Extra Credits: Depth vs. Complexity

This week, we talk about the importance of balancing a game's Depth and Complexity.

Show Notes:

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Recent Comments:

  • Huh.. non violent episode?

    *pets it* It di-didn't bite me!

    Anyhoo, I think they have never play stragegy RPG's like Disgaea, I mean, I was at th grade when I played the second entry and understood all of it

  • Recently I've been playing a game that I've been meaning to finish forever, MOO3, and something about it hit me that reminded of this episode. It is scaled complexity run amok. The worst part about the complexity is it forces you to go back and deal with things all the time.

    Take espionage, it isn't like you move a slider like in the first game or hire a group of spies and send them all out to do a mission. You first have to pick the type of spy you want (only good for one mission), train him for several turns, hope he has good stats when he's done training, and then use him from time to time. Then you have to go back every so often and hire more because they retire after a time even if they aren't doing anything.

    Or governments. It isn't like you pick one type at creation and that's that. There's sub picks with their own stats and you have to change your type of government every so often to keep costs under control.

    And don't get me started on planet management or hoping the AI doesn't screw things up if you try to leave it to it. I don't trust it with military build queues at all and it never takes advantage of savings from building several things at once (in addition to too many troop ships being built). Then there's the fact that a planet might be green for one race but red for another and you have to take that into consideration on who to send where and hope another race doesn't migrate in screwing everything up (some maginate only races excel at this). You mark a red planet you are trying to colonize for migration, no one comes in, the colony finally gets established with a second colony ship, and suddenly two other races you don't like but have no way to deal with are crowding it in. Some improvements build on their own, others you have to manually queue up.

    Then there's the fact they got rid of a bunch of old favorites as starting races, but decided to add a whole bunch of new ones which tended to be flavors of an existing race. 3 lizard races. 2 insect races. They got rid of elerians and replace them with evons for some reason.


  • The thing about MOO3 is that you were never meant to micro-manage all the things you can micro-manage. The intention was for you to give guidelines to the AI on what to do, and then only go in and micro when there was some specific important thing you had to do. It was supposed to be mainly macro, but with the option to micro.

    Sadly, the AI was never good enough to actually allow for this.

  • Yeah, save for FF12's gambits, AI tends to be troublesome. I tell a planet to build ships and then it puts all its money into research. Still, it's the responsibility of the developers to make sure a feature like that is working before unleashing it on the general public.

    TBH, I really love the PTO series method of ship building.

    There's one screen, you tell it to build ships. You might even name them. No worries about managing a ton of shipyards.

  • You know, depth is one of those words that get thrown around a lot in story-telling, but I'm not entirely sure what that entails... I think a lot of people would think of Depth and Complexity as the same thing, but I THINK I know there's a difference; like it's possible for a story to be "deep" but easily understandable... Though I have a feeling, most people won't think it's deep BECAUSE people can understand it better. Like they're some sort of hipster or something.

    You know, I'm starting to realize why I sort of stopped watching Extra Credits for a while... So much of it feels so complicated, with concepts I can barely grasp the first time watching it. I'm just sitting here, feeling like an idiot, as Dan throws these words at me. I guess I'm expected to not only catch them but for them to sink in.

    I think I do get it, though... Maybe... Though it feels like the way they're describing depth is what I'd use to describe complexity, i.e. giving more opinions/choices in a game and whatnot... Given how Dan said "if I'm not making a conscience decision about it, there no depth", does that mean Super Mario Bros. has depth to it, because I'm choosing whether or not getting a Mushroom or going after some coins is worth it? Or is that only a puddle compared to other "deep" games.

    Complexity sounds like something I go through on this forum A LOT, especially on the last topic I just posted on. This is usually why I don't like getting into arguments or debates, I hate putting that strain on my brain... lol, I rhymed there. :P

    You know, another thing occurs when it comes to complexity. I just started playing Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, and after playing through more simple games like Super Meat Boy and Castle Crashers, I was INCREDIBLE turned off by the equipment system. It feels a BIT too complex for it's own good... Which is a shame, because I think that game's awesome, I just don't like having such a clutter of information. It's also what turned me off Xenoblade Chronicles, a game that I really want to get back to one of these days...

    It's funny, when I think of bad user interfaces, I think of most PC games... though really, I only have what Yahtzee of Zero Punctuation says about them, seeing as I've never actually played a PC game. It all just feels so foreign to me, I just wouldn't know where to start.

    Actually, I think it's watching these videos, in combination of playing certain games over other games as of late, that made me realize that I'm a pretty lazy thinker. I sometimes have pretty insightful things to say, but it's kind of like how an artist wants to draw something but doesn't have the proper inspiration to do so. Something like that.

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