayer games to describe disruptive or malicious behavior by one player towards others, often for their own amusement or to intentionally disrupt the gameplay experience. Griefing can involve actions such as intentionally team-killing, trolling, exploiting game mechanics, or engaging in unsportsmanlike conduct. Griefing negatively impacts the enjoyment of other players and undermines fair competition. Game designers employ various measures, such as reporting systems and penalties, to discourage and prevent griefing in online environments.

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Griefing

Gun-To-Hand

Gun-to-Hand refers to a dynamic where a player equipped with ranged weaponry holds a distinct advantage over a player relying on melee combat. The term underscores the inherent challenge for melee players to close the gap without succumbing to long-range attacks. This design choice promotes diverse playstyles, encouraging players to adapt and employ varied tactics. Balancing the power dynamic between ranged and melee combatants is crucial for fostering engaging and fair gameplay experiences within the gaming environment.

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Gun to Hand (Encounter)

Hand-To-Hand (Combat)

Hand-To-Hand combat refers to close-quarters combat or fighting encounters within a game where players engage in physical combat without the use of ranged weapons or firearms. Hand-To-Hand combat mechanics typically involve punches, kicks, grapples, and other melee attacks. It requires precise timing, positioning, and understanding of attack patterns to effectively engage and defeat opponents. Hand-To-Hand combat can provide a visceral and intense combat experience, emphasizing player skill, reflexes, and strategic decision-making.

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Hand to Hand (Encounter)

Income Elasticity of Demand

Income elasticity of demand describes the quantitative changes in people's demand for a particular good when their income changes, all other things being equal. In games, it explains how players' interest in purchasing items changes based on how much they earn in the game.

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Income Elasticity of Demand

Inferior Good

A good/item which people buy less of as their income increases. They do so because more enticing alternatives become more affordable.

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Good Types and Elasticity

Interesting Choices

In game design, interesting choices refer to decision points or options presented to players that have meaningful and consequential outcomes within the game. These choices require players to evaluate different possibilities, consider risks and rewards, and make decisions that impact their progress, character development, or the game world. Interesting choices engage players, promote strategic thinking, and create a sense of agency and ownership over their gameplay experience.

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Interesting Choices

Interplay

Interplay in game design refers to the dynamic interaction and relationship between different gameplay elements, mechanics, systems, or components within a game. It represents how these elements influence and affect each other, creating emergent gameplay possibilities and synergies. The interplay between mechanics can lead to strategic depth, player creativity, and unexpected outcomes. Game designers carefully design interplay to ensure a cohesive and engaging gameplay experience, where the interactions between elements amplify the overall enjoyment and depth of the game.

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Interplay

Interposition

In game design, interposition defines a mechanic where a player can alter the outcome of an action by strategically changing their position. This involves using one's avatar as a barrier or shield to intercept an impending threat. An example of interposition is a player skillfully jumping in front of a bullet to protect a teammate or themselves, thereby diverting the trajectory of the projectile. Interposition enhances strategic gameplay, fostering teamwork and quick decision-making as players dynamically position themselves to influence and redirect the flow of in-game events.

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Interpostion

Intrinsic Motivation

Intrinsic motivation in game design refers to the internal desire, enjoyment, or satisfaction that players derive from the gameplay experience itself, rather than external rewards or incentives. It stems from the inherent enjoyment, challenge, immersion, or sense of mastery that a game provides. Game designers strive to foster intrinsic motivation by creating compelling narratives, engaging gameplay mechanics, and rewarding player accomplishments to ensure that players find the gameplay experience intrinsically satisfying, captivating, and enjoyable.

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Intrinsic Motivation

Investment

In the context of game economy design, "investment" refers to the strategic allocation of in-game resources or currency with the expectation of obtaining future benefits or returns. Players make investments within the game by spending their virtual assets on various in-game items, upgrades, or activities that they believe will enhance their gaming experience or progress in the game.

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Investment & Return on Investment

Key

In game design, a "key" refers to a crucial element or mechanism that significantly influences the overall player experience. Keys can be pivotal gameplay features, narrative components, or design principles essential for progression and engagement. Identifying and refining these aspects ensures a coherent and enjoyable game. For instance, in puzzle games, a key might be a central mechanic that unlocks challenges, while in narrative-driven games, a key could represent a pivotal plot point shaping the player's journey.

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Key

Learning

As the player plays more, their knowledge of the game improves and their chance of winning increases.

