Friday, April 8, 2011

The Evolution of Vision

I find that in the beginning of undertaking this project it was my intention to keep the mechanical system as simple and uncomplicated as possible. This has been difficult, while I think I've maintained simplicity in the core rules, I find the intricacies of social warfare difficult to keep simple. So it would appear that the mechanical crunch of the game is a bit more involved than I originally planned. I have mixed feelings about this. If they feel too complicated, which is completely subjective, it makes the primary focus of the game too complicated and difficult to keep up with.

One of my favorite games, Ars Magica, has a beautiful but elaborate rules system. After I mastered the system with a group of players I found it satisfying and fulfilling as a system. It provided me with a satisfaction and range of choice / variables that I loved. It required a rather large up front investment of time and effort to master these rules. For me the pay off was worth it. Years later when I along with a fellow Ars Magica lover attempted to start a new group it lasted only a handful of sessions before several of the newer players lost interest. I suspect the initial investment of mastering the intricate rules of the game was more than these particular players were willing or interested in investing. I can understand that because elaborate combat systems do not interest me. Ars Magica's rules were centered on the use of magic which I do find interesting.

Rule simplicity = Restriction in choice = possible player alienation
Rule complexity = Increased options = possible player alienation
Where is the happy medium? Is there one?

After contemplating this for a while I began trying to think about where that territory of being crunchy enough to provide diversity to the game might be without straying into the overly complicated realm. The more I though about this the more I realized perhaps this is a fruitless issue. Complexity of rules systems is too terribly subjective to reliably quantify. As a result I've decided that in developing my rule system around the Social Warfare aspect of the game there will be a degree of complexity. This may be too much for some, just enough for some others. My goal at this point is to establish the rules and refine them through revision and play testing. I would like to simplify them as much as possible, but I don't want to loose too much by simplifying. Balance is difficult to achieve or perhaps its an illusion...

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