Sunday, June 12, 2005

Space Crack: Building a gameplay parts list

Document Note: Games are complicated. This ‘small’ design
will be 20+ pages by the time I’m done and most designs run into the
hundreds of pages. This post compresses the entire design into a single
page. Game design can become horribly abstract and it helps to have a
complete (if simplified) vision of the gameplay in your head before delving
to each area.
This part 4 of an ongoing game design document written as a blog. Be sure to catch up on previous posts. In the last installment, we described how to reinvent the TBS game genre. This time we'll give a short list of the parts we'll need before we can put together the complete game design.

How to summarize a game in 1 page
We need to write down an inventory of the mechanical pieces of the game design. Much like a car is made of wheels, engines, seats etc, you can break down most games into the following parts categories:
  • Tokens and Resources
  • Verbs
  • Rules

Every game is made up of tokens. A token is an object in the game that is manipulated by the game rules and the player. All the tokens in play at any one time form the game environment.
SpaceCrack has a rather small set of tokens:

  • Planets: Thing of these as the chess spaces on the board. They provide resources to those who own them. They can build ships.
  • Ships: Ships are tokens can be sent to conquer enemy planets and can defend against enemy attacks.
  • Planet Upgrades: These are additional abilities that enhance a planet.
  • Ship Upgrades: These are additional abilities that enhance any ship built on a planet.
  • The Sun: The sun provides extra resources and goes super nova if the game goes too long. Think of it as the referee.

There are also two resources. These are really a specialized form of token, but I’m not going to quibble with definitions.

  • Crack: These are also used to perform Commands.
  • Command Points: These are used to perform Commands.

Verbs are the actions that the player can perform. In this case there are a handful:

  • Move a ship to a planet.
  • Build an upgrade.
  • Build a ship.
  • Send a message to another user.
  • End the turn

Rules are how all these tokens and verbs play nicely together. The following rules govern the game:

  • Players build ships and upgrades using crack and command points.
  • Players move ships onto enemy planets to conquer them.
  • Ships battle one another and the winner gets the planet.
  • The person with the most planets in the end wins.

Any questions? I'll dig into each one of these in more depth in upcoming posts.

The next post is up! Read it now.

take care


  1. Simple. Beautiful.

  2. You wrote: Thing of these …, you probably meant: Think of these ….