GeekGold Bonus for All Supporters at year's end: 1000!
8,928 Supporters
$15 min for supporter badge & GeekGold bonus
18 Days Left

Support:

Recommend
1 
 Thumb up
 Hide
20 Posts

BoardGameGeek» Forums » Board Game Design » Board Game Design

Subject: Reverse engineering to create the perfect board game rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Joab Rivers
msg tools
**** CLIFF NOTES ****
I've realized board games are simply mediums to strengthen relationships with those we care about. I've come up with a lot of constraints on which game mechanisms foster/inhibit this goal, and designed a game around these constraints, that will hopefully be fun. Called D Y S T O P I A 4 2. I will try and actually bring it to market. Those who want updates, click here: http://goo.gl/LZqfEL
Cheers!
**********************

Hi all. This is my first post here. I'm not a huge board gamer, but recently played some with my family during a cabin vacation over the summer and have become converted to how awesome board games can be. Basically I've realized board games are a medium in which human relationships can be nurtured, just by spending time together and talking. I guess that's what I really appreciated about this experience this last summer.

However, I've realized that there are elements in different board games that I love, but each has their own flaws. So I'm on a quest to design a board game that *I* feel would be the world's best board game (obviously subjective). It's gone from sketches on scratch paper, and hopefully will end up on shelves someday - I may go the Kickstarter route. So I'm breaking apart the psychology of what I love about board games, what I dislike, along with the pros/cons of my favorite games and recombining them into a playable experience of my own creation. Since I'm not starting with a specific theme or style, and have been working backwards with specific constraints, I'm calling it reverse engineering.

Here are my requirements:
- Game must be playable in 30 min to 1 hour. Any shorter and the players can't adequately enjoy each other's company in one gameplay, any longer and it creates too big of a time commitment to bust out (think RISK).
- Game must include up to 5 players. The perfect number of players that suits good group interaction.
- Somewhat slow paced. A game mechanic that moves too quickly will prohibit natural conversation and won't serve the purpose of allowing loved ones to simply talk.
- Not contentious. Games where you directly attack another's territory or units, while competitive, often foster contention. There are literally board games that I've seen friendships stained over. I'm talking table-flipping, insult-hurling, physically-violent ensuing stories.
- Independent player progression. Instead of winning of another player's loss, players progress mostly independently, thus preserving desire to win without the expense of relationship peace.
- Turn based. This allows all participants to have a bit of the spotlight, including guests or newcomers to groups.
- No dice rolling. Too much luck, doesn't feel like strategy can be incorporated. How to handle a dice falling on the floor always results in an argument from the more competitive participants.
- Simple/Strategic. Simplicity increases the chances the board game will be played by first timers and children. Strategy will give the game lasting value, or many repeat plays.
- Mathematically balanced. As an engineer in training, I love things than can be mathematically expressed and optimized. For instance, in Scrabble, given your available letters and the board layout, a "best" solution always exists, and can be readily found using linear algebra cheats. I want a game that's perfectly balanced, with every player having an equal chance for success, a game that I can program every possible permutation of the outcome and confirm complete balance (Chess has still yet to be solved, but maybe someday).
- Choice Stressing. I find games that require the player to choose between two seemingly *good* moves to be highly addictive. These choices get the heart pounding, and create an exciting quality.
- Multiple goals. With some games, one bad move and you're out of the running. I want multiple avenues in which a player can win, so as to keep all players fully engaged to the end, thus preventing pouting.
- No player elimination. This keeps the family together until the last move.
- Winner only revealed at the end. Let the thrill of victory and the dull of defeat hit everyone at the same time, instead of the slow inevitability of the winner basking and the losers bemoaning their "I should haves..."
- Point based. Adding up points at the very end is such a fun surge.
- Beautiful artwork. The design makes people want to pick up the box. Not messy and cluttered covers like many games. Something minimalist.
- Can actually be brought to market. This most likely means Kickstarter...the Kickstarter target audience is adult males in college, recently out of college with too much time/money on their hands. Thus a Kickstarter campaign will target this demographic's interests and theme.
- Not too specific themed. Something trending, reasonably popular, and can be universally appreciated, not pigeoned hold to a small group of passionate enthusiasts.

