What is your dream game mechanic?

Lightsaber damage being true to the films. It shouldn’t take 3-4 hits to kill an enemy. If you get hit with a lightsaber, you get cut in half or at the very least lose a limb.


I want a game where I can do stuff with/to rivers and dams and floodplains and all that, with at least moderately accurate erosion simulation. I don’t even know what the game itself would be, I mostly just want to play around with meandering rivers.

The one guy who still wants a new From Dust game

My other dream game would be essentially “SimAnt x Dwarf Fortress”

Long-term genetic manipulation of a population as a core mechanic. I want to mix and match bloodlines until I can make a Kwisatz Haderach. Basically, I want more Massive Chalice.

I’ve moved away from RTS games since I had this thought, but an RTS game (or maybe some other city-building game) where you have direct slider-based control on the stat balance of your units. (i.e. Slide the damage of the unit way up, but the health way down, or slide both up, but slide the build time way down and the cost up).

Make that two of us!

They’re getting pretty dated now, but I think Jedi Outcast/Jedi Academy had a console command for that, which basically turned lightsabers into insta-kill weapons.

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I really like exploring and storytelling in open world RPGs but I’m sick to death of action-RPG combat. Either make a game like that without combat, or one where combat is very rare and dangerous. Or replace it with something else! A Dragon’s Dogma style game that switched to XCOM style turn based whenever combat started would be really really cool.

Ever since Mirror’s Edge I’ve always wanted a Spider-Man game in 1st person. Swinging with a little cross-hair in the middle or something.

Do you have a VR headset? Because Windlands on easy mode is pretty much that.

I don’t have a VR headset, but I’m definitely going to look into Windlands. Thanks for the recommendation!

I do believe that a contingent of players would speak out against it no matter how well it was implemented—RE4’s segments with Ashley were among the best of “protect this character” gameplay ever, but you’ll still see people complain about it. I agree with you about keeping it from being an escort mission in that it can’t be perceived that way. The typical “guide this target to safety before their health bar runs out” approach couldn’t be taken.

The contagious effect of a verbal warning sounds like a really good idea though, and would help make developing a “civilian group management” mechanic more feasible. In this theoretical superhero game, you could get an upgrade (maybe as a result of your character’s increasing fame) that makes civilians trust your warning more, or your character’s heroism inspires them to get others to safety.

I still want those moments of saving an individual without it being a fully scripted affair. Even if that’s relegated to specific scenarios rather than being fully systemic, i’d greatly appreciate them.

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Have you seen Megaton Rainfall? Avoiding and preventing collateral damage is a core part of the gameplay

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Have you considered divinity original sin 2? It’s not exactly the same but it has a large fantasy world before switching over to turnbased combat similar to xcom.

In regards to dream mechanics, something that simulates the hacking of objects to access environments and objectives via parkourish movement. Like a more robust watch dogs but with a fidelity not unlike the dues ex games with a more engaging traversal system for verticality

I have not heard about it, but it looks pretty interesting. Thanks for letting me know!

This one isn’t a single mechanic, per se, but:

I’ve always wanted to play an action game where you heal people but don’t hurt them… but like a hard game. Heart Souls, as it were. You as the MC have amazing healing, augmentative, and shielding abilities, but the healing and augmentation is only for others. You yourself have only mobility and shielding. You have to wade into a series of massacres and turn the tide by surviving long enough to help the victims repel the aggressors. The more trust you earn from those you are helping, the more you can influence them to take actions that facilitate this, meaning most situations start with you mitigating trauma, but hopefully end with you directing the resistance somewhat due to rallying the victims.

Ok that’s more a game idea than a mechanic.

As for a more singular mechanic, I would like to see a RTS or SRPG game that doesn’t use a turn counter or action cooldown in the traditional sense, but instead lets any unit attempt to act whenever they want to, but bases part of the success chance (and other variables) upon how soon they try to act. Imagine a normal-looking universal cooldown timer, but as it fills, each increment adds a certain percentage of success potential, while failure would have different effects based on severity. 100% filled would mean full potential and 0% negative results for a failure (beyond, well, not succeeding.) 1% filled would mean the least potential for success and the most harmful effects for failing.

As all your units have their action meters (or whatever) building, you are constantly weighing the advantages of acting sooner vs acting dependably. Gambling initiative vs competency, as it were. Stats could just affect this % chance based upon what actions are taken that they govern. For example, having great ranged accuracy but bad mobility means taking a bow shot with a half-filled timer would have a much better chance of succeeding than trying to dash with a like-filled timer.


I want more games that attempt to realistically simulate human anatomy, a la Dwarf Fortress. I’d especially love that see a survival game.

For any game with a detective element I’d like to see all the info the player gathers to be sorted into a series of rings labeled Who, What, Where, When and Why. Whatever is highlighted in one ring will be layered underneath the next active ring and the player vocalize a hypothesis. This would repeat with the rest of the rings until the player has it solved.

I hope I described what I was thinking of well!

This is a great idea. If one wanted to prevent players from just trying every permutation of these things every time they received a clue, you could make combining them subject to some kind of resource management. Call it “Intuition,” and as it increases you can attempt a certain amount of combinations of WWWWW before having to find another clue.

Or not! Either way, it’s a cool idea.

I’d discourage guessing by adding a few red herrings to make the number permutations to numerous to make guessing worth it.

one of my big theoretical game design interests that i’ve never had much luck with in implementation are wide-reaching magic or hacking systems (hacking is basically neo-magic 20xx)

i would love a game where the glass cannon magic user archetype is enforced because every time you learn a spell you lose max hp
i love the idea of a game where every spell you learn is added to a deck, and when you cast a spell you just turn the next card over and cast it, without knowing what it is. with a system set that has enough moving parts you could do some really clever stuff with this.
i prototyped a game where every object is hackable, every object has the same series of binary properties (can be walked through, can move, can deal damage, is under the player’s movement control, etc) and you could hack into them all one by one to walk through walls, move obstacles out of the way, etc. i know hack and slash sooort of did this kind of thing but i don’t wanna teach programming i just wanna discover the kinds of emergent behaviours that could come from this. i’ll probably go back to that one at some point, it needs some work structurally but it’s just too good.

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Have you tried Trackless? It’s still an experimental game, but I think it does a great job showing how progression could be tied to typed responses.

I love both these ideas!

I feel like the chance of success changing as you get hurt/tired is similar to rolling with advantage or disadvantage in TTRPG The Veil (which they’re playing in the current season of Friends At The Table). Advantage means roll 3d6, taking the upper 2, disadvantage the lower 2. A more nuanced form of that in a video game like a would be cool - you’re not definitely going to fail, but you’re certainly disincentivised.

I think character-to-player relationships changing the shape of the game’s storyline itself is something publishers are still exploring gradually, but I’d really love more flexibility with that – in a lot of cases, due to the fact that it’s incredibly hard to code all those variables, a lot of unique relationships built in sidequests get brushed more to the sidelines for generic interactions in main questlines.

In some ways, I feel like Fallout brushes up against the edge of something in this vein I want (you have to take certain actions to achieve certain things, and there’s always going to be a character that doesn’t like that) but I wish it had more bearing in actual conversation than just brief mentions or “X character lost Y number of likes-you-points”. Long Live The Queen also leans into lasting impactful choices in your relationships, but the replay value on it means some of them can feel sort of automatic (“don’t snub her and she won’t poison you” etc).

Totally untenable and would be really difficult to attempt as a mechanic! But I can dream.