The time has come to make a decision between Arena and Monkeygame. This has been a really tough one, since I found lots to love about both games and have had fairly positive playtest experiences of both of them. I've been getting advice from all over, friends, playtesters, colleagues, BGG, twitter (Come to think of it, I'm not sure I've linked to my twitter before. I only started last week so it's all still new to me) and so on. I finally made a decision, but it was a close run thing.
Arena is a deeper game, strategies will evolve more over repeated plays and changing characters completely changes the nature of the game. It's got a bunch of manufacturing advances, due to its modular nature. The rules are easier for new players to learn and grasp. The variety of characters gets players instantly invested in the game. It'll be easier to market as the characters and their associated minis help with this. I think I'd enjoy working on it more; it's quite a lot of fun to come up with new bits and try them out. It's better suited to stretch goals, as more arenas and characters are easy to add.
Monkeygame is fun.
While Arena has significantly more advantages than Monkeygame, that one advantage is very significant. Playtester groups generally finish their first round of Monkeygame with "Can we play again?", but almost never say that about Arena. People laugh and smile more with it. They also curse and fret more and are generally more emotional in every way. Even its name has been bestowed by testers, as I generally refuse to name anything until I absolutely have to.
Both games need a fair bit of development before they're done, so it comes down to where I'd like to start from. I could take a game that's got a lot of mechanical depth and try to modify it so that it becomes more enjoyable to play without ruining that depth or I could take a game that's fun to play and try to modify it so that it stays fun over repeat plays without undermining what makes it fun. At the end of the day fun is a very slippery concept which often defies analysis (Which doesn't stop people trying), it's hard to add on purpose and easy to ruin.
It's rare and precious enough that whenever I capture it I'm elated to find it but anxious that it'll escape. With this in mind it seems best to start with the game people are enjoying and look for ways to improve upon it, without undermining the aspects that people love. A decision is made and it is Monkeygame.
A collection of posts by game designer Gregory Carslaw, including mirrors of all of his blogs maintained for particular projects. A complete index of posts can be found here: https://boardgamegeek.com/blogpost/58777/index
07 May 2013
- [+] Dice rolls