Game Designer Lockdown

About my work in these days of the lockdown.

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A new day, a better day?

Friedemann Friese
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Verdict: Yesterday was not a good day for nothing, just tired.

But I try to post on my working days. Whatever working day means, maybe call it office days, but my office is my game room as well. No so easy to separate. Not that it matters here....

Tomorrow we start a gaming weekend with another family. (By now allowed!!)

Here is a foto for your interest: Feierabend prototype box.
From gallery of friedemann


and another foto:
From gallery of friedemann


No that's not right, this is my prototype for the next game for fall. Ok now it's here look at it, it will not help.

Schedule for this weekend:

The fight! with complete new people and the new order of the levels to see the reaction. The most interesting part. How long does the attention to the game lasts. Does the changes in the game from level to level are interesting enough that they will play it to the end or how far they will go?

--- For a game as a product even this is sometimes not helpful. With Fortress or Fear (fast forward games) I had people commenting that they played all the 15-22 games in one sitting and could not stop, but in the end they said: "This game is not good, no replaybility (hey you just played it 17 times, but..), why there is no overall end scoring (hey just played 17 games in a row and had every single game a scoring, what are you searching for.)".
The problem is: How to build up the expectation that fit afterwards to the gaming experience. Similar to the expectations people had for 504. This is just part of my work: to build up great expectations, without building up disappointment. Not easy, believe me. ----

- The new whatever 2,5 h game. Strategy gamer's game, with new players. My son really wants to play it now. He missed the last possibility at the last gamers meeting.

-- last but not least: a suitcase full of games to travel with us....

What to do now. I glued over 100 cards, I made the huge game board (Power Grid size), crafted some game pieces. Ready for this. Only need to print out the new levels for the Fight!
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Thu May 28, 2020 2:09 pm
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Feedback!?

Friedemann Friese
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Today I'm just tired, this lockdown is still exhausting. First shift a day: Home schooling (by now only with one kid, the other one in "real" school.
Second shift: working. In between, doing errands, cooking and in the evening after "brawling" kids to bed, maybe some housework. Where is the leisure time. Yes it feels good to have a game about unstress yourself, I need this.

Some weeks ago when we finished "Feierabend" I worked a lot on having an automated solo variant, because of these times now. Every game seems to need to be soloable. By now we do have a 1-6 player game. I think worker placement is ok with 6 players it adds not to much downtime to the game, because the turns itself are short.

Today the first feedback was kind of awkward. Why do a user rates Feierabend a "2" without ever played it. Maura rated it, but he already played it. Sometimes I look at the profiles of such users to see what might be the reason. [even more awkward I just looked to know the facts while writing here an the rating is gone, hmm fishy.], ok no feedback

Second feedback came from Chris Wray, he played it and liked it. What else? (have to look in his mail....)

There were some misunderstanding about the three player game. Three player is kind of unusual because of one player playing 2 cards. He asked if you play the hidden cards one after another or at the same time. First I thought there is no difference, but if you play the card one at a time and always allow to say if you have high or low, that makes a difference. Still the same answer as always, play it the way you have to most fun with it. This is one of these games the group has to decide how strict they are.
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Wed May 27, 2020 2:52 pm
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Back to Work

Friedemann Friese
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Feierabend is here!

Once again a game with the artwork of Maura. A game with this kind of a theme has to have the Maura artwork. A friend of mine stated to have a successful game I need: Beer, Boobs and Motorbikes. And I thought I should do one. One the other hand I wanted to make a reversed worker placement game. There was this idea of a worker unplacement game. To take back workers from the board as a game mechanism.

I always experiment with game design and some games I designed still feel like experiments. Sometimes this is absolutely ok for me. 504 was never designed to give the gamer his best game ever to be found in one of the 504 games. I know some people are disappointed that they did not find this game in this collection. Other understood it as I designed it. The universe of 504 to be explored, every time a new experience to see a new game. Yes in some games there are stronger strategies, but it does not matter, because you will never ever play this specific game again. Yes 504 is designed to be played over and over, but not one of these games, all of them. Now Back to Feierabend:

The inspiration was to have a worker unplacement, but then a second later the idea was born to look at unplacement thematically. To go off work to your leisure time. Together with beer, boobs and motorbikes this makes the game. Hopefully this is now much more than an experiment, a good game.

