"Simple" and "Easy" aren't the same thing

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Arblis

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Senior Member

07-18-2012

Man, people never listen to me when I tell them that clarity is important to the design of a good game. :P


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Frowny Cupcake

Senior Member

07-18-2012

Quote:
Originally Posted by Morello View Post
In this type of discussion, I think "simple" is the wrong paradigm to use (since simplicity isn't a goal in and of itself), but instead we think a lot about clarity. And you're right that clarity and "easy" aren't actually associated.

Let me go into detail about this - this is something that I think about a lot, and something I think is really misdiagnosed by a lot of the games industry currently.

What is clarity in regards to game design?

Clarity is a design paradigm in which you try to make gameplay-relevant information readable and understandable at a glance. From artistic direction to game design, from abilities to VFX, clarity (or the lack of it) effects every aspect of a game, top to bottom.

You said understandable at a glance! That is noobish/casual/etc

This is the broad misconception that couches this entire debate. Actually, most good competitive games have good to great clarity, and every single professional sport and highly-watched eSport has it too. The secret is, almost none of these games are simple or easy.

What are some examples of deep, clear games and sports?

My favorite go-to is Counter Strike. While this is somewhat a byproduct of 2000-era gaming technology, Counter Strike is extremely clean and easy-to-read. There's no clutter, foliage or camolague in regards to players and textures. Maps are generally well-lit. Weapons act in an understandable and predictable fashion, things happen in ways you intuitively expect, and when big pro plays happen, everyone from a first-time spectator to a top player understands it happened - and more importantly why it's fun, cool and exciting.

On top of this, its also very competitive, has a hardcore rule set (high lethality, weapon money snowballing, round-based permadeath) and has been a dominant competitive force for a about a decade. Clear, but deep, skillful and fun. I could name a laundry list of less competitive games that are also equally less clear.

Other examples are American football, Chess (to an extent) and the original Starcraft. Oh, and League of Legends.

Hi Morello, I'm a hardcore, competitive gamer and will overcome any obstacle or learning curve. Why the Hell do I care about clarity?

While I fit into this camp too (Fighting games have you learning how many frames moves are, Natural Selection, etc), clarity is important because legitimacy as a real competitive game relies on two associated values: high "watchability" and fresh competitive blood to enhance the scene and replace teams and players who leave, which is inevitable at some rate. Basically, will it be a spectacle for all levels of players to watch and get excited about, and is there a sensible path from highly skilled to amateur competitor to pro player.

Also, it makes it easier to explain complex mechanics because you can more clearly show what's happening on a basic level and get people started, whether just to your friends or teammates, or to mentor less sophisticated players.

Anything that makes a game harder makes it more competitive, and therefore, better.

This is the other Red Herring argument - it's not only false, but difficulty isn't a goal in its own right. What is important is ways to make skillful plays meaningful, let that be deep, interesting and fun, and to let the best players consistently win because they are better at the game. Depth is the goal which infers some minimum amount of "difficulty to master," which is good when done well.

Go add resource micromanagement to Counter-Strike. Add skillshot aiming to Starcraft. Add "builds" to chess, and you end up with three very inferior games and inferior competitive titles. More is not always better, but instead, making smart specific choices adds depth and costs little in the way of clarity. Doing it wrong detracts from what is interesting, exciting or skillful about the game in the first place.

To anyone who says League of Legends is an easy game...you're ****ing high. MOBA's core ruleset is incredibly complex and takes a lot of skill and coordination just to navigate at a base level. Being good at it takes tons of time, dedication, tribal knowledge, understanding a shifting metagame, and being able to do this seamlessly in a real-time environment where a single mistake can cost an entire game. It's simply not dumb, easy or overly simple, and I personally feel it's really snobby to think it even could be.

tl;dr: Clarity is the most important thing on this front, and when done right, makes a game more deep and make more sense. These are not competing goals, but instead, complimentary ones.
Morello, you're awesome. Also, only real men post such well thought out things at 3 AM.


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SweatyGazelle

Senior Member

07-18-2012

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aela Brighteyes View Post
What is morello even doing up right now?
Supposedly "designing" Zyra Eve and Twitch and taunting us with a never dropping "Mid-July" patch even though we are now on the tail end of "Mid-July"....almost late July now actually


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Foogsie

Senior Member

07-18-2012

Quote:
Originally Posted by SweatyGazelle View Post
Supposedly "designing" Zyra Eve and Twitch and taunting us with a never dropping "Mid-July" patch even though we are now on the tail end of "Mid-July"....almost late July now actually
We're like two days after the central day of July.

