The Interactive Way To Go (site)
I just spent the first hour of the morning learning how to play Go. It is the most elegant game I have seen. The game mechanics are very simple; place a stone, remove the stones that are surrounded. But the simpleness in the game mechanics allows for a very complex and thought provoking game.
Game designers should take a lesson from games such as this. The complexity in the game should come from the game play, not from the game rules. It seems that the game designers now days are bent on thinking up a good set of game rules that produce a fun game. But what happens is that the 'fun' rules that they make get in the way of actually making a fun game.
Well, let me take that back, the game is fun once or twice, but while making the complex rules they limit the depth of the game, it becomes too complex to be elegant, and games aren't really fun unless the are elegant.
For example: "The Big Idea" has a very simple game mechanic. You bid on products, and roll a die to see if it is successful. There aren’t different markets to worry about, or investment schemes, or capital. The fun does not come from the game rules, but from the game. It is so simple that it is easy for anyone to play, and anyone to enjoy.
Another example: The collectable card game "Pirates" has all the potential to be a really fun game. You buy relatively cheap ships with hope that you could command a fleet of 20 or 30. But it is not so. Why? Because the makes of Pirates felt that they should force the fun on the players by making every ship be an exception to some rule. Thus, the simple base rules of the game give way to a pile of rules spaghetti. The result is that the game is almost unplayable with more than 6 ships per side, and even at that it is not that much fun. The designers thought "it would be fun if this ship could do this, or this ship could do this", and made the ships fun, but made that actual game un-fun. If you are a game designer don't do this!
Just remember, simpler is better.
Oh, and since I have all the game designers’ ears at the moment (yeah right... ^_^), let me say this: Stop making trivia games! I don't care if “in this game you get to move two squares with a correct answer instead of the normal boring one”. If you are sitting down and trying to think of a game to make, and your first idea is something like: "Oh, I know! How about I make a trivia game!" Please just go on a nice walk, and go get a job where you don't need to think. You seriously do not need to pollute the board game market with another trivia game. No matter how the game is actually played.
Huh, I just spent the second hour of my morning talking about Go. For my third I should actually be going. (Amber joke!)