by Pete Erickson on July 1, 2016

How to Create a Simple Game Mechanic that Challenges Users


If there’s one thing about video games that keeps people coming back it’s simple but addictive mechanics that offer the right balance between challenge and satisfaction. It’s not easy to find the right balance between overly simple and brutally difficult in your game mechanics, but the following tips will help you to work that balance and ensure your games are doing what they are designed to do - entertain players.

The challenge of balanced mechanics is very real for many game app developers. Amazon Developer Day, taking place at Casual Connect on July 20th, is a free event designed to help both new and established mobile game developers tackle this very issue, along with monetization, brand building and more. Be sure to join us for free food, drinks, swag, and speaker presentations. You can  learn more about Amazon Appstore’s Developer Day click here

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Understanding Two Types of Mechanics

Before you think about the mechanics that you want to create for your game, take some time to consider whether you want a player mechanic or a game mechanic. These are two completely different things, and many games offer a solid mix of both.

  • Player Mechanics – In Monopoly, players collect $200 when they pass go, and they have to go to jail if they land on the corresponding icon. These are perfect examples of player mechanics; they are rules that the player must follow as the game progresses.
  • Game Mechanics – This may involve unlocking a level once the previous one is cleared, providing a guaranteed reward for the completion of a level, or giving players in-game currency for meeting certain goals. These are game mechanics because they are rules that the game must follow.

A careful balance of intuitive but evolving game and player mechanics is important to provide a constantly changing and unique experience that anyone can pick up and play quickly.

What Kind of Game Are You Creating?

Now let’s look at the types of mechanics that work best for your game. If you’re developing a Tetris-like puzzle game that requires players to fit pieces together in a certain way, then the vast majority of your mechanics should be player-based. You’ll need to implement a system that allows players to manipulate the pieces, and you may opt to give them a time limit. As far as game mechanics go, you might choose to incrementally speed the game up based on the time elapsed.

On the other hand, if you’re creating a battle-style game, then both the game and player mechanics may be quite complex. For example, you could require players to defeat a boss after every three stages. You could also require them to collect a certain type of armor from the previous challenges before they face that boss. Game mechanics may include awarding players gear for completing challenges with a certain number of points, and providing new challenges as old ones are completed.

How Hard is Too Hard?

Finally, keep in mind that while it is important to continually increase a game’s difficulty, making it too difficult too fast might cause players to abandon your game.  With very few exceptions, if a player keeps trying the same thing over and over without success, he or she is likely to stop playing. One way to incorporate progressive difficulty involves upscaling the player’s abilities to match. For example, if the boss at level 50 is much harder than the one at level 45, give players an opportunity to improve their life points and gear in those five levels so they are better suited to defeat that boss.

Game mechanics can undeniably make or break a game. As such, it is important to decide what sort of mechanics you want to include. When you follow the tips above, you can develop mechanics that are fun, challenging, and easy to understand – the perfect recipe to keep players coming back for more.

If you are ready to learn more about how the intricacies of game mechanics can affect your game’s success and monetization, join us at Amazon Developer Day on July 20th. Registration is free and open now:

Join us on July 20


 Amazon Developer Day at Casual Connect - Free Registration

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Pete Erickson

Pete is the founder of Modev and creator of leading events such as VOICE Summit, Spinnaker Summit and has produced hundreds of events over the past twelve years. Pete resides in Arlington, VA with his wife, two kids and their dog Maisy.