Also good post Morello. I've always wondered why people arguing how hard a game is related to it being competitive - if that were the case Hearts of Iron would be the most competitive game ever wouldn't it?

Not that I wouldn't watch some Hearts of Iron PvP.


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Weissy the Calm

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Senior Member

07-18-2012

Come on Morello, be serious. No one needs clarity, just learn to manage your mana properly.


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ILoVeBanAnA

Senior Member

07-18-2012

Wow Morello actually said ****ing in a post!


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Kyle700

Senior Member

07-18-2012

Quote:
Originally Posted by Morello View Post
In this type of discussion, I think "simple" is the wrong paradigm to use (since simplicity isn't a goal in and of itself), but instead we think a lot about clarity. And you're right that clarity and "easy" aren't actually associated.

Let me go into detail about this - this is something that I think about a lot, and something I think is really misdiagnosed by a lot of the games industry currently.

What is clarity in regards to game design?

Clarity is a design paradigm in which you try to make gameplay-relevant information readable and understandable at a glance. From artistic direction to game design, from abilities to VFX, clarity (or the lack of it) effects every aspect of a game, top to bottom.

You said understandable at a glance! That is noobish/casual/etc

This is the broad misconception that couches this entire debate. Actually, most good competitive games have good to great clarity, and every single professional sport and highly-watched eSport has it too. The secret is, almost none of these games are simple or easy.

What are some examples of deep, clear games and sports?

My favorite go-to is Counter Strike. While this is somewhat a byproduct of 2000-era gaming technology, Counter Strike is extremely clean and easy-to-read. There's no clutter, foliage or camolague in regards to players and textures. Maps are generally well-lit. Weapons act in an understandable and predictable fashion, things happen in ways you intuitively expect, and when big pro plays happen, everyone from a first-time spectator to a top player understands it happened - and more importantly why it's fun, cool and exciting.

On top of this, its also very competitive, has a hardcore rule set (high lethality, weapon money snowballing, round-based permadeath) and has been a dominant competitive force for a about a decade. Clear, but deep, skillful and fun. I could name a laundry list of less competitive games that are also equally less clear.

Other examples are American football, Chess (to an extent) and the original Starcraft. Oh, and League of Legends.

Hi Morello, I'm a hardcore, competitive gamer and will overcome any obstacle or learning curve. Why the Hell do I care about clarity?

While I fit into this camp too (Fighting games have you learning how many frames moves are, Natural Selection, etc), clarity is important because legitimacy as a real competitive game relies on two associated values: high "watchability" and fresh competitive blood to enhance the scene and replace teams and players who leave, which is inevitable at some rate. Basically, will it be a spectacle for all levels of players to watch and get excited about, and is there a sensible path from highly skilled to amateur competitor to pro player.

Also, it makes it easier to explain complex mechanics because you can more clearly show what's happening on a basic level and get people started, whether just to your friends or teammates, or to mentor less sophisticated players.

Anything that makes a game harder makes it more competitive, and therefore, better.

This is the other Red Herring argument - it's not only false, but difficulty isn't a goal in its own right. What is important is ways to make skillful plays meaningful, let that be deep, interesting and fun, and to let the best players consistently win because they are better at the game. Depth is the goal which infers some minimum amount of "difficulty to master," which is good when done well.

Go add resource micromanagement to Counter-Strike. Add skillshot aiming to Starcraft. Add "builds" to chess, and you end up with three very inferior games and inferior competitive titles. More is not always better, but instead, making smart specific choices adds depth and costs little in the way of clarity. Doing it wrong detracts from what is interesting, exciting or skillful about the game in the first place.

To anyone who says League of Legends is an easy game...you're ****ing high. MOBA's core ruleset is incredibly complex and takes a lot of skill and coordination just to navigate at a base level. Being good at it takes tons of time, dedication, tribal knowledge, understanding a shifting metagame, and being able to do this seamlessly in a real-time environment where a single mistake can cost an entire game. It's simply not dumb, easy or overly simple, and I personally feel it's really snobby to think it even could be.

tl;dr: Clarity is the most important thing on this front, and when done right, makes a game more deep and make more sense. These are not competing goals, but instead, complimentary ones.
I think the only thing that is completely wrong there is that football is easy to understand. ****s confusing, man.


