Simplicity vs Complexity (CT #1)

sentrywiz

S

sentrywiz



Simplicity vs Complexity
Discussion on Mechanics
Creative Tutorial #1

occam_02.jpg


Let's start this tutorial / discussion with two rather obvious
questions which will take the scope of this thread:
1. What is simplicity?
2. What is complexity?

Simplicity
Simplicity is meant as something simple to use and understand.
Simplicity doesn't cause or make the thing related dumb and stupid.
All it does is make it both simple to understand and simple to use.

When used properly, simplicity screams replayability and fun.
Because simple mechanics and design are easy to grasp, they always
make it easy for both player and developer to add on the foundation of
a game with simplistic mechanics.

Use with caution though, simplistic concepts can often turn games into
redundant, boring and repulsive experiences if used incorrectly. Though
the term "used incorrectly" is so relative to every person reading this,
I'm sure you can think of a game which is too simple for you. These games
have used simplicity to make the foundation and to upgrade on it. That's
why such creations are often seem as "stupid, boring games".

Simplicity should be used as a foundation of game rather than an upgrade
to an already existing game. The point of simplicity is how easy it is to "make"
a system of mechanics that will drive your map or game home. And once
you have a strong foundation, you can put whatever you want into your
creation, because its built on solid grounds.

Example:
NES_Super_Mario_Bros.png


Super Mario has a couple of simple mechanics that drive the game smooth:

- You move left right.
- You jump for up.
- You crouch or go in pipes for down.
- You attack by jumping on an enemy or shooting it (when you can)
- You pick up stuff by going near them which gives you stuff

I might have missed a few but it will do. These are the game's core
mechanics. From here on out, the game only grows in depth.
More levels, more enemy types, more puzzles, more stuff to pick up etc.
But fundamentally, these mechanics make the game viable for nearly
everyone that can pick up this game from day one and never stop playing
it. And YOU as a creator of this masterpiece, can always add-on it
because the game is in its core: Simplistic


Complexity
Now let's look at complexity. Complexity is meant as something that takes
time and sometimes effort to understand and use. Its something that is
sometimes on purpose and sometimes accidentally too complicated to be
shown and/or given to anyone to use and upgrade. I'm not saying this is
good or bad, you decide for yourself. Although at some point all games that
have been upgraded over time will reach a level of complexity and will no
longer be as easy to grasp and use as they were in the beginning, this
doesn't mean the game is now stupid and unusable.

Now, I'm not saying that complex games are bad. There are many complex
games that soothe the mind and add on creative playing. But all of these
games are games built-on simple grounds. With that being said, do take
in mind that complexity should be an upgrade to a game, rather than its
basic foundation.

Complexity should not be used as a core mechanic. Why not? Because
a game in its core should be as simple as possible. Complicated games
have a very narrow learning curve for new players and often have very
constricting tactics and styles of play. You can say that complex games
stop creativity rather than support it because of its massive overhead on
knowledge, time and effort required to understand these concepts.

Example:
caesar-new-4.jpg


Caesar games have always made me curious, but because of the starting
complexity of the game, I've never had the "urge" to learn it. I've tried
to brute force my way via replaying and trying, but I've never won one
single game. And eventually I uninstalled it because it was "dull".

Now I'm not saying Caesar is a very dull game. Far from it, I was fascinated
with it, but I wasn't able to break through the starting wall of complexity
that the game required of players in order to be "successful" at it. In my
mind however, this is a game that has way more complexity to simplicity
ratio, which is why I remember it as a "hard and dull game".

But what Caesar taught me is that if your game has a wall of complexity
that you require of players to know even before going into the game, then
you're doing it wrong. Its like studying something you find boring, and who
in their right mind would study something they find boring? But I digress,
maybe you are a person that likes that. To each their own. However, Caesar
will always remind me a game that too complex for me to unravel on my own.

Summary

kiss.jpg


This concept is as old, but very viable. I'd advise to tattoo it on your forehead. J/k

Simplicity works out best for you if you use it to build the foundation of your
creation. It doesn't matter what it is for. Base your projects on simplistic core
mechanics and design concepts.

Complexity is depth, and works out best for you if you use it to upgrade on
an already laid out creation. You can always add new, interesting mechanics
and stuff for the player to experience within the scope of your creation.

Example:
Think of it like drawing a picture. You want to draw a weapon. You don't
start from the corroded acid worn rusty parts of the stinky saber you would
call a WAR AXE OF ETERNAL... War? You start from the handle, or the blade
and use pencil with rubber. You re-do it until you're pleased with the basic
design. Once you're satisfied, now you can unleash your mind at it and
add all the magnificent and horrible things you want to it. Now its the time
to pull out your fancy pens with trillion colors and all the photoshop skills.


