Strategy games have incredible depth and complexity. How hard is it blending all of those systems together?
Firaxis' games are usually more user-friendly than most, so its approach to game design is a bit simpler. "We’ve got a principle here of building systems that are relatively simple by themselves, but which combine in interesting ways, and which require you to pick from a variety of attractive choices," Beach and Shirk explained. "We like to start with a very simple approach for each new system, then add elements that tie the systems together as each mechanic matures." Paradox, on the other hand, takes a much more complex approach.
"It's definitely one of our biggest challenges," Johansson said. "Since our games are sandbox, it is up to you as a player to set your own goals and choose your own destiny. We need to make systems that are fun, give a reasonably historical outcome, and have the complexity that is the Paradox Development Studio signum. As developers, we definitely have to be careful when adding the little extra 'Wouldn’t it be cool if...' features, because all of a sudden a small change completely unbalances something else down the line."