Sometimes I can not tell: I had very good games where the theme was working well with my "experiment" on mechanisms. In Power Grid (experiment: to build a network game that is not railroad building), Friday (build a deck builder that do not hide that deck building is more or less a solo experience.), Felicity aka. Felix aka Filou (the idea of auctioning something you only have part of the knowledge what it is), these all worked our very well. But Fabled Fruit (very successful too) has a very thin theme and the experiment of this changing game while playing it, feels still like an experiment.

Others like Futuropia, Fürstenfeld, Futterneid, Fine Sand are not as successful to even talk about.

I hope you will all enjoy Feierabend as I do. But in the moment I publish the game I always think this will be a new hit, but 24h later (usually in Essen) I will know the truth. So time will tell.

Back to Work:

The Fight! I should change the the first 3 levels. The first two reactions both had problems with level 3. It is to hard. Maybe the idea to have them as teaching levels does not really work. If I loose my gamers in teaching them and not to show them the fun of the game first, sounds to be a bad idea.

Hi Henning we have to change the levels!!!

Level 1 ok
Level 2 ok
Level 3 deleted -> will be the new Level 9.
Level 4 ok
Level 5 deleted
Level 6 ok
Level 7 deleted
Level 8 ok
Level 9 deleted, but filled with level 3
Level 10 ok
Level 11 deleted
Level 12 deleted
Level 13 ok
Level 14 ok
Level 15 deleted
Level 16 ok
Level 17 ok
Level 18, 19, 20 deleted
Level 21 ok
Level 22 deleted
Level 23,24,25 ok
Level 26 deleted
The rest is untested and unchanged by now. Whoever comes up here is already a fan (here I can work later on), it is all about to convince new players from the game now. To work on staying power and replayabilty is step 2.

11 levels deleted. Have to build new ones, but by now we only have 39. I think after playing it some more times, I will have new ideas for new levels and/or cards.
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Tue May 26, 2020 9:04 am
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Feierabend or Finishing Time

Friedemann Friese
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No, no this is not the last blog, it is just the title of my new game to be out in summer 2020.

But first a reaction to "Alan & Susan". Thanks for the geek mail with your playing experience. Your experience was not so well because of the game being a bit mathy and the communication restriction was to strict to beat level 3.

It sounds like you were taking the communication restriction to strict. You can discuss numbers beforehand and yes it is kind of mathy to find out in level 3 the gap is only 1 point, so you have to play it very concentrated. But you can do all this discussing before you start the level and you can look at all the monsters.

Maybe it helps to see that Monstervalue 10 is almost always to be beaten, but if you play 1,2,3,3 it is the only way to fail. On the other hand the 25 is kind of easy to beat, just play 5,6,7,8 and you get 26, but better is 4,6,7,8 (=25) and you have to avoid 6,6,7,8, because then you loose the level.

I think some people like to analyze it this way, but I've seen people wanting to play try and error and replay the level until they beat it. I just don't know how to deal with that because with my group it felt very good to beat the level even after the third try and then go to a new level. The only downer was to have the new level to similar to the old one, we wanted to have fresh levels every time.

I still think the first 3 levels are good teaching levels to find out how much you have to analyze and how much you have to believe in group think.

But the most important part: Communicate as much as you have the best gaming experience for your group. If you like to "cheat" slightly to beat the level and it still feels good just play it that way. If you have a bad experience because you forbid yourself the communication you need, you should change it.

I still think the game concept is worth to be worked on and believe that the levels have to be just in the right order to get the best experience. I have not seen all the stuff in the game, but I liked the way the game changes when you reach to "open/initiative" card. Really looking forward to try the "take a card back" action and the monster to be beaten with all different cards. Maybe the "open/initiative" card should enter the game earlier, because it is so nice to play the game with it and feels that this is the "real" game.

Ok, today we gonna add a new game to the gaming world "Feierabend (finishing time)". Here some information exclusively given to all the people reading this up to this point:

Feierabend is the first after-work worker placement game. In all other worker placement games you send your workers to working spaces and get them back each round to work again. But no one really asked your workers how they feel about it. Work is not the only thing in life. There is also some work/life balance to be looked at. Look at all your poor meeples in Caylus, Agricola, Viticulture,.... only working nothing else. The only meeples to have some fun are the ones in Stone Age.

