Complexity or Depth?
You can’t do that game! It’s too complex!
It’s a pretty common mistake for those who haven’t read into game design to not know the difference between Complexity and Depth, or mistakingly mixing up the two. For the sake of keeping things simple, Complexity is how difficult the game is to play, to clarify, this doesn’t mean the game isn’t difficult itself, it’s just how hard the user must try to understand or play the game. Depth is, in layman’s terms, how much you can do in that game or how much a user can experience.
Wow, there’s so much to this game!
Depth is an excellent way of making a user feel the need to keep playing. The more a user has to experience, the better. This seems obvious, right? Well, at a surface level making your game more expansive seems pretty easy, you can add this and that, and keep adding. But there’s an issue with that, there’s a cost to depth and that’s Complexity. The more your game throws at a player, the more your game messes with controls or adds elements, the more complex it can become.
You have to consider what you’re adding, certain things may add a lot of depth, but how complex will it make your game? Does it fit your game? Simply adding too much could not only add to development time but it might even make your game too complex.
Wow, I have no idea what I’m doing.
So, you’ve created a game with a lot of Depth, but now you’re wondering why those players of yours keep complaining about it. Why are they so upset that your game offers so much? The answer is simple, your game is way too complex. Either that little extra feature makes other features hard to use, or you’re simply making the game itself a headache to understand. A lot of older players can get past this, however, when it comes to younger players, especially in the case of Roblox, this can result in your game not doing very well.
You have to remember that games on Roblox work a lot like Flash games. A player has no obligation to continue playing past 5 minutes, so you have to be quick to entertain them. There is no room to have that steady introduction most games outside of Roblox have. You have to introduce the player to something they can quickly and easily pick up in no time, and a lot of Front pagers do this well.
Elegant game design
Do more with less.
So, how do you go about making a deep game with little Complexity? The answer is pretty simple, do more with less.
Here are some suggestions I picked up:
Avoid cluttering your players with information, especially all at once. If you have a lot of features introduce them slowly. You should also avoid giving your players too little information and having them confused about what to do. Rather than throwing them out into your world with a giant checklist of things, try introducing features and so on in steps. You don’t even really need a tutorial to do this, I’d actually advise against a tutorial outside of teaching the very basics of your game. Instead, introduce features along with progression so that they have time to understand the first couple features.
Make quality features instead of complex or not needed ones. Ask yourself whenever you make a feature of what the point of it is. Will it make your game more immersive? Will adding it affect your core gameplay; and if so, is it important to that core gameplay?
Try your best to make a feature easy to use. The saying, “Easy to get into, hard to master” is what I usually think of when thinking about game ideas. Can a young child pick up your game and know full well what they’re doing? If not then you have to realize that your game probably won’t do well with a majority of Roblox’s player base.
We’ve reached the end of this journey.
It’s often a mistake of many on this platform to think that because a game has certain features that it could not possibly work. You often run into repeats of the same idea with a different coat of paint. I’m not going to argue that this isn’t monetarily a bad idea. It’s much easier to go with something that already works than it is to go with a risky new idea.
I just want to say that if you’ve ever sat down and thought a certain new game idea would not be profitable, I’d like you to sit down and think of it from a game design standpoint. Why would your game not be profitable? How could it better fit into a platform like Roblox? Try and think things through a bit more. Innovation isn’t made by repeating the same thing, or so I think.
That being said, thanks for reading through this. This is only the very surface of game design, I might post more on the subject if this does well enough. If you’d like to contribute by means of adding your own thoughts or criticizing mine, feel free to. I plan to make plenty of edits to this to reflect contributions made below.