How to Build a Game #90 The Power of Choice #3

As a designer, one of my mantras is, Analysis Paralysis (AP) must be defeated. Again, I think there are players and places where AP is ok, but I am not that player and the games I make are not the right places.

The core of what causes AP is the process of a player making a choice. What are the variables a player needs to look at? What are the risks and rewards attached to the pending decision?

If the goal of the game is to gain the most money and every action a player take gives them some about of money or allows that to set up for more money later on, the game becomes a constant calculation. Calculation, while fun for some, is a dangerous neighborhood for games to live in. Calculation allows for AP, which takes the focus off the game board and onto the player who needs to run every permutation. Calculation isn’t fun. Sure there are numberphiles out there that will love a mathy game, but math isn’t choice.

Why do Star Wars fans hate midi-clorians so much? They take the mystical force and turns into in to a calculation, a blood test. What makes the resistant hero so interesting? They have to struggle with the choice of the hero’s path and life they don’t want to leave behind.

The same principle holds here. Calculation is stale bread.

So how do we fix this? More variables…..I kid you not.

Going back to the game with the goal of gaining the most gold. What if the goal was to gain the most gold, have the leave corruption, explore the most territory and have the healthiest citizens. What if those goals had little to do with each other or in a more general sense, there was not easy way to compare the value of one reward to another. Lets call this an exchange rate.

If there is no exchange rate in the game, the calculation players need to make is much smaller. Rather than factoring in all the details of the entire game, the decisions become more general. Example: This turn I need to gain a worker. Of the four goals of the game, three of them have no bearing on my current need to gain a worker. I can no focus on the factors in the game that allow me to gain a worker.

Yes that is a simple example but the idea hold, I think…

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