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Learning

Linear Lock

In game design, a linear lock refers to any lock (object, system or mechanic that restricts player progression) which is opened after a single key is used in a specific way. In comparison to other types of locks, only one key is required (and-locks need more than one key to be opened) and the key is unique (or-locks can be opened with any key of a specific type)

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Linear Lock

Linear Variation

Linear variation in game design refers to the introduction of gradual and incremental changes or modifications to gameplay elements or mechanics in a linear or sequential manner. It involves presenting players with a series of iterations or alterations that build upon each other, gradually expanding or enhancing gameplay possibilities. Linear variation allows for controlled experimentation and learning, introducing new challenges, strategies, or features over time while maintaining a sense of familiarity and continuity.

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Linear Variation - Endurance Matches

Lock

In game design, a lock refers to a game mechanic or condition that prevents players from accessing or progressing further until certain criteria are met. Locks can take various forms, such as locked doors, barriers, puzzles, or requirements to acquire specific items or skills. They serve as obstacles or challenges that players must overcome to advance in the game. Locks are often used to provide structure, create a sense of achievement upon unlocking, and encourage exploration and problem-solving. They can also be employed strategically to control pacing, guide player progression, or enhance narrative elements within the game.

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Lock - Temporarily Unlocked

Luxury Good

A nonessential good/item which people tend only to buy (and buy more of) if they can afford basic necessity goods and expenses.

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Good Types and Elasticity

Marginal Cost

The actual face-value cost to buy or upgrade something once more

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Marginal and Cumulative Cost

Marginal Utility

In economics, marginal utility is the quantitative benefit of using/consuming/doing something once more, such as levelling up your Strength level once. Marginal utility is relevant for understanding player decision-making, because the benefit of an action can change each time it is repeated.

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Utility and Marginal Utility

Mechanic (Gameplay)

In game design, a mechanic refers to a specific interactive element or rule within a game that governs gameplay behavior, actions, or systems. It represents the underlying building blocks that shape the player's interactions with the game world. Mechanics can include movement controls, combat systems, puzzle-solving mechanisms, resource management, or any other system that defines how players engage with and navigate the game. Game designers carefully design and balance mechanics to create engaging and cohesive gameplay experiences.

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Mechanics (Gameplay) - Sidescroller

Mechanical Balancing Framework

A mechanical balancing framework is a structured approach used in game design to ensure that the various gameplay mechanics, systems, or elements within a game are fair, viable, and well-balanced. It involves analyzing and adjusting the relationships, interactions, and effectiveness of different mechanics to avoid dominance or imbalance. A mechanical balancing framework considers factors such as player agency, risk-reward ratios, skill differentials, and overall game balance to create a cohesive and satisfying gameplay experience.

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Mechanical Balancing Framework

Mini Loop

A mini loop is a set of two or more gameplay elements that are part of an interplay loop, which are also sub-elements of another gameplay element which is part of its own interplay loop. An interplay loop is a set of two or more elements, such as items, weapons, attributes, attacks or characters, which are counter of each other. One of these elements or entities may be comprised of or generate two or more elements which are also counters of each other. Mini loops add even more depth to gameplay without increasing the complexity of the system, increasing the possibility of generating emergent gameplay.

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Mini Loop - Mortal Kombat 11

Multi Loop

A multi loop is a game system that has multiple interplay loops which govern the most relevant mechanics of a game. Games like rock-paper-scissors contain a basic interplay loop where all of the mechanics and interactions are counter of another and they are all interrelated. On another hand, games with much more depth and complexity contain multi loops, with many mechanics that can be grouped into interplay loops by how they counter each other.

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Multi Loop - Mortal Kombat 11

Multiple Goals

Multiple goals in game design refer to the inclusion of multiple objectives or targets that players can pursue simultaneously or sequentially within a game. It provides players with a range of choices, allowing them to prioritize and pursue different paths or objectives based on their preferences or playstyles. Multiple goals add depth, replayability, and strategic decision-making to the gameplay experience, giving players a sense of agency and customization. They can include narrative goals, completionist objectives, competitive achievements, or personal milestones that contribute to player progression and satisfaction.

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Multiple Goals - Age of Empires II

Necessity Good

A good/item which people can't do without a certain amount of. If its cost goes up, they will typically still buy it. If their income goes up, they won't necessarily buy much more of it.

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Good Types and Elasticity

Negative Feedback

Synonym to "comeback mechanic". It refers to a game design feature or system that provides a disadvantaged or losing player or team with the opportunity to recover, catch up, or even turn the tide of a match. These mechanics are often implemented to maintain a competitive and engaging experience, ensuring that matches remain close and exciting even when one side is falling behind.

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Negative Feedback - Mortal Kombat 9

Normal Good

A good/item which people want more of as they earn more, or as its cost goes down.

