Machinations UP – Core Concepts

It is advisable that you have the Class Diagram close at hand while reading this document. You may find it below. It’s a high resolution image, don’t forget to zoom in.

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Game Objects & Game Object Properties

Machinations Up connects Game Object Properties to values in Machinations Diagrams. A Game Object can be an Actor (such as the Player or an NPC), an Artifact or a Location. A Game Object has Properties. In Machinations, we are interested in quantifyable properties that are chaning throughout the game design.

Good to know: in the Game Design world you may be familiar with Game Object Properties as attributes of compound entities . This is how they are described in the “Machinations bible”, the book “Game Mechanics – Advanced Game Design”. In Up , all Game Objects are seen as compound entities, and they all have at least one Game Object Property .

Game & Game Object State

The use of this feature is optional.

Even the simplest game has at least two states: Running or Waiting/Lost. More complex games, however, have dozens of states. For example, a strategy game such as Civilization 5 goes through mechanics & UI changes based on what area the Player focuses on. The game state changes from the Map, to the City Overview, the Research Tree, the Policies Page. Each of these has many sub-states, such as Combat Resoution in the Map or Buying Tiles in the City Overview.

Designing a complex game needs both the holistic approach as well as an in-detail exploration. Machinations Up allows this by having Game & Game Object State awareness at its design core.

And while Game State may have dozens of states & sub-states , individual Game Objects may each several other states, completely independent from each other and the game itself. Taking Civilization 5 as an example again, a Warrior may be Traveling, Fighting, Healing.

Because these states can be understood by Machinations Up, you are allowed, as a designer, to approach the individual economy of each of your Game Objects per state, and even per Game State. See below, where we explain how the class StatesAssociation allows this.

The 6 Main Classes

Six classes serve as the cornerstone of Up’s functionality. Here’s a one-liner about each, followed by a more in-depth discussion.

MachinationsGameObject & its subclass MachinationsGameAwareObject (optional) – are the way you connect your Game Objects to Machinations.

MachinationsElement – wraps a value from the Diagram and oversees the way it changes. Each MachinationsElement is eventually bound to a Game Object Property.

MachinationsElementBinder – binds a certain Game Object Property to the appropriate MachinationsElement based on Game and Game Object** State**.

StatesAssociation (optional) – represents a combination of Game and Game Object States. Any combination of any number of states is allowed.

MachinationsGameObjectManifest – its main use is to define the Game Object Property Names that a Game Object should get from Machinations.

MachinationsGameLayer – handles communication between your game and the Machinations back-end.

In-depth with the 6 main classes

MachinationsGameObject & its subclass MachinationsGameAwareObject – A Game Object (such as the Player or an Enemy) may have multiple Properties. These classes allow you to conceptually bundle everything about a Game Object together in the same place.

They bundle more MachinationsElementBinder together, initializing them and dispatching Game State Change notifications to them. See more when we discuss the StatesAssociation class below.

These classes also host the Game Object’s Manifest.

MachinationsElement – contains:

  • –Base value: the value retrieved from the Machinations diagram.
  • –Current value: can only be modified using methods in this Class, such as:
    • –Reset
    • –ChangeValueBy
    • –ChangeValueTo
  • –Min & Max values.

Because the Current value is gated behind accessor functions, MachinationsElement has a tight control over how the value changes. This facilitates keeping the value in a certain range and, in the near future, tracking values using Machinations Analytics.

MachinationsElementBinder – holds at least one MachinationElement per Game Object Property. However, it also allows Game Object Properties to be retrieved from different Diagrams based on Game and Game Object** State**(via the class StatesAssociation). This is done using a Dictionary that maps a separateMachinationsElement to a unique StatesAssociation.

You might ask: “Why isn’t a MachinationsElement bound directly to a Game Object Property”. That is, indeed, the simplest use case. However, in some games a Game Object Property may change its design based on game state, for example the speed of the player may change based on environment, and, in more complex/comprehensive game designs, different Diagrams (designs) may apply to different environments.

MachinationsGameObjectManifest – it is a declaration of how a Game Object interacts with the Machinations back-end. What Game Object Property Names are to be mapped, what Events are to be emitted about a Game Object and so on.

It also has methods that the MachinationsGameLayer uses in order to build requests for the Machinations back-end.

MachinationsGameLayer – this singleton class uses Socket.io to communicate with the Machinations back-end. In Unity, it can be attached to your game via a Prefab we provide, but you can include it any way you wish.

StatesAssociation – Bundles together any number of Game States (including zero) and any number of Game Object States (including zero) under a given Title. It is used by MachinationsElementBinder to give the designer the ability of associating a certain Game Object Property with a certain Game/Game Object State combination.

By allowing any number & combination of Game & Game Object States, this class allows great flexibility in abstracting game design choices while in the same time being able to carry these choices over to the game.

You should only care about this if you intend to use MachinationGameAwareObject.

Interfaces

IGameLifecycleProvider (optional) – is used by Machinations to query your game engine. Your game engine SHOULD implement this IF you want to use Game-Aware objects and Game/Game Object States.

We provide the class SampleGameEngine that implements this interface. We also provide SampleSceneStartupHandler to demonstrate how to notify the MachinationsGameLayer about your engine.

IGameLifecycleSubscriber – MachinationsGameAwareObject and MachinationsGameLayer implement this. Your game logic/engine should notify _MachinationsGameAwareObject_sof Game State Changes and Game Events using this API.

IGameObjectLifecycleSubscriber – MachinationsGameAwareObject and MachinationsGameLayer implement this. Your game logic/engine should notify _MachinationsGameAwareObject_sof Game Object State Changes and Game Object Events using this API.