Click "Sleep" for a dark background.
Click "sleep" again if text isn't dark.



Good Game episode 3 part 1


*Zelda twilight princess skit*
When was the last time you sat down to play a new game and before you touched the controller you decided to read through a rule book this thick? *show Zelda strategy book* You’ve probably never done something like that. The point is, the concepts of game and play only exist within the confines of rules. And some games have lots of rules. These rules put limitations on what we can and cannot do and from there we find countless ways to tackle challenges and express ourselves. Interestingly, within a game’s rules there are structures in place that allow players to overcome challenges, create advantages, and eventually win. In other words, how you achieve victory within the confines of the rules is the core of any game’s interactive experience. This is the basic idea behind the terms complexity and depth.

*Scene change to Richard*
So when I asked Smashers whether Brawl has more complexities and Melee has more depth, I got these responses. Notice how varied they are.

*Show survey questions*

Definition of depth / complexity
  • Depth and skill almost go hand in hand. The more depth a game has, the more skill plays a role in determining a victor. Easy to learn, hard/impossible to master is the ideal gaming philosophy for a fun, accessible, and competitive game that can appeal to very wide audiences. T
  • I think complexity and depth are also pretty similar, but as far as move selection goes, I may have to give that to Brawl as most of the top tiers seem to have found utility in the majority of their special moves. Snake, Mk, Diddy, Falco, and Wario seem to have moves that are useful.
  • So I guess deepness is how often you see something that you've never seen done before in a scenario that you HAVE seen before. M
  • depth comes from how many ways two tournament finalists could skillfully play their matches.M
  • [complexity] is something I consider synonymous with "Deepness."
  • Complexity is a combination of everything: Depth, Skill, Balance, Tech, Mindgames, etc. M
  • The term depth is somewhat vague, but I believe that Melee is a deeper game, competitively, if not only for the fact that it has continued to evolve for a longer time than Brawl. Just as Starcraft has proven to be a deep game by surviving in Korea for so long, Melee has depth because it is still changing and improving. W
  • This is not so different than the question about depth. Mr Escalator

*Show survey results*
*Cut into Richard Talking with a bunch of instruction books on the table*

Allow me to set the definitions straight. Complexity is an easy concept to understand. Still focusing on gameplay and interactivity, complexity is a measure of a game’s rules down to the most minute details. Because all games have rules, it’s impossible not to have some measure of complexity. Learning the rules of a game stresses knowledge skills first and foremost.

*show smash images/slow motion footage on screen or on TV in background*

Every conceivable bit of data in Smash makes up its complexity. This includes everything from the rate Peach pulls a voodoo vegetable (1/58), the speed of change Pokemon Stadium transforms, to how much damage Luigi’s taunt attack gives. Remember, LTM is a source of great power in Smash. This power is directly related to the amount of complexities in the game.

Just to give you an idea of how much data is packed into each attack, check out this list of properties for each attack in Brawl.

*credits style scroll*
*show the Pit map*

*New scene with Richard on floor surrounded by games*
So how does complexity affect game depth? Well, directly? It doesn’t. Some games are deep with very few rules. *slowly show games arranged in a spectrum of complexity:depth*  Other games have tons of rules and are not very deep. Complexity is a measure of the rules/elements of a game. Depth is the opposite in that it’s a measure of the interactivity of gameplay between the player and the gameplay challenges. For fighters that focus on player v player competition, depth is a measure of how players can counter each other back and forth.

*Same scene, small cut for ease of filming*
This may seem like an odd or unfamiliar definition, but I can assure you it’s the most accurate, objective, and measurable definition I’ve come across. Take David Sirlin’s definition for example: *Hold up playing to win*

*put up a card on the screen.*
  • A multiplayer game is deep if it is still strategically interesting to play after expert players have studied and practiced it for years, decades, or centuries.      --Sirlin, January 2002

*Show Richard and he’ll hold up various games*

This definition describes lastability, which isn’t directly tied to any particular type or element of design. Some games are great and sell very poorly, thus they don’t last. Some games are very glitchy and poorly designed, yet sell millions and create a huge following of players.  Some games lose their fan based when sequels come along or other games in the same genre enter the market.

*Show Sirlin’s definition again with bolded/underlined words“interesting” “expert players” “studied/practiced” and “years.” *

Furthermore, why build a definition of something so essential to the video gaming medium around subjective terms, community involvement, and a time minimum. These are bad moves that reduce the definition’s application. We have to take all of these concepts out of consideration.  Furthermore, my definition applies to both multiplayer and singleplayer games.

*Show Richard simple scene*
Though many Smashers merged depth and complexity in their survey responses, we can’t jumble these terms into the same big group. We have to have a clean way to describe a game’s rules and its gameplay.

*Scene Change, show Richard playing SMB on the Wii*
*Voice over*

Depth is the essence of gameplay. Focusing on the games part of video games, there are rules that comprise all the different parts and moves that are possible (complexity). To win at a game, you have to follow the rules and try to gain some kind of advantage through actions/mechanics (and sometimes inaction).  When you do something right, you are in essence countering the game challenge or the game’s attempt to stop you. *use SMB Mario example with Goomba/Koopa Troopa* Many games have challenges that are designed to counter your counters. At these moments new resulting challenges are created. The further this back and forth chain of counters and resulting states go the deeper the game. This definition of game depth is not only aligned with the core of video gaming, but it’s quite measurable.

Go over types of counters and Fighting Game genre.
  • *Show Melee adventure mode* Smash is a fighting game born in the Super Mario Brothers spirit/ platforming design. This means that players have a lot of control over their movement in the air and on the ground. This makes natural counters the main type of counter in the game. Natural counters are basically dodges. You can avoiding attacks by moving back, standing back, jumping, ducking, or attacking in such a way as to dodge using your character’s animations.
  • *show triangularity Smash image* Next there’s the classic fighting game, interplay loop between attack, grab, and shield. Like the classic game of RPS each option is designed to beat one and lose to the other. Sometimes the flow can be reverse, but those cases are much more rare.
  • *show footage of M2K killing someone off the edge* Part of what makes smash so uniquely deep as a fighter is how players can press their advantage by continually reducing an opponent’s options until they have little to no counter ability left. I call these matrixes, which are the equivalent of pins, forks, and checkmate strategies in Chess. Matrixes are possible due to Smash’s decay and cause-effect counters. This is most evident when an opponent is knocked off the stage. Generally the more you hit your opponent when they’re recovering off the stage, the fewer option they have to get back.
  • Also, after getting hit directional influence or DI allows players to attempt to throw off their opponent’s aim and follow up game by changing the angle they are knocked back. Anticipating or reacting to incoming attacks and figuring out where to DI adds a layer of depth or potential to counter an opponent’s offensive advantage.

In part 2, I’ll shed light on topics like “hidden depth,”  viable options, mind games, and mixups.
Don’t forget to subscribe. Thanks for watching.
« Good Game episode 3 part 2 | Main | Good Game episode 2 part 2 »

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>