Saturday, July 15, 2017

Functional Complexity versus Conceptual Complexity

"Many users are concerned with the growing level of systems complexity, and some are calling for reduced complexity as a means to greater usability.  However, many systems are complex because the operational environment and the tasks to be performed within the system are themselves complex; arbitrarily reducing system complexity may therefore make the system even less usable because its performance would be compromised."
"One way of addressing this problem is to separate functional complexity from conceptual complexity.  A good illustration of this distinction is provided by personal computers using the desktop interface; although these systems are far more complex (functionally) than the DOS machines that preceded them, users find them conceptual more simple.  This is because the desktop interface translates the underlying functionality of the system into a conceptual world that the user already understands ... however, the metaphor is not a panacea; in the case of personal computing, the metaphor was imposed on the operating system after the essential functions of the system were already defined."

International Encyclopedia of Ergonomics and Human Factors, 2nd Ed., p. 1099 

That's the holy grail: the be-all and end-all of the rules complexity debate.  Personally, I feel that my wiki is a big step towards the simplified player interface, where the rules are available 24/7 to all the participants, where they can be updated as needed and the only drawback is the time spent in keeping those updates in place and adding rules as they're needed.

But that's the project I tried to launch in 2009 and which I've found is a lot for just one person, particularly if I can't work full time on it.  I don't notice that others are looking to try making wikis of their own, and probably for that reason.

Still, the "windows" interface was no easy concept to put in place; and all that computer design had to exist before it could be effected.  We can't even agree on a design in RPGs, much less consider putting in an interface that makes sense.

I keep preaching, however.

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