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Subject: Steampunk Rally Designer Diary - Part 8 rss

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Orin Bishop
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After the auction went, simultaneous turn resolution was the last major point of contention between Gavan and me. By this point he'd told me he wanted to publish the game, and I was totally on board. Gavan is a great game designer, so I knew than any changes he wanted to make would at least be sensible. And he's an amazing graphic designer by trade, so I knew whatever he did with the art and presentation would be mind-blowing (was I wrong?). We just needed to get Steampunk Rally to a state we were both happy with.

The vast majority of boardgames out there are turn based, and resolving stuff in turn order has some notable advantages: it's more familiar, it's easier to learn a game when you are watching other players interact with the mechanics, and when you do something cool everyone gets to (has to) watch you. The problem is that if I made the current Steampunk Rally mechanics turn-based, the game would be maybe three hours long with crushing amounts of down-time.

The damnatory term “multiplayer solitaire” has been leveled against many euro-style games over the years, but I see this not as an indictment but rather an opportunity. If a certain portion of the game does not involve other players, why must they wait for me? Steampunk Rally has interactive elements (counter-drafting, offensive boost cards, watching in fear as an opponent creeps past you), but when it comes to operating your lovingly-crafted invention by placing dice on it, it's all between you and the machine. We experimented with several turn-based round structures, and eventually Gavan conceded that these didn't do a whole lot except slow the game down. Through the development process I learned the value of traditional turn order as well, and I'd suggest resolving the racing phase in turns for the first couple rounds if you're learning the game for the first time. But by resolving simultaneously, Steampunk Rally crams a ton of game into a short playtime with virtually no downtime, where everything resolves at the speed of the slowest player. And I think, whether or not you prefer it to more traditional turn resolution, it will feel different from any other worker-placement game you've ever played.


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Francis K. Lalumiere
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Simultaneous turn resolution works well when you know that:
a) everyone is honest
b) nobody makes mistakes

Personally, I'm never afraid that my friends will cheat. But with players new to the game, honest mistakes are easy to make.

What's your take on this?
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Paul Saxberg
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I assert that people who cheat a lot, are eventually discovered by their playing groups. We're all strategy gamers, so a great percentage of our circles are composed of very smart people. Nobody's perfect. Eventually, every cheat trips up.

I would simply decline to play games against such a person in the future. Or if circumstances put me against them (say, in a tournament) then I'd have the advantage of knowing their past behaviour, and could keep an eye on them. (Or maybe even better, secretly alert a judge and get their ass tossed out).

Not being willing to accept the risk of dishonest players makes a LOT of popular games difficult or impossible to play. Sure, some are easier to cheat at than others, but if I don't play against cheaters, it doesn't matter in the end.

My 2 cents, take it or leave it (or steal it when I'm not looking).
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Orin Bishop
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weishaupt wrote:
Simultaneous turn resolution works well when you know that:
a) everyone is honest
b) nobody makes mistakes

Personally, I'm never afraid that my friends will cheat. But with players new to the game, honest mistakes are easy to make.

What's your take on this?

Simultaneous play certainly adds to the potential for cheating, but I think that potential exists in most modern boardgames with a lot of moving parts. My feelings on the subject can be summed up by a quote I read somewhere: cheating in D&D is like faking an orgasm while masturbating.
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Orin Bishop
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And if new players are accidentally cheating a lot, it might provide a nice catch-up mechanic (I mean this only partially facetiously)
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Anthony Ferrise
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I'm looking forward to seeing how this plays out.

I think it could be really thematic to be working away at your own invention, only to see your buddy creep past you on the race-track while you're working away. You'll start to frantically look around to see if you can get one more space ahead...
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