Monday, 13 December 2010

The sweet spot of complexity! Where does your finger go?

I recently had another press release from Paradox Interactive about their latest strategy/country management game Europa Universalis 3 which looks nice but also quite similar to other games they have released this year like Victoria 2 and Rise of Prussia. And boy these games were horribly complex for someone with a brain like mine.

Please note that my brain is of an appreciable size!

I can cope with basic cause and effect as much as the next guy. In Simulation games like this if you charge too much tax the peeps will be unhappy, unless you're providing nice luxury goods in which case they'll be just about satisfied. It's all about balance, spinning plates and all of that. However there really is a point of beyond for me, games where there are too many plates to spin and just too much to learn.

This isn't a measure of quality, not at all. Simple games can be fantastic and complex ones can be thoroughly engrossing but some games just hit it on the head for me, I'm sure you've felt the same?

So I came to realise that everyone has a point, a sweet spot on the complexity scale for their perfect game. For some it's down in the "casual zone" where you only need to worry about which tiles to switch next or where to aim your peggle ball. For others it's well into the Victoria 2's and Europa Universalis's where you need to control everything!

Europa Universalis III - Many Small Complicated Butons Ahoy!
 But for me the balancing point is between the two ends of the scale (obviously I believe I have perfect balance in this matter) and if I think in more detail games pop up all over the scale at different locations and which probably only interesting to myself I thought I'd share the picture I've built up in my head.

As you can see from the first picture above I've placed Half-Life slightly below my balance point. While the simplistic gameplay really made that series, and will continue to do so, it wasn't a brain teaser for me. Even further down the line is Bejeweled and Tetris, quite obviously really but good as a milestone of simplicity in gaming. Looking across to the other side we have games like the Civilisation series

I can't be alone in this position, but I can't represent all of gaming either, I wonder where your finger goes? (ooer)

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