Let me start by saying, I don’t think the things I write about in this part of the H2BaG series are wrong, I just view them as something I like to minimize in the games we design and I think there are others out there with the same feeling. So I am going to offer up our point of view on how to mitigate various subjects we like to minimize in our games.
First up….Analysis Paralysis, referred to going forward as AP.
My experience in games where AP is part of the game is that my overall opinion of a game will suffer because of AP. If one wants to argue that AP has more to do with the players and not the game itself, I would listen. However, I feel like designers have tools in their toolbox of many things to help out with AP.
Spread Out Turns
If there is a game where one player needs to go through some number of steps in order to complete their turn, AP has a ripe opportunity to rear up and take over. I think a designer has the opportunity to spread out the steps of a complete turn. Think of creative ways to break up the phases of a complete turn. When the phases of a complete turn are broken down into smaller parts, there is a lower chance the AP can grip the game.
Along with breaking a complete turn into pieces and spreading out the turn, have your players taking actions at the same time. The danger of this strategy is that there could be actions on the board that players will miss because they are working on their turn, but these are really general suggestions and designers can add and take away from these suggestions to fit the mechanics of their game as best as possible.
Limit the amount of new information you provide to players in the lead up to their turn. At least, limit it as much as possible if you game allows. New information is “code” for players to think and analyze what is going on. If players have spent their down time thinking about what they want to do on their turn and the game gives them new information just as their turn is about to start, the time the game spent letting players plan is now lost.
This is by no means a complete list of the tools available to help limit AP in your games. If I sat down and thought about it, I am sure I could generate a list of more tools. These are the tools we like to use for our games and in the interest of clarity, AP isn’t a bad thing, we just don’t like it in our games so we take steps to make out games as streamlined as possible.
If you have any comments or questions, leave a comment here or email Chris at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have made it this far, would you like to go a little farther? We are thinking about starting a regular Google hangout with other designers. We can try to design a game together, we can talk about designers we are working on, you can ask us questions. We can make it whatever we want. What we really want to do is get to know the people that are willing to read all the way to the bottom of our posts. Please contact Chris on Twitter or send him an email and if we are able to get a minimal amount of interest, we can work on putting something together.