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The art of choice

Inspired by the recent TED Talk by Sheena Lyengar: a brief look at the overwhelming amount of choices regarding game design and game play.

Patrick Coan, Blogger

July 27, 2010

2 Min Read

First off, watch this video:


(That's not a choice)

 Project Management-

I had a bit of a break-down today as I evaluated the many areas of my current project (steamlegion.pbworks.com/INC):

The deadline is in less than a month.

Focus on game play has been neglected.

There are normal map issues on the village architecture.

There are missing characters, animations, dialogue.

Environmental effects are missing or need work.

Bot path-finding has yet to be integrated into the latest build.

Crowds too.

 Etc. Etc. Etc.

While my focus has always been glocalization (so to speak) in game design, I could not help but fuss over the micro issue- texture variations for the city. So many choices, keep doing the textures, or move on to another front on make improvements there. What to do? Today I chose to say "screw it!" and move ahead with my already pressing matter. That is to say, limit my options to a singular path. I could use your opinion on this. In my situation, with severely limited resources, I feel that focusing on a single matter at a single time is best, even at the cost of neglecting pressing areas in the rest of the game. Sheena doesn't address the logic of prioritization, but that would be the solution, I suppose.


Game Design-

More choices=better gameplay experience, right? We know it's not necessarily true. The talk by Sheena addresses localization and cultural preference to choice. I like how tetris never presented the player with unneeded choice- is that because Alexey was Russian? At least the original Tetris didn't. But look at games like Madden (American), and it's about choice almost as much as gameplay performance. Then there's Final Fantasy 7's (Japanese) camera system- no choice. And that game is loved for it. I suppose in the case of game design it is all about knowing your audience.


As a game player, I like more choices- I like to feel in control and special as an intelligent player who can decide his own fate through clever decisions. I never was a HUGE fan of Street Fighter (Japan), where your success is related to how well you can use a standard set of choices which are equal across the board. 

Which group of players build on the the limited options given to them, and which thrive off of choice and customization? At what point does a game begin to loose its return on investment regarding content and choice? How do you prioritize the importance of a choice? (I hope that your GDD defines this.)

I'm choosing not to make single point of this topic, in the hopes that you will choose to add your opinion and experience. 

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