Today, while discussing our super cool new ambitious project, Bas and me got into a heavy discussion about giving the player information on the game mechanics. The game we’re creating is a kind of simulation game where you simulate the flow and grow of the earth with giants. Most of you probably already know that simulation games tend to be fairly complicated. Think of Sim City, Rollercoaster Tycoon or the Sims. The problem is that Bas is allergic for numbers on the screen (unless it FPS, then he totally goes nuts). He wants to keep the numbers out to increase the mystery and surprise factor of our game. I on the other hand, want to allow depth and mastery of the mechanics. Since the game is so complex it’s virtually impossible to show enough depth without showing numbers. We could find a balance; giving up on some of the complexity to make it easier to show statistics in form of visual assets. However, complexity is a vital fun-factor in a good simulation.
How did we manage this? What was the result? Did Mystery beat Depth, the other way around, or did we follow a path through the middle?
Prior to going into this discussion, you might want to watch this Extra Credits episode. It helps a lot in understanding the problems we face. The point is that depth is such a strong element in the Sim-like genre, and more stats often mean more complexity for the player and easier balancing for the designer (more on that in another post). So the likelihood for a chunk of stats was pretty big, and I was putting my foot down on that.
So we solved it by trying to appeal to everyone: Put the most important stats on the screen by visual feedback. The other stats we want to show to the players is only accessible through an option in “advanced options”. This option will allow an extra interface window which will show the feedback needed for those number crunching lovers. We hope we can appeal to everyone in this manner!