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Designing Games by Tynan Sylvester

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Chapter 6. Balance

The small boy wanted the cookies. But they were always on the kitchen counter, just out of reach.

He tried everything to get them. He crawled up the stool, but it fell over. He attached string to toys and threw them. He faked illness, hoping to get one by pity. He tried to make a deal with his big brother. He even tried to train the dog to bring him a cookie. Nothing worked.

After each failure, his mind worked harder on new solutions. The quest for the cookies became his focus in life. Every failure became a fascinating new problem. Failure made him stronger, smarter, cleverer.

One day, someone knocked over the jar and a cookie fell to the floor. The boy ate it, went to his room, and did nothing. The cookie hadn’t filled him up. It had emptied him out.

Note

BALANCING means adjusting game mechanics to change the relative power of different tools, units, strategies, teams, or characters.

SOMETIMES BALANCING JUST MEANS changing numbers. A designer might decrease the tire traction of a car to make it worse at cornering, or increase the speed of an arrow to make it more effective. Games have thousands of numbers that can be tuned like this—speed, price, mass, health, damage, energy, and so on.

But balancing can also require more fundamental changes than knob twisting. A designer might remove the sorcerer’s shield ability to make him easier to attack with archers, or take the nitrous oxide boosters off a certain vehicle to compensate for its high engine power.

This chapter ...

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