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Magic Lessons: Designing and Balancing Game Objects
Price $7.95
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SKU GDC07-3709

Magic Lessons: Designing and Balancing Game Objects

Speakers: Robert Gutschera

Track: Game Design

Format: Lecture

Experience Level: Intermediate

Description: Trading card games (like MAGIC: THE GATHERING) and collectable miniatures games have hundreds or even thousands of functionally different objects. Such games present special obstacles for game design and game balance. Wizards of the Coast has shipped dozens of these games (and over a hundred expansions) in the last 14 years. In that time, Wizards R&D has developed its own methods for creating and balancing complex gameplay. Many of these methods differ from those of the computer industry.

The basic Wizards' R&D model for producing a new game distinguishes four things: the basic game design, the tuning of that design, the design of the objects used in the game, and the tuning of those objects. Each task receives independent attention, but all four talk to each other.

Although initial design is more art than science, tuning has a good deal of science to it. When the game has a great many objects in it, the usual method of "just keep playing and tweaking" breaks down. Some more deliberate methods are presented, including how to set up robust costing models, which knobs to turn first, how to get near the right knob setting quickly, and how to fine-tune efficiently.

Idea Takeaway: Attendees will see a different model for game design and balancing from a different industry, and learn some basic conceptual tools that they can apply to these same tasks in computer gaming.

Intended Audience: Game designers looking for ways to deal with games that involve a large number of gameplay objects. No specific prerequisites, although the talk will be easier to follow if the attendee has at least heard of trading card games (such as MAGIC: THE GATHERING).

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