Game Designer Lockdown

About my work in these days of the lockdown.

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Friedemann Friese
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A big part of my work today was watching the Let's play video from Hunter & Cron: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9nMPf7lxGDQ of Feierabend.

The other part was prove-reading the rules for Faiyum (not tell anything about it.)

And I got my vintage games I ordered because of watching so many BGG entries. It's summer (holidays) time and no game night this week (maybe thursday but I don't think so). So this games have to wait. Possibly I can carry some of them with me in my holidays to play with the family, but not everything here fits....

In the end I think we will end up with some Andor family fun. It is underplayed for sure. And with two kids 7 and 9 a cooperative game fits well. To give my daughter a realistic chance of winning we will have some luck based games with us, but push-your-luck works well, too. Also some escape room games will fit. I will see.

Still waiting for the next inspiration for a new game, because right now Feierabend is out, Faiyum will be out in October, but nothing in progress right now after that. I'm not in a hurry, but it would be nice to have something to work on.
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Mon Jul 27, 2020 4:31 pm
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A secret wants to be told

Friedemann Friese
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This week was not as successful as I wished I could have been. Still not done with my tax stuff to be sorted. I felt not really healthy the week, whatever.

I tested Finshed! App a lot. I clicked BGG entries a lot. I'm at number 11111 now. Next week we just managed to put the kids to day care two more days. So next week the last week before holidays.

Feierabend looks great. I'm looking forward to see when the first reactions (hopefully positive) come in. The game for the US are on the ship, so this needs some time before they are there.

Today I worked on the next games rule book and glossary. After my holidays I gonna tell you more about it. By now it is a secret that the game will be called Faiyum and will be strategic 2 hour game with some deck building mechanics and using the current/future market from Power Grid. So don't tell anybody. It's a secret!! I will tell something about it after my holidays.

Maybe not all people understand why I think clicking all BGG entries is a good idea, but by now I'm so full of ideas, I for sure will design a new game soon. Probably I will stop this stupid clicking of BGG entries. Now I'm gonna work an an idea I had today seeing one of the BGG entries.

Today I found something strange: Thundercats. If you look at the images for this game. There are 3 different game boards. This entry took me a lot more time than usual. I connected to the BGG admins, because I think there are 2 or 3 different games included in this one entry.
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Fri Jul 24, 2020 2:13 pm
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I have it

Friedemann Friese
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Feierabend is here!

Nothing more to say today!
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Thu Jul 23, 2020 3:09 pm
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I'm getting old

Friedemann Friese
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I do like both games awarded with the Spiel des Jahres award. This is not normal and much worse these are the two games I like best among the nominated.

Pictures is so much fun. My City not (for me). Pictures is just a game that feels to be designed as it is. My City feels so much designed to be good for the market. Polyominoes, legacy, family friendly.

I can not tell anything about Nova Luna, except I was not interested to ever play it.

Die Crew is a really good game and I still think it even could have been a Spiel des Jahres, but it is ok with me. King's Dilemma is very good to be nominated. Der Kartograph is not my favorite roll/flip and write game of the year. I like Trails of Tucana much better.

Strange but true, I like the chosen games. (getting old for sure)

In the list of BGG entries I'm now at #8.555. I see the next milestone of 10.000 entries but I'm still amazed and shocked about the rest. The first 10.000 of over 300.000. I would have never imagined that there are sooooo many game out the I have not ever heard of. Ok! I'm not a wargamer and there are so many war-games and so many games from (wargame-)magazines.

The are so many word games, so many trivia games. And all these expansions. The main problem of this process is my wishlist is growing dramatically. Today I just ordered 16 games from the BGG marketplace.

We discussed the problem that the BGG database is growing faster then my speed in clicking all that entries, but by now I'm still positive to deal with that. Another problem is do I have enough play-time to play all new games I buy. By now I have 156 unplayed games. Since last Essen I played 369 new to me different games. This is more than 1 new game a day. For sure I like to play new games and very often it is very much ok to play a lot of these games only once. More than a half of them I do not really want to play again. But now there is the main problem: I do not have the time to play all games I keep in my collection again. This is my biggest problem.

Sometimes I had the feeling playing all this new games is the reason to get a better and better game collection. This might be true, but a very good collection of games I do not play, because so many new games and now adding a lot of new to me old games. Never ending.

This is similar to my listening to music. Over 50% of time new music and hard to hear all my favorites, but this is much easier, because the music is always in my background.

