The goal here is to have a way to qualify game mechanics in relation to one another. Once we can qualify effectively, we can begin to try to find ways to determine which game mechanics are best for a game with certain goals in mind. (And perhaps we can develop a system for concisely stating the design of an MMORPG.)
- Simplicity. A mechanic should be as simple as possible to attain game aims. It’s in the interest of the players that this be the case, because needlessly complex mechanics cause frustration and make the game harder to learn and enjoy than necessary. Mechanics that are too simple are also not particularly desirable because they quickly devolve into meaninglessness, becoming components of grinds.
- Causality. The causes and effects of a mechanic should be sufficiently clear to the player. They should also be logically consistent within the mechanic and with regards to how the mechanic works with others. If there are counterintuitive causes or effects, they should be made clear to the player. This involves user interface considerations as well as mechanic design.
- Transparency. Players should receive enough information to make appropriately informed (depending on the game situation) decisions. Information should be available at a similar depth throughout the game, or, if it is to be revealed, revealed in a consistent and sensible fashion.
- Repetitiveness. Does this mechanic encourage repetitive behavior? If it does, should it? Some degree of repetitiveness is necessary in MMORPGs, but it’s important to know where it occurs and manage it carefully. As a general rule, Mechanics should not force players to do a task many times beyond the point at which the player can be expected to have full mastery of the task (or have gained all or nearly all the utility of performing the task).