But now you can make your workers happy, in Feierabend you place your workers in after-work spaces to make them happy. You can send them to the pub to drink a beer, let them do some fishing or jogging, send them to blind dates to get a partner and then they can have some of the fun you already know from Stone Age.

The goal in Feierabend is just to lower the stress level of your workers most. But after all your workers went to the leisure spaces, they are forced to work again. Ok this earns you the money you need for amusement parks or pubs, but it stresses you out.

For the long term strategy it is important to have better working conditions, because you will not get a better life if you only stay at your low level of relaxation. Your workers start with a 70 hour working week, with no rights for holidays and some money paid, just enough to feel alive and not die.

A known fact is the bosses do not give the workers advantages (as they always say), the workers have to fight for better conditions with strike and the help of the union. In this game you can use your strike potential for these long term strategies: Is it better to get more money or to fill the gender gap (because in the beginning of the game the women in your team earn less money for the same work as the men)? Maybe the better strategy is to build up a better union to get more power for future changes. Or you believe the best strategy is to work less hours a week. A good strategy is also to strike for holidays. 1 week, 2 weeks or even 3 weeks!

Feierabend is in its structure just a worker placement game, but you also have the engine building aspect to get a better working structure step by step. There is a racing aspect, because the value of 40 you have to reach on your relaxation scale, to end the game, but there is some aftermath to to and this could help other players to win even if you were the first to be that unstressed.

Feierabend is not round-based as so many worker placers. In other games, you just put one worker after another and after all players placed all their workers, all player get them back and the starting player of the next round has the best spots to place workers. In Feierabend you just get your workers back, after you placed them all, to "open" the spaces immediately for the other players for their remaining workers. And you place 0-3 worker in your turn (depending on the spaces and actions) meaning we are all done with our workers at different times to "open" this used spaces. This adds some more interactivity to the already existing because of the worker placement aspect.

Hopefully tomorrow we have some more stuff uploaded for you to look at.
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Mon May 25, 2020 9:34 am
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Houston, we have a problem

Friedemann Friese
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is a popular but erroneous quotation, but I just played "The Fight" on Wednesday. It is right that I use the first three levels to train the gamers to the game. And the known fact Level 3 ist harder then the upcoming levels 4 and 5, but these are used to introduce the monsters only to be beaten by special weapons.

We now first time ever played levels 13, 14, 15, 16 and there are by now levels where only one monster changes and this feels repetitive. So I have to rework almost all levels (not a wonder) and change the monsters more often. Now the problem: I need more different monsters, I have to redesign the levels for the perfect game flow and the best feel for each level.

This is indeed a lot of work and time. Today is not the right day for this, so I have to shift this work to the next week. Maybe some time in the evenings will be there for some of these first ideas.

Dear reader you can look forward to the next week to get new levels, new card ideas and ..... (pause for maximize the tension) a new game!!!! On Monday we will put the data for the new upcoming game to the public.


Some last lines for "The Fight", new ideas:
-- Some new monsters with different values, so that are two different monsters for each kind of weapon.
--- If a new monster is introduced only 2 or maximum 3 Levels to "work" with this monster
-- a set of 4 special unique cards to be added: fumble card, extra powerful card, whatever.
-- Two cards that have to be played in the same fight to work (alone there are just nothing)

That's the way it is. I have to play it some times to get a good feel for it to know what to to, what to change. Welcome to my work....
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Fri May 22, 2020 10:40 am
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Communicate or not communicate, that's the question...

Friedemann Friese
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Ok, Ok, Ok,

I try to find good rules for the Communication in "The Fight".

1. Display the monsters to be used in the Level. Now the group is absolutely free to discuss the strategies for fighting the monsters. For example Monster A (value 25): "If we use all our highest cards, 5,6,7,8 we will have a fighting value of 26. So we should try to use 4,6,7,8. The problem is we do have the "4" two times. We have to avoid to play both of them, how do we do it?" something like that.

2. The exchange of cards should be only discussing to trade or not. Not what to trade. "I really need to trade a card, please let me" or "I would like to trade, but can still deal with it by now, maybe we should trade after the first fight"

3. When playing a card is only allowed to say: "hard", "soft" or "medium"

That is my actual idea.

