I've never been formally taught game design but I feel like I'm starting to get the hang of how things should work when it comes to my favourite game of all - Gorkamorka.
In order to understand this it's probably best we take a look at its sister game, Necromunda. This wonderful game was released in 1995 or so and features many similar elements. For whatever reason it was always the more popular game and received considerably more support, to the point where the models were only recently removed from Games Workshop's site. It also received an updated rulebook and a lengthy run of coverage in the form of its own magazines.
I love Necromunda but find it difficult to wrap my head around the vast array of materials available for it. The fact that such a rich base of content exists is wonderful but as with many other things in life I feel I need someone else to guide me.
There is one side effect of this - fragmentation.
Off the top of my head there's at least four versions of the core Necromunda rules. Not reprints, versions.
First there's the original set, let's call them "vanilla". Then there's Necromunda: Underhive, a newer version with some changes. Those are the two printed sets (The compiled hardback falls into the vanilla category, not a separate one).
So before we get into anything additional or esoteric there's four different sets of base rules. I'm sure that's not confusing for new players at all.
Gorkamorka is nowhere near as popular though and so doesn't have this problem. I don't think any of us expect Games Workshop to suddenly release a new version of the rules. As such we can have an interesting situation for game development: the core rules can be treated as immutable.
Whilst there may be fragmentation on how squigs work, for example, the core rules are unchanging. A new player can get the books and everything builds upon them.
This results in an interesting game design environment. New mechanics can be created, sure, but that means more complexity on top of an already fairly extensive system. Instead one has to try to work with the elements that already exist to create. Personally I find this a fantastic challenge and an exercise in elegant design.
The intended outcome is to create a situation where a new player can pick up any additional content and immediately have a good understanding of it. That's the goal at least!