Game Complexity and Its Connection To Length

Last time, I was talking about elements of game design that hampered the player’s enjoyment over the length of the game. On the other hand, there’s a particular mechanic that assists in making the game feel more compelling from a mechanical standpoint, which is what I wanted to mention today: Complexity. Using Druid’s Duel as an example again, the one thing that this game lacked was complexity. With only four druids, each with basically one ability, there was nothing to create a large strategic depth. I recently started a play-through of Disgaea: Hour of Darkness (the Steam version) and one thing that was immediately evident was how much was going on. There was almost an infinite number of possibilities straight out of the gate, including character customization, itemization, tactical moves, and environment considerations. I’m less than an hour into the game and already feel overwhelmed with possibilities. I’ve had to look up information on how to pursue combo attacks, looked for a better tutorial on geo plates, and Googled some information on characters. Already, the level of complexity is so high that I’m having to go outside of the game to find information to continue. Now, part of this is the game’s fault and part of it is mine due to me liking to have lots of information about the game, but it’s telling that I’m looking for information within the first hour of this game. I can guarantee that I never once looked up information on Druid’s Duel once. Now, the next question is… how does the complexity fare to a player new to the genre? We’re going to spend some more time looking at Disgaea in the next few posts.