I should post again. We are in quarantine with the family right now. On September 10th we had contact to a COVID-19 positive person. By now our tests are not here. We do not know if we are ill or not, but we are not allowed to leave our house until september 24th.
There were so many things I wanted to post, but to be in the house with the two kids, there were other things to do.
We managed to play Andor completely (including 1 print and play legend).
What happened to Faiyum was really interesting. I announced some information here. Henning put the file to BGG. and woosh the game went to Top 1 in Hotness. Sadly this never happened to Feierabend.
It is quite easy to see. Feierabend is a game developed around the theme of after work. The mechanisms are straightforward to focus on the theme best. The reviewers all agree it is a game very easy to teach because everything make perfectly sense theme wise, but.....
It seems not the right game for the geeks here.
Faiyum uses a mechanism from Power Grid, has a new mechanism for Deck-Building, the theme is well know ancient egypt (not distracting from the mechanisms), reminds of Concordia, Roads and Boats. This is the right stuff for this crowd here and boom up to Nr. 1 spot in Hotness.
I still think both games are good games, but I beforehand I was sure, Faiyum is more for the gamers and in the actual situation it is the better product because it addresses the hobby gamers. And these gamers are still buying their games (as I do). Feierabend will be working well in the FLGS with people not playing so many games. It is casual fun with friends, but not a game a gamer is running for.
Sometimes people asking me why I do not stay with the success from Power Grid an develop other strategic business games, because the people like them and I will have much more economic success than I have now. But it would bore me to death to do so. To be honest: I do have enough money to feed the family and all normal needs. I don't need much more money. I want to experiment with games.
On the other hand I would not have ever designed Friday (a huge success as well), Fabled Fruit, fast forward games.... Ok Futuropia was fun the design but not a good idea to publish, but this is ok, because I can do what I like to do. Now it seems I could have a new success with Faiyum. People are highly interested. That is by now the most important information. When the game comes out there will have enough people looking at it.
I still want to publish my train transport game next. And I just working on a betting racing game, with a very simple but intriguing mechanism. (One mechanism = one game) style.
For spiel digital we are working to have out new games playable online. Looks like we will manage to do so.
By now I have to go back to the family, because quarantine is also a very interesting social experiment. In the start of the lockdown, we agreed to have contact to our friends living here in the same house, but now we are only 4 and now shopping (food is delivered), no stays in the garden (because the garden is not at the house).
This is much harder, but next friday we can hopefully go outside again...
Today I'm waiting for to game deliveries: New games, puzzle, escape book for kids,...
Tomorrow there will be the third one....
Game Designer Lockdown
About my work in these days of the lockdown.
Archive for Friedemann Friese
Hello from quarantine
18 Sep 2020
Fri Sep 18, 2020 11:10 am
- [+] Dice rolls
Usual problems for designers ?!
02 Sep 2020
I'm a bit lazy in posting every day now. But here am I again.
Yesterday we played my rail game prototype again. In this game you lay down track or travel on track in your turn. There was always an unlimited amount of track to use for each player and I found out that this devalues the track and let the players more often lay out track instead of traveling. Surprisingly this was not the best strategy and the people traveling more were winning the game, but still people will doing it; and even believing they do well. This is the first designers problem here: If people intuitively make the wrong decision and do not understand why others win, this is NOT good for a game. Some people will like it because they like it playing against the intuition and winning. To feel better than the others who are not seeing the truth, but I think this is not a good motivation to play a game.
First usual problem: Wrong intuition!
So I changed it. Every player get a limited amount to track to build and can buy new track. This limitation was very good for the game, because now it has the dynamic I wanted to have and the competition is harder, because the player's scores are closer to each other. They do not do so many mistakes anymore.
Money in this game is limited and is only transferred from one player to another. Now I added a possibility of spending money to the bank. The total amount of money in the game is shrinking. What happens if a player runs out of money. In the former version, you can always build track, but now this has to be paid.
Second usual problem: Solving problems, create other problems
Easy to solve: You can get new track to build for paying or skipping a turn. I know that skipping a turn is the worse decision. But....
Now there is an option in the rules and every designer should now if there is an option there will be a player to choose it even if it is the worst decision in the world ever.
Third usual problem: Do not offer bad options.