Phhhheww. While there are many games which undoubtedly satisfy all these constraints, I'm determined to build my own and bring it to market. So far, I have designed a turn-based board game that is themed around a post-apocalyptic, dystopian earth, embracing scenarios from the most popular novels/movies/TV shows trending today. Each user collects and lays down different races in an attempt to create a perimeter around their randomly card assigned "districts". Points will be assigned and the game should last about 45 minutes. I'm talking to manufacturers right now to get a quote on how much money I'll have to raise to get a first batch of orders out while making it worth my time. I'm also talking to artists about getting the artwork drawn. If I can accomplish my dream, and get my friends/family around an evening table and talk, laugh, strategize, and have a good time....then I'll have considered my efforts a success. The working game title is D Y S T O P I A 4 2.

If you're interested in the progress, or want to be notified when I'm bringing it to market, you can add your email here and I'll put you on the updates mailing list --> http://goo.gl/LZqfEL Peace!
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Gregg Saruwatari
United States
Arroyo Grande
California
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
You should definitely check out similar games that will be suggested to you before you progress further. I think it is a mistake to try and build your "best game" without having experienced the games on which you hope to improve.

Here are a few to get you started:
Glory to Rome
Core Worlds
Puerto Rico
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Joab Rivers
msg tools
Core Worlds sounds sweet. I have never heard of this one before. I like the mechanics of how it handles the input/output of cards and amassing points. I'll keep doing my homework while I build out my design.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Kārlis Jēriņš
Latvia
Riga
flag msg tools
I'm a sheep.
badge
A lovely, fluffy sheep.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Overall, I applaud your approach and wish you luck in your endeavors, even though I may not agree with all goals and it doesn't sound like the final product would be something I'd be interested in. Also, good job setting 5 players as a design goal, though I'd invite you to extend that to 6. More than that is probably not necessary, but groups of six people do frequently get together, and they may not want to split up to play 2 games.

Also, I'm pretty sure chess has been solved. As Dearlove points out, and as I learned from googling it after his comment, this is false. Ignore me.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Christopher Dearlove
United Kingdom
Chelmsford
Essex
flag msg tools
SoRCon 11 23-25 Feb 2018 Basildon UK http://www.sorcon.co.uk
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Dystopia42 wrote:
Core Worlds sounds sweet. I have never heard of this one before. I like the mechanics of how it handles the input/output of cards and amassing points. I'll keep doing my homework while I build out my design.


It is not a 30 to 60 minute game. And while you don't attack each other, if you take the only planet I can take this turn, you might as well have done so. (The Consuls of the Empire rule helps a lot with this when it really matters. Before that, it's recoveable.)

I like the game. But it doesn't seem a fit with your requirements.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Christopher Dearlove
United Kingdom
Chelmsford
Essex
flag msg tools
SoRCon 11 23-25 Feb 2018 Basildon UK http://www.sorcon.co.uk
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
TheNameWasTaken wrote:
Also, I'm pretty sure chess has been solved.


If it had, that would be such major news it would be front page of serious newspapers, make the radio, and probably even decent TV news.

No, chess has not been solved.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Joab Rivers
msg tools
there are times I love to get really competitive, depending on my company. So these constraints aren't universally applicable to my mood, but are what I'm interested in designing. Most of the people I imagine wanting to play it with aren't board-gamers either, so I think that has something to do with it. If I can get it made, hopefully I can interest at least a few.

