Depth verses Complexity

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SimoRoth
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Depth verses Complexity

Post by SimoRoth » Thu Jan 17, 2013 3:31 pm

A lot of people have questioned why I want a minimal, mostly mouse driven interface for Maia and why I don't want to present a lot of information to the player...

Extra credits sum up my thoughts on the issue perfectly.

http://extra-credits.net/episodes/depth-vs-complexity/

Livinghippo
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Re: Depth verses Complexity

Post by Livinghippo » Thu Jan 17, 2013 5:23 pm

So.. you want maia to be a more fast paced game, less a turn based tactics game and more of a fps shooter pace?
i know what you're trying to convey but i have to disagree with part of this video.
If maia has depth, but no complexity.. It's never going to be a challenge?
surely it's going to be a little complex to actually work because it's a rts?
my brain hurts :(

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SimoRoth
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Re: Depth verses Complexity

Post by SimoRoth » Thu Jan 17, 2013 5:32 pm

Basically I am reducing the complexity of the data the player has to deal with. Unnecessary complexity in the players interaction with the world makes the game less fun, its the complexity of the game that gives it depth.

As they said if you build a complex system on numbers, people will just make the "optimum" build and never experiment outside the fastest track.

I wouldn't class Maia as an RTS...

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b0rsuk
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Re: Depth verses Complexity

Post by b0rsuk » Thu Jan 17, 2013 7:12 pm

I distinguish between depth and breadth.

A good example of the former is Master of Magic, where you can research spells and build cities for a few hundred of turns, conquer progressively tougher lairs and loot them. There is a lot to that game, but when you're aiming for an efficient victory you won't see most of it.
Units and spells in MoM are ordered in a quite strict hierarchy. Each race has a best unit, which can wipe the floor with lower tiers. Likewise, top level spells are order of magnitude stronger than anything beneath them. You progress through spells and units. Some are clearly the best.

An example of a game with breadth of strategic options is Age of Wonders: Shadow Magic. It has better and worse spells and units, but it's designed around choice. Instead of individual buildings taking up to 20 or 30 turns, they can take perhaps 5 turns. On the other hand, you have many buildings to choose from, and each training facility gives you access to multiple units (you choose from them). Population is not limited like in Heroes of Might and Magic, you're limited by gold upkeep. You compose your army the way you like.

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Gazz
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Re: Depth verses Complexity

Post by Gazz » Thu Jan 17, 2013 10:53 pm

Hi, I'm Gazz and I'm a game balance nut. (Hi Gazz!)
b0rsuk wrote:Units and spells in MoM are ordered in a quite strict hierarchy. Each race has a best unit, which can wipe the floor with lower tiers. Likewise, top level spells are order of magnitude stronger than anything beneath them. You progress through spells and units. Some are clearly the best.
And that makes a lot of sense if you include the fact that MOM is a 4X game and has winning conditions.
You are supposed to progress and win the game. Game over.

Your "breadth" is simply called "complexity" by other people. =)

(I didn't watch that video but) You have complexity when there is a large number number of features and choices.
You get depth when you have choices that matter.

If you look at the X series you have some 400 ship types in the latest installments but a huge number of them are copy/paste with trivial and often nonsensical differences.
Also, there is no conceptual difference between small and large ships. Damage and defense scales up geometrically so if you increase the total numbers of Force A, it will always defeat Force B, regardless of ship classes or fleet composition.
That is complexity without depth.
While X3:AP probably has the most depth where balance between individual ship types and systems is concerned, it still uses the general rule set from X:BtF, which was created with a considerably more narrow focus.

With Limit Theory I've been talking everyone's ear off about creating systems, ship classes, whatever with conceptual differences so that the decisions of the player would generally be made on a macro scale - instead of the player just being the poor schmuck who gets stuck with all the micromanagement and the only decision being how many metric tons of (any) ships to set to a particular task.
A blueberry muffin is more than the sum of it's crumbs.

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b0rsuk
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Re: Depth verses Complexity

Post by b0rsuk » Sat Jan 19, 2013 11:42 pm

No, by breadth I mean number of viable, interesting choices. Age of Wonders: Shadow Magic is much more interesting in this aspect than Master of Magic and Heroes of Might and Magic. In both of these games building a city follows a routine, with minor deviations. In AoW: SM you can build a workshop, because siege machines are good for city defense, or a war academy to support your troops on the front line. Or maybe a wizard tower to spread your magic influence zone farther, or one of the economy buildings.

In AoW: SM there are no minor variants of units within a single race (there are 15 playable races!). Much like in Heroes of Might and Magic 4, where on each level you choose between a shooter, a sturdy melee unit, and a somewhat fragile flyer.

In other words, I call a game "deep" if you can spend LOTS of time in a single match or scenario. Master of Magic and most roguelike games fall there. There are often not many deviations from the plan early in the game. Yes, even in roguelikes - certainly ones like A.D.O.M. or ToME4, which have a quest sequence to complete (reduces replayablity).

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Re: Depth verses Complexity

Post by Mallux » Sun Jan 20, 2013 4:42 am

Very nice site you linked to - I immediately putted it in my favorite bar. :D

However can the definition between depth and complexity so easily be summarized by rules contra possibilities? A lot of rules shouldn't be a less enjoyable experience in itself. I believe rules and complexity is in some part necessary to games where some kind of management is required (LIke hopefully Maia unless you turn it into a modern fps in the next few days :P, Sim city, Anno 2070 and the Paradox games). The important thing is to make the rules intuitive. For an example I have never understood or enjoyed the Hearts of Iron series by Paradox Interactive, because I found the game complex and irritatingly hard to understand. However Paradox's later release Crusader Kings 2 was probably my favorite game of 2012, since the rules and complexity made sense and were a lot more intuitive imho. I hope Maia will to some degree will demand some form of complexity in the manner of managing your colony, but hopefully doing it in a very slick and intuitive way with a gorgeous user-interface. Just my buck on the issue.

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