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Good Types and Elasticity

Nuance

Nuance in game design refers to the subtle and intricate details, variations, or intricacies within gameplay mechanics, systems, or storytelling elements. It involves the inclusion of finer nuances that add depth, complexity, and richness to the game experience. Nuance can be present in various aspects of the game, including character development, dialogue options, environmental interactions, or strategic choices. By incorporating nuance, game designers provide players with more meaningful and thought-provoking experiences, encouraging exploration, critical thinking, and deeper engagement with the game world.

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Nuance - Mortal Kombat 11

Obstacle

An obstacle in game design refers to a barrier, challenge, or impediment that players must overcome to progress in the game or achieve their objectives. Obstacles can take many forms, such as physical barriers, puzzles, enemies, time limits, or resource constraints. They create tension, add excitement, and test the player's skills, problem-solving abilities, and strategic thinking. Well-designed obstacles provide a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction when successfully overcome, contributing to the overall sense of progression, challenge, and satisfaction within the game.

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Obstacle - Tomb Raider

Opportunity Cost

The opportunity cost of an action is the maximum value you'd get by taking a different action. I.e. it is the value that will be missed out on by committing to this action rather than the next best alternative.

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Opportunity Cost

Or-Lock

In game design, an or-lock refers to any lock (object, system or mechanic that restricts player progression) which can be opened with any key of a specific type or a range of types. These locks require only one key to be opened, but this key may be duplicated or can be replaced by another one to open this lock. Or-locks add an extra layer of significance and utility to items and inventory management, as in some cases players have to make a trade-off between consuming the key for one door or another one.

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OR-Lock - Elden Ring

Organic Key

In game design, an Organic Key refers to a gameplay element or requirement that is seamlessly integrated into the game world, story, or mechanics, serving as a means to unlock or access certain content or areas. Unlike traditional keys, which are explicitly labeled or represented as items, an Organic Key blends naturally within the game's context, thematically connecting with the narrative or environment. It can take the form of solving a specific puzzle, fulfilling a quest, acquiring certain skills, or reaching a milestone. Organic Keys enhance immersion, as they provide a sense of continuity and coherence, reinforcing the player's connection with the game world and its logical progression.

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Organic Key - Portal

Outcome

In game design, an outcome refers to the result or consequence of player actions, choices, or events within a game. It represents the impact and resolution of gameplay situations, determining the progress, success, or failure of players' endeavors. Outcomes can vary in their nature and significance, ranging from minor consequences to major story developments or game-altering events. They can be influenced by player skill, decision-making, random chance, or a combination of factors. Well-designed outcomes provide players with a sense of agency and accountability, shaping the narrative, character development, and overall player experience.

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Outcome - Super Smash Bros.

Overchoice

The anxiety resulting from having too many choices. When players are presented with too many choices, they may become paralysed, fearing they will miss out if they make one choice over another.

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Overchoice

Overjustification Effect

In game design, the Overjustification Effect refers to a phenomenon where the introduction of external rewards or incentives for an activity that individuals already find intrinsically motivating can lead to a decrease in their overall intrinsic motivation. When players are initially engaged in a game due to their inherent interest or enjoyment, adding external rewards, such as in-game achievements or tangible prizes, can shift the focus from internal satisfaction to extrinsic factors. This shift may diminish the player's intrinsic motivation, as the primary driver for their engagement becomes the external rewards rather than the inherent enjoyment of the game itself. Game designers need to carefully balance the use of intrinsic and extrinsic motivators to ensure that the Overjustification Effect does not undermine the long-term engagement and enjoyment of players.

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Overjustification Effect

Payback Period

The time it takes for an investment of resources (e.g. gold) to be repaid

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Payback Period

Pigeonhole Principle

In game design, the Pigeonhole Principle refers to a concept where a limited number of options or categories are insufficient to accommodate the variety of possibilities or player choices within a game. The principle suggests that when designing game mechanics, systems, or decision-making structures, it is essential to provide sufficient flexibility and diversity to account for the potential range of player actions or strategies. Failing to do so may result in a rigid and limited gameplay experience that restricts player creativity, choice, or meaningful decision-making. Game designers strive to avoid the Pigeonhole Principle by creating systems that allow for a wide range of viable options and meaningful player agency.

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Pigeonhole Principle - Age of Empires

Pin

In the context of lockpicking in game design, a "pin" refers to one of the components of a lock mechanism. Lockpicking is a gameplay mechanic often found in stealth or adventure games where players attempt to bypass locked doors or containers. The lock mechanism typically consists of a series of pins, which need to be manipulated using specialized tools, such as lockpicks, to align them in a specific configuration. By applying tension and carefully manipulating the pins, players aim to unlock the mechanism and gain access to the locked area or retrieve valuable items.

