Good Game episode 3 part 1
Wednesday, July 28, 2010 at 1:08PM
Richard Terrell (KirbyKid) in Announcements, Super Smash Brothers


*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

*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.*

*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.

In part 2, I’ll shed light on topics like “hidden depth,”  viable options, mind games, and mixups.
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Article originally appeared on Critical-Gaming Network (
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