How to Use Rules in Your Gamestar Mechanic Game

In a video game, you define the rules via your design of the game on Gamestar Mechanic: The abilities of the avatar and the restrictions on the player’s actions form the rules of your game. Rules make the actions of players meaningful by providing the guidelines for what they can and should do in the game.

When designing the rules of your game, think about how you want the player to play. System sprites are excellent for easily designing rules. For example, add a health meter to make the player try to survive, add a timer to keep the avatar running, or add a population counter to limit the destruction of certain enemies.

You may also implement rules using the properties of sprites — to grant certain consistent abilities to the avatar, enemies, blocks, and items — by combining the element of rules with the element of components.

Because all Gamestar Mechanic games work within the same engine (the grid of sprites), a few universal rules must apply in any game, as described in this list:

  • The avatar cannot pass through solid blocks. In this way, every collection of solid blocks is a rule in itself — you can use walls and platforms to restrict where the player is allowed to go. The less common nonsolid blocks, such as item generators, have different properties.

  • The avatar is destructible. Whether you add a health meter or not, harmful sprites may damage and frag the avatar. This rule can be bypassed with the phoenix block, a sprite with the ability to make other sprites regenerate.

  • Every sprite has a limited set of actions. This important rule is affected by the perspective of the level (top-down or platform), the properties of the sprite, and in the case of avatars, the items available to the sprite.

  • A sprite must obey the rules of the level. The rules include gravity and edge bounding (whether or not sprites can move off the screen).

When designing a good game, you should not only work within the rules of your system but also use rules to your advantage, by placing the right restrictions on the player so that the player feels challenged and inspired.

Some rules are easy to implement: If you want to create a shooter-style game, for example, use an avatar with a blaster. Gameplay is often based around rules, from collisions to timers to screen-wrapping (a level setting that lets sprites move instantly from one side of the screen to the other).

Thus, if you’re having trouble with this component, build your game around one or more rules that you find interesting. Consider a rule, and then consider the kinds of games that the rule might expand to.