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Gamasutra - Fewer Mechanics, Better Game

by Dhruin, 2008-04-16 01:04:06

Fewer Mechanics, Better Game is a piece at Gamasutra written by programmer John Rose (Nihilistic Software) that asserts focus on a small number of in-game features will result in a better game.  Some of the examples make immediate sense (games with tacked-on multiplayer modes) and others much less (Bioshock being too complex).  Here's the start:

I've heard from many people that the ideal game is the one that has everything. It's a game where players are constrained by nothing. These people believe in a sandbox where their very imagination is the only boundary. They believe in game with no limits.

On the surface, this game sounds great. Who wouldn't want an infinite number of play mechanics? Who wouldn't enjoy the complete freedom of the ultimate kitchen sink game? But ironically, a title with too many avenues of influence becomes less of a game and more like life. This game would be horrible.

Of course, this game isn't feasible. The scope of its game world reaches well beyond what technology can accomplish. But what if we collapsed this game world into one small room, keeping the infinite game mechanics? What if we could do anything we want in this tiny space? Would it be fun? No. Because it's not this theoretical game world's sheer size that dulls it. The huge set of game mechanics is the villain, and its downfall is that there's just too much to do.


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