Better Game Design Means Fewer Mechanics?

Sometimes, simple is better — or that's the argument of John Rose's Gamasutra article on why fewer game mechanics makes for a better game. Making the argument for a strong game play aesthetic (which generally means not having everything but the kitchen sink), Rose critiques games like BioShock for hampering players with ... too many choices?

The massive palette of game actions only serves to confuse and frustrate the player when challenged. The game's perfect cohesion in all other areas should have supported a strong play aesthetic; instead, players walk away from BioShock without a unified gameplay experience.

And while some of these games are successful, this success is always attributable to other extraordinarily polished aspects of the game. Great graphics and storylines are always desirable, but they are never the primary focus of great games. This diluted design strategy comes from the noble aim of entertaining more players, but the result is inevitably bland compromise.

I'm the type that doesn't want handholding, but reasonably clear expectations about what needs to be done to get through the game are always a plus (that 'strong gameplay aesthetic' Rose is talking about, I suppose). I think experimentation and options are a good thing in many games, but Rose has some excellent points on game design in general.

Fewer Mechanics, Better Game [Gamasutra]


Be the first to comment on this story!

Trending Stories Right Now