Game Designer Lockdown

About my work in these days of the lockdown.
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Usual problems for designers ?!

Friedemann Friese
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Board Game Designer
Board Game Publisher
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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:

From gallery of friedemann


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.
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