How do snowflakes form from something so simple as dirt, gravity and H2O?
There’s probably a beautiful algorithm for procedurally generated content hidden in there somewhere. Emergent complexity is a staple of every game considered a classic. Innate or rule-driven complexity, on the other hand, is perceived as a crass and contrived inevitability.
Crisis’ Dermot Mulroney, for my mother, has always been an example of striking the right balance between elegance and character. And I guess she has a point. Elegance without character is boring, and character without elegance is unappealing. Mulroney has that hard-to-achieve mix of rugged good looks. He wouldn’t be half as interesting without his trademark scar.
Same goes for Owen “My fucked-up nose is the stuff of legend” Wilson. Liv Tyler. Yada yada yada.
The problem with obsessive elegance is that it yields as little results as obsessive character. Water too clean holds as little fish as water too dirty. Actual charm lies somewhere in between and is never universal.
Game designers are often terrified to say “my game is this, and not that”.