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Crsh

Senior Member

07-18-2012

Quote:
Originally Posted by Morello View Post
In this type of discussion, I think "simple" is the wrong paradigm to use (since simplicity isn't a goal in and of itself), but instead we think a lot about clarity. And you're right that clarity and "easy" aren't actually associated.

Let me go into detail about this - this is something that I think about a lot, and something I think is really misdiagnosed by a lot of the games industry currently.

What is clarity in regards to game design?

Clarity is a design paradigm in which you try to make gameplay-relevant information readable and understandable at a glance. From artistic direction to game design, from abilities to VFX, clarity (or the lack of it) effects every aspect of a game, top to bottom.

You said understandable at a glance! That is noobish/casual/etc

This is the broad misconception that couches this entire debate. Actually, most good competitive games have good to great clarity, and every single professional sport and highly-watched eSport has it too. The secret is, almost none of these games are simple or easy.

What are some examples of deep, clear games and sports?

My favorite go-to is Counter Strike. While this is somewhat a byproduct of 2000-era gaming technology, Counter Strike is extremely clean and easy-to-read. There's no clutter, foliage or camolague in regards to players and textures. Maps are generally well-lit. Weapons act in an understandable and predictable fashion, things happen in ways you intuitively expect, and when big pro plays happen, everyone from a first-time spectator to a top player understands it happened - and more importantly why it's fun, cool and exciting.

On top of this, its also very competitive, has a hardcore rule set (high lethality, weapon money snowballing, round-based permadeath) and has been a dominant competitive force for a about a decade. Clear, but deep, skillful and fun. I could name a laundry list of less competitive games that are also equally less clear.

Other examples are American football, Chess (to an extent) and the original Starcraft. Oh, and League of Legends.

Hi Morello, I'm a hardcore, competitive gamer and will overcome any obstacle or learning curve. Why the Hell do I care about clarity?

While I fit into this camp too (Fighting games have you learning how many frames moves are, Natural Selection, etc), clarity is important because legitimacy as a real competitive game relies on two associated values: high "watchability" and fresh competitive blood to enhance the scene and replace teams and players who leave, which is inevitable at some rate. Basically, will it be a spectacle for all levels of players to watch and get excited about, and is there a sensible path from highly skilled to amateur competitor to pro player.

Also, it makes it easier to explain complex mechanics because you can more clearly show what's happening on a basic level and get people started, whether just to your friends or teammates, or to mentor less sophisticated players.

Anything that makes a game harder makes it more competitive, and therefore, better.

This is the other Red Herring argument - it's not only false, but difficulty isn't a goal in its own right. What is important is ways to make skillful plays meaningful, let that be deep, interesting and fun, and to let the best players consistently win because they are better at the game. Depth is the goal which infers some minimum amount of "difficulty to master," which is good when done well.

Go add resource micromanagement to Counter-Strike. Add skillshot aiming to Starcraft. Add "builds" to chess, and you end up with three very inferior games and inferior competitive titles. More is not always better, but instead, making smart specific choices adds depth and costs little in the way of clarity. Doing it wrong detracts from what is interesting, exciting or skillful about the game in the first place.

To anyone who says League of Legends is an easy game...you're ****ing high. MOBA's core ruleset is incredibly complex and takes a lot of skill and coordination just to navigate at a base level. Being good at it takes tons of time, dedication, tribal knowledge, understanding a shifting metagame, and being able to do this seamlessly in a real-time environment where a single mistake can cost an entire game. It's simply not dumb, easy or overly simple, and I personally feel it's really snobby to think it even could be.

tl;dr: Clarity is the most important thing on this front, and when done right, makes a game more deep and make more sense. These are not competing goals, but instead, complimentary ones.
bump good post Morello


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Jortalus

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Senior Member

07-18-2012

Morello is a guiding light among pointless arguments.

I salute you, good sir, for bringing clarity to this discussion :3


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SunOfABeach

Senior Member

07-18-2012

It is always nice to see when devs know what they are talking about.

HoN and Dota2 are really 0 innovation.