Eric Pietrocupo
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Note: By video game design in this thread, I imply mainly turn based strategy video games which is similar somehow to board games.

Note 2: In case you have not noticed, it's a long post.

I recently bought "Warlock 2: the exiled" during the steam sale (a 4X fantasy game), and I decided to start making a mod. In fact, I bought the game for only modding reasons. The goal is of course to make a mod similar to master of magic (of course). I am really revamping everything, not just adding a few stuff. Basically, the mod should feature:

- Replace everything: Spell, race, unit, perks, etc. Little thing from the original game will remain as it is.
- Better resource flow: Better control on maintenance and production cost for consistency and avoiding bugs.
- Better balance of units: Some units are too weak while other are impossible to defeat. The game suffer of "Give only minor enhancement to make sure no game abuse we have not thought is possible". Its a cheap way of balancing a game.
- Accelerate the game: Near the end, there is a lot of useless management to do making larger empire more annoying than enjoyable to manage.
- Add more structure: To everything in the game. Unit design, building design, spell design.

The list above is just to give you an idea, that it's not a simple mod like "Here is a new race and a new map". Now I have started modding since the beginning of the month, which means approximately 3 weeks, while doing painting in the house, and doing a lot of gardening, so it's not a full 3 weeks. I have a dozen pages of notes, and at this point I have a very good idea of how it's going to work with little need to play test. There are a few decisions left to take, that will be done later. Most of the work is simply to code the mod. The game offer some restriction that I had to deal with, but it was not much a issue to find a compromise or a work around to my initial design idea.

On the other hand I also have in development a master of magic board game project that I have been working on it for 8 years. The paper file is so big that I need a pendaflex for that file only, and I also have a 2nd file for prototype components. Even at that point, I have no clue how the game could work.

So the question is:

"Why it seems like a breeze to me to design a video game mod but it's very hard to design a board game".

Yes video games and board games are different while still being similar. I imagine that if I have some skills at designing turn based strategy video games, It should be transferable to board. But that does not seem to be the case, at least not entirely. There seems to be something in Board game Design incompatible with me that gives me an hard time with it.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

So let's analyze a few differences:

Constants VS Variables: Video games has more variables while board game has more constants since stuff printed on cards remains. It does add a layer of flexibility to video games that board games don't have.

Single player VS Multiplayer: Single player game seems to be slightly easier to design because the balance of the game is not the same. The goal is to give a good experience to the player, not to make the game fair for all players.

Video games design brings new mechanics, but it's mostly adjusting variables. It's more like a mathematical operation which I could be more comfortable with. While board game design is more about finding the right mechanics, so you can't just use new combinations of numbers, you must test and search for a mechanic that fit to your needs. While in video games, you only change how the number behaves.

In board game, information need to be contained in physical components. Maybe that is the element that is blocking me. While in a video game, you can have as many entity and variables as you want. It's often an issue in some video games when there is too much information to manage. I always said that board games felt like trying to fit an elephant in a shoe box, maybe this is what I was referring to.

Many of the differences above seems to make video games more predictable, reducing the need for play testing compared to a board game where you play test a lot just to have a working game, and then additional testing to balance the game.

In board games pieces moves around the board, maybe that is a concept that is harder to grasp for me than only seeing how numbers interact with each other.


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Some might say, modding a game is like designing variant, it should be easier to make that designing a complete game from scratch. Which is true, but even if I think about new games ideas, try to implement the same idea as a board game or as a video game, the BG version has more creative mechanics ideas to overcome certain problems, but I can still not make the game work. While the video game version simply works right from the start and It seems I have much less play testing to do than in a board game. Of course adjustments needs to be made, but the game works on the first draft. While board games, it never works on the first draft.

Maybe I cannot create new mechanics, I need to resign myself in designing variants or Clones. But variant often offend people, or players don't want to play variants when you bring your game, while for clone as a user already said "We don't need stinking clones!". So I don't think those route are an option either.

So this is why I am thinking of quitting Board game design. Yes you have heard me right. As discussed in other threads, people design games for various reasons, but it seem all those reasons does not work for me:

1- Make other people have fun!: Nobody want to play my games, in 7 years, fallen kingdom got played at most 12 times with real players. That is less than 2 games per year. There are also so many new games out there that people prefer to play than your prototype.

2- Make it for yourself: After solo testing the game more than a 100 times, how can I enjoy myself playing it? It's boring to me now. Even games that I love and can enjoy playing 3 times in a row (ex: catan), I have not played it as many times in my life.

3- Game design is a fun experience: While modding warlock, I have a lot of fun. Trying to design new units, and spells. See how they are structured, which number sequence I am going to use, etc. Very creative and interesting, and I am always excited to see the changes in action. For board games, you try something and it fails. Search for another mechanics. Try new mechanics and fails again. Repeat the process until you find one that works. It just lead to frustration after every iteration. In modding design, I know where I ham going, in BG design I don't.

When making board games, I seems that the only thing I am doing is compressing, compressing and compressing again. Like the elephant in the shoe box. While in video game design, it feel like implementing. Anything can be implemented, they are ways to refine and optimize the implementation, but it can always work. In board games, there are mechanics or concepts combinations that will never work.

I would only design a board game if it has the following criteria:

- Short: Playable in 30-60min. To increase testing iteration I can do, to convince more easily players to try the game "We have a 30 min hole! want to play my game!".
- Simple: To reduce the number of modification and mechanic searching I need to do. Probably games based on 2 or 3 mechanics only that exists already or know that it works.
- Small: To make it easy to build, distribute, transport and make it more attractive to convince people to play locally or online (less printing).
- Social: The game must require a social element in order to make the game enjoyable or work making it impossible to make as a video game. For example, trading, negotiation, trash talking, acting, etc. It gives a reason to be a board game and nothing else.

