Today's fascinating feature from sister education site Game Career Guide
has Paolo Taje outlining a method for analyzing gameplay using flow diagrams, showing examples for Pac-Man
He explains of his system in relation to Tetris
, which he profiles on Page 3 of his article
by laying out an in-depth diagram showcasing the game's relative flow and game states:
"The rules of Tetris create a network of dynamics, properties and goals in the main (left) sector. First of all, you can Move your blocks in one dimension (left or right) and Rotate them by 90 degrees. Their fall can be described as a Time Limit in placing them; Play Area has instead an upper Space Limit. The foremost dynamic is Match, i.e. to position and wedge blocks, which results in Destroying one or more lines.
Depending on game state, the player's goal changes from impulse to Survive, when the play area is almost full, to wish to Destroy All blocks, when the play area is filled up only halfway or less. In the META layer we have an endless level (which doesn't give a break to the player) with an increasing level of difficulty: they both contribute to increase Tension. Destroying lines gives instead a momentary Relief to the player.
Then there's the Score sector, similar to the one we've found in Pac-Man. One difference is in a property of the game, according to which destroying four lines at one time (making a "Tetris") gives you extra points; we can summarize this with an Instant Combo element (where instant means that they are not chainable). The Preview token, i.e. the presentation of the next block, creates a Planning dynamic (depending also on the Instant Combo element): knowing the next piece can make the game simpler, but it surely adds depth to gameplay."
You can now read the full Game Career Guide feature on the subject
, with more from Taje on how to lay out these conceptual diagrams, and practical ways to apply them to your game project (no registration required, please feel free to link to this feature from external