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Depth vs. Breadth (aka. how does size matter)

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Wow, been a while since I''ve been around these forums, but here goes. (forgive me, I tend to write long posts) What with my current little hobby project at a now playable state and the need to start actually adding content, I am at an impasse as to how to aim my efforts. As I see it, there are two ways in which a game world can be expanded--in depth, and in breadth--and each has its merits and drawbacks. I thought it would be most enlightening to garner some external opinions on the matter Before I begin, I should mention that my project is of the role playing sort, but I believe the discussion is valid for any genre. DEPTH This, I think, is the side that slightly wins out for me. What I mean when I say depth is that every system in a game is more than it seems on the surface. Multi-layered game systems as it were. Take a simple inventory system. You pick items up, store them, use them when necessary. Very simple. Now add the ability to combine items to create new items of differing effect. Depth has just been added to the inventory systm. Another level of interaction for the player to become immersed in has been added to the game. There are obviously kinds of games for which depth is simply not appropriate. With very fast paced action games, things need to be kept simple so that in the thick of battle a player doesn''t have to deal with a million and one different things. For slower games (RPG, adventure, strategy...) and even for non-action parts of faster games it seems to be one of the key aspects that draws players into the virtual world. BREADTH While depth concerns making each system more intricate, breadth concerns making more systems. Say you want to a system where in your game as a player progresses that player can learn increasingly powerful combat styles. If one took this basic idea and increased its depth, one might come up with a system where each style has multiple variations or can be learned to differing degrees of proficiency. Increasing its breadth, however, would entail simply making more styles. There obviously has to be a line drawn at the point where a game design lies between these two ends. Is it better to take the game and add more levels, more weapons, more environments, etc..., giving the player a greater mass of game world to explore? Is it better to take fewer of all these things and make their exploration more detailed? Where between these two points do you think the best design generally lies, and for what kinds of games?

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i would say that fps games definitelly need to put more effort on breadth. take half-life for example: it was very long. now take a look at today''s single player shooters. most of them are really short, and take no more than 5-10 hours to pass. that is if you''re just trying to pass it as fast as possible. but then again, think about a game like unreal tournament. it had not that much levels, yet sometimes players who bought the game haven''t even played them all. why? because of replayability. i say that today games that don''t require you to pass through once place and forget about, but make you wonder around the same enviorment many times. if you know a game Deus-Ex, you''ll know what i mean. in one mission, although "mission" is not the right name for it... let''s say that at a certain time of progression through the story and game''s objectives, you would have to find your brother''s friend. sounds simple, right? you would think so. "just follow a dot on a radar, or if no radar, then just follow the linar ''no-other-place-to-go-other-than-forward" hallways and rooms. no, it was something completely different. it was a very fun and exhilarating experience. you had to go and talk to some lady, and then go to police place, find out that the lady is lying, and she has something you''re looking for, and you go back, using force take it, then show it to your brother''s friend, and it had soo much depth to it, it was unbelivable. you would have to invistigate, talk to tens of secondary characters, do sub-missions for them to help your main mission, etc. etc. and in the end walk more than 100 times the level radius. when i realized what was going on, i though that whoever wrote the script for Deus-Ex is such a genius, and it was very impressed. and another mission, which happened earlier: you had to infiltrate an airport hangar, and in the end you realize that all the guys you though were bad, actaually are good and your allices, and the organisation you worked for IS the enemy. overall, the plot and the dynamics of that game was something out of this world. i hope there will be someone here who played it, and knows what i''m talking about.
i think i got a bit off topic here, so i''ll try to get straight to the plot. more "levels" and "missions" is not what games should have. they should have a better replay value, reusing all the levels as much as possible.
an example of such a great game would be Deus-Ex. something totally opposite would be Max Payne. i totally digged the bullet time and the Kung-Fo mod, but after having passed it once, i never bothered to play it again. no multiplayer, and a very linar story makes the game very un-replayable.
i hope that people understand what i''m saying, and i haven''t wasted my time for nothing. good-bye.

---
shurcool
my project

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Depth can be added without complexity. In your example if you don''t make it necessary to combine items, the player would never have to care about it.

I think instead of concerntrating on whether it is breadth or depth, concerntrate on is it fun, is it interesting(original/not common) and is it easy to implement.

I recon add a magic system like the one from dungeon master(old game around in the atari ST days). I''ll explain it incase you haven''t played it.

The player has a bunch of magical symbols. Different combinations make different spells. In dungeon master you''d walk around the dungeon and stumple accross scrolls which told of the magic spells.

The spells were all at max four/five symbols. Most were two/three symbols, and the first symbol was the power level. So they were easy to remember.

That was the cool part. They were actually like spells. You had to combine the different symbols just like I''d imagine it would be done in real spell casting.


This system would be an example of depth I guess. Really simple, but adds more to spell casting, than just clicking on the spell you want to cast. I do remember it being confusing at first. But you didn''t *need* to cast spells you could always fight the monsters. When I discovered how magic was used... it was magic

Breadth would be daggerfall where there are lots of quests, which are pretty much the same. It had depth though, like the fighting system, and the interesting character generation (both of these didn''t need to be understood/explored fully to continut).


So in conclusion;

I think depth without being a requirement to play the game is the best.

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