With those criteria, I probably have cut like 95% of my game ideas.

I don't regret having jumped in the world of board games, it had opened my mind in many ways, and I think many video game designers should do the same. I'll continue to play board games once a while, but I might buy less games.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

All my youth, I was raised with turn based strategy video games like those make by KOEI (R3K, PTO, Gemfire, etc). I seem be to capable to easily modify those game to reach different design objectives and fix bugs. I thought this skill was transferable to board games since Turn based strategy games should work like board games right? Even some games like conflict, dai senryaku and advance wars looks like board game. But they are still not entirely board game, a tiny difference that seems to make a huge difference for me when designing.

When I first decided to design board games for good near 2006, I had a choice between making video games or board games. At that time, it was impossible to get published as a video game maker, and it seem faster to develop board games since no programming was required since many assets like music and sounds was not required (artwork still remains). It took me 4 years to make my first board game, and refined it in the next 3 years, I think it's actually more years than I though it would take. In that time, I could have the time to make a video game. For example, megaman unlimited took 5 years, solo designed (art and everything). So the time issue is not different from one model to another. And now it's much more easier to get published as an indie designer with all the new platforms available. Tools and libraries are more powerful making it easier to develop than before. Touch device open new game design possibilities.

So maybe this is where my future lies. I cannot really stop designing because I am cursed and always be thinking about it. The idea is to focus the time I have to invest it somewhere it will worth it for me and for the product I am working on. I might work a 4th day, instead of 3 days per week which should reduce my free time and will ask for better investment of my time. I could do a couple of mods, but it's harder to find a game that fit your needs for modding. I might have 2 games I would want to mod, but after that it will be over.

Else I was thinking making turn based strategy video game that I call "database games" like those games made by KOEI in the past. With probably a more attractive interface that could be similar to board games. In fact, I think board games players will be in the target audience for such kind of games. If I could make an engine to manage database games, it could simplify and speed up the development of future games I make. Not sure if it will take less time, but one thing for sure the game will be ready to play and published once finished. Which is not the case of Print and play games. For sure, if time requirements are the same, it won't be for searching a mechanic I don't know that exists yet. So I should more easily know where I am going.

I guess I'll only know if it was worth the jump after finishing my first game. I think my mind is somewhat set about ending board game design, one thing for sure, I am working on a mod right now, and if I am more interested doing that, I'll be thinking about board game design much less and eventually I'll stop. So the progression should be natural.

That does not mean I am not going to lurk on the forum anymore, as I am still playing board games and still like strategy games what ever their medium. So there will always be a need to come back. I might buy less game and become more a "casual gamer", who know.

Let me know what you think.
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DZ Woloshyn
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When the winds blow west, then go west.

The dirty moose trumpets with the mysterious duck while the moon strums its banjo in the darkness.

Also, even if you're not designing board games anymore, do try to pop into the board game design fora from time to time to help out struggling fledgling designers with their posted woes. It scratches two itches at once: the joy of helping others, and game design brainstorming while leaving the bothersome filtering to someone else!
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Jeremy Lennert
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larienna wrote:
While the video game version simply works right from the start and It seems I have much less play testing to do than in a board game. Of course adjustments needs to be made, but the game works on the first draft.

You speak as if you have created several different video games that are not variants and that you developed to the point where someone could theoretically download and play them. Is that true? (I find it somewhat surprising that you would buy a game specifically for its modding capabilities if you are routinely creating your own games "from scratch", though there's nothing wrong with it...)

If not, you might be underestimating how much of the design work you are taking for granted. For example, when you are making a mod of an already-working game, then everything "works by default", so anything that it does not occur to you to change is taken care of automatically. If you haven't tried to do everything yourself, you might not realize how much stuff you never bothered to think about (similarly, if you've only planned the game out but haven't actually played it, you don't really know whether you've accounted for all the necessary pieces).

Your discussion of how video game design feels more like choosing numbers than choosing mechanics similarly makes me suspect that you may be outsourcing more of the design work than you realize.



Though it's also true that making a game simple is itself difficult; it forces you to be efficient with your mechanics, often finding a single tool that accomplishes several goals at once rather than tackling each problem separately. And board games can't be as complicated as computer games can be, so that efficiency becomes more necessary. Grand 4X games, in particular, tend to be almost psychotically complex. It may be that you haven't developed the skill of being economical in your design.

However, economy of design is pretty valuable even in computer games. Devising a single mechanic that solves three problems at once might be more work than devising three separate mechanics, but the single mechanic will usually be less work to implement and easier to teach to your players.



Have you considered making board game variants? Lots of board game designers start by making variants rather than entire games. It may help you capture that "just plugging in numbers" feel, and if you choose a game your friends already like that may help persuade them to try it.
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larienna wrote:

So let's analyze a few differences:

Constants VS Variables: Video games has more variables while board game has more constants since stuff printed on cards remains. It does add a layer of flexibility to video games that board games don't have.

You can have a layer of flexibility to board games as well. It just means you need to print more cards.

larienna wrote:

Single player VS Multiplayer: Single player game seems to be slightly easier to design because the balance of the game is not the same. The goal is to give a good experience to the player, not to make the game fair for all players.


Game balance is hard independent of platform. Single player games are always easier to design then multiplayer.

larienna wrote:

Video games design brings new mechanics, but it's mostly adjusting variables. It's more like a mathematical operation which I could be more comfortable with. While board game design is more about finding the right mechanics, so you can't just use new combinations of numbers, you must test and search for a mechanic that fit to your needs. While in video games, you only change how the number behaves.

