And how do I use them?
A pillar is commonly regarded as providing reliable, dependable, and essential support for something (i.e. buildings, projects, communities).
Use your pillars as a guide to stay on task and be consistent. There are three main types of Game Pillars. There can be many more categories, but they can be simplified to Exploration, Combat, and Story.
Exploration refers to:
Travel in or through (an unknown area) with the intent on familiarizing oneself.
Search for (items, resources)
Inquire into (asking question in a discussion, digging deeper for detail)
Examine (a thought, option, theory, or possibility)
Examine (by touch)
By these definitions, there are many uses for this Pillar. Many games, such as The Last of Us, Metal Gear Solid, and Deus Ex rewarded exploration. In The Last of Us, you might find another way to deal with a situation. Metal Gear Solid would return a useful item or more information. Deus Ex would award credits that could be spent. It was a way to become fully submerged in the experience, looking in every nook and cranny. Wolfenstein 3D also rewarded exploration often times by placing treasure in hidden rooms behind the walls.
This is when the Player takes any action to fight, destroy, or prevent. The Last of Us uses several different weapons for its combat. But there are times when the combat is actually stealth. Throwing a brick or bottle to distract enemies counts as combat. In Metal Gear Solid, the stealth gameplay requires patience from the player and the ability to make the right move at the right time to avoid being caught. In Deus Ex, in-your-face combat or stealth gameplay are both options and each has its consequences. Not every situation can be solved with guns. In Wolfenstein 3D, combat is guns, Guns, and more GUNS.
In the Last of Us, the story follows the main characters as they traverse a world ravaged by disease. It covers how the characters relate to NPC and each other. In Metal Gear Solid, the story starts out as a rescue for the DARPA Chief and doesn't stop there. The more you advance into the game, the story advances as well. With Deus Ex, you begin as the Golden child, eager to please, ready to pounce on your enemies. Mission after mission begin to mold you. Either with augmentations or information that you've come to learn. You have to options to not obey every command, and doing so comes with consequences. And in Wolfenstein 3D, you uncover a little more information at the beginning and end of each episode. The story goes that you are a captured spy who broke out of your cell from the dungeon and is fighting your way to the top.
As I began planning CyberMnemonicState, I wanted it to be a fun game. Maybe just a one and done. But I also wanted there to be some items the player could interact with to cause them to look at their environment. This game primarily focuses on the Combat and Exploration game pillars. I especially wanted the combat to be just a little more thought-provoking than button mashing.
When you are planning your own game, whatever you choose for game pillars, be true to it. When planning mechanics, understand that form needs to follow function. If it looks cool but does not stay true the pillars then it won't fit in the game. It will, however, detract from the game. True enough, there are exceptions to every rule. But if you are new to Game Development, learn the rules, master the rules. AND THEN, break the rules.
You can read more about game design HERE ----> Game Design as Narrative Architecture By Henry Jenkins