Maybe I should design a new game: I do have a good idea in mind....

Today Feierabend should be produced at Ludo Fact. That does not mean you all can get it right now, because the games have to be delivered to another place for the 4X platform to be sold in Europe. The games for North America will be shipped and nobody knows how long this will take. But nevertheless the game-product is maybe existing right now. And my copies will be on their way. I'm excited.
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Mon Jul 20, 2020 1:43 pm
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Still waiting for the next week

Friedemann Friese
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I'm here again and it is the first day of the summer school holidays for the kids (not me!!). Now here are 3 kids (the neighbors boys is in) and I try to work.

But it is iPad time for the kids now. They play Brawl Stars right now. Some quality time for me.

Henning sent my the Feierabend: 2F-Spiele Digital-Convention today. Now I have the promo for the game already, waiting for the game. But this is not the waiting for next week. Next week there is one week (Monday - Friday) of childs care for both kids from 9:00 to 14:30. This is the longest time I can work for the last three months. Whatever it is time only for me!

I'm still working on my "project" of clicking all BGG entries one by one. Today I'm 1 month in (started on 15th of june, did not work yesterday). I started with 0 and there were already 312.838 board game entries in the database. Now I'm at 7.500 and there are 314.490. (Weihnachtstellereisbahn).

I started with 312.838 entries to click. With 7.500 in one month I will have 90.000 in one year. (I know the speed will not increase the longer I will do it). 3 years 270.000. 3,5 years = 315.000, yeah.

If I argue like Zenon in his paradox I will never reach the goal. Because when I'm there, there will be new entries. In 1 Month there are already 314.490 - 312.838 = 1.652. In 42 month this will be 69.384. Sounds frustrating. I will need another 9 months to get through this, but then there new games..... ad infinitum, but to argue right: In the beginning moment I had to do 312.838 and now I only have 302.990 left. Yeah! 5.848 per month! 312.838/5.848 = 53,5 month. Only 4 years and 5 month.[1 month already done] 2024 I'm coming...

I really don't know if I ever will reach this goal, but this is the only realistic method to do so. If I would have taken the ranking numbers I will miss games that overtake me and not all games are ranked and expansions are not ranked as well. Whatever next month I will do the next calculation.

Last blog I invented 2 new games (not in the database yet, I'm destroying my challenge by my own creativity ) and I did not manage to try them. But this is not important. Today there is not much concentration possible, because the kids are playing with each other but there are still asking me things every now and then. I cannot really focus on work in this situation, but next week.....
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Thu Jul 16, 2020 11:33 am
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Design some games at random

Friedemann Friese
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Today: I know there is a To-Do list, but I have some random ideas in my mind. Maybe it is the hangover from yesterday sports. The hurting muscles and the hurting brain. Sports, beer and funny cigarettes. A good mixture.

1) I just went to an old Knizia memory game, because yes I still try to get them all, there BGG entries. Idea for a memory game. Take numbers 1 "1", 2 "2", 3 times "3" and so on. We will have 1,3,6,10,15,21,28,36. Ahh I found a square number. I was curious if there is one, because the building of these numbers is n(n+1)/2, but 8*9/2 is square, because 9 is square and 8/2 is also square. Mathematical question? is there another one. This is always a product from 1 odd number with 1 even number. So the odd number has to be a square number and the even number has to be a square number times 2. Next chance to be is 25, does not work, because 24/2 = 12 and 26/2 = 13. Next possible number is 49, 48/2 = 24, but 50/2 is 25. Bingo!! What do we have here. 36 and 49*25 = 1225. To be honest I think taking 36 tiles for my game sounds more reasonable than taking 1225 tiles. What did I do here? I was thinking of the number of tiles and if I can put them in a square on the table. Fine I just designed a new memory variant:
Take 36 tiles: 1, 2,2, 3,3,3, 4,4,4,4, 5,5,5,5,5, 6,6,6,6,6,6, 7,7,7,7,7,7,7, 8,8,8,8,8,8,8,8.
Shuffle them and lay them in a square of 6x6. Taking turns: You can turn over as many tiles as long as they have the same number. If you have exactly the same number as the number written, you take them. If there is only one kind left no one gets it (I always thought memory is unfair in the end, when you get the last pair for free, I don't want to have something like that in my design.) Whoever scored the most tiles wins. I don't know if this is a good game, but I just wanted to show this as an example how sometimes this job works. Today is one of the days for ideas.