How to deal with this. For this topic I will ignore it, because the difference is not as big as with the other problem. You will not loose to much by skipping a turn and yesterday I had two player decided to skip and afterwards they thought it was not the best idea and changed to paying next time. Now this is option is still in and it feels very much ok.
Another interesting topic: There are also tunnels and ferries to build and they cost two building actions instead of one. In the old version this was just doubling the price: laying track for 2 actions instead of one. Now it is 2 actions but only laying one track, means the cost is a bit lower, because you use two building actions, but only "pay" 1 track. And very good this feels better!!
First usual benefit of being a designer: Sometimes you get something for free by changing a rule. You solve a problem and get a benefit. (That's one of the reasons why I love my profession.)
There are still some problems to solve especially for the end game. Yesterday we played another game and this was fun until the end game. After this endgame, I really do not what to play it again. But I still want to read the rules again to find out if we made a mistake, because difference between the fun we had before and the frustration of the endgame feels awkward.
I had one other usual problem, but forgot about right now.
Faiyum is in print right now and we will post some official info too, but here is something for my readers:
The Finished APP seem to work well right now. We have an increasing number of users in the leaderboard of the Daily Challenge. I don't know if it is clever to beat the highscore every single day, but I still like to play this game and this is my daily routine to solve the Daily Challenge as a puzzle.
Eric added the leftover coffee to be shown in the leaderboard (if using the newest version of testflight) and yesterday I managed to have 5 coffees left. This is very rare and very hard to get. Eric is now very curious how this is even possible. I played this game now over 2000 times. On my iPad I have logged 640 games in the statistics (and the statistics do not show the times played before they were counted, of course) By now it seems I'm the best player in the world for this game and I know the deck after 2 times playing the Daily Challenge and get the idea where to build sequences in the deck and know the cards to focus on and sometime push a single card through half of the deck. The fun in the game is that you have a big picture to build, but also have to build smaller sequences to get enough candy to build up the deck.
Wed Sep 2, 2020 1:15 pm
- [+] Dice rolls
Ticket to TransAmerica ?!
21 Aug 2020
First of all: I played my rail game last night and it is still a good one. I had some problems to memorize it right and I just looked at the files and the oldest file is from 14th October 2008, means this game is almost 12 years old. It is still at one publisher and I know the developer really wants it to be published and cannot convince the company to finally doing it. By now I think it is good idea to publish this as my next 2F-spiele game.
I remember showing it to (and playing with) Alan Moon to get an opinion if this is to close to Ticket to Ride and he claimed that he sees it more close to TransAmerica than to Ticket to Ride. Whatever it is, it is fun and one of my test players said: Yes it looks like Ticket to Ride and it has some remembrances to TransAmerica, but this one is better. Ok this is an even better reason to work on it. By now this game is 12 years old and I played it last time before in 2014. Some more tests, but I still think it is almost done. [It should because I gave it to another company.] And why not try to benefit from my archives.
Larry asked yesterday for the weight of Faiyum, but I cannot tell. This so much a theoretic value for me and not a value of quality to me. Has Power Grid a high weight because it is strategic or does it is even lower because there are not so many ways to victory, not so many different ways to score, not so many different options to choose, I cannot tell.
Yesterday I played Tapestry (spoiler-> two times: the first and the last time) and this game has such an easy structure: advance on one chart or get income. After 5 times income you are done. What does this mean for the weight. On the other hand there are so many things in this game. Which chart to advance on, which tech card to get, where to expand on the board, how to build up your capital. BGG says it has a weight 2.86/5 (Power Grid has 3.27). I still do not understand this concept. What does weight really measure.
But this is my main problem: There is almost no data to tell me if a game is good for me or not. BGG Top 50??? Most of my favorite games are not in this list. Hotness?? Only to tell that Tapestry is now on the previous owned pile. I never used weight.
On the other hand there are other things that might matter.
- Name of the Author can lead to : "interested" or "try to avoid"
- Company: Is an argument, because I normally know the developers of the companies and can tell how I like their work.
- Kickstarter: Mostly a reason to avoid a game
But my main argument is (and normally I can only tell after playing the game): If counting and calculating for VPs is more important than playing the game (theme or mechanism), this is almost everytime a reason for not liking the game.
