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Dev Journal - Accessibility

Posted by Jon Wood on Dec 03, 2007  | Comments

Dev Journal - Accessibility -

The team from NetDevil's upcoming sci-fi MMORPG Jumpgate Evolution have provided us with this new edition of our dev journal series. This week's contribution talks about accessibility.

One of the biggest barriers to entry into any activity is the amount of effort it takes to understand it. The quote by Albert Einstein is telling because

although Einstein's theories are immensely deep and rich they are relatively simple to understand. We have spoken a lot about accessibility in games and I think it might be a good idea to be a bit more specific about what that means. Accessibility, just like simplicity, is not about making things "dumb", insignificant or even uninteresting; nor is it about removing depth or complexity. In fact, it is quite the contrary. Classic games that survive through the ages such as Chess and Go have surprisingly simple rules. You can explain the game of Chess in about 20 minutes; Go can be explained within a few minutes; and yet people can play for their whole lives and not understand all the possible strategies involved.

The reason for this is that complexity has to do with permutations of simple rules; thus the way to build a complex and intricate game is to create interdependent and simple rules. Let us consider the game of chess. It is precisely sufficiently complicated, but not overly complicated; just as Einstein said. The board is restricted to a specific size. Each piece has its strengths and weaknesses, but there are pieces that are universally more important than others. For example, the queen is able to move in any direction, thus it is important that there is only one. The king can not move much at all, but it must be protected or the game is over. Pawns are weak but can be used to resurrect stronger pieces, provided the player can protect it. Each piece is designed with a strength and a weakness and each piece has only one or two moves that it can make. Thus when we look at one individual piece, they seem much too simple, but when someone is playing chess all the complexity is revealed.

Read the whole article here.