This is an archived abbreviated version of Information here is only kept for historical purposes.

Gameplay Mechanic a Month Project

Every month of 2013 I posted an implemented, playable gameplay mechanic here. The goals of this project were to experiment with different mechanics, create games that were free for everyone to play and to get some hugs so I could feel better about myself. Some of these games are digital, some are non-digital and playable with friends in the real world. All of the games are free to download and try out for yourself.

If you'd like to read about the development process, more about why I did this project, and what I learned from completing the project, you should read the Gamasutra article I wrote: Making Games That Give Me Hugs.

In March 2015 I wrote an analysis of what did and did not work for each of the gameplay mechanics. A summary verdict is listed below, for the details look at the dedicated page for each gameplay mechanic. I gave each game a “hug rating”, from -5 to 5, indicating how much of a “hug” or “anti-hug” it gave me as the designer. This isn’t about how good or bad the game was, but more how it made me feel about myself. 

Pressure Guessing:
in "Guesstimate!"

Mechanic Description: Stay on the edge of your seat waiting to be called to make a quick, but accurate guesstimate.

Game Description: While on a car trip, take turns calling out "Guesstimate!" when you spot a car coming towards you. The guesser has to make a quick guesstimate of how many markers you will pass on the side of the road before the car passses you. Find out the true answer and compare it with the Guesstimate. The more accurate you are, the lower your score will be.

Guesstimate! starts Guesser calls their Guesstimate, Caller starts counting the markers When the other car passes, compare the result

Hug Rating:
1 hug

In just the right conditions this is a great game. If the conditions are slightly wrong the game makes driving a nightmare.

Keep/Share Prizes:
in "The Will"

Mechanic Description: Take turns with a friend to explore a room to find prizes using point-and-click adventuring. Choose to keep or share your prizes with your friend.

Game Description: Your father has died and left you and your sister some family heirlooms. Unfortunately, he's locked them up and you'll need to solve a series of cryptic riddles to get to them. Play as one of the sisters and take a turn to explore the room and find an heirloom. When you've unlocked something, choose to keep or share the item and email your "sister" to notify them that it's their turn to explore.

Take turns to search a room Use hints to solve puzzles Choose to keep/share prizes

Hug Rating:
4 hugs

The idea worked well for this small demo, but convincing another player to play an adventure game with you asynchronously would be really hard on a longer term basis.

Co-op Translation:
in "The Dragon Whisperers"

Mechanic Description: Work as a pair to translate a dragon's pictogram speech and choose replies.

Game Description: You and your sibling must save your mother's life by travelling to the top of a temple guarded by a dragon. The dragon asks questions in pictograms and if you want to be understood you'll need to reply in pictograms. Luckily you have a dragon dictionary! Unfortunately you only have half of the dictionary. Your sibling has the other half!

Player Choice Screen Work out what to say Use your dictionary Use your dictionary

Hug Rating:
5 hugs

A super cute little game which made a big impression on the other participants of the game jam (I still get people remembering it over a year and a half later). I think the idea of giving two players different content was good, but is hard to explain to people.

Co-op Field Game:
in "Team Ninja"

Mechanic Description: Work as a pair to assassinate opponents in a real world playing field.

Game Description: Find 6 or more friends, find an open playing area, create teams of two. Take it in turns to try to hit opponent's hands to "assassinate" them and be the last team standing.

Rule 1: Hold hands Move on your turn Defend yourself

Hug Rating:
4 hugs

A fun little game, but lacks interest and longevity. The team component didn’t add enough to the original game it was modding.

Emotions as Actions:
in "The AI with a Broken Heart"

Mechanic Description: Instead of taking actions, choose which emotion the character should feel.

Game Description: An AI matchmaker (A.I.M.) has fallen in love with its creator. When A.I.M. is dumped it doesn't know how to feel, since the only emotion it knows about is love. Help A.I.M. navigate the breakup by telling it how it should feel next.

AIM is sad and needs your help Start screen AIM is angry

Hug Rating:
-5 hugs

There might be some good out of this game, but I just can’t see it. I don’t ever want to touch this game again because it reminds me of one of the worst periods of my life. Maybe for someone who wasn’t so attached to the game it might be funny.

Conversation Editing:
in "Back to the First Date"

Mechanic Description: Styled as a comic, take it in turns to choose what each character says in their speech bubbles based on drop down options.