In board game, information need to be contained in physical components. Maybe that is the element that is blocking me. While in a video game, you can have as many entity and variables as you want. It's often an issue in some video games when there is too much information to manage. I always said that board games felt like trying to fit an elephant in a shoe box, maybe this is what I was referring to.

Many of the differences above seems to make video games more predictable, reducing the need for play testing compared to a board game where you play test a lot just to have a working game, and then additional testing to balance the game.

In board games pieces moves around the board, maybe that is a concept that is harder to grasp for me than only seeing how numbers interact with each other.

Computers are more adaptable because they limit the real number of choices that you can make. A board game does not have to be balanced equally just like a computer game doesn't have to be. without restrictions, any game becomes harder.

In computer modding, you have a good number of reskins. A retheme in a board game is a reskin (mostly). There are some balance issues that are play tested out or rewritten.

larienna wrote:

Some might say, modding a game is like designing variant, it should be easier to make that designing a complete game from scratch. Which is true, but even if I think about new games ideas, try to implement the same idea as a board game or as a video game, the BG version has more creative mechanics ideas to overcome certain problems, but I can still not make the game work. While the video game version simply works right from the start and It seems I have much less play testing to do than in a board game. Of course adjustments needs to be made, but the game works on the first draft. While board games, it never works on the first draft.

Maybe I cannot create new mechanics, I need to resign myself in designing variants or Clones. But variant often offend people, or players don't want to play variants when you bring your game, while for clone as a user already said "We don't need stinking clones!". So I don't think those route are an option either.

It's okay to ask for help. We all do. You need more than a new paint job. you need something that your game offers that the original did not.

larienna wrote:

So this is why I am thinking of quitting Board game design. Yes you have heard me right. As discussed in other threads, people design games for various reasons, but it seem all those reasons does not work for me:

1- Make other people have fun!: Nobody want to play my games, in 7 years, fallen kingdom got played at most 12 times with real players. That is less than 2 games per year. There are also so many new games out there that people prefer to play than your prototype.

Have they given any feedback on why they don't want to play? Do they say what works and what doesn't work?

larienna wrote:

2- Make it for yourself: After solo testing the game more than a 100 times, how can I enjoy myself playing it? It's boring to me now. Even games that I love and can enjoy playing 3 times in a row (ex: catan), I have not played it as many times in my life.


Have you thought about a pnp or a prototype that you could send to others?

larienna wrote:

3- Game design is a fun experience: While modding warlock, I have a lot of fun. Trying to design new units, and spells. See how they are structured, which number sequence I am going to use, etc. Very creative and interesting, and I am always excited to see the changes in action. For board games, you try something and it fails. Search for another mechanics. Try new mechanics and fails again. Repeat the process until you find one that works. It just lead to frustration after every iteration. In modding design, I know where I ham going, in BG design I don't.

Don't try to force pound a square peg into a round hole. if it doesn't work, ask the question, "why doesn't mechanic might work?" The only way to learn is by discovering what does not work.

larienna wrote:

When making board games, I seems that the only thing I am doing is compressing, compressing and compressing again. Like the elephant in the shoe box. While in video game design, it feel like implementing. Anything can be implemented, they are ways to refine and optimize the implementation, but it can always work. In board games, there are mechanics or concepts combinations that will never work.

Quite true, but don't give up. It's more than that, honestly. You are shoving that elephant into a box and then smashing it into a cube. There are many steps to developing a good product. Most game designers will tell you it's a process if you do it from scratch. You need to find out what works and what doesn't work.

larienna wrote:

I would only design a board game if it has the following criteria:

- Short: Playable in 30-60min. To increase testing iteration I can do, to convince more easily players to try the game "We have a 30 min hole! want to play my game!".
- Simple: To reduce the number of modification and mechanic searching I need to do. Probably games based on 2 or 3 mechanics only that exists already or know that it works.
- Small: To make it easy to build, distribute, transport and make it more attractive to convince people to play locally or online (less printing).
- Social: The game must require a social element in order to make the game enjoyable or work making it impossible to make as a video game. For example, trading, negotiation, trash talking, acting, etc. It gives a reason to be a board game and nothing else.

1) The more rules you have the longer the game, usually.
2) What are they trying to do? how do they go about doing it?
3) No board reduces the size.
4) All board games are as social as the people playing it want to be.

larienna wrote:

With those criteria, I probably have cut like 95% of my game ideas.

I don't regret having jumped in the world of board games, it had opened my mind in many ways, and I think many video game designers should do the same. I'll continue to play board games once a while, but I might buy less games.

All my youth, I was raised with turn based strategy video games like those make by KOEI (R3K, PTO, Gemfire, etc). I seem be to capable to easily modify those game to reach different design objectives and fix bugs. I thought this skill was transferable to board games since Turn based strategy games should work like board games right? Even some games like conflict, dai senryaku and advance wars looks like board game. But they are still not entirely board game, a tiny difference that seems to make a huge difference for me when designing.
...
Let me know what you think.

turn based games should be easier to design as a board game due to the natural turn separation that occurs.

I think you need to reach out to the people on BGG more. There are many designers, both professional and amateur.

Okay, I looked at the Fallen Kingdom's Demo and I think it's to parts heavy and mechanics heavy. Reading the rules made me feel like i was working, which usually means that it's going to be heavy. Perhaps that was your initial goal, but heavy war games that don't scratch a specific itch make me feel like I'm playing a long version of Civ...without the tech upgrades.
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Modding video games is probably easier than designing board games, but it's an uneven comparison. Making a mod is like "designing" a board game after the rulebook has already been written. You may be generating content, but you're working on stable ground.