Next idea:

2) I like to manipulate turn order. Every player has 3 markers in their color. Take one marker from each player shuffle the first round turn order. Do the same for the second round. and then the third round. Every player gets a set of fighting cards 1-5.
Game: First player--> look at the turn order. That player announces one marker of another player to fight against. Both players choose one of their cards simultaneously. Whoever played the highest card wins (1 beat the 5). The winner takes the marker from turn order, the looser gets both cards. (With ties nothing happens) Now the turn order track has one player less. So the looser has only 2 times left to play. Next player in turn order, the same move. Last man standing, means last man with a marker on the turn order. (I don't know if this can happen, but if you run out of cards, you loose and have to take away all you markers from the turn order.) Whenever turn order comes to the end, just start from the beginning. This is a real new game and it has to be tested if the numbers are right : 3 markers in the beginning (has it to depend on the number of players, number of players for this game can be really high up to 10 or even 12 players.) // are 5 cards enough?? // can there happen a tie with the last two players only holding the same card in their hand?

This evening we are meeting friends, hope to try it.

I know I know I should do something else, but this is so much fun....
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Tue Jul 14, 2020 10:26 am
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Back to work...

Friedemann Friese
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To-do list:

-- check the cards for the Unpublished Prototype to be published in fall. I have to calculate all the values to think if the game is balanced. By now I know the game is 99% balanced and the VP scores of the players are similar to each other (play testers already played it a lot). Beginners may not get as many points, but there should be a learning curve. Nut the last 1% has to be done. There are 2 cards I want to think about again.

-- beat test the Finished! app. Not only playing it and trying to beat David Arnott's highscores, but really looking for bugs. One bug is still actual. A very rare case. If you build up a future and all card from the presence move to the score pile and the draw pile runs out, then the app does not stop. It tries to get the cards from the future ---> crash. But Eric (Hi, Eric) will solve it. He just implemented an Undo button. This is not the easiest job. I'm happy he has to solve it ;-)

-- Feierabend will hit the market soon, and there are some things to do: designer's diary, a german shop solution to be established....

So much to do, so little time. The last week before 6 week summer holidays (for the kids, no school). I only have 90 minutes left to do my work.

On the other hand I'm now at BGG entry #7100. I started almost a month ago (15th june) if I keep this speed, I only need 3,5 more years to get to the end...
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Mon Jul 13, 2020 9:25 am
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Crisis 2020

Friedemann Friese
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My challenge to click every single BGG entry is now at #6200. Eric Snider asked me if I found something interesting and today I had something really strange. Game #6153: Crisis: 2000 is a game published 1994. A vision for 6 years in the future, but in 2007 this came out: Crisis 2020. It is called: Crisis 2020 / America divided.

I'm not from the US, but in our news here in Europe there is a lot of wording these times that: the USA (aka America) is divided right now in 2020, maybe the Simpsons were right and Lisa is still waiting....

Sometimes it is not possible to not get political. Today a wannabe dictator from (south-)America got infected by a mostly harmless flu. The news say we should not have Schadenfreude, because if he really has a fast and unheavy illness, this will only make it worse. My problem is now: Do they say I should hope he will get ill seriously....

Now something completely different:

For Feierabend I want to write a Designer's Diary, because the game will come out in 10 to 14 days and I should promote it. Or should I say inform the gamer's if this is game for them or not.

What should be in the Diary:

- It started with the idea of doing a worker unplacement. Or inverse worker placement. A very mechanical idea.

- But the next step was the thematic one: Let's place the workers on non working spaces. Do an after-work(er) placement. The rest is kind of easy.

- A quote from a friend of mine came into my mind: If I want to have success I should add "Beer, Boobs and motor bikes" [now this blog is not only about politics, but also sex, only religion is missing to be thrown to another forum, OMG ].

- The question was now: What kind of worker placement spaces should be there: We need a standard place: a bed for sleeping in front of the TV. But also a pub is needed. The game was designed before COVID-19, so the pub is crowded, no limit for workers. Both of these spaces are unlimited.

- On an abstract point of view: What do you get from after-work: It's of course not money, this would be a worker placement, so it must be relaxation (get unstressed). So a currency must be relaxation or stress. But money is also needed. And we need sex, so we need partners. (As I know from bridge: You need a good hand or a good partner! (like sex))

- Have a look on the spaces: Simple spaces for relaxation like fishing of jogging, without paying anything, just pure relaxation. Motorbikes!!! I decided to have motorbikes to make a ride with your partner (was this already a pun??), so you need a partner to use this space. An we need a space to get a partner, so I decided to take a blind date spot.

