In early game development phases game designers adjust game rules in a rapid, iterative and flexible way. In later phases, when software prototypes are available, play testing provides more detailed feedback about player experience. More often than not, the realized and the intended gameplay emerging from game software differ. Unfortunately, adjusting it is hard because designers lack a means for efficiently defining, fine-tuning and balancing game mechanics. The language Machinations provides a graphical notation for expressing the rules of game economies that fits with a designer’s understanding and vocabulary, but is limited to design itself. Micro-Machinations (MM) formalizes the meaning of core language elements of Machinations enabling reasoning about alternative behaviors and assessing quality, making it also suitable for software development. We propose an approach for designing, embedding and adapting game mechanics iteratively in game software, and demonstrate how the game mechanics and the gameplay of a tower defense game can be easily changed and promptly play tested. The approach shows that MM enables the adaptability needed to reduce design iteration times, consequently increasing opportunities for quality improvements and reuse.
Society for the Advancement of the Science of Digital Games
Foundations of Digital Games
Software Analysis and Transformation

van Rozen, R., & Dormans, J. (2014). Adapting Game Mechanics with Micro-Machinations. In Proceedings of the 9th International Conference on the Foundations of Digital Games. Society for the Advancement of the Science of Digital Games.