-on chess: it's only been solved for a few endgame scenarios with 3 or less pieces. With a full board starting with 32 pieces, computing every possible permutation of every game is impossible with even the most robust super computers. There are theorists that claim there isn't even enough energy in the universe that could overcome the thermodynamic barrier required to solve chess, brute forcing it. would be exciting if it happened in our lifetimes.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Maarten D. de Jong
Netherlands
Zaandam
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
Far too many design specifications are conflicting. I can eaily spot several, and if I put my mind to it I might be able to point out about a dozen. And this is from one engineer to another.

My advice at this point would be: pick a few specs. Do those well, and save the rest for another design. Games which include everything but the kitchen sink never do well.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Carel Teijgeler
Netherlands
Vlaardingen
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Hi,

I admire your intentions, but I would not call it "reverse engineering" as you do not take a game as model and try to improve on that to better.
I fear there are also some weak elements in your presentation. Here are my 2 Euro cents in it.

Dystopia42
Quote:

Here are my requirements:
- Game must be playable in 30 min to 1 hour. Any shorter and the players can't adequately enjoy each other's company in one game play, any longer and it creates too big of a time commitment to bust out (think RISK).

Here you contradict yourself. You said yourself:
Quote:
"Basically I've realized board games are a medium in which human relationships can be nurtured, just by spending time together and talking. I guess that's what I really appreciated about this experience this last summer."
And now you allow it for just 60 minutes.

Why does a game have to be limited in time? If it is for the sociability of the event, does it matter how long it takes? I don't think so. The only thing to take care of is, that the game does not start to drag after a period of playing.
Quote:

- Not contentious. Games where you directly attack another's territory or units, while competitive, often foster contention. There are literally board games that I've seen friendships stained over. I'm talking table-flipping, insult-hurling, physically-violent ensuing stories.

Quote:

- Independent player progression. Instead of winning of another player's loss, players progress mostly independently, thus preserving desire to win without the expense of relationship peace.

A game without interaction between players, no conflict at all makes the game more the type of "multi-player solitaire". Some confrontation in play should be required.
Quote:

- No dice rolling. Too much luck, doesn't feel like strategy can be incorporated. How to handle a dice falling on the floor always results in an argument from the more competitive participants.

I hope you realize that card drafting can also be a great deal of luck.
Quote:

- Simple/Strategic. Simplicity increases the chances the board game will be played by first timers and children. Strategy will give the game lasting value, or many repeat plays.

I would suggest a basic game set of rules for beginners and an advanced set of rules which adds more complexity for the experienced players.
Quote:

- Point based. Adding up points at the very end is such a fun surge.

What did we have the 60 minutes before that? No fun? I think playing is more important than winning.
Quote:

- Not too specific themed. Something trending, reasonably popular, and can be universally appreciated, not pigeoned hold to a small group of passionate enthusiasts.

And I was hoping on something really original. Because if you take the middle road in topic/setting, theme and mechanics in your game you must come up with an original concept.

You have set yourself a high task. Wish you luck with it.

Regards,
Carel
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Christopher Dearlove
United Kingdom
Chelmsford
Essex
flag msg tools
SoRCon 11 23-25 Feb 2018 Basildon UK http://www.sorcon.co.uk
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
anijunk wrote:
I would suggest a basic game set of rules for beginners and an advanced set of rules which adds more complexity for the experienced players.


Mostly, I dislike this for several reasons. One is that I may miss the good game by playing the cut-down game, and possibly never going further. Also a significant issue is two games to playtest.

(My most significant exception is Agricola. I like the "family" game, which is not just Agricola light. A typical example of a game best jumping straight in with all rules is Beowulf the Legend. An oddity is Concordium, which has an extra rule for beginners. Having looked at it and what it offers, I've never used it.)
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Joab Rivers
msg tools
cymric wrote:
Far too many design specifications are conflicting. I can eaily spot several, and if I put my mind to it I might be able to point out about a dozen. And this is from one engineer to another.

My advice at this point would be: pick a few specs. Do those well, and save the rest for another design. Games which include everything but the kitchen sink never do well.