If you want a similar experience for board games, try blanking all the cards in Through the Ages or Arkham Horror or something and just replacing those. On the other hand, you could probably significantly reduce your enjoyment of modding by deleting a script that handles combat or map generation and rewriting it from scratch (No notes!).
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Antistone wrote:

If not, you might be underestimating how much of the design work you are taking for granted.


Fundamentally, this. Having written several video games from scratch and designed and created several board games from scratch (both in a hobby capacity, since I value my salary and free time equally and therefore have a 'normal' job), I'd say that overall, they're more or less equal in terms of difficulty.

Video games have a small advantage in some areas in that you can perform much heavier calculations without having to bother the user, while board game design really requires simplicity in mechanisms just because most players will baulk at having to do heavy maths... but equally that can be a trap that leads you to expect that a heavy-maths simulation approach to the underlying mechanisms will automatically result in a fun game, which couldn't be further from the truth; fun is fun is equally hard to make whatever your medium.







(And for what it's worth, we've found that your (OP's) Alliances variant for Dune Express is definitely a benefit to the game.)
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Bichatse wrote:
Antistone wrote:

If not, you might be underestimating how much of the design work you are taking for granted.


Fundamentally, this. Having written several video games from scratch and designed and created several board games from scratch (both in a hobby capacity, since I value my salary and free time equally and therefore have a 'normal' job), I'd say that overall, they're more or less equal in terms of difficulty.



Indeed- from my own experience of professional video game design and hobbyist board game design, the effort to design (though not necessarily to produce i.e. fully manufacture) X amount of game functionality is similar for both computer and board game implementations.

With reference to the OP- the key point is that it typically takes much more effort to competently design something from scratch than it does to subsequently modify that design, regardless of computer or board implementation.

EDIT- a further consideration- it takes less DESIGN effort to create (add or modify) content for an existing game engine/framework than it does to create that engine/framework. Of course, the content might still require more TOTAL effort, e.g. when it requires much research or is rich in artwork.

 
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Quote:
With those criteria, I probably have cut like 95% of my game ideas.


That's probably actually a good thing. It gives you focus.

I can only reiterate what others have said. Modding (or creating a boardgame variant/expansion) builds on the fact that you are starting with a working system. It can be a lot of fun, and that is how I got started in boardgame design.

It's like tinkering with an old car to get it running. You can swap things in and out, replace parts, add whole new pieces. You can use a different engine, tires, or shocks, change the body, and give it a new paint job. But building a car from a bunch of steel and rubber is much tougher, even if you know how to make all the individual parts fit together.
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Sorry for the late reply, I replied to both forums at the same time, and the too many game thread got popular again laugh.

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I think it would help your board game designs (should you choose to continue) to learn to think within constraints.


In fact I think that is the problem, board games impose me too many constraints, see below.

Quote:
I always work within limitations for my designs. With board games, that is usually a component limitation. i.e. no more than 50 cards


The problem is how do you know that a 50 card restriction is the right restriction for your game. Why not 10 cards and 20 tokens. There needs to be a logical reason for restrictions. Sure restriction helps, for example, when I wanted to make a pacific WW2 game where the map fit on a legal page, it does add many restrictions to deal with. Sometimes it does stimulate creativity, but it also mean that you will be struggling a lot to find a solution. Sometime you struggle so much that you realize that there is no solution and need to make a different kind of game.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
There are 5 elements that seems to differ between turn based strategy video games and board games:

1- Physical components. Being forced to put information in to physical components is one of the biggest restriction of all that I might have a hard time dealing with.

2- Finite Component: Having a finite number of components is a minor restriction, but you still need to consider it. You cannot make a game with 10000 cards for example.

3- Quantity of Information: In theory, video games can hold more information, but I think BG can be similar depending on the pieces. Card can hold much more information compared to a token. But a token can be placed well on a battlefield made of an hex grid. With cards, it would takes much larger hexes.

4- Variability of Information: Many information on board games will not be variable since once they are printed, they cannot be changed, while in video games, you can have many variable information. Sometimes too much.

5- Range of information: Board games seems to reduce range of values due to the limited way to keep track of variable information. For example, instead of giving 10 HP to each unit like VG does it, you give 2 HP to each unit and flip the token to keep track of wounds.


Now I always said that video games designers should learn from board game design. If I were to make video games instead, what would be the heritage I should bring to video games. I think point 3, 4 and 5 would be the key. The advantage of video game is that it makes it easier to design by breaking restriction from point 1 and 2. But sometimes it just becomes too complicated because there is too much variable information. By restriction point 3, 4, and 5. It should give a board game feeling while not adding a physical restriction.

3- Quantity of Information: Less information makes it easier for the player to remember and browse. The game is easier to learn, and requires less space to display on the screen.

4- variability of information: Make it possible for player to memorize information instead of constantly looking if the information has been updated. It could make it easier to analyze the board or plan ahead what could happen, thus increasing strategy

5- range of information: make it easier to analyze the game and could improve computation or the planning of strategies.

So if I make video games, I'll keep that in mind to constrain information (which I am unconsciously doing right now in my mod), but at last I'll have less physical restrictions. Those 3 restriction are subjective to the designer, so I am not forced to compress, I compress only if necessary.

------------------------------------------------------

Quote:
Also, even if you're not designing board games anymore, do try to pop into the board game design fora from time to time to help out struggling fledgling designers with their posted woes. It scratches two itches at once: the joy of helping others, and game design brainstorming while leaving the bothersome filtering to someone else!


