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Subject: How do you feel about game revisions? rss

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Thomas Rushing
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For example, Magic The Gathering released 3 full game revisions before they started printing sets with lots of new cards. Anyone who's played MTG for more than a month knows them... The first set was Alpha and the revisions were; Beta, Unlimited, and finally Revised. The game changed a lot and so did the rules from Alpha to Revised.

My question is did any of you play MTG back then and if so how did you feel about having to rebuy the cards and deal with the rule changes?

If you aren't an MTG player what about other games that have done this?
What are your thoughts and feelings on this?

Any success stories from developers out there from doing this?
 
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Boaty McBoatface
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I buy a version of the game, and once I have it ignore another unless I find it cheap. If a game changes system between expansions then I (generally) just stop buying their products.
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Thomas Rushing
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slatersteven wrote:
I buy a version of the game, and once I have it ignore another unless I find it cheap. If a game changes system between expansions then I (generally) just stop buying their products.


Define "Changes System"
 
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Boaty McBoatface
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ARCTheGame wrote:
slatersteven wrote:
I buy a version of the game, and once I have it ignore another unless I find it cheap. If a game changes system between expansions then I (generally) just stop buying their products.


Define "Changes System"
Changes the way the game plays, renders what I have brought before invalid, means that set A does not match up with set b (even though they are still, supposedly, compatible). Basically anything that mean I have to buy the game all over again.
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ARCTheGame wrote:


My question is did any of you play MTG back then and if so how did you feel about having to rebuy the cards and deal with the rule changes?


I did. Never rebought cards. Indeed, I stayed away from the hideous
white-bordered crap that came out after beta (even beta's were a bit
suspect - the colors were just not as good as the alpha). Most people I knew didn't
bother with buying new cards (but didn't mind the white-borders). Tourneys
were just not that big a part of play until later on, in my area.

I didn't like that I could no longer play for ante with people,
because they had cards I didn't want to win however.

Quote:

If you aren't an MTG player what about other games that have done this?
What are your thoughts and feelings on this?



I was rather annoyed by SFB's revisions to the full rules. Especially
after the Commander's edition, which had a modular design which was
supposed to prevent another from having to be made...yet more were.
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I guess technically alpha was different since it didn't have the same card shape, but the print run was so limited almost no one actually got any of those cards. So far as I know there was no MAJOR rules changes until sixth edition and that wasnt until at least five years later. And that didn't require any repurchase of cards.

After alpha all of the cards have been compatible and though they have had rules changes that never made anything previous obsolete. They all fit within the new framework of rules and didn't require you to buy new cards.

You might be referring to the rise of standard and rotation of sets. While you do need to acquire new cards to play in standard there are many formats that do not require purchase of new cards and if a card is reprinted in a new set you can use old cards in the "new" standard.

I never encourage anyone to play stadaard anyway. In my opinion it is the least fun for the most amount of money.

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Like with many things this can be done well and it can be done terribly. Some examples:

- If a game has already had a healthy lifespan "rebooting" the franchise can work out alright. Descent gave us a great example of this, the first edition had more growth than many games are allowed to have and so the arrival of the second edition is simply a new opportunity rather than a nullification of anything that came before. It helps that the two editions are different enough that people could easily have both in their collection and not feel like they have two of the same game.

- If a game works great as a self-contained package then new versions rarely have any impact on the value of the original. If they "revised" Macao tomorrow and put out a new edition with a somewhat tweaked system, cards and components I wouldn't feel any need to pick it up (unless it stood on its own as another great Feld, of course, then I'm obviously going to buy it at some point) and wouldn't see my copy of the game as being lessened in any way.

- As the opposite of the previous two, if the game was clearly built with expansions in mind and didn't get enough of them (or any) to give the game real staying power then a shift to an incompatible edition is a slap in the face of anyone that bought the first one. For example, if after the first box of Dominion they had revised the cards in that set, re-released it with new card backs and then put out all of the expansion with the new backs that would be horrendous. Anyone that picked up the first set would be completely hosed since the game really hits its stride once you add in even one big box expansion for variety.

