How to Build a Game #64 Scripted Play & Incentives

This is a personal preference, but I really dislike scripted play. A specific example is when I play a game of Coup. Whenever a player has the coins for a coup, the immediate question is “Who has two cards left?” or “Who has the most money?” I understand this may be part of the social contract because no one wants to be eliminated from a game too early. I also realize this might be the strategic play. However, when the reason for who picks who to hit with something bad is the same reason every time, I consider that to be scripted play and incomplete design. On a general level, there are games where players have very similar opening moves because n one is close enough to each other to have any influence over another player’s decisions.

When we are building a game and we find situations like this, we will stop and talk about it and dissect what we are doing. At what point do we start making decisions that affect other players? Can we move the set up of the game so that players are making interesting decisions earlier in the game?

Alternately, what we have a game where players are looking at going after the first place player or the player with the most money, we look at possible small incentives to make players think about focusing on someone else. While the strategic play may be to go after the first place player, we want players to at least think about another option before they go after an “obvious” target.

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If you have any comments or questions, leave a comment here or email Chris at

If you have made it this far, would you like to go a little farther? We have a regular Google hangout with other designers. We talk about the games we are working on and share helpful tips and ideas on how to make designing our game easier. We meetup every other Saturday. Either comment here or tweet me or email me and I will add you to the list and send you a link to the Google hangout.

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