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Pin - Elder Scrolls Online

Powerup Key

In game design, a power up key is an item or a skill granted to the player that can be used to open a lock mechanism. These can be items that have a primary utility, such as bombs which are primarily used to kill enemies, but that also have the ability to open a door or remove a specific obstacle in the level. Power up keys may also be skills that a character has, like jumping or using ropes to go from one place to another, which also let the player go from one place to another. Powerups can be found or earned through gameplay progression, achieved completing challenges or acquired strategically. Generally, players use these powerups for their main reasons until they realize that certain doors, walls or any other mechanism can be opened by using these powerups as keys.

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Powerup Key - ShadowMan

Preventative Counter

A preventative counter is a gameplay element or mechanic utilized by a player that prevents another element from affecting them according to the aims of their functional intent. Whereas counters are forced changes in the line of motion of a gameplay element by another gameplay element, preventative counters also add to the idea that one of the gameplay elements does not cause any effect due to the fact that another condition was met before. In contrast to reactionary counters, where an attack or action has been successfully performed but the receiving end can "react" afterwards, preventative counters do not let the action take place. These counters generally require of a player to be fast and to have an appropriate measure of timing as they need to predict when they are going to receive an attack and act accordingly on a short timeframe.

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Preventative Counter - Dark Souls 3

Price Elasticity of Demand

Price elasticity of demand describes the quantitative changes in people's demand for a particular good when its cost changes, all other factors being equal.

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Price Elasticity of Demand

Primary Mechanic

In game design, the primary mechanic refers to the core gameplay element or system that forms the foundation of the game experience. It represents the central activity or interaction that players engage in throughout the game. The primary mechanic defines the core rules, actions, and objectives that shape the gameplay and drive player engagement. It is often the most prominent and recurring aspect of the game, serving as a focal point for player decision-making, skill development, and strategic thinking. The primary mechanic can vary widely depending on the genre and design of the game, such as shooting in a first-person shooter, building and management in a simulation game, or exploration and puzzle-solving in an adventure game.

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Primary Mechanic - Overcooked

Properties (Variation)

In game design, properties refer to the characteristics, attributes, or qualities that define the behavior and interactions of game elements. Properties encompass a wide range of attributes such as speed, strength, health, resistance, abilities, and more. Variation in properties allows for diverse gameplay experiences, strategic choices, and dynamic interactions within the game. By adjusting and balancing the properties of game elements, designers can create depth, complexity, and emergent gameplay. For example, varying the properties of enemies in a role-playing game can create different levels of challenge, requiring players to adapt their strategies and utilize different tactics. Properties contribute to the overall balance, immersion, and strategic depth of the game.

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Properties (variation) - Shadow of the Tomb Raider

Proximity

Proximity in game design refers to the spatial relationship or distance between game elements, objects, or characters within the game world. It represents the relative closeness or distance between entities and affects their interactions and the player's perception of the game space. Proximity can influence gameplay in various ways, such as determining the effectiveness of attacks, triggering events or interactions, influencing AI behaviors, or providing strategic advantages or disadvantages. Designers utilize proximity as a tool to create tension, suspense, and decision-making scenarios within the game, where players must consider their position in relation to other elements or characters.

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Proximity - Racing games

Punishment

In game design, punishment refers to negative consequences or penalties imposed on players for their unfavorable actions, decisions, or failures within the game. Punishment mechanics are employed to discourage undesirable behaviors, encourage strategic thinking, and maintain game balance. Punishments can include loss of resources, health, progress, or privileges, as well as time penalties or setbacks. By implementing punishment mechanics, game designers create a sense of risk, challenge, and accountability, motivating players to make more thoughtful decisions and engage in strategic play. Properly balanced punishment mechanics ensure that consequences are fair and meaningful, enhancing player engagement, learning, and mastery.

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Punishment - Dark Souls 3

Puzzle Challenge

In game design, a puzzle challenge refers to a gameplay segment or activity that requires players to solve a specific problem or overcome an obstacle using mostly real-time skills such as timing, reflex and dexterity. In contrast to regular puzzle stages, where critical and lateral thinking is mostly required, players need to combine one or two mechanics, with certain time and precision, which will let them progress through the level, obtain an item or another type of reward. These challenges can range from simple brainteasers to complex, intricate conundrums, offering players varying levels of difficulty and rewarding their persistence, creativity, and dexterity. They also involve detecting patterns, using or combining mechanics with a specific sequence and timing, as well as mastering the character's abilities. Well-designed puzzle challenges integrate seamlessly into the game's mechanics, narrative, or world, providing a satisfying sense of accomplishment upon successful completion.

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Puzzle Challenge - Prince of Persia