Hopefully this was a fun read for you. If not, cry me a river. Or burn me
in the comments below. All the freedom to you. Just keep it... simple, stupid? ;)

Further References


 
Last edited by a moderator:
I like the idea of this tutorial, however, you should expand it, giving examples for typical map types we have in this game and common mistakes made.

Just a few examples:

- Overloading the player with item and hero choices at the beginning of almost any AoS instead of slowly introducing the player to more and more choices by a smart ranking system
- Using complicated fullscreen systems in RPGs when clearly the original WC3 UI would have sufficed to do the job (for example, when the game doesn't have enough items or content to justify 12+ equipment slots)
- unneccesary convoluted battle mechanics (worst offender: Dark Invasion II RPG)
- Too many gamemodes in Tower Defense or Arena maps
- Too many initially available tower choices in Tower Defenses without any kind of staging
- Confusing the player with too many features available at level 1 instead of slowly introducing new concepts as the game progresses (for example, RPGs having a crafting/enchanting/gem/rune system at level 1 instead of unlocking it later)


These are just those that immediately came to my mind after reading this. There's a lot more to be found if you think about it.
 

sentrywiz

S

sentrywiz

I like the idea of this tutorial, however, you should expand it, giving examples for typical map types we have in this game and common mistakes made.

Just a few examples:

- Overloading the player with item and hero choices at the beginning of almost any AoS instead of slowly introducing the player to more and more choices by a smart ranking system
- Using complicated fullscreen systems in RPGs when clearly the original WC3 UI would have sufficed to do the job (for example, when the game doesn't have enough items or content to justify 12+ equipment slots)
- unneccesary convoluted battle mechanics (worst offender: Dark Invasion II RPG)
- Too many gamemodes in Tower Defense or Arena maps
- Too many initially available tower choices in Tower Defenses without any kind of staging
- Confusing the player with too many features available at level 1 instead of slowly introducing new concepts as the game progresses (for example, RPGs having a crafting/enchanting/gem/rune system at level 1 instead of unlocking it later)


These are just those that immediately came to my mind after reading this. There's a lot more to be found if you think about it.

We think alike. Your ORPG is one of the best I've played. You're already a master of simplicity. Or one of THE masters (idk how many of you made the map)

This is a huge subject and my tiny tutorial can't possibly cover it all.
Its way better to watch a video of Extra Credits on subjects like these rather than read a loooooooOOOOoooong wall of text.
That's why I am kind of unwilling to add more text than this, because I'll just make it more complex for the reader.
I've already edited this tutorial atleast 10 times to find the "perfect balance of text vs images"

But your point is valid. I'll think about examples for maps that could be objectively presented as an example. Obviously my opinion is biased and if I showcase my own map vs another map, I am inclined to defend my own work rather than provide an objective view.
 

sentrywiz

S

sentrywiz

Since you want to keep this tutorial simple it's probably best to link to longer works on the subject, e.g - how exactly these ideas have been put to use in making things in general, not just maps.

I don't understand what you mean.
Can you provide an example?
 

sentrywiz

S

sentrywiz

I'm sure someone has written on this subject in more detail. E.g, how to apply it in a specific context. You could link to those.

Well that's the thing. I don't know if anyone has. That's why I felt the urge to write one myself. Though they could have written it but it wasn't "Simplicity vs Complexity". The title might be different.

Other than that, I've already referenced both videos that greatly assisted me in making of this tut.
 
Level 19
Joined
Apr 10, 2010
Messages
2,790
Decent tutorial (or article rather), but not without its flaws. Imma try and voice what I think about it.

First, please do not center large blocks of text. Centered paragraphs are extremely tedious and painful to read.

Second, please please please to anyone reading this comment and to the creator himself - avoid Extra Credits like the plague.

Ok, now onto general points:

Do give more objective examples and not just hasty generalizations based on your subjective worldview as your way may not be the best way. You're making a tutorial, after all.

Now to the main point.

I would want to argue that nothing is inherently simple nor complex in a game. A game would be extremely "complex" to an outsider with zero experience in playing games and without the presence of the teacher. Ask anyone out of the loop to play something like Bejeweled with "simple" mechanics and without anything to actually teach them, then they would view the mechanics as extremely complex when you "simply" need to match 3 gems of the same shape/color.

The same goes with something as simple as a chair. If an alien landed on Earth with no "chair-sitting experience," (perhaps they have no asses) it would see the sitting as an incredibly complex thing. However, teach this alien the concept of sitting and chairs, then it would not seem as a complex as before.

The real value is how a game actually teaches these mechanics. Keeping it "simple," as you would put it, is simply a cure for the symptom and not for the problem. More often than not, a "complex" game just doesn't teach the player in an effective manner and just drops them in (which is bad design). Effective teaching of mechanics is the cure.


