While working on my solitaire boardgame Rise and Decline of a Galactic Imperium, I came across an interesting thought, that I´d thought I´d share here. But first, apologies that this article comes up so late, I know that it should be more regularly, but then again, I really seem pushed these days. Anyway, onwards with the topic...
As I said, while coming up with new and improved parts of the general game and design corpus, I encountered a thought. You see, as I sit here, I am working on version 0.7 of the ruleset and already have collected a number of ideas I wish to integrate into the game.
Why would that be something worth considering? It usually wouldn´t, if it were not for the fact that the next version, which is the already called 0.7 is only an update, a clarification of issues, a smaller examination of points already brought up. An errata, so to speak. It doesn´t really expand or in any way influence the game massively, but rather gives it a more smooth and increasingly solid basis.
That is a very positive thing. But it is not what I was thinking about. You see, I was already making a list, as I said, some ideas I have collected which I wish to integrate into version 0.8 of the game. And that could be quite problematic.
You see, by its most basic design, RADOAGI is a rather simplistic wargame. You have a field where you move ground and transport units and support units that can enter the game and different intervalls depending on outside factors. As such, during a number of up to 60 turns, all you do is move these units to achieve a victory condition as set by the current turn, or more basic, to gain victory points, a sort of currency the game values and which allows the player to achieve a victory or a loss depending on the number of points collected.
Everything else, the idea of funding, the clothing in early roman terms, the diplomacy, the prestige projects, the technological development, even the random events, are basically tagged onto this simple basis. As such, this tagging-on is called "chrome" in the boardgame design niche. As such, it makes a game gleam more in the sun, if we are to continue speaking as such.
Now, a certain amount of chrome is often necessary and can expand and define a game by itself, thus increasing all of it in pure gameplay and enjoyment value. But too much of it is a drag. But when is it, that you have too much?
You see, as it is right now, the game is some sort of time monster, taking hours upon hours, possibly even days to complete, with a current playtime of about 15-25 hours for a complete 60 turns playtrough, that is, if you survive the game that long.
And here I sit, thinking about complicating and adding even more features. How strange, the chrome already there doesn´t excite me as much as the chrome I am about to add. And here I sit thusly, and think about whether or not the amount of "chrome" is even necessary. As it stands, the game already works, so is it just for myself, for my excitement as a designer that I wish to add this? And does it enrich the player experience?
I suppose only playtesters will be able to answer this, but until then, I am left questioning. Well, back to the drawing board, I suppose.