Oh, I have one more post in the queue...
There's been some talk about choice recently. Mostly it was the usual stuff that you can read and watch every few months. That's why I decided to make a post that tells you that you got it all wrong. Yep, everything. *grin*
Take the (original) WoW talent trees. Some people argue that if one specc is more effective than another, it stops being a choice. Consequently, they conclude that all speccs need to be equally effective. Yet others reject this, because if every choice is equally effective, the choice becomes meaningless. Both are correct! And that's why both are wrong.
What is fun about a choice is the act of choosing. The final choice is just the goal and gives meaning to the journey. The journey is the act of choosing, the act of deciding. It is where the fun is actually experienced.
I don't know about you, but I found the 'talent tree' choices in Starcraft II not fun at all. They were about flavor and they were mutually exclusive. This lead to a meaningless choice at best. And a frustrating choice at worst ("I shouldn't have to play through twice to experience each option"). Actually both. If you could have 'respecced', the only reason this choice had been fun, had been for exploring and experiencing all options; not for the act of chosing.
The important thing to understand is that making a choice, deciding on something, is a journey. It has to take some time, it must not be trivial. But it also must not be too hard! If you make the process of "figuring things out" especially hard, you remove the fun from 99% of the players and move it towards the Elitist Jerks. That's not a very smart thing to do as developer.
Choices (Journeys) that happen just once can never add much fun to a game on their own. It's like trying to make a huge quest that lasts the entire game and is fun every step of the way. It's not possible.
What does this mean? Do we have to stop asking the player to chose a specc? No, not at all. We just need to stop demanding that this choice adds a hell of a lot of fun to the game. It cannot!
If you make a choice about flavor, it is meaningless, if you make it about efficiency it soon stops being a choice, unless you make it especially hard to figure out, in which case the only players who have fun are those with spreadsheets. And only so long until they actually have figured it out. Developers really need to resist trying to make the act of chosing require a spreadsheet. Only a very small proportion of players can get some fun out of this. And that's not good game design. Well, unless you think that players who need to read up on their speccs are on a really fun journey. Do you think that?
A good choice about where to place a talent point should take a minute at most to figure out, and must not require a spreadsheet. It adds fun for that minute and then it is gone. And that's ok. You can't get more fun out of this single journey.
A right choice is a goal, the choosing is a journey. And everything written about journeys applies. A single journey that keeps a player's mind busy with just one decision cannot add a hell of lot of fun to the game on its own. We need to accept that.