Random Musings About Ancient Games

So recently I’ve been playing some EarthBound.

I’ve had the cart for a couple years now, but I haven’t really done a lot with it other than have it on display to look at (which I’m sure will cause some people to shake their fists and yell at me, for various reasons, most of which I sympathize with even as I horde my treasure like a weird gamer dragon). So finally I decided to bite the bullet, plug that sucker in to the Retron and finally beat EarthBound.

One thing that struck me immediately was how simple the entire experience was. No crafting. No relationship system. No game of elemental rock-paper-scissors. And considering how many games I’ve played lately that seem to want to pile mechanics on mechanics on mechanics like some layer cake video game orgy, regardless of whether or not it adds something to the experience, it was pretty refreshing.

I also appreciate the irony, especially considering the mammoth of trouble that the HC furniture system has turned out to be.

Then again, there are lots of games- Persona 5 really sticks out in this regard- that are absolute Taj Mahals of game design, with all the spinners and deely-boppers you could ever wish for, and still turn out to be fantastic experiences. So, simplicity isn’t always an absolute good either, and there’s lots of games with boundless complexity that I enjoy quite a bit.

It’s gotten me thinking about our next project, and some of the systems I’m planning out for that. Not taking out all the options, but examining what deserves to be an option versus what deserves to be a central focus of the game design. For example, I was thinking of offering a themeing bonus to reward players for using certain elements that tie together well… but maybe it’s just better to leave out the themeing bonuses, but leave in the cosmetic bits in case you the player want to theme things to taste.

Ugh, it’s difficult talking about the next project without giving away too much. Hope that made sense to someone.

Anyway, enjoy your week, I’m going to leave this random ramble here. After all, Giygas won’t beat himself.

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