Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
Engines of Experience
Mechanics and Events
Games are composed of MECHANICS, which define how the game works.
A MECHANIC IS A rule about how a game works. The A button makes Mario
jump is a mechanic. So are the rules characters walk at one meter per second ,
pawns capture diagonally , and players alternate taking turns .
In board games, mechanics are written in the rulebook. In video
games, they're implemented in computer code. But whether the mechan-
ics are executed ritualistically by a player or electronically by a computer,
they're still mechanics because they define the game's behavior.
During play, mechanics and players interact to generate EVENTS.
An event is something that happens during play. Mario hits a wall and
bounces back , the pawn captures the rook , and the ball went in the net, so the
other team gets a point are events.
In nearly every other entertainment medium, events are authored di-
rectly. A screenwriter, novelist, or choreographer will decide every action,
motion, and line of dialogue in the work. Their product is a long series of
predefined events: first Luke meets Obi-Wan, then his parents die, then
they hire Han Solo, and so on. And those events play out the exact same
way every time.
Games are different. Instead of authoring events directly, we design
mechanics. Those mechanics then generate events during play.
For example, while playing Super Mario Galaxy , I once tried to make
Mario jump over a pit. I missed, and Mario touched lava. His backside
burst into flames and he shot straight up like a bottle rocket, screaming
in cartoon pain. As he flew through the air, I maneuvered him to a safe
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