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Chris Crawford on Game Design by Chris Crawford

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Balancing the Equations

Balancing large mathematical systems is one of the killer problems in game design. Every game has plenty of interacting subsystems; all too often some unforeseen interplay between two such subsystems can result in psychotic behavior from the system as a whole.

Let's use an imaginary first-person shooter as an example. Suppose that this shooter offers the player a reward for killing Goony-Woonies by equipping each Goony-Woony with one ammo clip, which the player gains by stripping each dead Goony-Woony. Of course, Goony-Woonies are dangerous critters; the player sustains an average of two health points worth of damage every time he fights a Goony-Woony. Fangybirds, by contrast, can be killed only by shooting them with a ...

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