When I play a game, I want to feel like each move achieves something, and that the game is going somewhere, not just repeating itself.


Make sure the game is changing at least a bit, between a player's turns. You may need to speed your game up to many times its original speed. This is fine. I play far too many incremental games, where nothing ever really changes.

In my city-building game, you gather resources from the board, take them to a building to convert them, then spend the converted resources to buy something. Originally, the game's pace was too slow, because there would usually be two turns of gathering resources, two turns of converting resources, and then a turn to buy something. The two turns of doing the same thing, without any change in the game state, were procedural and boring. I made all the conversion buildings vastly more powerful — seemingly unreasonably powerful — so that players would only need to gather, convert, and build. This was much more fun.

In a prototype I played recently, you fight monsters around a city map. They have 3-5 health points each. On a typical turn, I'd reduce a monster's health by one. It took around five turns just chipping away at one monster, in order to kill it.

In this example, nothing is changing from turn to turn. It takes five turns to achieve something. You might say "But having five monsters with one health is the same as having one monster with five health." No, it's not the same. The five monsters will die off, as they're attacked, thereby changing the board, and they might move, or be in some relevant formation on the board. The player might have to think, move around, and reassess their strategy between fighting them.


It might seem like this is all relative. How can all moves be made more significant?

To make it even clear, each action you take should move you a significant way through some game system. It's not a numerical matter, or a question of balance. It's about giving the player new strength or discovering new stuff each turn. That's fun and rewarding.

In my gangster game, you do damage equal to the number of gang members. This starts at 0, 1, or 2. If you gain gang members, you'll probably gain another 2. That makes you way more lethal to the opponents. There's also "rep", and you win when you have 10. You can gain 2 or 3 at once. That's huge progress towards victory.

If a system is just a simple score, and there are a few different scores, then you should probably be able to achieve the maximum in that score with a few actions. If it's a deeper game system, the player could progress through it more slowly.


Play around with pace. Double the speed of your game, by giving players twice as much power to do stuff and get stuff (whatever that means in your game.) See what happens.

I decided to "supercharge" my gangster game. Each turn got you about 50% more stuff. Lethal threats were possible very quickly, and players could access the most powerful stuff within a few turns. It didn't matter that they were burning through the game much faster. It was better that way.

At one point, I made the cards in Radlands cheaper. Almost all cards' cost was reduced to 1 water (the game's resource.) You could just do more stuff. The game was better as a shorter, punchier game.

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