I might be less active, but I might not be inactive. Well see.

Quote:
For example, when you are making a mod of an already-working game, then everything "works by default", so anything that it does not occur to you to change is taken care of automatically.

Have you considered making board game variants? Lots of board game designers start by making variants rather than entire games. It may help you capture that "just plugging in numbers" feel, and if you choose a game your friends already like that may help persuade them to try it.


Yes I agree with that, even if I change everything, there is a basic structure that remains. I already made a good load of variant in the past. That is one thing I could continue doing, the problems is that they are never really well received. Some are, but some other people would cut my head for doing it (ex: adding dices to LOTR confrontation). It seems to work if it offers a new way to play the game, or if everybody agrees that the game is flawed and need to be fixed (rarely the case).

I also have been blamed many times that I should make my own games instead of modifying other peoples game. So yes not everybody likes variants.

Quote:
You speak as if you have created several different video games that are not variants and that you developed to the point where someone could theoretically download and play them


I have compared some of my design ideas as video games or as board games. As video games you are basically implementing a game a bit like you when design a computer system. There is no system that cannot be implemented with modules and an database. It might not be the most optimized work flow or interface but it will work. For example, I wanted to make a game that could be summarized as a mix of pacific WW2 and piracy in the Caribbeans. So as a video game, you know you have ships, base/cities, commodities, etc. You can easily set up variables for each of these properties, and in the end you'll have a working program. You might end up with a game too long, or with too much management to do forcing you to simplify a few things. But at the base, the game works.

But as a board game, it does not work, because for example, if you have 50 bases on the pacific map that hold information like goods for trade, left over military forces, etc, you will not have enough space on your table to hold, maintain and update that much information. So a solution that was found was to use a trail system like fury of dracula, where only the 5 last place you have visited will be recorded, and when a place get kicked out of the trail, it got reset to it's initial value (got reinforced and supplied). Now if I did not stumble on that mechanic by either playing other games, or having a struck of genius, I would still be stuck with a game that does not work.

Quote:
Have they given any feedback on why they don't want to play? Do they say what works and what doesn't work?


Well first, I am not really a good seller, second when at the prototype phase, it's hard to convince people to play an unfinished game where there are tons of other finished games competing with yours. Again, the too many games syndrome. Finally, I know that I do not have a very social personality, so I don't meet a lot of people so I have less opportunity to make my game be played by others. This is why I was thinking of making solitaire board games.

Quote:
Have you thought about a pnp or a prototype that you could send to others?


My game was only PnP. I think review copies were sent after the first publication.

Quote:
Don't try to force pound a square peg into a round hole. if it doesn't work, ask the question, "why doesn't mechanic might work?" The only way to learn is by discovering what does not work.


Maybe that is the problem, I know something does not work but I cannot easily identify it because it could depend on many other factors. It can range from conflicting special abilities to a bad shape of card.


Quote:
4) All board games are as social as the people playing it want to be.


True, board games implies a social aspect, but some kind of games MUST be social in order to work. Either directly, for example negotiation games (playing dune express without talking is impossible), or indirectly like in St0ck T!ck3r which for example is pretty boring unless you have all that trash talking and teasing around the table. So in order to make my design worth it, it would need to have a social aspect.

Quote:
Okay, I looked at the Fallen Kingdom's Demo and I think it's to parts heavy and mechanics heavy. Reading the rules made me feel like i was working, which usually means that it's going to be heavy. Perhaps that was your initial goal, but heavy war games that don't scratch a specific itch make me feel like I'm playing a long version of Civ...without the tech upgrades.


First, which version did you read, the latest is the 2nd revision which has many simplifications:

http://bgd.lariennalibrary.com/games/fallen_kingdoms/index.p...

Second, I don't know what is your definition of heavy, if it's for the play time (around 3 hours) then yes. If it's for the decisions to make, then it's not heavy at all. In fact it's inspired on Britania, but with no historical aspect.

Quote:
On the other hand, you could probably significantly reduce your enjoyment of modding by deleting a script that handles combat or map generation and rewriting it from scratch (No notes!).


Unfortunately, there is not much script to change in the game. A map generation script is indeed boring to make because it has little relation with the rules of the games. It's basically using fractal algorithm to make the computer generate what you want. So it's like making a path finding algorithm, it's just and algorithm, it's not game rule design.

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Modding video games is probably easier than designing board games, but it's an uneven comparison.


I agree that a mod is more like a variant, but that made me realize that the thinking I was doing behind both type of design were different.

Quote:
but equally that can be a trap that leads you to expect that a heavy-maths simulation approach to the underlying mechanisms will automatically result in a fun game


Yes I know that trap, most strategy video games fall into it, and I fall into it too with my first "Wizardry Legacy" rule design. This is why I previously talked about restricting variables which should make me avoid those traps. I think I am looking for some sort of hybrid games that use the best of both worlds.

Quote:
(And for what it's worth, we've found that your (OP's) Alliances variant for Dune Express is definitely a benefit to the game.)


Like I said, some variants I make really works. If I continue to do so, I might have to set myself some criteria to make sure they get accepted. Or probably design variant for game I love to play as they are (ex: rune age), so that I don't offend people by changing their game. We will see. At least, I am not adding more games to the list laugh

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Fundamentally, this. Having written several video games from scratch and designed and created several board games from scratch (both in a hobby capacity, since I value my salary and free time equally and therefore have a 'normal' job), I'd say that overall, they're more or less equal in terms of difficulty.


