In a Machinations diagram the nodes are active: they can fire and by firing they cause resources to be redistributed. A node in a Machinations diagram can be in one of four different activation modes:
- A node can fire automatically: it fires at intervals determined by the diagram's time mode (see below). All automatic nodes fire simultaneously. Automatic nodes are marked with a star ('*').
- A node can be interactive, which means that it represents a player action and fires in response to that action. In the dynamic version of a Machination diagram, interactive nodes fire after users click on them. Interactive nodes have a double outline.
- A node can be passive, which means it can only fire in response to a trigger generated by another element (see flow of information). Passive nodes still accumulate resources. A passive node has no special mark and has a single outline.
- A node can be in the starting action activation mode. Nodes in this mode fire once when the diagram is started and are marked with an 's' instead of the star used to mark automatic nodes.
- image activation modes