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.

§ 3.3 - Resources are scarce.

§ 3.3 - Resources are scarce.

§ 3.3 - Resources are scarce.

The only point of a resource is to limit something.

It may be to limit the amount of options a player can hold or use (a hand limit), it may be to limit the amount of mistakes they can make before being eliminated (such as hit points).

A resource is not a real thing at all, but a limitation. It only matters when you run out of it.

If you never run out of money, or if you’re allowed to accumulate debt endlessly with no penalty, then there would be no purpose to keeping track of it.

When thinking of any game resource, think first about what it’s going to limit. What considerations will the player make when allocating the resource? How will they suffer when they don’t have enough of the resource? If your resource isn’t limiting anything, get rid of it!

When players let go of a resource, they should feel like they’re going to need it later, or that there might have been a better use for it, or that an opportunity might arise while they’re short of the resources to capitalize on it.

If players aren’t feeling these things, your game’s economy may be over-inflated.

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