Today I just programmed an APP to play 5x15 and it already works well. It is a solid nice "just play me" solitaire game.
The question is: Is it a game or a puzzle? First important fact about it: If BGG believes it is a game, I will get my entry in the database and I can upload the files directly to the game page. I totally understand that there must me rules for seperating things, but it is so difficult to decide.
Friday is game, but it was very new outside the war game scene to have a real solo game and now there are so many. Finished! is like a patience as a solo, but it is also a game and it should be here.
But now the problems. What is a puzzle? Is an escape room game a puzzle, because there is a designed solution and you try to find it like a solution for a level in Rush Hour. But by now we all believe these games are games and build up their own category.
My 5x15 has a random setup and you try to solve it, like a puzzle, but not as a Sudoku, which is designed to have exactly one correct solution. The solution here is always the same, means you have to sort the stuff you shuffled in the beginning. But a lot of games do this, like rummy, canasta and so on. What is the difference to a patience. Almost every patience is about sorting a shuffled deck of cards, but there are also games doing it.
I'm a designer. My job is to break down the borders of categories, to think beyond these borders. And why should I care, as long as people want to play my games and have fun with them.
I hope BGG will be giving me my game entry for it, because it is part of my blog here and would be very handy to show it here.
Game Designer Lockdown
About my work in these days of the lockdown.
Is 5x15 a game or a puzzle??
13 May 2020
Wed May 13, 2020 9:43 pm
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Designer's daily work
12 May 2020
Things are ready for 5x15. We made up a "cover". My son asked me if this is for the box and I said there is no box, it is print-and-play, but on the other hand it can be used as a box cover. Another game where I get the artwork credits.
The last time I blogged was in the time of the Friday blog. Five years every Friday, but this is different. Every day. Will see if this will be every day.
I would like the files uploaded, but no game page yet.
For my kill-all-monsters-game: We are almost done with the files and the rules. This will come up next: 2-5 players (designed for 4 players), but surprisingly good with 3 players. Oh how I would like to have some time and Game Nights to test it intensively, but now I look forward to publish this here and get reactions on the your tests. A game with 50 missions is hard to test in a lockdown.
Next we will start showing the artwork and game data of the next game to be published physically soon. A few weeks ago I was testing an automata single player version, because right now 1 player versions are getting more and more important. I'm very happy, we now have 7 different solo game automated opponents, a lot to discover. As I said I like it better to beat opponents, than just to play on VPs and look who is better. To be correct in my new game there are VPs, but there is a VP value and after hitting it, the game changes for the "end-fight" and it feels more like a race for the most VPs. In the end I design game for myself and hope enough people will buy them.
Tue May 12, 2020 12:49 pm
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Solitaire on my designer's table
11 May 2020
I edited the files for my game based on the Montana patience. Now I have 2 pdfs for the 75 game cards to be laid out. (A4 not US letter, but I think it will work)
In Montana you randomly lay out a Poker deck from 2 to Ace (4 suits) in 4 rows. Throw away the Aces to create gaps to be filled with cards. It is open information then. You can fill a gap if the card is the follower of the card left. If there is a gap next (right) to a king, this gap is dead. A gap in the start of a row is a free gap for any 2. Because of the dead gaps, you get to shuffle the unused cards up to 3 times (depending on the rules of the specific patience) and solve (sort) it or not.
I'm kind of used to make solitaire games now. My first one Friday was a big success. I'm not much into the idea of multiplayer solitaires, but liked the card comboing of Dominion and others, but disliked the fact that the most fun to play them is 2 players, because nobody wants to wait for others players turns, because only your own turns are interesting, not the turns of the others. (Maybe some curses, but that's not the same)
And for me playing games with 2 players always feels there is something missing. I like to play with 3, better 4 or even more players. I like the social interaction. I don't need the "clash of two brains" thing, never liked playing chess.
Just played a 2 player Underwater Cities and yes it was fun to do what you do, but not the gaming situation as a gaming situation. Might play it someday again, but give me a racing game with 5 or 6 players I will like it better.