They both have their pro and cons. I just suspect that one could be easier than the other for myself. I imagine the only way I could know is to actually give it a try. Like I said in the "Too many games is like not enough" thread, the huge amount of games available make me think twice before jumping in the waggon. Does it really worth it? Do I really get something in return?

That what as discussed in the "too many games thread", OK I'll link it:

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/1195288/too-many-games-n...

Quote:
EDIT- a further consideration- it takes less DESIGN effort to create (add or modify) content for an existing game engine/framework than it does to create that engine/framework. Of course, the content might still require more TOTAL effort, e.g. when it requires much research or is rich in artwork.


It I am taking the video game route, I could be aiming for Java with LIBGDX framework. If I stick to turn based strategy games, I could design a specialized framework over libgdx. First I wanted to manage board games, but now I would design something more hybrid. Once that added layer is complete, additional games should be easier to implement ... in theory. But without trying it, I'll never know.

 
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Hello!

Taking the liberty of not answering to 95% of what you wrote, I wanted to ask about the 4th requirement you mentioned, namely requiring a social element.

Personally, I think restricting yourself in that way just to avoid the potential for a video game (besides aren't MMORPGs social video games, and what about two-player games whose history started around the days of Pong, or other games that allowed for hot seating) is not necessary.

Of course, I have a serious bias there as I am a solitaire gamer, so seeing more solitaire board games developed is of great interest for me.

Frankly, I am wondering about PnP multiplayer games, especially beyond two players: in order to propagate them, they either have to be in b/w or one of the players needs a good colour printer. In addition that player needs to find other players willing to play a PnP game, which often means inferior component quality than a game bought at a game store (because not everyone is a skilled crafter who can cut out things perfectly and glue them without accidents, you know) and the risk of having an unbalanced or otherwise flawed game (as it is generally assumed that professional publisher make some good playtesting/revising, even if that assumption may not always be true). Therefore, I see quite some potential hurdles for a multiplayer PnP game as to getting an audience.

As I am currently exploring solitaire pen and paper RPGs as an option, I want to direct your attention to a different aspect of board games - they are flexible as in completely open to the interpretation of the players.

Please let me explain.
A video game can only respond using its pre-programmed responses or a combination of those for greater diversity. However, the latter approach may result in contradictory responses that may be hurting the immersion, especially if the responses are detailed/with lots of eye candy.
With a board game, there is nothing to stop a player from deciding that they don't like the black knight standing in the corner and therefore putting it into the center of the board. Of course, usually, this kind of creativity would be a house rule or variant.

However, how about harnessing that creativity in your board game? That is, not determining everything with hard rules, dice, cards or tokens, but rather allowing players to assess situations and change the game state as they see fit with only very lose rules/recommendations.

While definitely being a challenge to the designer's creativity, this might cut down on rules complexity and components as you do not need to simulate all of reality or the human mind if you simply tap into the common sense of the players.

Well, that is just a spontaneous idea of mine, so it may be a dead end.

Yours,
Deathworks
 
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Hello! I've only glanced at the title and first post of this thread really.

But I was immediately reminded of a talk by Days of Wonder CEO Eric Hautemont at Google last year. Days of Wonder has a history of making apps of their board games, and in this talk Eric says that making board game was a lot easier than making the app. So maybe some of you will find this talk interesting, especially in light of this discussion.



Carry on.
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Taking the liberty of not answering to 95% of what you wrote, I wanted to ask about the 4th requirement you mentioned, namely requiring a social element.


It's OK, You only ask what you want to know.

Quote:
Therefore, I see quite some potential hurdles for a multiplayer PnP game as to getting an audience.


So you say that single player print and play board games are more likely to get printed and played. Interesting!

Quote:
With a board game, there is nothing to stop a player from deciding that they don't like the black knight standing in the corner and therefore putting it into the centre of the board. Of course, usually, this kind of creativity would be a house rule or variant.


It is true that house ruling is easier in board game. Also text ability that break rules for example is easier as board games.

Quote:
However, how about harnessing that creativity in your board game? That is, not determining everything with hard rules, dice, cards or tokens, but rather allowing players to assess situations and change the game state as they see fit with only very lose rules/recommendations.


Reminds me an idea of some kind of piece pack, where you supplied the core rules, and various adventures could be made with the same pieces. I also though of developing something similar, like placing on components concepts, that had information but no strict rules on how to use them. Then use various method to integrate them to the game. I somewhat explored this with toy play, but I did not find any method of development that works, still, I have not explored it for single player games.

I also had a similar single player board game mixed with card based war game (like twilight struggle) when you are the bad guy that try to take over the kingdom or the galaxy, and the cards are the plots that you could do to disturb the order and gain more influence or power to eventually take over the kingdom/galaxy. The AI script only rebuild what has been lost. The goal was to increase immersion and coherence by making the player trigger the special events himself.

Quote:
But I was immediately reminded of a talk by Days of Wonder CEO Eric Hautemont at Google last year. Days of Wonder has a history of making apps of their board games, and in this talk Eric says that making board game was a lot easier than making the app.


Thanks for the link, I'll take a look.

I think the goal is to find what bugs me in board game design and prevent me to progress. Is it creating a game from scratch, is it the medium? Is it the multiplayer aspect?

One thing I realized is that I have a short motivation span. So designing small games, or variants would fit in that short motivation span. Maybe for toy play games, it could work if things are added progressively to the game.



 
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That's so sad about the part where you say that no one plays your games. I almost started to crycry in the middle of your article. I do not design for a living so I can't even imagine what a let down that is.

I decided when choosing majors that I could never do anything artistic or aesthetic so I would never have to compromise my design principles.

