I'm sure I'm not the only one who gets caught up in this particular mire. You think to yourself, "Yeah, that's all well and good, but I could add more! Players will like that. You can never go wrong with more!"
It's incorrect. We all know it. We've all looked back at a project or maybe just a small section of an otherwise divine project and thought, "I should have stopped at two scotches." (of course, we'd be referring to the Scottish family staying at the Inn, not our drinking problems... Ahem!
When I think I need to add that little bit more complexity so the game doesn't get boring, I have all the best intentions. Some think an overly complex project is only there to show off. It's not. (for most of us) It's there because as a player, I tend to get bored FAST when I can press one button and coast through content. Adding complexity to overcome this is good until the developer pulls a... well... a "crossroads" and grabs ALL the candy off the shelves to put in the player's mouth at once! My current project has a lot of content development-wise, but I've reluctantly pared down a lot of the bits that I realised eventually were only there because they were cool and not because they FIT.
Don't be like me. Make a list with all your major game's features in a column and a few check marks in a row across the top.
1:Is it "new" or at least inventive in this genre or setting?
2:Is it "pretty" (shiny, flashy, artistically valid) without sacrificing playability / comp requirements?
3:Does it ADD anything aside from itself? (a good mechanic will affect most of the other mechanics passively)
4:Does it FIT with the other content / features / flow / etc (this is most important IMHO)
If a particular feature can't honestly fill out 2 or more checkmarks, leave it off. Some should even be left off at 3, but that's up to discretion. The truly memorable content will fulfill all 4 without batting an eyelash. (think back to your favorite bits of your favorite rpgs as you read through this and you'll realise they probably do this)
A few random examples:
My crazy intricate crafting system will revolutionize the industry!
1: no, not really. (unless you've scripted some really cool twist into it, this one's a no. massive amounts of ingredients or end products do NOT make an interesting crafting system to most people, just a big one.
2: the crafting system on its own will probably not fulfill this without other features, so no.
3: subject to the project. MOST of the time crafting systems do not, but another that's discretionary
4: hugely subjective. Does your story, areas, npcs, etc ever mention crafting? If you never hear an npc or even storyline mention your skill as a crafter, what's the deal? You're crafting the best gear in the land (apparently, since the shop sells junk) and no one associates you with that? Again, hugely subjective, but most crafting systems are shoved into other content.
The verdict: obviously, too subjective to tell without a real project, but you get the point of the whole thing.
Bad arse lighting script I added for my caves!
2: Yes, and no. It's definitely pretty, but all the lighting scripts I've found for rpg maker have lag issues on older comps. If you're ok with that, then by all means call this a yes.
3: Yes. Lighting systems automatically affect (if you implement them correctly) mood, story, eventing and gameplay, possibly even battle.
4: subjective, but I'd say yes as long as it's implemented correctly and not just a lot of lights scattered everywhere to look nifty.
Verdict: Yes, if you're careful about placement and don't mind dinocomps not playing your game. However, as with any other... make sure your game couldn't get along just as well without this (or any) feature addition. ESPECIALLY one that automatically removes a portion of your potential audience.
I know everyone has their own methods for choosing features for their game, but I thought I'd share my thoughts on how I go about weeding out some of them from mine.
Until next time.