The concept is when content elements work together in such a way to produce more possibilities, playable content, or engagement than the relative amount of added content.
A content gives you x units of gameplay
B content gives you y units of gameplay
(units of gameplay are however you'd like to measure them, hours of play, total items, actions/discussion branches, etc.)
A = x
B = y
A + B = x*y*?
So that when the game includes both:
A + B
The gameplay unit increase could be:
x * y
(x + y) * c
x ^ y
This concept of expressing it mathematically leads me to want to call this Content Multiplication. But I haven't been able to find much on a specific term for this (most of my attempts have lead me to math games).
In a game like Minecraft, there's a mechanics and dynamics that define crafting. By themselves they produce a set of craftable items. Once a player crafts them there's less or no desire/need to craft them again.
Then a relatively small mechanic is added that causes loss, perhaps on death or through durability. The impact on player motivation and time played is much larger. Forcing players to either recraft items, or to craft extras preemptively. No new items have to be added to the crafting system, and having players lose items isn't a big change (not a lot of work).
Specifically if we look at just these two mechanics, and the expected impact they have together. Perhaps we're talking about Minecraft 0.1, and only crafting exists, and a decision needs to be made on what next feature to add, that provides us with the most benefit in gameplay content for development effort.
Is there a term to describe the intentional design of coordinated mechanics and system to produce larger sets of content with minimal effort?
Emergence typically refers to unforeseen and unintended results rising from a rise in complexity. Emergent results are frequently hard to quantify, or to ascribe cause to specific elements.
What I'm looking for is an explicit, deliberate, and predictable outcome from the addition of a single element to an existing system.
An example of emergence can be found in the original Deus Ex. Being able to place mines on walls and jump off of them. This effect was (likely) unintended, caused by the interaction of complex systems, and in cases where it could be used to skip content, actually reduced the amount of gameplay. Emergent Gameplay
While designing for emergence can be intended, the outcome is less certain or planned.