This may come as a surprise to you (hopefully not) but Exploration and Discovery are dependent on a Scarcity of Knowledge. An amazing revelation I’m sure.
Knowledge Scarcity is a concept from Economics and specifically Game Theory. The main part of from that field that you should be concerned with when thinking about discovery and exploration is the idea of Imperfect but Complete information.
To give a quick overview of the Imperfect but Complete information concept lets look at a few different game genres that use it. Our first example is Chess, this is probably the easiest to grasp, you and your opponent can fully see each other’s pieces. This is complete information. The imperfect information is that even though you both may know several strategies, you have no idea which one the other is going to use to win the game.
A more modern example is Blizzard’s StarCraft, you may not be able to see every aspect of the play area due to the fog of war (which we’ll talk about later), but if you are an experienced player, you will know what race your opponent is and what units they may go for. But again, you’re not 100% certain about what the strategy is that they will use.
Though both of those examples are pure strategy games, the concept still holds true in the genre’s like first person (shooter) games, such as Ubisoft’s recently released For Honor. Again, you know what the opponent’s character is, what it’s capable of doing, the UI lets you know where you need to go and what is happening on the battlefield. But you are uncertain about the opponent’s strategy or their skill level.
These are all good examples of imperfect but complete information. I’d recommend that if you have one or all of these games that when you play them next that you give this a thought, and see how it influences your choices and gameplay. And if you don’t have them, then I definitely recommend that you pick them up.