Monday, January 21, 2008

"Shipping vs Building" (SvB)

Games provide players an opportunity to make choices, then evaluate the results and make more choices, etc. until an end result is achieved. Many games make this process interesting by providing multiple paths to get from the beginning of the game to that end result. Multiple paths to victory as it's often called. Various strategies, or ways to approach the game in an effort to win. I refer to those paths as the game's Shipping vs Building.

This term comes from Puerto Rico, arguably the greatest multiplayer strategy game of all time. In that game the extreme strategies are Shipping - loading goods on boats for victory points, and Building - spending money on buildings which are worth points. These are not mutually exclusive strategies, but in general the more shipping you do, the less building you can afford, and likewise the more building you do, the less goods you'll be shipping. These are simply the 2 major methods to gain victory points, the winning player will do some combination of the two.

That's a pretty pure example, from a well renowned game, of multiple paths to victory, and that's what I am referring to when I ask a question like "what is this game's SvB?"

When designing games I often ask myself, what's this game's SvB?

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