Friday, November 23, 2007

Complexity +

Originally Posted by Captain Crowl:
"How detailed should hands-on work be?" This not only applies to the medical field, but all branches that players can participate in.
I'd like to suggest that the best answer is, "as detailed as the player wants it to be."

I favor systems that allow the player to determine the complexity as a trade-off between quickness and quality. In other words, you can have it now, or you can have it good, but you can't have both at the same time.

If you don't care to deal with some complex system, you shouldn't have to; you just push a button and you're done. The downside is that the result of your action will be the default output -- no disaster, but no particularly good success, either.

Alternately, if you enjoy trying to understand and master complex systems, then you should be able to choose to get into the details of the system. You'll spend a bunch of time doing it (during which you can't be doing some other potentially useful activity), and by frobbing the switches to try to get a great result you run a slightly increased risk of getting a bad output. But if you're OK with that tradeoff, being willing to work with the guts of a complex system would be the way to generate the best possible results.

This kind of user-centric design does take a bit more effort, as well as some judgment -- not everything needs to be a complex system. But having some systems that are interestingly detailed can be a lot of fun as long as there's a way to generate a quick default result, too.

These games are about trying to deliver entertainment to various kinds of customers, right? So why should we, the customers, be satisfied with "one size fits all" designs?