The title of this post is from this article: You Need $100,000.
Users relate to them differently. Immersion matters. Balance matters. Drawing people into the world of the game in a way that doesn’t break their attention every few seconds matters. Any successful game weaves a web of illusion around the player to engage them at more than just a rational level, and so they are more than the sum of their parts.
This applies just as much to tabletop RPG design. They are made of words and pictures but they are not words and pictures.
It’s the difference between a well-made FPS and a poor FPS. The former is addictive, the WASD and mouse look are intuitive and it becomes part of you. You don’t have to think about it. In contrast a poorly made FPS feels like you’re fighting the system. It’s like lag in a multiplayer system – it just becomes an exercise in frustration.
Many RTS games are about whether the user interface is tolerable enough for you to learn. The control of subunits is left to grouping strategies activated through arbitrary keyboard commands. We learn the controls but we’re not learning tactics.