When you look at games and how they develop over time, there’s a natural tendency to see ever increasing complexity. Picture an old Atari 2600 controller. It was a joystick with one button. Now compare that to an Xbox 360 controller. The360 has two control sticks, a d-pad, two triggers, two bumpers, four buttons, a start button, and a select button. (At least, I think that’s what it has. I’m going off of a picture of one I found on the Internet.) That’s two elements for the Atari and thirteen for the 360.
Aside: I'm not sure how formalized the Hasbro/WotC/MicroSoft arrangement is. Maybe it's just spouses working there and a large % of their staff crossing over. Either way it's become noticeable that everything is Silverlight, Xbox, etc. over there.
True that an Atari controller had a joystick and a button. If we're counting buttons though, the original Nintendo, Intellivision and Colecovision had substantially more than that.
You also don't use all the buttons on a 360 controller for every game. They're there to provide versatility, rather than demonstrate everything has become that much more complex. In fact if you looked at the newest XBOX system - The Kinect (or the Playstation Move, or even the Wii) you'd see that the trend in videogame controllers is not that they're becoming more complex -- it's the opposite. They're moving towards more naturalistic, and immersive control systems. So this point about game controllers having a natural tendency to become more complex over time is objectively wrong.
If you look back at last week’s article, you see a similar rise in the complexity of D&D. With each passing year, the game has become more complicated. So what’s going on here? As the title of this column indicates, I think we’re seeing an overall rise in player skill, more established tropes of gaming, and a better network of tutoring and knowledge. Our collective gaming brain has grown larger and larger, and therefore seeks out deeper, more complex games.
The games are getting bogged down in complexity, taking longer to run, and losing gamers to other media... but it's because we're just so smart. And our brains are so big.
All of those factors point to why we’ve seen a steady increase in complexity over time. As a group, we’ve mastered the rules and started to seek more options. We’ve assimilated various tropes and mechanics to the point that they’re intuitive, providing a foundation for more mechanics to rest upon.
Mastering the rules, aka System Mastery, was something added to the game by Ryan Dancey during the 3e/d20 era. It was a smart business strategy because it sold more books since all players needed to master the rules instead of relying on the DM to take care of the rules for them. While it was a clever business choice and it's lots of fun for the right group of people it's not something that naturally occurred over time, or that all games 'evolve' towards. It was a conscious design decision with it's associated pros and cons.
Legends & Lore: Poll #3 Results
Your fighter loses all his or her feats, skills, powers, and non-weapon proficiencies. Yet, your standard swing with a sword/shot with a bow is effective enough that you don’t feel overshadowed by any of the other characters in the group. How do you feel about that?
I’d be bored doing the same thing over and over again, round after round in a fight: 40.7%
I’d miss the mechanics that made my fighter unique compared to other fighters: 30.4%
I’d be happy that I can have an effective character without the complexity: 14.5%
As long as my character is equivalent in power to the rest of the party, I’m fine: 10.5%
I’m not concerned about the mechanics or balance, so I don’t care: 3.9%
Setting aside selection bias and the possibility of people voting multiple times we're still left with a terribly flawed bit of statistics here. The questions are leading (over and over again, round after round, OMG can you believe how awful this choice is?) and they're comparing different things at the same time. And yet despite this they still don't tell the story presented above.
The results actually say that 59.3% would NOT be "bored doing same thing over and over again, round after round in a fight". Half of that group would like mechanics that made their fighter "unique compared to other fighters" and the other half didn't care about that.
These surveys / results remind me of the great quote by Mark Twain: "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics."
And now the Joesky tax for too much "Blah Blah Blah..." :)
Victorian Medicinal Compounds
Add a name (Crowley's, Lovecraft's, McGillicuddy's, etc) and roll 1d12 on the table below:
• 1. Blood Bitters
• 2. Carbolic Salve
• 3. Herb Tablets
• 4. Intestinal Evacuant
• 5. Liniment
• 6. Lung Balsam
• 7. Nerve Syrup
• 8. No. 9 Tonic
• 9. Pepsin Tablets
• 10. Petroleum Emulsion
• 11. Snake Oil Liniment
• 12. Water Rubinat