Yesterday was not trolling! It was though-provoking. Totally different.
I want to introduce a concept: identical repetitive actions. Hopefully it will allow us to separate "good" and "bad" forms of "dumbing down" as well as giving me an opportunity to put words in "quotations" for no clear purpose.
What is different between SCVs that say "SCV good to go sir!" followed by sitting around and SCVs that say "SCV ready!" followed by them floating over to the pre-selected gathering point?
To start, what do we actually do differently when playing? Well obviously in the former we rush back to tell them where to go whereas in the latter we keep doing what we were doing. For either we will probably also check that we are or are not producing another SCV.
How about mentally, strategically, tactically? What intelligence is coming into play here? At first glance, none at all. You're going to tell the SCV to go zap a node and go back to telling your marines to stop rushing after single zerglings into hydralisk swarms. Did you catch it? It's right there. It's a distraction. It's a simple test of who can best bounce from a simple task to whatever you were trying to do away from your base.
Skill! That wonderful word. What is the skill? It's in the reflexes. Twitch click click click. Hot key here and there and bam right back and forth and no more than a hundreth of a second wasted.
It's a distraction and click-speed test. Sounds a bit like an FPS.
It's an identical repetitive action.
How often are you going to tell that new SCV to go somewhere new? A few times a game, when you need to build or expand, but most SCVs will be produced and promptly (or not) sent to the same mineral field as the one before. This isn't much fun. It's a significant dose of not-fun which gives a benefit to those with good reflexes.
Identical repetitive actions are a bad game mechanic, or a symptom of one. Note that identical really must mean identical. Shooting in a FPS doesn't qualify, since there are slight variations: recoil, new targets, looking around, reloading. These factors mean that you aren't going to win many FPS games by aiming straight ahead and mashing the fire button. But that's exactly how SCVs work 95% of the time. The other 5% of the time, the rally-gathering system still leaves intact the strategic requirement of where to gather.
Mechanics which reduce identical repetitive actions are good. Queues for buildings mean you no longer have to bounce back to your base for every single new units. In WoW, auto-crafting means you don't have to individually craft every single item when spam-leveling, but that may be a mechanic covering for a deeper problem than a bit of repetition. Auto-attack means you aren't sitting, waiting for the auto-attack timer to come up so you can attack again. Sounds a bit familiar, come to think of it.
Pillars of Eternity: Further Thoughts
5 hours ago