Hmm...care to share? The game I've designed already satisfies all those constraints. I guess time will tell - if it does well.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Joab Rivers
msg tools
anijunk wrote:
Hi,

I admire your intentions, but I would not call it "reverse engineering" as you do not take a game as model and try to improve on that to better.
I fear there are also some weak elements in your presentation. Here are my 2 Euro cents in it.

Dystopia42
Quote:

Here are my requirements:
- Game must be playable in 30 min to 1 hour. Any shorter and the players can't adequately enjoy each other's company in one game play, any longer and it creates too big of a time commitment to bust out (think RISK).

Here you contradict yourself. You said yourself:
Quote:
"Basically I've realized board games are a medium in which human relationships can be nurtured, just by spending time together and talking. I guess that's what I really appreciated about this experience this last summer."
And now you allow it for just 60 minutes.

Why does a game have to be limited in time? If it is for the sociability of the event, does it matter how long it takes? I don't think so. The only thing to take care of is, that the game does not start to drag after a period of playing.
Quote:

- Not contentious. Games where you directly attack another's territory or units, while competitive, often foster contention. There are literally board games that I've seen friendships stained over. I'm talking table-flipping, insult-hurling, physically-violent ensuing stories.

Quote:

- Independent player progression. Instead of winning of another player's loss, players progress mostly independently, thus preserving desire to win without the expense of relationship peace.

A game without interaction between players, no conflict at all makes the game more the type of "multi-player solitaire". Some confrontation in play should be required.
Quote:

- No dice rolling. Too much luck, doesn't feel like strategy can be incorporated. How to handle a dice falling on the floor always results in an argument from the more competitive participants.

I hope you realize that card drafting can also be a great deal of luck.
Quote:

- Simple/Strategic. Simplicity increases the chances the board game will be played by first timers and children. Strategy will give the game lasting value, or many repeat plays.

I would suggest a basic game set of rules for beginners and an advanced set of rules which adds more complexity for the experienced players.
Quote:

- Point based. Adding up points at the very end is such a fun surge.

What did we have the 60 minutes before that? No fun? I think playing is more important than winning.
Quote:

- Not too specific themed. Something trending, reasonably popular, and can be universally appreciated, not pigeoned hold to a small group of passionate enthusiasts.

And I was hoping on something really original. Because if you take the middle road in topic/setting, theme and mechanics in your game you must come up with an original concept.

You have set yourself a high task. Wish you luck with it.

Regards,
Carel


Yes, "reverse engineering" is a slight misnomer, admittedly.

In my own experience, games that take longer than 90 minutes to play are frequently discouraged amongst friends and family, when we are deciding upon a game to play, cause "it takes too long." Yes, games are a medium in which to spend time together, but if people are averse to a longer time commitment, the game doesn't get played at all, and you lose possible quality time. So it's obviously a trade off to satisfy human time management, while ensuring a high probability of selection. People all need to be on the same page, mood, schedule, etc to throw themselves into a long game.

And you're right, non confrontational gameplay would be like multiplayer solitaire - which isn't a bad thing in my opinion. In my current game design, players can play choose to move their units in a way as to obstruct another's success, but at the expense of their own possible gain. I like this tradeoff because it doesn't encourage head-to-head attacking.

Yes, card drafting is a great deal of luck. Achieving victory must balance both perfect mathematical strategy and luck. aka, could a computer program win every single time against flawed human strategy while still negotiating the "luck" involved with the mechanics? I prefer "yes", as this implies the has a mathematical basis in which in can be solved.

One set of rules is preferred. What defines "experienced" and "beginner"? It should be simple enough in strategy for kids, but with enough nuance and advanced strategy for the hardcore enthusiast.

I agree, playing is more important than winning. As far as originality goes - there's really no such thing as an original thought in the 21st century. There's nothing wrong with reworking ideas, but that's just me.

Lots of this stuff is obviously subjective. But like I said, if my game is a medium in which friendships are fostered, whether it's original or not, I will consider it a success.