I'm not that familiar with the Magic example, I know it happened but I don't know how many cards each version had before progressing to the next. Magic is a system that thrives on variety so if the card count was particularly low then that probably was infuriating for anyone buying the game at those stages.
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Enrico Viglino
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And I wish, oh how much do I wish, that CE had never come out
in successive completely different versions. I bought the final
Eon box, with room for all the expansions in it, but they
never reprinted them. The game that mayfair designed, I never
wanted - it was far too limited compared to the original.
AH put out the original over again, again without expansions
(picked that up by accident). The confusion and misery has me
sworn off ever buying more of the franchise.
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Alison Mandible
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Refining or rebalancing rules? Always a positive thing. There's an art to writing rules, and having hundreds or thousands of people playing tends to reveal ways that the rules could be better.

Imperfect matches with old content? (e.g. New cards have a linen finish, so you either you buy a new printing of the base game, or the expansion cards are visibly different even when face-down.) Kind of annoying, but I usually feel like, hey, I can live with the inconsistency or pay money. As long as it seems like the publisher genuinely believes the new way is better.

Total reboots? (e.g. Cosmic Encounter, Pandemic) That's obnoxious.

I didn't start playing Magic until Revised, so I didn't realize anybody had to rebuy cards. Did the very first cards have different backs or something?
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grasa_total wrote:
Did the very first cards have different backs or something?


Alphas were thicker and slightly different shape.

They work fine with later editions, so long as you're not finicky.
Obviously though, the differences are enough that they can't be allowed
in tourney play.
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Thomas Rushing
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Syvanis wrote:
I guess technically alpha was different since it didn't have the same card shape, but the print run was so limited almost no one actually got any of those cards. So far as I know there was no MAJOR rules changes until sixth edition and that wasnt until at least five years later. And that didn't require any repurchase of cards.

After alpha all of the cards have been compatible and though they have had rules changes that never made anything previous obsolete. They all fit within the new framework of rules and didn't require you to buy new cards.

You might be referring to the rise of standard and rotation of sets. While you do need to acquire new cards to play in standard there are many formats that do not require purchase of new cards and if a card is reprinted in a new set you can use old cards in the "new" standard.

I never encourage anyone to play stadaard anyway. In my opinion it is the least fun for the most amount of money.



Eventually there were MAJOR rules changes that did have major ramifications on the text found on the cards. The cards were all still playable, but the text was changed to the standards of the rules. All the cards now have what's called Oracle text which can be found in Wizards card database online.
 
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Thomas Rushing
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The Message wrote:


- As the opposite of the previous two, if the game was clearly built with expansions in mind and didn't get enough of them (or any) to give the game real staying power then a shift to an incompatible edition is a slap in the face of anyone that bought the first one. For example, if after the first box of Dominion they had revised the cards in that set, re-released it with new card backs and then put out all of the expansion with the new backs that would be horrendous. Anyone that picked up the first set would be completely hosed since the game really hits its stride once you add in even one big box expansion for variety.


Svannis and you have brought up a really good point, compatibility with previous sets would be key. As a designer myself I can see the problem with revising the game for anyone out there who's used to the current rules, and if you did that and made the existing cards completely obsolete there would be hell to pay...

As with anything I suppose you can't make everyone happy especially with a rules revision, and especially if you're simplifying. Based on what you said above I have a question...

If Dominion released a second set with new rules and changes to the existing card base would it still be "horrendous" if:

The second set still had the same card backs
The second set included cards for all of the cards that were changed in the first set.

?
 
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Eric Matthews
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MtG came out in a unique time in the history of hobby games. The type of revisions they went through post publication are not as acceptable today. Most major game revisions should be done BEFORE publishing. People should be paying for final products not betas.

MtG also was able to garner a kind of fanaticism even before the betas, and the aftermarket helped keep people from being too frustrated with having to rebuying essentially the same cards.

It's not impossible today; Thunderstone, much like MtG, was essentially published as a beta that had a total overhaul not super long after origonal publication with Advanced... And they are still tweaking the rules. Despite not being a CCG, they seem to be doing fine.

