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Building Blocks of Tabletop Game Design: An Encyclopedia of Mechanisms

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22 Mar 2019 10:42 #294245 by engelstein
I know that many of you here design games, so thought this might be of interest. I am also super-excited about this, so even though it's way too early from a PR standpoint I'm posting now.

Isaac Shalev and I are publishing a tabletop gaming mechanism encyclopedia with CRC press. I met with the publisher earlier this week at GDC and it will be coming out in July. The title is "Building Blocks of Tabletop Game Design" - about 600 pages and 200 mechanisms, plus variants. For each mechanism we explain how it works, diagram it, discuss when and where to use it or not use it, and a list of example games.
Here's a sneak peek at the chapter listing:

Introduction
Game Structure
Turn Order
Actions
Resolution
Game End and Victory
Uncertainty
Economics
Auctions
Worker Placement
Movement
Area Control
Set Collection
Card Mechanisms
Game Index

This came out of my game design class. Even students that had played a fair number of modern games had big blind spots on certain mechanisms. There's also a lot of older mechanisms that we think deserve to be dusted off and maybe get a second life.

When we have a better date I'll let y'all know. I'll have some copies with me at Gencon for sure.

Geoff

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22 Mar 2019 10:50 #294248 by hotseatgames
Cool! I enjoyed your earlier book.

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22 Mar 2019 11:08 #294251 by Jackwraith
Sounds amazing. Hope I can make it to GenCon.

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22 Mar 2019 11:52 #294255 by Gary Sax
Great idea for a design book structure.

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22 Mar 2019 13:33 #294270 by ubarose
That sounds awesome. I think it may even be helpful to new gamers. I was just having a discussion with one this morning, and she was saying how difficult it was fir her to understand all our mechanism jargon.

We were disappointed that we missed Isaac at ConnCon this year. At least I think you are talking about the same Isaac Shalev we know. Don't know if he didn't come or we just didn't see him there. Anyway, say hello from the Rose's when you see him.

Keep us in the loop regarding the book. We will definitely be wanting a copy.
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22 Mar 2019 14:29 - 22 Mar 2019 14:30 #294277 by engineer Al
Looks very cool Geoff! Definitely looks like something that would be handy as a reference when trying to nail down aspects of "what works and what isn't working" when designing a game. Now I hate to make more work for you but I'm interested why you did not include chapters on:

Pick up & delivery
Hidden Movement
Direct conflict (battle)
The dungeon crawl
Social deduction
Negotiation
Englelsteinisims

Just wondering. . .
Last edit: 22 Mar 2019 14:30 by engineer Al.

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22 Mar 2019 15:45 #294283 by Sagrilarus
So . . . This is CRC the people that publish the CRC Math Tables?

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22 Mar 2019 19:27 #294301 by engelstein

ubarose wrote: We were disappointed that we missed Isaac at ConnCon this year. At least I think you are talking about the same Isaac Shalev we know. Don't know if he didn't come or we just didn't see him there. Anyway, say hello from the Rose's when you see him.

Keep us in the loop regarding the book. We will definitely be wanting a copy.


Thanks! Yes - Same Isaac.

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22 Mar 2019 19:33 #294302 by engelstein

engineer Al wrote: Looks very cool Geoff! Definitely looks like something that would be handy as a reference when trying to nail down aspects of "what works and what isn't working" when designing a game. Now I hate to make more work for you but I'm interested why you did not include chapters on:

Pick up & delivery
Hidden Movement
Direct conflict (battle)
The dungeon crawl
Social deduction
Negotiation
Englelsteinisims

Just wondering. . .


Pick Up & Deliver - we decided this wasn't a mechanism. It's a higher-level collection of mechanisms. We actually use that as an example in the book when discussing where we (sort of arbitrarily) drew the line. Dungeon Crawl is the same - not a mechanism.

Hidden movement is in the Movement chapter.
Direct Conflict is covered by Resolution - that's where all the conflict resolution mechanisms are.
Social Deduction is under Uncertainty
Negotiation is under Economics
Engelsteinisms are, well, basically the entire book.

As an example of our chosen level of detail, here's the subsections of the Movement chapter:

Chapter 10 - Movement 413
MOV-01 Tessellation 415
MOV-02 Roll and Move 419
MOV-03 Pattern Movement 421
MOV-04 Movement Points 424
MOV-05 Resource to Move 426
MOV-06 Measurement 428
MOV-07 Different Dice 430
MOV-08 Drift 432
MOV-09 Impulse 434
MOV-10 Programmed 436
MOV-11 Relative 439
MOV-12 Mancala 441
MOV-13 Chaining 443
MOV-14 Bias 445
MOV-15 Move Multiple 448
MOV-16 Map Addition 450
MOV-17 Map Reduction 453
MOV-18 Map Deformation 455
MOV-19 Move Through Deck 457
MOV-20 Movement Template 459
MOV-21 Pieces as Map 461
MOV-22 Multiple Maps 463
MOV-23 Shortcuts 465
MOV-24 Hidden Movement 467

By the way, Daniel Solis did all the diagrams for the book, and they are awesome.

Geoff
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22 Mar 2019 19:36 #294303 by engelstein

Sagrilarus wrote: So . . . This is CRC the people that publish the CRC Math Tables?


It is. They have a well-regarded line of Video Game design books, and the editor in charge of that line thinks the next big thing will be Tabletop design books, so he reached out to me to see if I was interested in helping to launch that new segment for them. I think it's a great idea and hope it's successful for them.
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22 Mar 2019 21:35 #294305 by engineer Al
Wow, I'm really looking forward to this!
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22 Mar 2019 22:10 #294310 by Sagrilarus

engineer Al wrote: Wow, I'm really looking forward to this!


Yeah, as best I can tell I sort of have to buy this.
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22 Mar 2019 23:01 #294315 by mc

engelstein wrote:
By the way, Daniel Solis did all the diagrams for the book, and they are awesome.

Geoff


This looks like it will be a pretty amazing resource.

Any chance of a sneak peak at a diagram to get a sense of them?

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23 Mar 2019 00:28 #294320 by dysjunct

engelstein wrote: I know that many of you here design games, so thought this might be of interest. I am also super-excited about this, so even though it's way too early from a PR standpoint I'm posting now.

Isaac Shalev and I are publishing a tabletop gaming mechanism encyclopedia with CRC press. I met with the publisher earlier this week at GDC and it will be coming out in July. The title is "Building Blocks of Tabletop Game Design" - about 600 pages and 200 mechanisms, plus variants. For each mechanism we explain how it works, diagram it, discuss when and where to use it or not use it, and a list of example games.
Here's a sneak peek at the chapter listing:

Introduction
Game Structure
Turn Order
Actions
Resolution
Game End and Victory
Uncertainty
Economics
Auctions
Worker Placement
Movement
Area Control
Set Collection
Card Mechanisms
Game Index

This came out of my game design class. Even students that had played a fair number of modern games had big blind spots on certain mechanisms. There's also a lot of older mechanisms that we think deserve to be dusted off and maybe get a second life.

When we have a better date I'll let y'all know. I'll have some copies with me at Gencon for sure.

Geoff


Sounds like the boardgame version of this, for RPGs:

legendaryquest.netfirms.com/books/RPG_De...Patterns_9_13_09.pdf

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23 Mar 2019 13:50 #294331 by engelstein
Here's a collage of four diagrams:



Starting clockwise from the upper right:

Rondel
Splaying
Network Building
Follow

Geoff
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