I really like the "open" card, because you can really use your open card to communicate. Maybe after this card enters the game, there is more limitation for communication, but I just don't know now; it is work in progress.

I only played up to level 14 yet. Should play this today again. The neighbors are coming to for gaming this evening. Great this is officially allowed by now.

I have not printed the actual artwork. Ok let's do it.

In 20 minutes I have to go back to my family homeschooling or whatever things to do with my kids. Maybe playing games?!

I hope someday we can go to amusement parks and pubs again. By now only in games.
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Wed May 20, 2020 11:46 am
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The Fight to end all fights?! No, just fight!!!

Friedemann Friese
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Thanks to all people for giving me information on the game.

1) I have to think if level 3 is to difficult to be that early in the game. Level 1 is just a start and you solve it almost immediately, but as a learning level you get to know how important the exchange can be or not, depending on the card distribution. The second level is similar, because to fight these 2 monsters, it is important to exchange 1 card wisely. And to finish this, I thought level 3 will do it. I know it is hard, but after you got over it, you are ready for the game. By now I will keep it that way.

2) Communication: In Hanabi there is this one sentence "It is your game, play it the way you like it best and you enjoy it best." This almost all to say here. I found out it is interesting to discuss everything before the cards are dealt and after that no communication anymore. But on the other hand, sometimes it is important to let the others know how you will play, depending on the card you hold. Another advice: If the game is to hard, you have to communicate more precise. If it is to easy you are talking to much. This leads to:

3) In the two players game the best strategy is (Thanks for the advice): Every player plays card almost exactly the half of the number of the monster. I think this kills a lot of the starting levels, but later there is some more, where this will not work anymore, but I think the better rule for 2 players: The dummy third player with exactly as many cards as number of rounds to be played. And this player always plays his 1 card open first. (Skip the open card). Initiative is always at the players. Initiate player plays 2 cards, the other 1. I hope a good 2 players rule.

4) 5 players: Initiative is moving to the right.

5) There was a 5) but can not remember now, maybe later....


My motivation is a little low by now. Maybe the fact that Spiel-Essen does not take place this year, but well I do have two good games coming this year. The first one is to be announced soon.

By now Finishing Time!
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Tue May 19, 2020 2:58 pm
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Fight for your Right to Spiel?

Friedemann Friese
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Ok, Spiel '20 is cancelled. My new game for Essen is in the pipeline, tested in the pre-COVID-19 times, ready to be published (and a real heavy 2 hours gamers game). How to deal with this, we will see.

My after work placement game is in print and will be ready in this summer in a bilingual edition.

The Fight is downloaded a lot, thanks to BoardGameNews. Gamers asked me how I want to have feedback. If I want to have videos, well I only want to have feedback how the levels work. To be honest only levels 1-15 are already tested, everything else is just theory. Just plain text feedback is absolutely ok. But number of players would be nice. I was surprised how well the game worked with 3 players, but still doubt it is a good 2 players game. As I mentioned last week, I'm not a fan of playing with 2. So 2 players is always difficult for me to design.

I have not played it with 5 players, but can really think it could be a lot of fun to see where the cards should be, because of one player always skipping one fight.

By now I will look through all your comment. Thanks a lot for helping...

Later we will see what Spiel des Jahres 2020 will look like...

The first comment was that Level 5 is easier than level 3 or 4.
This took me by surprise and may have the reason in some misunderstanding of the rules. Level 4 and 5 are almost the same, but in level 4 the group can choose the order of fighting the monsters, even after the result was counted. In level 5 you shuffle them and are forced to fight them in that order. It honestly believe 5 is harder than 4.

I'm so happy that I started this blog. You all help me to feel that my work is for an audience. Now without Essen this year will even be harder.



----->>> There is a bug in the rules for "The Fight". In the 5 players game the initiative has to be passed to the right not to the left. It feels still awkward to me, that this is only needed with 5 players and it works with 3 players with the initiative to the left.