Game Description: Two time travellers went on a bad first date, so they decide to attempt to fix it using their respective time travel machines, a car and a hot tub. Play as each of the time travellers and help them avoid saying the wrong thing and ruining the date.

Starting Screen Original date conversation Editing Sofia's options

Hug Rating:
4 hugs

Neat idea and well executed. This might be something you could put inside a larger game as a little mini game, but probably doesn’t scale particularly well for longer games. Also, justifying the core mechanic with a different fiction may or may not work as well as time travel.

Audio Adventure:
in "Imogen's Mansion"

Mechanic Description: An audio-only adventure game where players listen to descriptions of rooms and move between rooms by typing the letter of the neighbouring room to move to.

Game Description: Imogen 5000 is a bored AI alarm system that has caught you sneaking in to the mansion she protects. Instead of handing you over to the police, she decides to play a game with you. She turns out all the lights in the mansion and tells you clues about the other rooms in the house that you can get to. Navigate rooms by entering the first letter of a neighbouring room you want to go to and try to find the jewels and the exit before the police arrive.

Hug Rating:
4 hugs

A very tight and good game. I’d like to explore this mechanic again since I think there was a lot here that worked well or could be built upon.


in "Storytime"

Mechanic Description: Select a picture or word card, ask other players for the opposite type of card, choose your favourite match to build on a story you create together.

Game Description: Gather some friends with a set of Dixit cards and the caption cards. Create a story together with picture and word cards. Take turns at being the storyteller. Embellish the story and help it end the way you want it to.

Some of the cards Starting lines Game in progress

Hug Rating:
5 hugs

A fun game that I like to play with friends from time to time and which encourages me to buy new Dixit cards. Useful to get a feel for the sorts of friends you have and the sorts of stories they find interesting.


in "The Tree Mysteries Part One: Marie's Mr Right"

Mechanic Description: Read a story one line at a time and choose to remember or forget each line to find clues and solve a mystery.

Game Description: You play as a woman who wakes up after a dinner with her housemates with a strange message on her phone. You must talk to your housemates to find out who Mr Right is... and it may not be your boyfriend!

Marie is very confused A line to remember? Missing a clue means repeating

Hug Rating:
3 hugs

The idea might work if it was deciding if an entire paragraph had “important” information or not. But I think ultimately unless the branching options were made more obvious to players (eg by telling the player explicitly, you didn’t notice A so now this is happening), players would feel like there weren’t doing anything.

Real World Baking:
in "The Cookie Baking Game"

Mechanic Description: Based on performance in the game, choose real ingredients to make real food that you can actually eat at the end of the game.

Game Description: Every player begins with the same starting batter. Through a series of challenges and mini games, players will battle for the flavours and chunks they cwant to add to their basic batter. The loser of the game has to do all the cleaning up.

One starting batter, multiple cookies to be made. Table set with cooking stations Many alternative flavours and chunks to add Different cookies can be made.

Hug Rating:
2 hugs

Cookies are delicious and with some refining and simplification this could become a very cool game for kids or small groups of friends to share the love of baking.

Moving In Sync:
in "Together In Love"

Mechanic Description: Two players must navigate a world using their own set of controls. However, players can only take action in the game if their player icons are close together. That is, players need to cooperate to decide which direction to go next so they can move in sync.

Game Description: A game about love where two hearts beat as one. Work closely together with a partner to build a song. This is a simple two player game where both of you must move together to collect birds in the sky. You cannot collect birds if you are not close to the other player and the song of dischord will play.

A heart singing is the game's logo. Start Screen Starting far apart Moving together as one heart

Hug Rating:
3 hugs

A cute and simple game jam game, but it doesn’t have much more potential to use the mechanic widely or excessively.

Odd Brooch Out:
in "Business Card Games 2013"

Mechanic Description: The mechanic this month is to pick the odd brooch out from a set of three then compare your answer with a friend since more than one answer can be correct.

Game Description: On the back of my business cards are small games that use my extensive brooch collection. For each game there are three brooches. You must choose which is the odd one out. The twist is that more than one brooch could be considered to be the odd one out. Can you guess what your friends will say?

Stickers for the DIY version of the game. Games 1 and 2 Games 3 and 4

Hug Rating:
0 hugs

Didn’t really work. Now, instead of having a game, I’ve just got stickers on the back of my personal business cards. This means there’s no expectations for the person receiving the card.