Skyrim just ate 60% of my weekend. Damn.
Since I’ve been writing stuff on work, I’m somewhat spent right now, but I’ll try to give you something nourishing to think about.
One of my favourite words is gameplay dynamic. I think I’ve used it enough to wear out its original meaning, but my own definition for it is ”how the game works at its highest level”. Usually when I check out a game, I try to divine its gameplay dynamic: How the game will flow, what I’ll be aiming at and how people are going to interact with each other. Let me illustrate with some examples:
Magic’s gameplay dynamic is quite varied, since it is dependent on the players’ decks. Usually you are either trying to suppress an opponent or achieve your own goal. At first you try to get to the level of resources you can operate in, then you try to disable the opponent’s opening attack and finally (if you are alive and the game is still continuing), you will try to outmaneuver your opponent with the limited resources you draw.
In Battlestar Galactica, the most you will do is juggle. You will identify the most dangerous threat and try to neutralise it. If the situation allows, you will try to get more resources (like cards) to yourself. And finally you will try to identify the Cylon(s). And as Cylons, most of the time you will try to break trust between the players and work towards the point where revealing yourself will do the most damage.
The more mechanical the game, usually the simpler the dynamic. For example, in Dominion you just need to identify the most optimal strategy to get to the 8 coin per round situation. The interesting games are those where the gameplay dynamic includes interaction between people, because then you can’t just rely on math and logic; You need empathy and the ability to manipulate perceptions.
And now I forgot why I was explaining all this. Shows me not to write when tired.