Sunday, February 24, 2008

Limited Variety

Leiavoia’s ‘Strategy Game Designer’s Constitution’ is one of those rare sources that I keep going back to. It is, for an addict like me, one of those rare documents that I have printed out multiple times, defacing each hardcopy with highlights and scribbled notes.

The idea that strategy games should offer less variety with more choices is one of my favorite points. It sounds counter-intuitive at first, especially as hardware and software advances have allowed developers to increase complexity exponentially. But as with most great philosophical puzzles, this one blooms the more it is considered.

What I find so compelling about this idea is that it is not just a mantra to be used in Strategy games, but can be applied to almost any game genre.

If we would take a simple racing sim, for example, and give our players only the ability to accelerate and break, we are offering two variations of input, but almost unlimited choices.

We can also apply this mantra to DPS systems by introducing a static progression based on level, not uber-gear epics. One standard DPS value for all weapons at a certain level might sound like limited variety and limited choice, but by simply altering the damage range of each unique weapon type (minimum-maximum damage range), we keep the variety down, but expand player choices again.

The reduction of variables not only makes the production of the game easier, but also allows for some elegant solutions to most balance issues. The only genre I have not found an elegant translation for has been Crafting/Economy sims, but do not blame the law, blame the lawyer.

1 comment:

leiavoia said...

I didn't know i had fans! Found this blog though a narcissistic google search. The Strategy Game Designer's Constitution has been expanded and revised since this was last posted. It now includes sections on luck, known outcomes, feedback loops, victory conditions, game-ending conditions, and a few other loose bits. Glad you liked it. Please pass it on.

Always looking for additions, too. If you have anything to add, please contact me at leiavoia Xàt comcast X døt ñét (remove the obvious accent marks and the large X's )