Game design Toolbox – User Actions

What is it that the player does?

Rather than understanding how the larger and larger goals are connecting the different actions in the game, we can also list all the actions that are available to the user. Then build a graph connecting each action to all of the actions that are solution to the limit the user runs into when performing that action. This makes for a complex set of connections, and I usually think about it horizontally in a spreadsheet.

I have found this useful at the very beginning of the design, when one wants to focus on which action the user will do.
Towards the end of the design it should be pretty obvious what the user does, and therefore everyone understand this diagram pretty well. Anyway it can be used as a confirmation diagram for communication.

To explain this diagram, we see here that the user can perform the action “Build, buy, edit” in the first column until he runs out of money. Then the little arrow at the bottom lead to an action that makes money. If you follow it, you see that the action “Work and get promoted”, is also limited by something else “Need skills and friends”. This goes on to create a connection diagram of all the actions in the game and how they relate to one another.

This is a simplistic representation of it, and yet it provides an interesting projection of the game design.
The richness of the environment is related to how many arrows leave from a site and how many ends on a site. I think that a single arrow is not enough, more that five probably means you should have more diversified actions.