- What else is better for relaxation to do in your free time: amusement parks (expensive), holidays (also expensive), sex! (with a partner), so there is this special motel to get a lot of relaxation (you only go there with a partner) and it costs 6$ (six dollars, a pun??).

- Now I had my worker placement spaces. I had the idea that you can place more than one worker at a time in the pub or sleeping space. This was leading to the "problem" that players are done with placing their workers at different times. So I decided that you can get your workers back, when you have no more to play. Last week I played Everdell the first time and was surprised that this is used there as well. Ok now all people will say that I copied it and yes I'am later with this than Everdell, sounds reasonable, but it was a parallel thing.

- In usual worker placement games you have sometime the starting player space. Do not need it with the fact to get workers back, when all are placed. Another thing is to get more workers, but this is ok in a game where you hire workers to do your work and try to pay them a little money to get the most benefit out of them. But here: We are the workers and we want to relax.

- Then there was the biggest step: Yes we are the workers and we want to relax from the stressy work. But I only have to relax so much, because my work stresses me so much. Why not fight for better working conditions. A new currency for the game "was born": strike markers. Now we have a new space for going to the union to get more strike markers. And in the beginning of the game you're not allowed to have holidays, you have to fight for it. You have to work 70 hours a week and this is stress, so fight for less work time. You get paid, but not enough for long holidays or anything else. So fight for it. Of course your women get paid less than your men. So fight for it. Maybe you should even fight for a stronger union to get more strike markers. Now I have an engine building part to the game, fine.

- Some later ideas were added: go to the pub to work a second shift, for more money but more stress as well. To get retired workers, when the work-week-time gets lower. You are forced to got to the pub if your level of stress is to high. This is sooooo thematic. The only thing you can do is to drink, if your level of stress is to high....

Now I have to go to the dentist with my son.... No more blog today!
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Wed Jul 8, 2020 9:42 am
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When will I ever work normally again...

Friedemann Friese
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By now the two kids are at home. School is not really happening: 2 hours on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday where the kids are off. In almost all other times at least one kid is at home. Ok there is the Thursday with afternoon care.

But for Feierabend I have to write a designer's diary until end of month and some administrations to be done for the new way of distributing games in these times now.

The game for fall is ordered, because if not we wouldn't get a production in fall anymore. But the rules are not done now, I have to do it, but Henning and I are doing this together.

Today I had to go to the car repair, so my morning time for work is gone. The main problem: No spare time = no time for creativity.

But what is done: We do have a scoring rule for the Finished! APP. I'm kind of happy, but it still benefits long games with pushing the 48 to the future very often.

I succeed in my plan to look at every BGG entry (can be done while the kids are around) I'm at #5800 now. To see all these trivia, roll and move, war, word and branded games is very interesting. Sometimes really interesting things pop up. Some of the early games of well-known authors look very interesting and I did sometimes not even know how early some of my colleagues started their career.

Sometimes I think I want to make a game that is easy like just roll-and-move. You have nothing else to do than rolling and moving. I still think it is possible to make an interesting game out of it. It is like the idea I had for the fast forward games, to start the games without rules to be learned. But with the kids around, no time to focus on it....
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Tue Jul 7, 2020 2:59 pm
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Scoring rules changes games

Friedemann Friese
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Every single day I work on the APP for Finished. Eric Snider is doing it. In Finished! the only goal is to get the 48 cards sorted before you run out of coffee. It is my absolute most played game in the world ever. I really play it every day at least once. Before Eric came to code it, I played the physical version. By now I still have about 10 worn out games. You can tell the 48 by its back in all of these games, because it is the card to be played most. The 1,2,3,4 looks like new, the higher the numbers get, the older they look.

After playing a lot I counted the leftover coffees as bonus to compare if I have done better or worse. I also counted in the leftover candies, but I really wanted to have a score to keep track of. In the game there are 10 candies (used a action points) and whenever you have 10 candies and would get more they are lost.

But playing it a lot, leads to have a lot of candy and of course in the end for scoring better I wanted to have all 10 candies leftover.

Later I thought it could be nice to score extra points when you have all candy but would get more. So I includes some scoring tokens for that. In the end it was: 1 point per token, 2 points per leftover candy and 25 points for each leftover coffee. The most important thing should be having coffees leftover, because this is really better if you need less coffee.

