It’s been some time since the last game design post, so here’s one. It’s about Rock, Paper, Scissors mechanism that can be used in games – especially when balancing different units.
Real-time strategy (RTS) games for example take the approach of Rock, Bigger Rock, Biggest Rock where units first use bare hand, then they get club and finally a magical sword, which eventually leads to upgrading units in the battlefield until all units have the biggest weapons. In RTS games this patter is used, and the one who wins has the largest number of troops with best weapons. The sides are usually identical, and your job is to concentrate on having the largest army with most upgraded weapons.
Then there’s the Rock, Paper, Scissors way of designing units: simply having different units than can beat one unit, but lose to another. Like perhaps developer could program dwarf to beat orc, orc to beat elf, and elf to beat dwarf. In this way even a dwarf with upgraded weapons would get beaten by the elf thus making it impossible for player to use tactic of “produce as many dwarves as possible and upgrade their weapons”. He would need to see what kind of units the other side has, and counter with different units.
And the best part would be to make sure both sides have different units: like maybe dwarf and elves are on the same side, and the one with orcs couldn’t get them – he might need to use ghouls or zombies, which would have different power ratings than elf and dwarf, thus making the sides different.
And this kind of design doesn’t work solely on RTS games (such as StarCraft or Battle for Middle Earth, you might want to use in in first-person shooters (like they do in Battlefield) or even in some kind of role playing games where you would need to pick several team members.