Back to Larry. Yes Larry I know you for so many years now and luckily for you the weight of a game is a good measurement for you to like a game. [I really would like to have a similar guideline, that would lead to play better games and even sometimes would stop me wasting so much time on bad games. Luckily Tapestry was not waste of time, it still was very interesting to play this game, I even won and I can try to understand why so many people adore this game. And it is so easy to learn and to explain.]
But Larry to be short: Yes I think Faiyum is a game you will like!
Back to Tapestry:
The most interesting aspect on the "product" for me as a publisher and author was the one sheet "Anpassung der Zivilisationen". This is a sheet for every single civilization in the game to make it more balanced. This means you get a game of asymmetric civilizations and in the box itself there is already an errata to balance the civs, but even more interesting I went to the website and got version 1.2 for even better balance.
To be honest I started game design in 1992 and an errata was always a horrible thing to do (and I had to do it many times), but this feels like: It's not a bug, it a feature. You can download your newest errata (=patch) every time you play the game. Sorry but for my it feels like the game was not finished in the moment of publishing and the gamers are used as developers to make the game better. Maybe I'm old and do not see the benefit of this, but it left a bitter taste in my mouth.
Fri Aug 21, 2020 11:47 am
- [+] Dice rolls
Back to work
20 Aug 2020
Holidays are over but not school holidays for the kids, so work-time is still a very valuable resource to have.
Today I managed to work a lot. The Faiyum data had to be double-checked the last time, before going to the printer.
What is Faiyum?
Is it a deck builder??
Kind of. Every player has its own deck of cards and buys new cards for the deck. But you have your complete deck in your hand and play 1 card per turn. Newly acquired cards go directly into the hand and you can play them as a turn. (Buying a card is a turn as well). How to get your deck back?? If you run out of cards or out of valuable card-plays, you can decide to get back your cards, but in reverse the order you played them. Last played comes back first. You get 3 cards back for free, every single other card you want to have back will cost you 1$.
Yes and No to deck building!
Is it worker placement??
Kind of. We are building a structure together. Nobody owns anything (like Road & Boats). Cards allow us to put workers on the board. Harvesters to harvest spaces others only to settlements others only to workshops. If a space already has 1 worker, you cannot play one. This sound like worker placement, but you do not own any workers. If you need one, just take a neutral one. In administration you can remove two from the board to open the spaces for everybody. If you build a new settlement on a space with a worker, it cannot be used to place a worker until the worker vanishes and workers can even move over the board.
Yes and No to worker placement!
And then the use of the current and future market from Power Grid. 8 numbered cards in the market, but only the 4 lowest to be acquired. Ok no auctions just pay 3,4,5 or 7$ for the first 4 card, draw a new one and sort it in the 8 cards.
On the other hand it does not matter, because I think it is very good game. Strategy (you really have to look which cards to buy, the order to play them and where to build the common stuff), different ways to victory (only a few powerful cards and a fast cycle of them or a big hand and scoring a lot in the endgame only to name two different options), interactive but no "take-that" (if everything is owned by everybody nobody can steal something from you ), about 2 hours long.
After checking all the files today, I really look forward to see this published. (I even have an idea for an expansion)
But now I have to think of the next game after Faiyum (never stop...). By now I think I will be a rail-game (with transport and network building)
but this another day......
Thu Aug 20, 2020 4:51 pm
- [+] Dice rolls
Watch others play
27 Jul 2020
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.
Mon Jul 27, 2020 4:31 pm
- [+] Dice rolls
A secret wants to be told
24 Jul 2020
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.
Fri Jul 24, 2020 2:13 pm
- [+] Dice rolls
I have it
23 Jul 2020
Feierabend is here!
Nothing more to say today!
Thu Jul 23, 2020 3:09 pm
- [+] Dice rolls
I'm getting old
20 Jul 2020
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.
Mon Jul 20, 2020 1:43 pm
- [+] Dice rolls
Still waiting for the next week
16 Jul 2020
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.....
Thu Jul 16, 2020 11:33 am
- [+] Dice rolls
Design some games at random
14 Jul 2020
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.
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....
Tue Jul 14, 2020 10:26 am
- [+] Dice rolls