Week 4 Games to Play: Strategy - Designing Balanced Rules

Darwinia screenshotDarwinia is available for multiple platforms. We haven't looked at many strategy games. As we talk about defining fun and constructing interesting game experiences from a "toybox" it seems useful to look at strategy games. Since we have been using games like Chess as examples of constructing rules-based play you should see the clear conceptual similarity to strategy games. The toys in a strategy game have distinct uses and the variability of the play experiences comes from choices the player(s) make.  Good strategy games integrate “meaningful play” (as defined by Zimmerman et al) well. They allow the player to make choices, the results are shown early and the long term results integrate into a clearly understood experience.  Darwinia stands as an interesting independent game developer’s strategy game. Please play and download the demo here.

Civilization is an exceptionally important game. Besides being an historically significant game design it is a social significant game.  The game’s design has been used by elementary and high school teachers as a tool for teaching history.  The design balance of toys in this game is much trickier to discern through casual play, but if Darwinia is strategy on a small scale, Civilization IV is strategy on an epic scale. 

If you have experience with the Civilization games, or simply want an alternative experience. I’d suggest you play this little real time strategy game by Michael Todd. The game is called Broken Brothers