 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Maarten D. de Jong
Netherlands
Zaandam
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
Dystopia42 wrote:
Hmm...care to share? The game I've designed already satisfies all those constraints. I guess time will tell - if it does well.

1. Game playable in 30 min to 1 h, with up to 5 players, creates tension in the amount of moves players need to make in order to finish. Moves must be fast and simple as a consequence.

2. Group interaction at 5 is hard as interactions scale, to first approximation, as O(number_of_players ^ 2). In order for players to 'feel' each other's presence, many moves need to be made.

3. Slow paced is therefore at odds with #1 and #2; or moves are 'big' and very influential, i.e., actions accomplish a lot with respect to the total amount of changes a player amasses throughout the game. But then choice might be compromised, so at odds with #10 and possibly #9 as the balance is affected by actions which are too 'coarse'.

4. Not contentious means that the number of interactions is limited. At odds with #2 which promoted 'good group interaction'. (Not at odds with #1.)

5. Independent player progression is at odds with #2.

6. Turn based game. Is slightly at odds with #1 (especially the time frame), for reasons listed there. To what extent depends on #3.

7. 'No dice rolling' also means 'no card draws', which is more or less the same principle. Yet your design document/paragraph states that the perimiter (whatever that may be) is randomly assigned. Is that the only source of randomness present in the game, and is it just to configure the starting position? If yes, then no problem. If no, then your design is at odds with this spec, #7. (And contrary to what you think, you can incorporate strategy with dice. Dice are, after all, sources of stochastic randomness with for example expected values. Also, dice falling on the floor are legitimate rolls. As an engineer you can think of the reasons why yourself.)

8. Simple for newcomers / strategic for old hands. You cannot have one and the other in the same game, so this spec is at odds with itself, #8. Newcomers tend to recognise very quickly that their skills are and probably will remain woefully inadequate to play at a decent level. Old hands tend to realise very quickly there isn't much challenge in a title. Practical examples: Go, Hex, perhaps even Hive. Also randomness is one of the key ways to make a game palatable for newcomers, so possibly at odds with #7; and choices (see #10) tie in very strongly with this spec too.

9. Mathematical balance. Is it balanced with respect to people playing it, or balanced with respect to people playing the optimum move every time it is their turn? There is a difference: people will not do the latter. If the former, then the spec is at odds with itself, #9. (Also notice that there is such a thing as 'too balanced': designs such as this have a tendency to play themselves instead of allowing leeway for the players exploring and making mistakes.)

10. Choice stressing. Are the choices genuine, i.e., will they cause significant deviations in the game state further down the road? Or are they just two sides of the same coin? If the latter, then the spec is at odds with itself, #10; and with #8 because this sort of thing is more tactics than strategy. If the former, then the combination of #1, #2, and #7 is at odds with #9: achieving perfect mathematical balance in this case is for immortal gods, not mere mortals. Also at odds with #8 as far as the newcomer-part is concerned; though ideal for the old hand-part.

11. Multiple goals: can goals be switched throughout the game? If yes, then not as strategic as can be (and at odds with #8). If no, then not simple for newcomers (and so also at odds with #8). Multiple goals is difficult to achieve with #9, especially given the constraints #1 and #2, and even more so if #7 is factored in.

12. No player elimination is hardly a feature these days. But it's nice to know elimination isn't there .

13. Winner only revealed at the end is a corollary of #9, so deviations there will show up here. But if you don't have an idea of who's winning (or at least in the lead), what then of interaction with #2, #4, and #5; and thus the choices of #10? Even if there isn't targetted interaction, who will bear the brunt of withholding resources or actions?

I should add that by relaxing various of these specs many problems are resolved; in fact, that is what game design is about. So please don't read the above as a flat Your game doesn't work, but rather as If your game works, then it cannot satisfy all specs you listed; but who cares, it works, dunnit?
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Nathan Woll
United States
Toledo
Ohio
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I just want to disagree with 1 thing here. Multiplayer solitaire is not a bad goal. I personally prefer multiplayer solitaire games and I'm sure plenty of others do as well. Saying "try to avoid multiplayer solitaire" is like saying "try to avoid deckbuilding" - some like it, some don't.

anijunk wrote:
Hi,

I admire your intentions, but I would not call it "reverse engineering" as you do not take a game as model and try to improve on that to better.
I fear there are also some weak elements in your presentation. Here are my 2 Euro cents in it.

