Game Design

Ancillary benefits of simplicity

I've discussed the relationship between simplicity and depth in my article on depth, so here I'm going to discuss other reasons why complex rules are undesirable. Simlicity has several ancillary benefits:

Depth in games

Despite playing ladder as Protoss in Starcraft 2 for a couple months and ranking up considerably, I don't think I ever once built an Archon. Or an Observer. Mind you this was original Starcraft 2, not the expansions where they add more units, and that's with concentrating my efforts on just one race. I was able to do reasonably well in competitive play (or so it seemed to me) without really knowing any of the Protoss units except Zealot, Stalker, Sentry, and Immortal (I might've used Carriers occasionally), so I never touched the others. The depth of the game was being lost because there was too much to learn and the game trained me to play without using it all.

I also experienced this when I briefly tried out League of Legends. Besides the gamestate information, I had to be familiar with four different abilities and too many numbers and stats everywhere to keep track of and when I went to the item shop, I gave up and left because by the time I could have read even half of those items my team would have lost the game. Not to mention how there's like a hundred different characters to play as and they all have different abilities. This created a problem where I wanted to know the lore behind the characters to pick one I liked (and since there were so many I knew there had to be one I would like), but after spending like an hour reading bad stories on their website, I realized any other game would be more fun than this.

The way Prismata and Dominion handle their large number of game elements avoids this problem beautifully. But that's not just a trivial rule change you could make to a game like Starcraft; that's a completely different core design.

How to create variety in a deterministic game

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