KISS is an acronym for “Keep it simple, stupid” as a design principle noted by the U.S. Navy in 1960. The KISS principle states that most systems work best if they are kept simple rather than made complicated; therefore simplicity should be a key goal in design and unnecessary complexity should be avoided.
Supposedly, the term was coined by Kelly Johnson: a lead engineer at the Lockheed Skunk Works. I think many of my readers are familiar with Skunk Works, but if you are not, you should have a look. It’s also worth noting that in his version there is no comma before the stupid. The idea behind this statement was a simple one. Out in the field, their products would often break down without a team of expert engineers to get the product running again. As such, he advocated that all systems be simple in nature so they could be understood by anyone. If the engineering principles were too difficult for a group of regular soldiers or engineers, their product wouldn’t get repaired – thus rendering it obsolete.
Einstein supposedly said;
“Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler”
I think our dear old Albert has a point when we relate this to game design. In game design, I feel one of the founding principles is how to translate or present the most important information to the player, without making it confusing. This is something EVE continues to struggle with and in recent years, this has often meant big golden arrows leading the player to his pot of gold. It made sense at the time to “cut out” what was seen as the boring part. Players like a challenge, but they don’t like to waste their time.
Antoine de Saint Exupéry’s said;
“It seems that perfection is reached not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away”
These are wise words to create by. I feel these words are of particular use for the Graphic User Interface artist. It’s his job to present as much information as possible without drowning the player in information. This is often an overlooked part of development, especially if the game allows the players the option of add-ons. Call me a purist if you must, but personally, if the default G.U.I. doesn’t work, then to me the G.U.I. developer failed to create a good interface to interact with the world. Add-ons themselves are a sticky subject because one specific user created add-on becomes standard among a group of players and you are forced to install it if you want to play with that group. Or even worse, the developers know X amount of people use XYZ add-on and then the content gets scaled towards the people running the add-on.
Yes I know I can change my desktop image, Yes I know I can choose a ringtone, No I don’t want to change it and yes I like vanilla.
A perfect example of elegant perfection would be the mousetrap. There is nothing you can add or remove from the design to make it better.