Dystopia42
Quote:

Here are my requirements:
- Game must be playable in 30 min to 1 hour. Any shorter and the players can't adequately enjoy each other's company in one game play, any longer and it creates too big of a time commitment to bust out (think RISK).

Here you contradict yourself. You said yourself:
Quote:
"Basically I've realized board games are a medium in which human relationships can be nurtured, just by spending time together and talking. I guess that's what I really appreciated abou

Why does a game have to be limited in time? If it is for the sociability of the event, does it matter how long it takes? I don't think so. The only thing to take care of is, that the game does not start to drag after a period of playing.
[q]
- Not contentious. Games where you directly attack another's territory or units, while competitive, often foster contention. There are literally board games that I've seen friendships stained over. I'm talking table-flipping, insult-hurling, physically-violent ensuing stories.

Quote:

- Independent player progression. Instead of winning of another player's loss, players progress mostly independently, thus preserving desire to win without the expense of relationship peace.

A game without interaction between players, no conflict at all makes the game more the type of "multi-player solitaire". Some confrontation in play should be required.
Quote:

- No dice rolling. Too much luck, doesn't feel like strategy can be incorporated. How to handle a dice falling on the floor always results in an argument from the more competitive participants.

I hope you realize that card drafting can also be a great deal of luck.
Quote:

- Simple/Strategic. Simplicity increases the chances the board game will be played by first timers and children. Strategy will give the game lasting value, or many repeat plays.

I would suggest a basic game set of rules for beginners and an advanced set of rules which adds more complexity for the experienced players.
Quote:

- Point based. Adding up points at the very end is such a fun surge.

What did we have the 60 minutes before that? No fun? I think playing is more important than winning.
Quote:

- Not too specific themed. Something trending, reasonably popular, and can be universally appreciated, not pigeoned hold to a small group of passionate enthusiasts.

And I was hoping on something really original. Because if you take the middle road in topic/setting, theme and mechanics in your game you must come up with an original concept.

You have set yourself a high task. Wish you luck with it.

Regards,
Carel
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jake Staines
United Kingdom
Grantham
Lincolnshire
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
cymric wrote:

7. 'No dice rolling' also means 'no card draws', which is more or less the same principle.


Point of order, but the huge difference between the two is that cards have 'memory' - wherein once a card has been removed from a deck that card can never be drawn again - while dice will happily roll the same number over and over again with equal probability. This characteristic has been used time and again to produce less-random-but-unpredictable results for boardgames!
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Maarten D. de Jong
Netherlands
Zaandam
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
Of course. But still the card draw is a stochastic process, albeit with a slowly thinning and eventually collapsing pdf as the deck runs out, and thus using the same mathematical tools for the description. That is what I wanted to convey, not that they yield identical results.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Joab Rivers
msg tools
cymric wrote:

1. Game playable in 30 min to 1 h, with up to 5 players, creates tension in the amount of moves players need to make in order to finish. Moves must be fast and simple as a consequence.

60 min / 5 players = 12 min/player. Each player takes up to 18-40 moves in my game. For an average of 24 seconds per move, which in my book, isn't tension. Especially when you've had 1-3 minutes to think about your next move. It moves fast without feeling rushed.

Quote:

2. Group interaction at 5 is hard as interactions scale, to first approximation, as O(number_of_players ^ 2). In order for players to 'feel' each other's presence, many moves need to be made.

This is entirely dependent on board map size, and works with mine.

