This article by Ysharros got me thinking. Sometimes it's difficult to find the right balance between fun and simulation in an RPG, where both are at play.
Case in point: crafting.
Should being a beginner/apprentice and learning the basics of the trade be more difficult than being a master? or vis versa?
Yes, masters do crazy-hard stuff, but they’ve also naturalized most habits and strategies. Masters are more likely than beginners to feel flow. Beginners have to think about what they’re doing, rather than what they’re making. In general, masters of any craft think less about technique than about the product ideal they're pursuing.
Thus, as a simulation, the beginning levels of crafting should be harder. But, as a game, the early levels should be easier. Right?
How fun and simulation are balanced depends largely on the specific game's goals. I think it's worth resurrecting such basic questions during every design process, regardless of how many times you've considered and debated it before.