How many times have you watched your favorite movie? How many times have you read your favorite book? Why bother? You know what's going to happen. Aren't there plenty of movies you haven't watched and books you haven't read?
The reason you watch your favorite movie and read your favorite book again and again is that your enjoyment of these things is not derived from mere novelty. They possess endearing, entertaining qualities that resonate with you. Doubtless there are movies you haven't seen and books you haven't read that you would find enjoyable, but by returning to your favorites you know you won't be disappointed. Revisiting your favorites allows you to recall things you may have forgotten, appreciate different interpretations, and perhaps discover subtle nuances you may have overlooked previously (like how the Mona Lisa doesn't have eyebrows).
Likewise, it is no longer possible for players in Metamorphosis Alpha to experience the epiphany that it all takes place aboard a spaceship, yet the value of the game is not compromised. The setting is sufficiently robust in its potential despite the players being aware of 'the big picture.' It is, of course, a matter of player knowledge versus character knowledge. Players must adopt the pretense of ignorance.1 (Certainly, this is not limited to Metamorphosis Alpha, but it provides a convenient example.) Part of the challenge (and hence the fun) is feigning ignorance, especially when doing so puts the player's character at risk. Properly done, it can be suspenseful.
In a similar vein – in Metamorphosis Alpha – a player may realize that his character has come across some type of pistol, but since the character doesn't know what it is, the player must play dumb. (The player must play... That is what players are supposed to do, after all.) With the 'Item Complexity' rules, Jim Ward makes it easy for the players to make it difficult for the characters.2 Devices have 'levels' of complexity; the most complex devices have a level of 'one' while the least complex devices have a level of 'ten.' A chart compares complexity level against a character's ability score. (Originally, 'leadership potential' was the ability but with the 2007 errata, it has been officially changed to 'mental resistance.') The chart shows a percentile value that must be equaled or exceeded on a d100 in order for the character to comprehend the device at issue. The 2007 errata states, "Human players receive a +1 to any die roll on how to figure out tech items."3 A measly +1 on a percentile scale? Humans should have +5; give those dudes a break. The more complex items have a minimum 'mental resistance' threshold; for instance, characters with a 'mental resistance' of seven or less have no chance of comprehending devices of complexity level 1 - 3.
According to page 22, if the item complexity roll is failed, "the item has a chance of harming or killing the handler or somebody...nearby." Aside from having a complexity level, each item has a danger category. There are four such categories; 'category one' items present the most danger while 'category four' items are safe. So, when an item complexity roll is failed for an item of danger category one, two, or three, there are percentile chances of injury to self and/or others. If an injury is indicated, there is a further chance it will be fatal. I think there should also be a chance of destroying or ruining an item when the item complexity roll is failed, like there is in Gamma World 1E.
Alan Moore said that there are no tired characters, only tired writers. The same could be said for role-playing games, settings, and even modules; these are not tired. Game masters who do not foster inspiration are tired. Players who do not invest themselves are tired. With apologies to Shakespeare: The fault...is not in our sourcebooks, but in ourselves.
1 Alas, some players seem unwilling (or perhaps unable) to partition their knowledge. (Fortunately, your humble host has not encountered such entities in quite some time.)
2 In Gamma World 1E, rather than 'Item Complexity' rules, there are 'Artifact Use and Operation' rules that incorporate three flowcharts: one for simple devices, one for complex devices, and one for very complex devices. I think the flowcharts are a nice sub-system and I prefer the Gamma World rules to the Metamorphosis Alpha rules, especially since Metamorphosis Alpha allows only one roll per week.
3 I would think that most – if not all – players are human. I guess it could be read to mean “players of humans” but perhaps “human characters” would be a better way of saying it.