Game Principles

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The lists below define Cantr's foundational game principles. These should be followed when making decisions regarding the mechanics of the game (usually by the Resources Department), and any significant game changes, including those by the Game Administration Board, should list what principles apply to the change, preferably with an explanation. At the root of these principles should be Cantr's mission and the definition of the world of Cantr. The Principles for Deciding numbers are basic guidelines to help maintain consistency.

Cantr’s mission is to foster creativity, learning, and communication in a world simulating the challenges of real life.


Goals based on Cantr's mission help us determine what our principles should be and how to apply them.

  • Encourage communication (including collaboration)
  • Encourage learning
  • Encourage creativity
  • Simulate the challenges of real life


Principles are in order of precedence and are directly used to justify decisions to change or maintain Cantr's game mechanics.

  1. Programming: There are technical limitations to the mechanics and to what can be changed (this comes first because it affects everything below); however, over time some of these technical limitations may be overcome.
  2. Capital Rule: There are limitations to enforce and encourage following the Capital Rule.
  3. Challenging environment: Characters and consequences of actions are restricted by the environment. Characters must overcome these challenges (possible with collaboration).
  4. Slow-paced: The game is slow-paced (players don't need to log in all the time, where once a day is considered normal).
  5. Collaboration: Characters depend on other characters, and there is advantage to working with other characters (even if there are social challenges).
  6. Communication: The preferred action in Cantr is speaking (or roleplaying), which implies at least one other character to be within hearing distance.
  7. User-friendly: Mechanics shouldn't be tedious for players (but can be for characters).
  8. Real life: The game should reflect the way things work in real life. There is no magic in the sense that the mechanics are intended to be explainable by science.
  9. Present best: There is advantage to those who are currently working or are active more than those who previously worked.
  10. Accumulative gain: There is long-term progress over time.
  11. Diversity: There is advantage in different kinds of characters, skills, objects, locations, etc.
  12. Strategy: There is advantage to creative or purposeful strategy to reach goals.
  13. Balance: Maintain a sustainable, living world through the implementation of thoughtful systems that do not overemphasize one part at the cost of another (ie, production and consumption should be balanced, attacking and defending in combat should be balanced, etc.), so that no party has an in-built advantage, and so that the game can run indefinitely without risk of dramatic oversupply or undersupply (when effort is expended).
  14. Hope: Mechanics should help players feel that their efforts aren't wasted and that their characters will progress in the game in a reasonable timeframe.

Principles For Deciding Numbers

These are used to provide some practical guidance, encourage consistency, and maintain game balance.

  • Rule of one: One character should be able to keep themselves alive, unless killed by another character or choosing to do something dangerous.
  • Rule of two: Two characters should be able to maintain any one particular thing.
  • Rule of three: Three characters should be able to both maintain and create or expand any one particular thing.
  • Rule of four: Four is the maximum number helpful on a particular thing, unless participating in different aspects or with different skills (diversity, variety, specialization).
  • Rule of five: Anything beyond five is complex to maintain (too much for one characters).
  • Rule of seven: Seven characters are a society (e.g. can maintain a complex town).

How Cantr differs from real life

While Cantr strives to mirror real life as much as possible, it has to be adapted to safeguard the Game Principles. The following guidelines help to ensure this:

  • Twice a day: Logging in more than twice a day should make no difference in terms of rewards by game mechanics (4. Slow-paced).
  • Once a day: Logging in more than once a day shouldn't be required for survival (4. Slow-paced).
  • 4 clicks: Once on the correct page, don't require the user to perform more than 4 clicks or operations for any one action (7. User-friendly).
  • Auto-restrictions: Game Rules that are restricted in every situation should be restricted automatically (2. Capital Rule).
  • 2 months of coding: Programming a new change should not require more than 2 months of 1 programmer for each incremental release of the changes (estimated by previous work for Cantr).
  • 20 days: Every item created should last at least one Cantr year without maintenance or use. An average day's worth of work without tools should still be able to provide a day's worth of use one Cantr year later. Examples are the project with the least requirement for a resource and eating of a resource kept in a reasonable location (4. Slow-paced).