Guidelines for Strategy Game Design

A functional and lightweight game design manual by Level 99's D. Brad Talton Jr,
on how to create tense, dynamic, decision-driven games.

§ 1.3 - Moves are an end unto themselves.

§ 1.3 - Moves are an end unto themselves.

§ 1.3 - Moves are an end unto themselves.

As players pursue the activities you told them about in your pitch, it’s important to let them do those activities! Moves should engage with the activities, not stand between the player and the activities.

Make sure the player is able to advance their strategy with each action they take. No move should be an obstacle, a maintenance action, or a time sink. Avoid ‘recovery’ or ‘rest’ type actions, and try to make these things automatic wherever possible so they don’t waste player turns.

In most games, players should be able to participate in the key activities with a single motion or decision, without excessive planning. Participation in the key activities must always be the means to the goal, never the goal itself.

What is a Move?

When we talk about “moves”, we’re talking about the elective actions that players take during play, e.g. “It’s your move.”

A game’s turn structure can vary wildly, but at some point, players will have to make a decision and execute it. This process of deciding and doing, together, can be called a “move.”

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