A portion of games introduce changes to their gameplay in the form of game updates. These changes, I feel, more often than not worsen the game. The more changes, the more apparent the damage done. If the changes address immediate and well known problems in the game, what causes the damage?

 Lack of a robust foundation. Game breaking changes are introduced due to the lack of a strict and consistent world, which the game abstracts. By explicitly defining and understanding the systems, which the game is a glimpse into, there is no path which I can take to unknowingly break the game.


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  Chess is the perfect example of an elegant and robust set of rules with a consistent lore, as long as many of the arbitrary rules introduced over time are ignored.

Fundamentally, chess is a game abstracting complex military combat between two warring factions, removing the inherent and explicit violence associated with it, yet maintaining its tactical intricacies for casual play.

Specifically, the goal in chess is (not was), is to kill the opposing king, while avoiding the death of your own king. Removing the opposing king represents a system in which the opponent forces lay down their arms as soon as there is no one leading them.

Losing sight of the single fundamental game intention of mapping a real world system to an abstract game disconnects it from the consistent world which it represents. The disconnect opens the system up to changes which directly oppose the integrity of the game by directly opposing each other in the purposes they serve.

Changes such as allowing pawns to move two squares as their initial move, castling, inability to move into check, being to forced to move out of check and the game ending before the opponent's king is captured are all against the fundamental lore of the game.

None of the moves introduced to the game above have a consistent reasoning basis, which can be readily applied when making further changes. For example, the pawn can move twice on their first move, why can't the knight do the same? The answer is that the move was introduced to fix a problem of the first few moves being repetitive and have nothing to do with the pawn being able to move twice. This is further exemplified by then introducing the en-passant move to combat the incosistent nature of the pawn allowing for unwanted gameplay implications. These perceived problems are integral to the pawns representing low-value combat units, attempting to patch them actively damages this association.

The disregard for game fundamentals removes the meaning associated with how the systems play out. Players discovering their lack of attention caused their king to walk into the line of fire and be captured is a directly useful lesson in caution, which is then muddled with introduction of a rule deeming such a move invalid. And for what benefit? To avoid "pre-mature" game ending? No real world opponent would help you by pointing out you are in danger. The ground gained by changing how games play out comes at the cost of immersion loss at best and a complete lack of skill transferability at worst. Making fewer moves is not worth this cost.

An elegant game represents a robust world. By considering if the changes being made to a game keep it consistent with the world it represents games can be kept elegant and maintain the underlying meaning.

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