FUNDAMENTALS OF GAME DESIGN, SECOND EDITION

FUNCTIONAL CONSTRUCTION CHALLENGES

Construction and demolition is easy in most games: point, click, and it happens, so long as the resources required are available. If you want to make the process more of a chal­lenge, you can impose constraints on how things may be constructed and test to see whether the construction meets some required standard. The game Bridge It, for instance, requires its player to use certain predefined bridge elements—towers, beams, cables, and a roadway—to construct a bridge across a body of water. It also requires that the bridge actually support a load moving across it (see Figure 18.2). See the section “Constrained Creative Play” in Chapter 5, “Creative and Expressive Play,” for more infor­mation about construction challenges.

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FIGURE 18.2 Bridge It challenges the player to build a functional bridge. This one was a failure. (Image courtesy Chronic Logic and Auran.)

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DEMOLITION

In addition to letting your players construct things, you might need to give them a way to demolish things. A big part of the fun the player gets from a CMS is building the city, theme park, or other entity the way she wants to build it. If construction decisions are irreversible, then the player cannot change her mind or react to new circumstances. This might be OK for strategy games (many war games, for example, allow you to build factories and defenses but not to demolish them), but in CMSs, forbidding demolition prevents the player from exercising her full creative freedom.

You should consider whether you want demolition to cost something, cost nothing, or actually earn money. If it costs money to demolish something, you are, in effect, penalizing the player for changing her mind and perhaps encouraging her to plan more carefully in the future. She loses not only her initial construction cost for the item but the demolition costs as well. If demolition costs nothing, the player loses only her construction costs. If she actually gets something back, it's usually called selling the item or structure rather than demolishing it, an arrangement that further reduces the price the player pays for changing her mind. If she can sell a structure back for exactly as much as she paid, there is no net cost at all for building a thing and destroying it later. CMSs rarely work this way because to do so removes some of the challenge of managing their resources. Players can build madly, secure in the knowledge that they can always get their money back by selling.

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