The thing that held Karl up so often usually was the sheer number of choices in a game. Do I move move my piece here or there? Do I build up this skill/tech-tree or another? Do I hold my resources? Do I trade? Do I purchase now? Do I use the power-up or save it for later?
Opportunity cost is a funny thing. It's so fundamentally critical to game theory and the formation of a good game, but the inclusion of additional opportunities seem to increase the complexity in an almost exponential manner.
|Look at all the fiddly-bits! |
So many options! So many choices!
So much...reading. :(
It makes me wonder, similarly, about the amount of opportunities in role-playing games today. The so-called "Old-School Renaissance" has been advocating a return to simpler rules-sets--no power cards, no fiddly-bits, no gimmicks or the like--as a return to "real" role-playing. Simultaneously, though, we've seen the rise of high-complexity, high fiddly-bit games like 4e D&D and Warhammer Fantasy.
In some ways, I can equate it to this:
When 4e just came out and your 2nd level Fighter, "The Mighty Jim-Bob," leveled up, he had approximately four options for his 3rd level encounter power. After a few months, Martial Power came out, doubling those options. After another month, a Dragon article raised your options to 10. After four years of sourcebooks, articles, and fan-creations...well, you can imagine the choices!
More options can be good, but each decision--meaningful or not!--slows down gameplay and character creation on a massive scale. The more options one has in front of them, the more likely that they'll consider each of those options, grinding the game to a halt.
Now, here's the weird thing. The answer seems to be...less options!
You see, when you take away the power options, the feat choices, the skill points and the rest...you're left with pure imagination. Now, that's a double-edged sword, since it relies on both player and GM to fill in the details each and every time which, needless to say, is an onerous task!
As with all things, balance seems to be key. As a designer, how does one find the balance between over-designing a system, making it overly complex, and under-designing that same system, resulting in vagueness and lack of structure?!
How does one avoid the dreaded Kotov Syndrome?!