Research on how to design better games is ongoing, and it can benefit from theoretical frameworks, such as the Mechanics, Dynamics, Aesthetics (MDA) model, and the Distinctive Feature (DF) framework, that we proposed in a previous paper. This paper presents further research about the DF framework, which was conducted in two distinct phases. In the first phase, we created a tentative inventory of DFs, with focus on strategical analysis characteristics. In the second phase, our focus was on an inventory of DFs able to model cooperative mechanics in games. In both phases, we based our findings on empirical data, collected from participants in extension courses on modern board games. The MDA framework offered a key insight in the analysis of collected data. Accordingly, the results indicate that the MDA framework can be used as a guideline for the development of new DF systems, enabling game designers to create better products.
This article was published in Elsevier’s Entertainment Computing. In it, I presented the DF framework, showing its chronological development and refinement. I discussed both the empirical data collected during research, and the theoretical underpinnings of the DF framework, and concluded presenting some ideas for further research. This article was an expanded version of two articles from 2015. The PDF link above is for its preprint version.