However this reboot is exactly why I got rid of all of my Thunderstone and Advance, and I absolutley take a more cautious approach on anything from AEG or Mike Elliot now.

It isn't the early 90's anymore, and there are too many good games to buy to waste my money and time on betas without getting playtesting credit.

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Thomas Rushing
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grasa_total wrote:
Refining or rebalancing rules? Always a positive thing. There's an art to writing rules, and having hundreds or thousands of people playing tends to reveal ways that the rules could be better.

Imperfect matches with old content? (e.g. New cards have a linen finish, so you either you buy a new printing of the base game, or the expansion cards are visibly different even when face-down.) Kind of annoying, but I usually feel like, hey, I can live with the inconsistency or pay money. As long as it seems like the publisher genuinely believes the new way is better.

Total reboots? (e.g. Cosmic Encounter, Pandemic) That's obnoxious.

I didn't start playing Magic until Revised, so I didn't realize anybody had to rebuy cards. Did the very first cards have different backs or something?


The cards were smaller in the alpha set than all the others. You didn't technically have to buy new cards but they did update the wording on many of the cards when they released revised.
 
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I know about oracle, but it is far from nessisary 99% of the time and then only when it comes to tournaments.

Besides none of that requires or even encourages you to buy anything new. It really is just clarification of rules to solve inconsistencies.
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Eric Matthews
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I could see some flexibility if it is a legacy style game, or a one released in a chapters type of setting. Those models would allow for some retrofitting, as long as its done right.

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ARCTheGame wrote:


If Dominion released a second set with new rules and changes to the existing card base would it still be "horrendous" if:

The second set still had the same card backs
The second set included cards for all of the cards that were changed in the first set.

?


Obviously not, since the entire issue was compatibility. If you make the expansions compatible with the original set that people bought with the intention to expand then there is no issue.
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Yeah Dominion's second set of cards is not a revision at all. They literally are just extra cards with different artwork. They involve no rules revisions whatsoever and don't add, subtract or change any mechanisms.

Dominion is an excellent counterpoint to my Thunderstone example. Like it or hate it, Dominion came out as a fully playtested and elegant game with rules that just work. No wonder so many rushed out to copy the innovation. It didn't need an overhaul of rules or graphic design to make the expansions work. It didn't need a variant to fix it. From the placement of the icons to the colors of the cards, everything works with the mechanisms to make it easy to learn and hard to master.

If anything the optional second set of base cards are actually not as well designed as the origonal since the costs/numbers on the money and land are harder to differentiate at a glance.
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Thomas Rushing
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Ganybyte wrote:
Yeah Dominion's second set of cards is not a revision at all. They literally are just extra cards with different artwork. They involve no rules revisions whatsoever and don't add, subtract or change any mechanisms.

Dominion is an excellent counterpoint to my Thunderstone example. Like it or hate it, Dominion came out as a fully playtested and elegant game with rules that just work. No wonder so many rushed out to copy the innovation. It didn't need an overhaul of rules or graphic design to make the expansions work. It didn't need a variant to fix it. From the placement of the icons to the colors of the cards, everything works with the mechanisms to make it easy to learn and hard to master.

If anything the optional second set of base cards are actually not as well designed as the origonal since the costs/numbers on the money and land are harder to differentiate at a glance.


Here's why I ask...

I have a game that friends and I made a while back. We published it, and it actually sold ok for a short while. It's a really fun game and there is a very small following of people who play it (less than 1,000).

Sales have slowed as of late and I have been getting an itch to make some revisions and release a second set. I feel like it could have sold MUCH better if we would have packaged everything into one box for a cheaper price and if the rules were simpler. I also KNOW if the rules were simpler we would have been more appealing to many of the software development companies that looked into turning our game into a digital product.

There changes that I think we would make to the rules to make the game better; SLIGHT modifications to a few cards and refining and re-balancing some minor rules. The core of the game would still work the same way. As an example another MTG reference: It would be like going from regular MTG to Portal. I am curious on your thoughts regarding this kind of transition.