It helps to walk outside to get the idea why things happen:

EDIT: Sometimes the solution is so easy. In a 3 players game the initiative goes to the person to play one more card. That is absolutely ok, because we deal cards one by one to the players, so the starting player gets an additional card (when everybody gets one) and the second player will have one extra with two rounds to play etc. But in the 5 players game it is all about who gets less cards, so the player to the right has one less and with 2 cards dealt the second player to the right. On a logical point of view, the initiative has to go to the right or we have to dealt to the right, but initiative to the right is the better design solution.
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Mon May 18, 2020 8:53 am
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The Fight isn't over till it's over....

Friedemann Friese
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Now everybody is predicting the next "Spiel des Jahres" and all agree "The Crew" should win. Before the jury is doing this on monday, I have to announce more details for my monster slashing game called: "The Fight".

This game is in the tradition of "The Game", "The Mind" and "The Crew". It is cooperative, it has cards with numbers, it has short game rounds, it has 50 missions to fulfill and it is difficult to be found in computer searches because of the stupid name. So we need an extra line to be found search engines: "The Fight: We gonna fight them all!" in german "The Fight: Wir werden euch alle kriegen!"
Both of these lines are loosely connected to songs.

To upload this to BGG we need a good description. It should be no problem as a game, because this is clearly a game, not a puzzle.

Henning just sent me a description draft, now I'm gonna work on it to finish it.

(...)

Finished, nothing to change. Here is the text:

"Welcome to The Fight!

You and your fellow crew enter a heard about this abandoned dungeon. There are rumors about great treasures, and still nobody else dared to check the truth about them.

And now you know why: A hoard of monsters got bored and now crave for a good fight.

There is no time for a long strategy session. Use your weapons at hand, make the right combined decisions how to fight against the various monsters, and all without spoiling too much information to them, as blind trust in your crew may be the best chance you have to coordinate your strengths.

The Fight is played in 50 levels. Each level only takes a few minutes, when you fight against a certain number of monsters. Usually, one monster lies face up in the center, and your crew needs to beat its strength value to win the fight by playing your fighting cards in a series of fighting rounds. In each fighting round, you all place 1 card from your hands face down in front of you. If your total matches or exceeds the value of one face up monster, you beat it. Otherwise the monster remains face up and keeps fighting.

To win a level, you can discuss your strategy with your crew. You can never talk about your card values in hand, but can announce to “strike fast”, or “take it slow”. You can also use available special actions to gain the most benefits from them.

The Fight is the newest game from Friedemann Friese, and it is still in development. If you want to learn more about this game, check out Friedemann's new blog "Game Designer Lockdown".

For the time being, we offer this game as a free print & play version. Have fun fighting against all the monsters!"

The Fight combines simultaneous card play (without real discussion") of "The Mind" with mission based game play of "The Crew". I hope this combines the Love for both of these games. But I'm aware it can also combine the hate for both of these games. We will see.

I hope BGG is nice enough to get this database entry soon, so you can search for "The Fight!" (good luck ) and play it.

But this is work in progress. I need you. Yes you! Please play it and give me feedback on the different levels. If you think one level is to easy or one level is to hard to be ever beaten. By now I'm happy to have only 40 cards, but if there are some ideas for new monsters or new special cards, feel free to say so. I will feel free to take it or leave it.

For me the lockdown got better with writing here. Thank to all you guys giving me feedback to 5x15 and hopefully soon "The Fight".

Thinking of more small easy to play cooperative games with numbers on cards, I should play "The Hanabi" again.
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Fri May 15, 2020 9:48 am
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A new game is born?!

Friedemann Friese
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5x15 is now official a game and its number is: 309341.

Now you can print and play it. But this is only the beginning. The next game will show up soon. (Killing monsters, hurray!)

I'm gonna work on the APP for 5x15 today, but in the afternoon my kids and I will start with Mice and Mystics. My son already played parts with his friends, but after finishing Stuffed Fables, we need a new game.

My partner just plays a lot 5x15 and she started with my first version. In her opinion the project started as a puzzle, just a little bit shifting and solvable every time. Now with the rule only shift sequences of 5 or longer (and with a 15 in the end), she claimed: "Now its a game, I cannot solve it every time, it's tricky".

Now I have to convert 75 playing pieces in a better version for my APP and kill some bugs, while I'm a teacher for my kids now.

Have fun with 5x15!
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Thu May 14, 2020 9:45 am
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