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Chris Crawford on Game Design by Chris Crawford

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Intransitive Combat Relationships

Plain old everyday transitive combat relationships are what you see in almost all games. If my gun is bigger than your gun, and your gun is bigger than Joe's gun, then my gun can really whomp on Joe's gun. This means that bigger is always better, and the guy with the biggest gun will beat everybody else. It seems perfectly natural and reasonable, but it's often not very fun, especially if you're the guy with the little gun.

Intransitive combat relationships are weird: My gun can beat your gun, and your gun can beat Joe's gun, but Joe's gun can beat my gun! You might recognize this as just the rock-scissors-paper relationship. It's so weird that most game designers have steered clear of it, which is a shame, because ...

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