We want to attract a younger audience (13-16). We were marketing to people 16-25 and we have realized that is not the best target audience for our game. After selling our game for over a year we have also realized we can afford to do a much lower price point with the right packaging, not to mention if the age range for our game is 13-16 they would probably appreciate as low of a price point as they can get!

We are indie publishers and this is our first game that we've published. We learned A TON about what to and not to do. I am a firm believer that failure is just part of the path to success so in revitalizing our game I want to make sure I do it right. It's good to see some revisions if done tastefully are welcomed. Thanks for all the feedback!
 
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I thought this thread was going to be about:

Descent 1 > Descent 2
Runebound 1 > Runebound 2 > Runebound 3???
Mansions of Madness 1 > ....
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ARCTheGame wrote:
Ganybyte wrote:
Yeah Dominion's second set of cards is not a revision at all. They literally are just extra cards with different artwork. They involve no rules revisions whatsoever and don't add, subtract or change any mechanisms.

Dominion is an excellent counterpoint to my Thunderstone example. Like it or hate it, Dominion came out as a fully playtested and elegant game with rules that just work. No wonder so many rushed out to copy the innovation. It didn't need an overhaul of rules or graphic design to make the expansions work. It didn't need a variant to fix it. From the placement of the icons to the colors of the cards, everything works with the mechanisms to make it easy to learn and hard to master.

If anything the optional second set of base cards are actually not as well designed as the origonal since the costs/numbers on the money and land are harder to differentiate at a glance.


Here's why I ask...

I have a game that friends and I made a while back. We published it, and it actually sold ok for a short while. It's a really fun game and there is a very small following of people who play it (less than 1,000).

Sales have slowed as of late and I have been getting an itch to make some revisions and release a second set. I feel like it could have sold MUCH better if we would have packaged everything into one box for a cheaper price and if the rules were simpler. I also KNOW if the rules were simpler we would have been more appealing to many of the software development companies that looked into turning our game into a digital product.

There changes that I think we would make to the rules to make the game better; SLIGHT modifications to a few cards and refining and re-balancing some minor rules. The core of the game would still work the same way. As an example another MTG reference: It would be like going from regular MTG to Portal. I am curious on your thoughts regarding this kind of transition.

We want to attract a younger audience (13-16). We were marketing to people 16-25 and we have realized that is not the best target audience for our game. After selling our game for over a year we have also realized we can afford to do a much lower price point with the right packaging, not to mention if the age range for our game is 13-16 they would probably appreciate as low of a price point as they can get!

We are indie publishers and this is our first game that we've published. We learned A TON about what to and not to do. I am a firm believer that failure is just part of the path to success so in revitalizing our game I want to make sure I do it right. It's good to see some revisions if done tastefully are welcomed. Thanks for all the feedback!


It's not really clear what sort of game this is, is it a customizable one? If so, the people that already play will get shafted if the new version is incompatible assuming the early pool of options is sufficiently small (which seems likely given the reception described). What constitutes a small rule change? Is it like "you may now only play three cards per turn" or is it more like "instead of five statistics all creatures now have only two." In other words, will the changes be playable with old cards or will they require entirely redesigned components to work? Would it be possible to offer a conversion pack of some sort for old owners?

Of course, you can do whatever you want. You might even end up with a better game and a more profitable product. If the question is "would you be irritated if we promised you continued growth for the game you bought but then made it obsolete with new products" then the answer is usually going to be "yes," though.
 
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Thomas Rushing
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The Message wrote:
ARCTheGame wrote:
Ganybyte wrote:
Yeah Dominion's second set of cards is not a revision at all. They literally are just extra cards with different artwork. They involve no rules revisions whatsoever and don't add, subtract or change any mechanisms.

Dominion is an excellent counterpoint to my Thunderstone example. Like it or hate it, Dominion came out as a fully playtested and elegant game with rules that just work. No wonder so many rushed out to copy the innovation. It didn't need an overhaul of rules or graphic design to make the expansions work. It didn't need a variant to fix it. From the placement of the icons to the colors of the cards, everything works with the mechanisms to make it easy to learn and hard to master.

