February 11, 2013

A Failure to End - Too much "What" and Not Enough "Why"

When it comes to games, I want gameplay genuinely deep in strategy. I want the question of what the best strategic choice is at a point in time to be significant. If there is always a clear path forward, the game isn’t about formulating a unique strategy to match the moment, it’s about following a prescriptive pathway. That’s not depth, its optimization. I don’t want to play Empire Manager: Spreadsheet Edition. I want to play Empire Uberlord: Mastermind Edition.

This post considers a number of things that I feel 4X games (computer games specifically) aim to achieve but routinely fail to deliver in the pursuit of “deep” gameplay. In large part, I believe this is a result of game developer’s spending too much time working out the “what” of gameplay instead of working out the “why”.

This is going to sound cynical and snarky, be prepared!