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Designing Games by Tynan Sylvester

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Chapter 13. Dependencies

After the wildlife reserve was created, the newly trained park rangers quickly decided to make some changes. There weren’t enough elk, they thought, so they began a program of feeding the elk.

The elk population exploded. The huge elk herds soon began killing the aspen and willow trees. This caused the beavers to vanish, since they no longer had enough wood to make their dams. Without beaver dams to hold the water in place, the park began to dry up every summer. This denied the fish the bodies of water they needed to breed, so it wasn’t long before the lakes were nearly empty of fish. With the fish gone, the grizzly bear population fell, since the grizzlies depended on fish pulled from the rivers to survive. Without grizzlies competing for their food sources, and with so many elk to prey on, the wolf population exploded. The deer population soon collapsed because there were so many wolves and because the elk were overgrazing their grasslands.

And the changes went on, rippling through the ecosystem…

A GAME DESIGN MIGHT have hundreds of mechanics, fictional elements, and subsystems. Even during the minutes after conceiving of a game idea, a designer can have 20 different ideas for challenges, systems, and interfaces to add to it. With all these ideas, how do we know what to work on first? Do we start with the most unique piece? The most basic? The easiest? The most technologically advanced? The riskiest?

They key to answering this question is in understanding ...

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