Just one pesky stat August 3, 2013 cliffski The trouble with designing games like mine, is you often find that the game ends up focusing on just one stat. This is a problem, in my view, because it makes the game a bit too single-minded, and decisions a little too easy, or frustrating. let me explain what i mean… In a game like Prison Architect, theoretically it’s a very interesting and fun balancing act. You need to balance your budget the ratio of staff to prisoners, the happiness of the prisoners, the safety level of the prison, the cleanliness, the number of prisoners you can feed that day, etc etc. It is a great game with a lot of appeal, and theoretically you are spinning all of those plates at once, trading X against Y and Y against Z. This is what makes for exciting, fun and unpredictable gameplay. HOWEVER. Like all games of this sort, including my own such as Democracy and Kudos, and no doubt Democracy 3 and Redshirt, they often (at least during development and beta) bump into a problem where for long periods, gameplay becomes all about just one pesky stat. In Democracy 3 it is often GDP or the deficit. In Redshirt, it is often happiness. In Prison Architect, for me at least it is always budget. This is a problem that it’s worth keeping an eye on. Some games deliberately ‘cheat’ it. If your budget has been a ‘limiting factor’ for X turns, why not alleviate it a bit with a grant from the government? If happiness is ‘stuck’, then why not have the player invited to a happiness-inducing random event? The very interesting question is…. Is that good game design? Personally, I think it is, at least in a single player game (obviously). In the real world, we can become ‘stuck’ and frustrated with one part of our lives, one single problem, but when we are game designers with total control of the universe there is no rule saying we must make the player suffer in this way. racing games often cheat with ‘catch-up’ physics. Is it ok for simulation and single-player strategy games to do so too? I would say yes, but I’m interested to know what people think. When you are stuck with 4,000 fuel and 9,000 munitions and zero manpower in Company Of heroes 2, and this is your tenth go at that mission, would you be offended if the manpower stat artificially sped up a bit?