Unpredictable Static Engine

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Intent

Produce an unpredictable flow of resources that never dries up and without changing the nature of the unpredictability.

Also Known As

Motivation

Provide a source of resources for the players to use that never dries up, but that is to some extend unpredictable. There are different sources for the unpredictability: randomness, skill, and multiplayer dynamics.

Applicability

Use an unpredictable engine when you want to introduce more uncertainty in the flow of resources and introduce an element of timing and planning to your game.

Structure


An unpredictable static engine that allows the player only one option will subject the player to its randomness and leaves the player with little control; it quickly turns into a dice game.

Participants

  • Energy: the resource produced by the engine.
  • A number of Actions.

Collaborations

The Unpredictable Static Engine produces Energy. The Actions consumes the energy.

Consequences

With an unpredictable static engine you force the player to prepare for periods of few resources and reward players that plan ahead.

Implementation

There are a couple of ways to implement unpredictability in an Unpredictable Static Engine. The easiest way is to use randomness to vary the output of resources or the time between moments of production, but skill or multi-player dynamics could work as well.

The randomness can but does not need to be different for every player. By using an Unpredictable Static Engine that generates the same resources for all players the luck factor is lessened without affecting the unpredictability. This puts more emphasis on the planning and timing the pattern introduces. An example would be a game where all players secretly decide how many resources all players can get. The lowest number will be the number of resources to enter play for everyone, while the players who offered the lowest can act first. This would automatically set up some feedback from the games current state to this mechanism.

Examples

In Up the River players roll a die each turn and can move one of their ships as many places closer to the harbor. Because the player controls three ships and ships unattended ships risk falling of the board the decision of what ship to move is not as straightforward as it might seem at first glance. Elements on the board add extra complications that further emphasis planning and looking a head.

In Backgammon dice determine how far the player can move up to two of his playing pieces, or up to four if he rolled a double. As the player has fifteen playing pieces in total there are many options. In important strategy in Backgammon is to move the playing pieces in such way that they are safe from the opponent and give the player as many possible options for the next turn.

The Game of Goose or Chutes and Ladders are poor implementations of an Unpredictable Static Engine as both games lack options and are completely decided by chance.

Note: Add an example of an Unpredictable Static Engine that uses the same output for everybody and is based on skill or multiplayer dynamic

Related Patterns

Discussion