Small Decisions, Part II
Posted by Blessing of Kings [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 31 July 2013, 1:09 am
In the comments to the last post, Talarian references Sid Meier's quote, "A game is a series of interesting choices."

Not all choices are made equal, though. Some choices are hugely important, some are less so. Some seem important at the time, but in hindsight were not. Some choices are difficult to make, others are easy.

My question is: Are small choices better than no choices?

The thing about removing all these small choices is that they really were not replaced with anything else. Or were replaced with a large choice that comes far apart in time.

Consider talent points. You used to make one small choice every level. Then that got replaced with one large choice every 15 levels. I've argued before that this was not a good change for the leveling game. The frequency of choice is also important, not just the magnitude of the choice.

A lot of other commenters brought up the point that these small choices were what added immersion to the world. I confess that I didn't consider immersion at all. But it is true. A lot of what we spend our time with in the real world is trivial (for example, choosing a drink at Starbucks), but that trivia adds texture. It is logical that minor choices would do the same thing for a game world.

Another common comment was that these choices are "no-brainers" and because they were not difficult choices, they were not necessary. I am not sure that I agree with this point of view. Some choices should be easy. Some choices should have a high success rate.

I think this is especially important for newer or less competent players. They need choices to make and be successful with. Small successes lead to larger successes. There's a reason that every guide in the old days emphasized taking enough reagents to the raid. This was something small and easy you could do, that made you a better player than you were before. A hunter that kept her pet fed was a better hunter than one who ignored the pet.

And of course, we all remember the people who failed these choices. If the choice was truly a "no-brainer" why did people keep failing on it?

I think the idea that all choices in a game should be hugely difficult is wrong. A good game needs a variety of choices, including some simple and obvious (to experienced players) choices. These small choices instill confidence in new players, and guide them to the more difficult choices. They make the game more interesting than having no choice at all.


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