Now, specific points:

Simplicity is meant as something simple to use and understand.
Simplicity doesn't cause or make the thing related dumb and stupid.
All it does is make it both simple to understand and simple to use.
Your definition of simplicity is extremely vague. Do avoid using root words when defining something.

When used properly, simplicity screams replayability and fun.
Goddammit, here we go again with the "video games and fun" thing again. Use another word for fun.

Use with caution though, simplistic concepts can often turn games into
redundant, boring and repulsive experiences if used incorrectly. Though
the term "used incorrectly" is so relative to every person reading this,
I'm sure you can think of a game which is too simple for you.
Do try and actually state what "used incorrectly means."

Also, do look at Papers Please. The game has you stamp passports all day (boring as fuck) yet has become one of the most lauded games in recent memory somewhat due to contextualization of the mechanics.

Super Mario has a couple of simple mechanics that drive the game smooth .. can always add-on it because the game is in its core: Simplistic
Super Mario Bros. is actually complex as fuck in terms of mechanics but Miyamoto actually does an excellent job of slowly introducing the mechanics to you.

Complexity should not be used as a core mechanic. Why not? Because
a game in its core should be as simple as possible. Complicated games
have a very narrow learning curve for new players and often have very
constricting tactics and styles of play. You can say that complex games
stop creativity rather than support it because of its massive overhead on
knowledge, time and effort required to understand these concepts.
Massive learning curve != restriction of creativity. Look at Fighting games. Most of them require mastery of the "basic" combos and most top players get sick of these combos and make their own moves. In fact, when they have mastery of the mechanics, they can get creative. A lot of other things work this way, the student gets sick of the masters teachings and makes their own teachings.

Caesar games have always made me curious, but because of the starting
complexity of the game, I've never had the "urge" to learn it. I've tried
to brute force my way via replaying and trying, but I've never won one
single game. And eventually I uninstalled it because it was "dull".

Now I'm not saying Caesar is a very dull game. Far from it, I was fascinated
with it, but I wasn't able to break through the starting wall of complexity
that the game required of players in order to be "successful" at it. In my
mind however, this is a game that has way more complexity to simplicity
ratio, which is why I remember it as a "hard and dull game".

But what Caesar taught me is that if your game has a wall of complexity
that you require of players to know even before going into the game, then
you're doing it wrong. Its like studying something you find boring, and who
in their right mind would study something they find boring? But I digress,
maybe you are a person that likes that. To each their own. However, Caesar
will always remind me a game that too complex for me to unravel on my own.
This is a subjective experience for you. Do try to dissect the game's introduction sequences carefully and pointing out places where the designer fails to teach a mechanic rather than making generalizations that the game is "too complex."

Also, requiring previous knowledge of the game before entering the game can be considered as an enjoyable experience for some. A lot of people have enjoyed learning about the mechanics of "complex" games such as Dwarf Fortress.

Complexity is depth, and works out best for you if you use it to upgrade on
an already laid out creation. You can always add new, interesting mechanics
and stuff for the player to experience within the scope of your creation.

I think that adding more mechanics over time is extremely bad. It tends to boil down to "oh look this is cool lets add this" or "lets just release this game now then fix it up later." Look at Yu-Gi-Oh. That game first had the Fusion monsters then introduced Synchro then XYZ then whatever they have now. When other monster types were introduced, the old ones were shoved to the corner. Old features become obsolete while new ones rain supreme, wasting the time of people who invested in those old features and wasting the time of the developer made implementing those old features.

However, at the end of the day, these are all my opinions from by subjective worldview and I may be wrong in some or most of these points. Also, too lazy to provide citations n shit for my points. Just ask me if you need any of that wibberjabble.
 

sentrywiz

S

sentrywiz

Decent tutorial (or article rather), but not without its flaws. Imma try and voice what I think about it.

First, please do not center large blocks of text. Centered paragraphs are extremely tedious and painful to read.

Second, please please please to anyone reading this comment and to the creator himself - avoid Extra Credits like the plague.

Ok, now onto general points:

Do give more objective examples and not just hasty generalizations based on your subjective worldview as your way may not be the best way. You're making a tutorial, after all.

Now to the main point.

I would want to argue that nothing is inherently simple nor complex in a game. A game would be extremely "complex" to an outsider with zero experience in playing games and without the presence of the teacher. Ask anyone out of the loop to play something like Bejeweled with "simple" mechanics and without anything to actually teach them, then they would view the mechanics as extremely complex when you "simply" need to match 3 gems of the same shape/color.

