Video game designers iteratively improve player experience by play testing game software and adjusting its design. Deciding how to improve gameplay is difficult and time-consuming because designers lack an effective means for exploring decision alternatives and modifying a game’s mechanics. We aim to improve designer productivity and game quality by providing tools that speed-up the game design process. In particular, we wish to learn how patterns encoding common game design knowledge can help to improve design tools. Micro-Machinations (MM) is a language and software library that enables game designers to modify a game’s mechanics at run-time. We propose a pattern-based approach for leveraging high-level design knowledge and facilitating the game design process with a game design assistant. We present the Mechanics Pattern Language (MPL) for encoding common MM structures and design intent, and a Mechanics Design Assistant (MeDeA) for analyzing, explaining and understanding existing mechanics, and generating, filtering, exploring and applying design alternatives for modifying mechanics. We implement MPL and MeDeA using the meta-programming language Rascal, and evaluate them by modifying the mechanics of a prototype of Johnny Jetstream, a 2D shooter developed at IC3D Media.
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Society for the Advancement of the Science of Digital Games
Foundations of Digital Games
Software Analysis and Transformation

van Rozen, R.A. (2015). A Pattern-Based Game Mechanics Design Assistant. In Proceedings of Foundations of Digital Games 2015 (FDG 2015). Society for the Advancement of the Science of Digital Games.