 
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larienna wrote:


Quote:
Okay, I looked at the Fallen Kingdom's Demo and I think it's to parts heavy and mechanics heavy. Reading the rules made me feel like i was working, which usually means that it's going to be heavy. Perhaps that was your initial goal, but heavy war games that don't scratch a specific itch make me feel like I'm playing a long version of Civ...without the tech upgrades.


First, which version did you read, the latest is the 2nd revision which has many simplifications:

http://bgd.lariennalibrary.com/games/fallen_kingdoms/index.p...

Second, I don't know what is your definition of heavy, if it's for the play time (around 3 hours) then yes. If it's for the decisions to make, then it's not heavy at all. In fact it's inspired on Britania, but with no historical aspect.


A heavy game to me requires at least 3/4 of the 4x (Explore, Exploit, Expand, Exterminate). They also tend to be war themed and have sub-steps within sub-steps (but not always). Time doesn't determine it necessarily, but they tend to be longer games by design/default.

In all fairness, I read the demo rules (I think OG ed.) which were not streamlined. You might want to update the demo to a 2nd ed demo.

The game seem much better in 2nd ed.

What you say:
Quote:
A. Player Phase (For each player in order of play):
1. God's ability: Use special power
2. Production: Produce new material
3. Movement: Move their unit
4. Combat: Resolve the battles
5. Score cities: Gain points for controlled cities
B. Invasion Phase
1. Invasion Priority: Change order of play.
2. Select Invaders: Decide to invade or not
3. In case of invasion
- Surrender kingdom: Give away the kingdom
- Select invasion path: Select a path to invade from
- Invasion resolution: Resolve the battle
- Follow invasion: Push or re-invade with a new path
- End Invasion: Spread remaining units across cities
4. End of the turn: Change the order of play.


I think the turn should go:
1) God ability
2) Production
3) Movement/Attack
3a) Retreat
3b) Combat Roll
3c) Intimidation check
3d) Casualties
3e) Rampage
4) Score points (possible end of game?)
5) Invasion
5a) Surrender kingdom
5b) Attack
5c) Control city (leave 3 units)
5d) Continue Attack, if desired
6) End Turn

I'd separate scoring and end of game in the instructions.
I know if you get 2/3 the game ends but what are they and how do you get trophies (might want to add that)?

That being said, I like the game. You're right, it's not heavy (but the OG demo is). The game is definitely aimed towards the war gamer (which I am not a big fan of) but I can see the merit of the game.

 
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Hello!

larienna wrote:
Quote:
Therefore, I see quite some potential hurdles for a multiplayer PnP game as to getting an audience.


So you say that single player print and play board games are more likely to get printed and played. Interesting!


Truth be told, I have printed a number of PnP board games. Until last week, I only had a b/w printer, but I still printed games like The Dungeon of D, which feature coloured cards. With 'Dungeon of D', the artwork on the cards gets hurt really badly by going b/w and in addition, I simply printed it on cheap, standard paper using simple children's glue (the one that comes in sticks of cream rather than as a liquid) to glue them onto thicker paper. I cut them out with normal scissors (I don't work in an office, so I don't have a cutting tool) and to cover up for potential irregularities and also ease the strain on the glue, I sleeved them (okay, that is the only really expensive/professional part). I happily play with these cards on my own, but I think I would be reluctant to pull out such cards when playing with friends.

Speaking of which, here at BGG, there is a growing solitaire gamer community surrounding the Solitaire Games on Your Table monthly geeklists and 1 Player guild and constantly longing for new titles - so it is also an audience easily reached here.

Yours,
Deathworks
 
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larienna wrote:

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I always work within limitations for my designs. With board games, that is usually a component limitation. i.e. no more than 50 cards


The problem is how do you know that a 50 card restriction is the right restriction for your game. Why not 10 cards and 20 tokens. There needs to be a logical reason for restrictions.


Not really, many of these things are arbitrary. There are some factors to consider at the development stage, prepublishing (maybe you can fit 58 cards to a sheet, in which case that is the sensible number), but at design stage the numbers are arbitrary.

You use as many components as you need, and not more.
 
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I am still continuing to think about it, trying to find what bugs me in board game design. One thing that I did notice, is that I seem having an hard time abstracting concepts. Which is realated to the idea of compressing multiple elements in a more abstracted elements.

I think for me, I would have to keep things detailed, and add or cut details I want but not abstract or shrink them. In order to compensate for the increase of detail, changing the scale of the game would be necessary. For example, in my pacific ww2 pirate game idea, it might be very hard to keep track of all bases variables, but if I shrink down the map and reduce the number of bases it could be possible. This technique was somewhat used with the new FFG civ game, where a player can only control 3 cities at a time.

So a solution could be to design lower scale and more detailed games, but it's not a sharp criteria easy to control.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

Quote:
That's so sad about the part where you say that no one plays your games. I almost started to crycry in the middle of your article. I do not design for a living so I can't even imagine what a let down that is.


The objective was not to get pitty from people, but rather analyze facts which cannot lie. The reason behind are varied, it could be the game, it could be my personality, in the end, I don't this that is something I can improve. I just need to be aware of it and try to deal with it. This is why I am investigating single player board games, no need to convince anybody besides make it playtest by other people than me.

Quote:
A heavy game to me requires at least 3/4 of the 4x (Explore, Exploit, Expand, Exterminate).


It's true that I have everything but explore. But my goal at the origin was not making a 4X games. Still, if I design an expansion, I could maybe explore the "explore" portion of 4Xlaugh.

