Game Mechanic For Hire

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Economies, 9.15.08

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To-day is a look at economies; specifically whether it is open (Monopoly), closed (Nefertiti), etc. Most commonly, an economy is open; i.e. there is a limitless source of money in the ‘bank’ that players can access if they manage to get a good economy. There are other types that can make for interesting and …angry… play.

-Closed Ecomony. The game begins with ‘X’ money in play and never changes; money instead passes between players. There are a few benefits to Closed Economy. One, it cuts on production costs, as you don’t need some nebulous amount of ‘large bills’. Another aspect it lends to a game is the agony of knowing you are helping another
player by spending your money… but how can you advance in the game *without* spending your money? Augh! As an example, take an olde-tyme-y explorers’ club game. Each player has ‘Prestige Points’ from being in the club and each player has services to offer the other players in exchange for Prestige, with the services changing price as
play progresses. Whose action do you pay for? The player who has a fat stack of Prestige already with a good action, or that player in last place with an ‘eh’ action?

-Diminishing Returns. The board’s stock of money/resources replenishes itself, but with fewer resources each time. As players aquire and expend the resources garnered from the board, the board will replenish itself a few times with less efficiency each time. This mechanic can make the endgame quite ugly, depending on how it is used (and why shouldn’t it be? That’s the point of Diminishing Returns…). Take a mining game where the mountain being mined gets
progressively smaller as the game continues, reducing the available resources to take each phase of the game. Combine this with said resources being either money or VP (but not both) as chosen by the mining player, and you have a mad dash all game. Everybody now… Mmmm… Cognitive Suffering…

-Diminishing Economy. The game starts with ‘X’ money in play and never gets more; whatever is spent is gone for good. A combination of Closed Economy and Diminishing Returns, Diminishing Economy makes the player value every last dollar. When combined with a set turn number, you can create hard decisions. Should I spend now for that
shiny toy, or should I wait and see if something better comes along and possibly not get anything? Take an Amusement Park game where players are children given $25 for the entire day to spend as they see fit. Do they spend it on food and snacks for extra actions, or do they blow it all on that ride that costs extra for major points?

Keep on designing, yo!

Phil

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Written by krinklechip

August 18, 2009 at 2:00 am

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