Quote:

3. Slow paced is therefore at odds with #1 and #2; or moves are 'big' and very influential, i.e., actions accomplish a lot with respect to the total amount of changes a player amasses throughout the game. But then choice might be compromised, so at odds with #10 and possibly #9 as the balance is affected by actions which are too 'coarse'.

as demonstrated above, not at odds.

Quote:

4. Not contentious means that the number of interactions is limited. At odds with #2 which promoted 'good group interaction'. (Not at odds with #1.)

Contentious, as I'm defining it, means that my success doesn't directly depend on my opponents loss in any head-to-head type mechanics.

Quote:

5. Independent player progression is at odds with #2.

There are interactions, and a player's moves will adjust the board map in a way that affects everyone else's options. So this was confusing. It's not totally independent, but each player's motivation is their own.

Quote:

6. Turn based game. Is slightly at odds with #1 (especially the time frame), for reasons listed there. To what extent depends on #3.

As explained above, not at odds.

Quote:

7. 'No dice rolling' also means 'no card draws', which is more or less the same principle. Yet your design document/paragraph states that the perimiter (whatever that may be) is randomly assigned. Is that the only source of randomness present in the game, and is it just to configure the starting position? If yes, then no problem. If no, then your design is at odds with this spec, #7. (And contrary to what you think, you can incorporate strategy with dice. Dice are, after all, sources of stochastic randomness with for example expected values. Also, dice falling on the floor are legitimate rolls. As an engineer you can think of the reasons why yourself.)

No dice rolling means... no dice rolling. I will have card draws. Yes, randomness and "luck" are therefore introduced. The key is to balance this influence in the game mechanic so that victory is not predicated on pure luck.

Quote:

8. Simple for newcomers / strategic for old hands. You cannot have one and the other in the same game, so this spec is at odds with itself, #8. Newcomers tend to recognise very quickly that their skills are and probably will remain woefully inadequate to play at a decent level. Old hands tend to realise very quickly there isn't much challenge in a title. Practical examples: Go, Hex, perhaps even Hive. Also randomness is one of the key ways to make a game palatable for newcomers, so possibly at odds with #7; and choices (see #10) tie in very strongly with this spec too.

This isn't true. To illustrate, here's a thought experiment. I could tell a group of equally physically capable people to go into an apple orchard and pick up as many apples as they can. A six year old "gets" this, and begins to pick up apples as he/she finds them. A teenager may think he will win by focusing on one tree at a time, top to bottom. Two adults also start picking apples. The PHD economist strategy buff will realize the optimum solution is immediately picking up all the fallen apples, then the low hanging fruit, then the mid-tier branch fruit in the tightest cluster of trees. As the people remove apples, their interactions affect each other and prohibit a perfect employment of each person's strategy. And with a little bit of random luck mixed in, the PHD strategist may not necessarily win every time, although he has employed a strategy that he has gained from experience and intelligence. A better strategy should yield better results, but it's impossible to predict the influence of the random variables and the variables of other's unpredictable actions. The point is, the game intellectually satisfies the 6 year old and the PHD, and both can sit down and play together.

Quote:

9. Mathematical balance. Is it balanced with respect to people playing it, or balanced with respect to people playing the optimum move every time it is their turn? There is a difference: people will not do the latter. If the former, then the spec is at odds with itself, #9. (Also notice that there is such a thing as 'too balanced': designs such as this have a tendency to play themselves instead of allowing leeway for the players exploring and making mistakes.)

Balanced, as in, a computer program, properly informed of all available variables, would be able to win every time. Like chess would be, if it were solved.

Quote:

10. Choice stressing. Are the choices genuine, i.e., will they cause significant deviations in the game state further down the road? Or are they just two sides of the same coin? If the latter, then the spec is at odds with itself, #10; and with #8 because this sort of thing is more tactics than strategy. If the former, then the combination of #1, #2, and #7 is at odds with #9: achieving perfect mathematical balance in this case is for immortal gods, not mere mortals. Also at odds with #8 as far as the newcomer-part is concerned; though ideal for the old hand-part.