The same goes with something as simple as a chair. If an alien landed on Earth with no "chair-sitting experience," (perhaps they have no asses) it would see the sitting as an incredibly complex thing. However, teach this alien the concept of sitting and chairs, then it would not seem as a complex as before.

The real value is how a game actually teaches these mechanics. Keeping it "simple," as you would put it, is simply a cure for the symptom and not for the problem. More often than not, a "complex" game just doesn't teach the player in an effective manner and just drops them in (which is bad design). Effective teaching of mechanics is the cure.


Now, specific points:


Your definition of simplicity is extremely vague. Do avoid using root words when defining something.


Goddammit, here we go again with the "video games and fun" thing again. Use another word for fun.


Do try and actually state what "used incorrectly means."

Also, do look at Papers Please. The game has you stamp passports all day (boring as fuck) yet has become one of the most lauded games in recent memory somewhat due to contextualization of the mechanics.


Super Mario Bros. is actually complex as fuck in terms of mechanics but Miyamoto actually does an excellent job of slowly introducing the mechanics to you.


Massive learning curve != restriction of creativity. Look at Fighting games. Most of them require mastery of the "basic" combos and most top players get sick of these combos and make their own moves. In fact, when they have mastery of the mechanics, they can get creative. A lot of other things work this way, the student gets sick of the masters teachings and makes their own teachings.


This is a subjective experience for you. Do try to dissect the game's introduction sequences carefully and pointing out places where the designer fails to teach a mechanic rather than making generalizations that the game is "too complex."

Also, requiring previous knowledge of the game before entering the game can be considered as an enjoyable experience for some. A lot of people have enjoyed learning about the mechanics of "complex" games such as Dwarf Fortress.



I think that adding more mechanics over time is extremely bad. It tends to boil down to "oh look this is cool lets add this" or "lets just release this game now then fix it up later." Look at Yu-Gi-Oh. That game first had the Fusion monsters then introduced Synchro then XYZ then whatever they have now. When other monster types were introduced, the old ones were shoved to the corner. Old features become obsolete while new ones rain supreme, wasting the time of people who invested in those old features and wasting the time of the developer made implementing those old features.

However, at the end of the day, these are all my opinions from by subjective worldview and I may be wrong in some or most of these points. Also, too lazy to provide citations n shit for my points. Just ask me if you need any of that wibberjabble.

Well thanks for your comment.

I won't criticize any of it, because what you say is inherently true due to subjective and relative view. To each their own. However I will ask:

Why hate Extra Credits? I love them personally and I've learned so much from their series. I think they are funny, to the point and provide useful material to both devs and players.

Idk why you dislike them, but that doesn't change anything about what I think about them.
 
Level 19
Joined
Apr 10, 2010
Messages
2,790
Well thanks for your comment.

I won't criticize any of it, because what you say is inherently true due to subjective and relative view. To each their own.

I actually backed up my comments with examples and real game situations.

Why hate Extra Credits? I love them personally and I've learned so much from their series.
1. Writer has jack shit experience, does poor research, is pretentious/patronizing as fuck, and barely backs up their claims
2. Generalizations (implement X mechanic or Y design pattern to make your game good when it usually really depends on context)
3. They point out the extremely obvious and pretend its new
4. They talk about thematic implications and all that film criticism shit when analyzing video games
5. Will throw anything under the bus to make video games "art"
6. Annoying voice and reaches for all the biggest words to sound as smart as possible. They as little as possible while using the biggest words possible

I think they are funny, to the point and provide useful material to both devs and players.

Get a load of this guy.
 

sentrywiz

S

sentrywiz

I actually backed up my comments with examples and real game situations.


1. Writer has jack shit experience, does poor research, is pretentious/patronizing as fuck, and barely backs up their claims
2. Generalizations (implement X mechanic or Y design pattern to make your game good when it usually really depends on context)
3. They point out the extremely obvious and pretend its new
4. They talk about thematic implications and all that film criticism shit when analyzing video games
5. Will throw anything under the bus to make video games "art"
6. Annoying voice and reaches for all the biggest words to sound as smart as possible. They as little as possible while using the biggest words possible



Get a load of this guy.

I read the ENTIRETY of your previous comment. You have legit points and I will use your comment to better the tutorial in areas that I agree with you, but I'm not gonna nit pick specific lines or paragraphs where our opinions differ and try pick a fight over our beliefs.

This is my point of view tutorial on the topic at hand. Its not perfect, but its what I think. I also want to remind you that this isn't a topic on mechanics, but on simplicity and complexity in overall manner

Also I like extra credits, and I don't see them the way you do. To me they provide useful information for everyone. If that is "obvious" to you, then thumbs up for your intellect, wisdom and knowledge but I didn't know those things before I watched them chew the information up and present it to me in a funny, simple and good understanding manner.
 
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