Back to Friday. I liked the card combos, dislike these 2 players stuff, dislike playing for only Victory Points (I need a real goal to aim for). It started to become a cooperative game, but went out to be a better solitaire game. And as usual, I invent games very often to have the game I want looking at the designs (and their missing parts to be a good game for me) around me.
Later on I realized, I always liked to play with card decks solo games, like patiences or sorting challenges. This was the reason for Finished!. And Finished is my actual number one game to play. I literally play it every day at least once. A mind challenge with some memory aspect and important: Almost every time solvable.
But I also like to puzzle (jigsaw) every now and then. With the kids, my partner. And a puzzle is kind of a solitaire game (or even cooperative) solvable every time you play it.
In our lockdown the kids explored the old patiences and I tried my favorite "Rangierbahnhof" from a book of patiences. After some research I found out it is called Montana or Gaps more often. But in my research: depending on the version you play it is only solvable in 1 out of 20 (or 1 out of 7). This not exactly what I'm searching for.
But this is my job. If I find a game that is almost something I want to have. I can just design one, that fulfills my needs.
I needed 5 suits, because "five" starts with an "F" in german and english. Same to 15. I designed me 5 suits with 1 to 15 each. 5x15!
But only to have one more gap did not solve my problems. I wanted to design some special abilities for the different suits, but that would lead to a brain burner as a game and my goal was a nice activity to be solved in a short amount of playing time. Some easy lunch break game. I discovered that the dead gaps are the reason for not solving the game.
The german name "Rangierbahnhof" aka "switch yard" helped. I allowed to shift sequences of cards in their own row to fill the gaps and allowed to fill the gaps not only with the next card to the left, you can fill with the one lower card to right. A lot of iterations (length of the sequences and other ideas) later I got the almost solvable game (without reshuffle) in one go, not as challenging a Finished!, no memory involved, just a nice puzzling game.
Later on when the rule files are finished, probably Henning will upload this to bgg, so you all can try this one. I just don't know if this is a new highlight game, but this is not important, I like to play it and will play it after I finished my blog.....
Paradox: I finished the blog, started playing 5x15!, did not win, but it was so close, but now the blog was not finished, because of writing this. Hmm
Mon May 11, 2020 9:32 am
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Starting it over
08 May 2020
Henning told me to post my blog here, so I do it and will continue from here in the future: (This is the identical article as in the General Creator Forum)
To be a game designer without the regular game nights, meetings and without having different gaming partners is hard. Tom Felber quit his blog on several reasons, but one was not to test games with many different people anymore, is not his understanding from doing a good job.
I'm in a similar situation, but I start a kind of a blog here, to get the audience I need. By now the lockdown-changes in Germany are fast. Maybe next week, I can meet in a game night again, but I was not at the Gathering of Friends, Göttingen, BerlinCon is cancelled. I'm missing that.
So what's going on here in my quarantine. Surprise: I design games.
We just finished the new game and gave the printing files to the manufacture. This is a game we wanted to show at BerlinCon. Whatever happens we decided to make it in a english/german small print run to have it published. All partners we were publishing with, have their own situations now, so we can look if this game is well accepted and have hopefully an international print run later this year. It is better for us all.
A big gamer's game is in the pipeline for Essen. We will work on that and try to finish it in time, but as nobody knows right now, if Essen will takes placed or how it will takes place, we will see if we have to start this with a smaller print run, too.
Now the biggest problem: A prototype with simultaneous action selection. Impossible to test this by my own. I have a family with two kids and we played this already 20 times, but I need more and different opinions. In a few days I will post this as print-and-play game and hope to get feedback from you and you and you.....
Last but not least I created another solitaire game inspired by the Montana patience. I made up the files and the rules will be ready soon for you all to be played in this lockdown situation.
I hope you all stay well or get well soon and we can meet again to play games face to face.
Fri May 8, 2020 12:49 pm
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