?. You'll have to rephrase this. I'm talking about a game mechanic that employs thinking similar to that required to solve a linear system of equations.

Quote:

11. Multiple goals: can goals be switched throughout the game? If yes, then not as strategic as can be (and at odds with #8). If no, then not simple for newcomers (and so also at odds with #8). Multiple goals is difficult to achieve with #9, especially given the constraints #1 and #2, and even more so if #7 is factored in.
A player's goals may switch mid game, and may be forced to switch. Still strategic, and yes, newcomers should be able to understand it. Not at odds.

Quote:

12. No player elimination is hardly a feature these days. But it's nice to know elimination isn't there .

It is a feature in my game.

Quote:

13. Winner only revealed at the end is a corollary of #9, so deviations there will show up here. But if you don't have an idea of who's winning (or at least in the lead), what then of interaction with #2, #4, and #5; and thus the choices of #10? Even if there isn't targetted interaction, who will bear the brunt of withholding resources or actions?
You will have a strong visual idea who *appears* to be winning, but not all points are revealed turn by turn. The end of game point counting will reveal the player's success in employing their unique goal and points rewarded accordingly.

Quote:

I should add that by relaxing various of these specs many problems are resolved; in fact, that is what game design is about. So please don't read the above as a flat Your game doesn't work, but rather as If your game works, then it cannot satisfy all specs you listed; but who cares, it works, dunnit?

The game does work, and I built it around these constraints. I think you just went a lil hardcore on some of the subjective elements of my explanations. I appreciate your engagement though - you'd make a good patent lawyer!
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Andrew H
United States
Wisconsin
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I think it's great that you established your goals, and designed towards reaching them. I think they will appeal to many, but of course you can't please everyone all the time. If it's fun for you and your groups, then I think the design process should be fun as well (though also frustrating and challenging at times).

My main nit picking is on your theme comment and how it relates to your group. I would argue that niche themes are often better at strengthening relationships and interactions, if the group shares a similar interest in the theme. If you are designing for your group, I think you should choose a theme that you all enjoy (DYSTOPIA 42 may very much be that theme).

I think you are suggesting that a more generalized theme is more likely to be tried by people of different interests, thus increasing interaction where it may have been less likely. I agree with this, and I think publishers think the same (why there are 100s of Mediterranean Trading games). The question is do you want the game to be an ice breaker (generalized theme for getting to know new people) or more niche and nuanced (the old classic you always play at reunions with great friends).

There are also players and designers who are less concerned with theme. I think a game like Tigris and Euphrates would have a similar level of popularity if you were playing as space colonists, gangsters taking control of Manhattan, or microbes in a Petri dish instead of ancient civilizations. However, the different reactions by people to these designs (some love T&E, while others complain the theme is "pasted on"), shows that the interest in amount of theme varies as does the interest in specific themes.

If you're goal is to get the game published, or would play it with several different groups and levels of aquaitences, then I think your goal is spot on. However, I personally have the most fun designing, testing and playing games that share a common interest with my oldest group of friends. If you think your game will be played by a regular group, then I think theme could be be bumped up on your goals (again realizing that you're game may do that).

Have fun and good luck.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Joab Rivers
msg tools
That's great advice and something to consider. I appreciate that and will take it into consideration.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jessey
Canada
flag msg tools
designer
I also purchased this and do not know what to do with it!
badge
I purchased this and do not know what to do with it!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
While it doesn't hit *every* point on your list, you should really try out Dominion which hits on many of your points. It's a great social game that can be fun to play even if you lose, with lots of decisions, interaction (and "Attack" style interactions are optional - just don't include "Attack" cards in the pool).

Looking forward to see what you come up with (I'm a big fan of designing from constraints, I think that produces the most interesting and innovative solutions to problems - so I am eager to see what you produce).

When you do start thinking about market, there's lots of great resources to get you off on the right foot. I recommend this series here: http://inspirationtopublication.wordpress.com/the-steps-for-...
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.