Quote:
I'd separate scoring and end of game in the instructions.
I know if you get 2/3 the game ends but what are they and how do you get trophies (might want to add that)?


Well, since you score at the end of YOUR turn, it's an important step.

Trophies are rumor, Knowledge and buildings which are acquired during the game. Knowledge and buildings through production, rumor through conquest.

Quote:
Speaking of which, here at BGG, there is a growing solitaire gamer community surrounding the Solitaire Games on Your Table monthly geeklists and 1 Player guild and constantly longing for new titles - so it is also an audience easily reached here.


I heard about it, maybe I should take a look.
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Everything is solvable if you manage to reach a high enough level of abstraction. A computer game and a board game are, essentially, user interface problems.

When you mod a PC game, you generally leave the basic UI mechanisms alone. If you mod a FPS, you generally don't turn it into a squad based RTS. You don't mod Civilization into a connect-3. You can, but the more you change the interaction mode, the closer you are to creating a new game from scratch. In board games, similarly, the components are the interface and the rules determine how they behave in certain situations. Similar mechanisms and genres employ a similar interface, otherwise. Through recognizing the pattern, a player has taken the first steps in learning a game.

What I'm trying to say, in relation to your difficulties in designing board games, is that components are the easy part. What is the smallest amount stuff the players need to have meaningful experience? Love letter, the poster child of current microgames, proves that very few components are actually needed if the game can evoke emotions.

Which is what most games are designed to do. To give you the feelies: the rush you get from a lucky roll, smart play or effective teamwork; the fear that your opponent can crush you if he notices your weak spot; the laugh that is shared by everyone in the group when the situation is silly enough.

Different people like different feels, however, so to maximize the chances of a prototype getting played, you need to maximize its exposure to gamers who are used to similar game interfaces..
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Hello!

larienna wrote:
I am still continuing to think about it, trying to find what bugs me in board game design. One thing that I did notice, is that I seem having an hard time abstracting concepts. Which is realated to the idea of compressing multiple elements in a more abstracted elements.


Okay, I may be missing the point totally, but here is my spontaneous reaction. I have not really looked at your game's demo version but the comment about 4x games seems to be implying that you are going for a rather strategic approach (in effect a strategy/war game approach).

I was wondering if going more toward a true thematic approach with a limited story/size could help you. With a smaller scale (say defending a single town) you (and the players) would not get bogged down with two many elements even if you went into great details, and thematic games can actually grow very well if you add lots of details and don't go for abstracting things.

Just a spontaneous thought that came to my mind.

Yours,
Deathworks
 
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Yes I was aiming for something similar. I found that board games were not very thematic compared to when I played strategy video games. But maybe single player games could open me some opportunity to make more thematic and detailed games.

Again, I think having limited scale could be a solution to prevent abstraction. For example, instead of conquering the world, only conquer a small country. The problem is trying to avoid the abstraction trap.

So right now, either I only variant other games and or I design single player game.

For my short motivation span, variants are perfect. Not sure for single player games. One things that will matter is if I enjoy more the designing and play testing of 1P games. If yes, then the game design could be a journey and not a destination, which mean I could enjoy partially designing the game. Else, I don't know if I can design single player games in phases. Maybe I could start with core rules and gradually add features one at a time until the game is complete.

For example in my ww2 piracy game, I could design the movement, combat and encounter system. The game would be playable but incomplete. Then add diplomatic relation, base capture, and liberation. Then in another phase add lair development and management. Continue like that until I get all the features I wanted.

I think that adding modules like that to single player games is much more easier than for multiplayer games where each part interact to each other and needs to be relatively solid.
 
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Hello!

Well, it does depend on what kind of solitaire game you make and what kind of crowd you are aiming for.

A very vocal group are those aiming for challenges as well as the war gamers. Designing a solitaire game for them might be a bit more challenging, as you would need to balance things out carefully so that you get the right level of challenge and that game can not be beaten by a simple strategy. This would also make adding expansions more difficult as you have to consider all things in the balancing.

And somehow you may want to include an AI or something similar, which can be rather difficult to pull off. However, not all challenging games have an AI, so that can be avoided (see Ghost Stories for an example of a challenging game without an AI).

For the story-oriented crowd, the balancing can be somewhat neglected (although at least getting too challenging or single-tracked may also put them off as well). Just consider Tales of the Arabian Nights, which is considered a great solitaire game (solitaire playing is possible by following very simple rules that were part of the original 1985 edition; no AI, no dummy player, just the single player character travelling aroung), some may even argue that it isn't really a game as you can't make any informed decisions (you pick an option, but you have no clue as to what this will result in). These games live on the narrations they build, so there may be more work in either spelling things out in flavour text or finding ways to create the narration through the game mechanics. This can also be challenging and time-consuming.

I think, given that you will be spending a lot of time with the game, it would probably best to consider what kind of game you personally enjoy better and then head that way.

Yours,
Deathworks
 
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Quote:
And somehow you may want to include an AI or something similar, which can be rather difficult to pull off. However, not all challenging games have an AI, so that can be avoided (see Ghost Stories for an example of a challenging game without an AI).


I am awared of non-symmetric AI, where the AI play the game differently than the player to give him challenge.

The kind of game I am aiming for are either strategic, or in between strategic and story driven. One thing for sure I want them strong themed. I realised that more than half of my game ideas would fit perfectly as solitaire. Some other will require more research to see if it is actually possible (ex: tactical war game).

The only solitaire game I made so far is my "Starcraft Invasion" variant. I'll do a clean up of my game ideas and reclassify them to see where I am going. I'll first finish my warlock mod and see afterward.
 
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