If anything the optional second set of base cards are actually not as well designed as the origonal since the costs/numbers on the money and land are harder to differentiate at a glance.


Here's why I ask...

I have a game that friends and I made a while back. We published it, and it actually sold ok for a short while. It's a really fun game and there is a very small following of people who play it (less than 1,000).

Sales have slowed as of late and I have been getting an itch to make some revisions and release a second set. I feel like it could have sold MUCH better if we would have packaged everything into one box for a cheaper price and if the rules were simpler. I also KNOW if the rules were simpler we would have been more appealing to many of the software development companies that looked into turning our game into a digital product.

There changes that I think we would make to the rules to make the game better; SLIGHT modifications to a few cards and refining and re-balancing some minor rules. The core of the game would still work the same way. As an example another MTG reference: It would be like going from regular MTG to Portal. I am curious on your thoughts regarding this kind of transition.

We want to attract a younger audience (13-16). We were marketing to people 16-25 and we have realized that is not the best target audience for our game. After selling our game for over a year we have also realized we can afford to do a much lower price point with the right packaging, not to mention if the age range for our game is 13-16 they would probably appreciate as low of a price point as they can get!

We are indie publishers and this is our first game that we've published. We learned A TON about what to and not to do. I am a firm believer that failure is just part of the path to success so in revitalizing our game I want to make sure I do it right. It's good to see some revisions if done tastefully are welcomed. Thanks for all the feedback!


It's not really clear what sort of game this is, is it a customizable one? If so, the people that already play will get shafted if the new version is incompatible assuming the early pool of options is sufficiently small (which seems likely given the reception described). What constitutes a small rule change? Is it like "you may now only play three cards per turn" or is it more like "instead of five statistics all creatures now have only two." In other words, will the changes be playable with old cards or will they require entirely redesigned components to work? Would it be possible to offer a conversion pack of some sort for old owners?

Of course, you can do whatever you want. You might even end up with a better game and a more profitable product. If the question is "would you be irritated if we promised you continued growth for the game you bought but then made it obsolete with new products" then the answer is usually going to be "yes," though.


Our game is ARC

An example of a major rule change would be: Instead of starting the game with 4 cards in your hand, you start with zero cards in hand.
-or-
You can no longer respond to another players actions.

These "major changes" would effect the way you play strategically but they do not change the core rules for the game, they compliment them. If we release a second set with rule changes we will also include in the second version updated cards for the original version.
 
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ARCTheGame wrote:
If we release a second set with rule changes we will also include in the second version updated cards for the original version.


Why would you include the updated cards for the original version in the second version? What benefit would people who own the original version get from the updated cards if they have already purchased the second version (which presumably is a complete game "in-the-box")?
 
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Thomas Rushing
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Jokemeister wrote:
ARCTheGame wrote:
If we release a second set with rule changes we will also include in the second version updated cards for the original version.


Why would you include the updated cards for the original version in the second version? What benefit would people who own the original version get from the updated cards if they have already purchased the second version (which presumably is a complete game "in-the-box")?


If we release a second set, it will be a standalone set that can be used as an expansion or maybe even include the first set with it.

We are considering removing some major abilities in the game. One of these abilities is on about 20% of the cards from the first set. We are also thinking of making a trap cards work slightly different which would make them MUCH better and easier to understand, but it would also change the way part of the card looked (only the front of the card the backs would remain the same). There are other similar adjustments that we are considering making to the front of the cards to give players a simplified version of the game.

To avoid the "that card doesn't do that anymore" fight, I was thinking it would be nice if we provided our players with the actual updated cards.
 
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I'd mostly steer away from revisions that change up some aspect of the game or design and force people to buy a new version if they want to carry on with future expansions in the series (yes, I'm looking at you, Pandemic). Usually if it's rules fixes I'd rather they put out an errata than a new version. However, some otherwise fantastic games had a less than stellar first edition in terms of component quality or design (possibly because they were from smaller publishers or people were unsure of the concept). Games like that can really shine with a new edition. Even then, conversion kits, where possible, are a nice touch for your first edition customers.
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