Saturday, April 5, 2008

Decisions decisions...

I shall keep this post brief as I have rather pressing needs this week.

I think you would find that most games that are quite commonly played have some form of decision making elements at their core. Whether this is the best placement for a turret in a strategy game, the itemisation and stat point attributes in MMORPGs or simply whether to dodge left or right from an incoming rocket, decision making breathes freedom into gameplay.

Below: TF2 - Shooting or moving are difficult choices for the Heavy.

There are exceptions however. Obviously games that are totally reliant on luck (e.g. snakes and ladders) present few, if any decision making abilities. A more popular example can be seen in Guitar Hero, where decision making is replaced with a more primal gameplay element (hand-eye coordination), which is both incredibly fun and challenging, depending on your experience.

Below: Guitar Hero 3

As far as decision making goes though, a game like chess would have to be on the complete opposite side of the spectrum. Chess, a tactician's game, not only requires an intuitive strategic mind, but also the ability to judge your opponent's game and play style. I would personally rate a game like chess quite high up in terms of decision making as it's gameplay is essentially derived from thought processes, and little to do with luck and chance.

What this information tells me from a games design perspective is that games don't necessarily have to have a large amount of decision making for them to be enjoyable. Although games that do lean towards higher levels of decision making are generally considered to be more 'skillful', it is not always the case (such as in Guitar Hero). These exceptions however, really come down more to practice of the game, and not actual skill, as constant repetition of the same tasks usually results in some proficiency in it over a period of time.

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