For me this was absolutely fine. Because winning was kind of standard. 10 candies leftover standard. The number of coffees 2 or 3 (I played the game with 5 candies to start and 5 coffees.) A score of over 50 was good and everything near 100 rocks.

Now we are doing this on the iPad (I play it on the iPad) and Eric found out that sometimes a good game does not count as many points as a game that felt worse. And yes he is right, because of getting more points I tend to play this game as long as possible to get more and more points, because +1 point per candies over 10 is unlimited and if I manage to keep playing and just pushing the 48 in the future again and again, I will score better.

I changed the game! Finished! was a game about sorting a deck 48 cards and the goal was to do this. After playing it as often as I did, it became a game to manipulate the deck to score better. hmm?!

But we wanted to have a scoring. First we changed the scores to add a base score for winning, because just doing nothing gave more VPs then playing (for newbies), because if you just play without paying any candy you will not win, but you will have 10 leftover candies and a lot of points for extra overpaid candies, but you will not win. Adding a base score for winning and giving each card you have points was much better. For me it was never necessary because I played only for the win and only secondary for points, but if you have a leaderboard this has to be done.

I reworked the points to 200 VP for winning. 10 VP each card. This is 480 + 200 for finishing. 5 points for leftover candy, additional 50 points. each coffee leftover is 50 points and we play this game on the beginners level: 7 start coffee and 7 start candy. 4 leftover coffee is not unusual = 200 points.

200+480+50+200 = 930 points is a good base to have a highscore around 1000. And I played a lot more and got my personal highscore up to 996.

But still the game was changed. You get more points for longer games than for fast games. Eric suggested to give more points for sequences to be score to the scoring pile. 5 points for the first card, +6 (second) etc.

This changed the game immense (and he really beat me). I got 1198 and he jumped up to 1222. I disliked the scoring before he overtook me, but it is very difficult to consider if I dislike it because I was overtaken me or because it is not good.

It took me some time to analyze to find out what the problem is: With this kind of scoring, you play the game to keep the playing pile as big as possible (and sort it). But you really do not want to score cards early and when you sorted all the cards then you get a very long sequence to score. (again a scoring game and not a game to get things sorted fast). Leftover coffee (50 points) is not to important anymore, because I had a sequence of 15 to 48 and the 48 scored 38 points. 48 + 47 scored 75 points. This is more than a leftover coffee. I hope Eric agrees that this focuses on the wrong parts of the game. (But he is also emotionally influenced, because he beat me the first time in the leaderboard)

I think going back to not getting anything, if you already have all candies and would get more candy is necessary, because this was always a problem in all scoring methods.

But I want to have a more diverse scoring, to avoid ties in the leaderboard.

The big question: Is it better to gain a candy and spend it than just not getting anything and spending anything. I think it should. So I should award points for getting candies. Maybe it works just that way: Get 1 Point for each gained candy (if you already have 10 candies, no candy no points, sorry).

I would like to have the actual scoring:
200 per win
10 per card on the scoring pile
50 per coffee left
5 per candy left
1 per candy gained....

This is so much my topic. Scoring! Scoring! Scoring! I don't like point salad games (surprisingly I like the game Point Salad), because most authors add to many ways to score to their system. You have to focus on the scoring and no longer on the game mechanic or mechanism.

The first time I had this feeling was Ra. I really really like the mechanism with the auction and the suns, but to many ways to score. I will never ever play this again. To much math involved. (the little arithmetics in Power Grid are nothing in comparison).

I know people tend to like these scorings a lot, but I'm still the boss of my games. On an abstract view on games there are only two kinds of games: Scoring games or racing games. Scoring games have a game end independent from scoring (more important whoever ends the game is not the person winning the game) and when this happens, the players score. Race games have a goal to achieve and whoever achieves it wins.

I know there are mixed up version, but I'm still a fan of racing games. Finished! is a racing game, because you try to beat the game, like Friday. Power Grid is a race game for the most cities powered. Don't be tricked by the money tiebreaker it is racing!

Ahhhh game ends and designing them, is one of the most important parts of game designing itself. Engine building stops to be interesting in the moment where the game ends (depending on the benefit, 1 or 2 rounds earlier.) Games tend to change drastically in their ends. Power Grid is very successful, also because of the game end. The fact that you cannot really tell if this is the last round or if there is one more. Please keep your money hidden to guarantee this great experience.

IMO saving the game end by using a lot of scoring is the poorest design attempt to solve the problem.
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Thu Jul 2, 2020 2:28 pm
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