Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
Analysis paralysis occurs when decisions are scoped too large. Players
end up sitting and thinking for an excessively long time. Sometimes, as
in chess, this isn't necessarily a problem. Other times, as in board games
with many players or games that are intended to have a faster pace, it's an
experience killer.
DeCision vaRiation
While a game can hold flow with a long string of the same-scoped deci-
sions appearing at the same rate, it's a plodding, repetitive sort of flow. To
keep things interesting, we should spice things up with different decision
densities and scope. Don't just feed the player a tactical decision every four
seconds for an hour at a time. Toss him a compressed sequence of twitch
decisions, followed by a profound mind-bender that allows as much time
as desired, followed by some five-second tactical decisions, and so on.
We can also vary decisions by flavor. Decisions of similar scope can
have a different qualitative flavor if their subject matter is different. For
example, in a strategy game, a tactical choice about how to move an army
may be roughly similar in scope to a decision about where to build a new
production structure. Repeating one of these decisions endlessly, however,
is less interesting than alternating between the two.
The classic pacing curve that I reference in Part 1 is one guideline for
this. Start out slow, go through several cycles of rising action interleaved
with troughs of calm, before finally spiking to a climax and falling into a
But the standard intensity curve isn't the only way to vary decision
pacing. Rich game systems are often too unpredictable to follow to the
standard curve all the time. Often they'll climax several times at random
intervals, or have slow sections that seem too long on paper. Since we can't
predefine decisions (because mechanics must generate them on the fly for
them to be systems-based and thus predictable), it's hard to achieve that
traditional pacing formula every time. But that's not a problem.
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