Gamestar Mechanic is a web-based game which seeks to teach players basic game design techniques and principles through gameplay. Users follow a series of “quests” through a comic-based adventure, while playing mini-games designed to showcase a particular concept or lesson. As players complete quests, they are rewarded with new game design elements, such as blocks for constructing levels, items, and characters. Players will learn about basic gaming principles such as goals and rules, perspective, balance, and more. Players will both play games which demonstrate new concepts, as well as “repair” games which improperly utilize these principles or mechanics. Players may also use the items they have unlocked through questing to create new and unique games from scratch to be shared with friends, family, and the Gamestar Mechanic community. This game contains no inappropriate content, but contains a fair amount of reading and may be too complex for younger players. Gamestar Mechanic is recommended for players ages 8 and up.
Adapting and adjusting to changing conditions and expectations.
Gamestar Mechanic teaches players about basic concepts and principles of game design through mini-games. Each mini-game presents players with new challenges and goals. As the rules for mini-games change, players must alter their approaches and strategies, promoting flexibility. For example, in one mini-game players are tasked with collecting coins before time expires, while in another game, players may be tasked with destroying all enemies before preceding to an exit. New goals, objectives, and game parameters all mean players must adjust their strategy accordingly, taking shorter routes to save time, using alternate controls to jump, fire a weapon, or change directions. Playing games which require players to frequently and rapidly modify tactics is an excellent way to exercise the Flexibility thinking skill.
Developing a systematic approach for setting and achieving goals.
After earning new objects, items, and characters through Gamestar Mechanic's questing system, players can begin to construct their own unique and customized games to share with family, friends, and the gaming community. Creating fun, well-polished, and playable games requires a fair amount of planning and forethought. Levels must be designed to provide both substantial challenge and a reasonable expectation of success. For example, players must be given ample space to avoid obstacles and enemies, while still facing significant resistance to achieving their objectives. Players can create level designs choosing how the environment will look and function, where enemies will be placed and how they will behave, the objectives, and other options such as time limits and available health to a player's character. Players who exercise good planning will produce better content than those who do not.
Being efficient and aware of our use of time and effort.
One of the major parameters for creating games in Gamestar Mechanic is the time limit. Players will often find themselves working agains a ticking clock to complete tasks and objectives. Players who are able to effectively manage their time will achieve their goals more often and more efficiently. Time limits fundamentally alter the way a player might approach a level and Gamestar Mechanic does an excellent job in demonstrating this. In a particular level, players are given three possible paths, each varying in length, enemies, or other challenges. The player is given the task of completing the level using a number of different time limits. For each varying time limit, the optimal choice of path changes. The Time Management thinking skill is essential in both playing and designing levels, fundamentally altering players strategies.
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