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Subject: Forcing players towards a finish rss

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David SL
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Hey all,

Whilst coming up with mechanics for my game, I've come across an interesting problem, ending the game. Originally the idea was simple, you collect 3 victory tokens and you win. It was then that I realised why would a player voluntarily end the game unless they were bored?

In essence, I suppose all games 'force' players to the end, it's all about making the journey there a fun experience. I'd never really thought about it before, but it's making me reconsider the design in terms of why players would want to make certain decisions.

Is this something you have a problem with? I always thought ending the game would be an easy part of the design, but now I realise it's just as important as any other part.

Interesting.
 
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Stefan Wijns
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I guess ending the game isn't because you're bored, but because you have the chance to win. And then, if you liked the game, you can always start a new one.
If I just LOVE a game and I can end it by winning, I certainly wouldn't hesitate (also because I know the other players would do just the same).

I think prolonging the game without reason would make it boring.
 
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Scott Fishwick
United Kingdom
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Precisely.

The aim of the game should be to win (in a competitive game). The process should be fun.

If I can end it now and win it doesn't mean I'm not enjoying it. If I can take the last province in Dominion and win, I will. I will delay (e.g. taking a Duchy) if I think ending the game will result in me losing.

Prolonging for the sake of it just seems to be pointless.

I don't really see the issue here.
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Jack Poon
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The dice tower had a review a while back on the 10 most frustrating rules some designers included in their games.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E28W_bMBVhg

One of the things that I heard repeated was artificiality and forced. A game is different from a story, book or movie because it gives the players more interaction. You have choices to make. But if those choices start to feel like their constrained, it takes away from the fun of the game.

In "The Art of Game Design", Jesse Schell says that games have choices but those choices have to be meaningful as well. If you're just following the motions, its more like "the game is playing you" quote from the dice tower review.

Basically, you don't want to unnaturally force the pacing of your game. Dragging out a game will only make your players bored and they'll think twice about playing again. What I like about board games over video games is how you enforce the rules yourself. If I really wanted a longer or more difficult game, me and my friends might just agree to say okay first to 5 VP wins. Playtest more, see if people have more fun if you say 5 VP is the victory condition. Let the game naturally draw its own pace.
 
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secoAce -
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If the only win condition is collecting 3 victory tokens then the impetus for finishing the game is be the first player to do that.

The game becomes a race to get those required number of tokens/points before the other players. You can't prolong the game too long because that gives your opponents more of a chance to get those points and win before you do.

You can introduce other mechanics that help to move the game along if it seems like the game tends to stall. Some games use a defined number of turns, or some games use some other condition or counter that when reached ends the game no matter how far the players go in the game.

But in these games, the winner is whomever has the most number of points. If your game's win condition requires reached a specific number of tokens, then the risk is the game will end before anyone collects enough.

If players are having a hard time acquiring those tokens, then maybe the game needs more ways to be able to collect those tokens.

 
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David SL
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Thank you all! I knew asking here would give me a lot to think about!

To clarify, what I am concerned about is players deliberately NOT going for victory in order to drag out a game, but as I write that I realise that is a foolish thing to worry about. If people love the game so much as to not want it to finish, my job is done!

I was also concerned about players feeling 'aimless'. Why should they take a victory token? What's the point?

To give you some ideas of why I'm concerned, I'll outline some ideas I've had:

Basically players are placing bets. If they win, they take more cubes, or whatever tokens I will use. On their turn, they can trade in cubes for either more cards or, if they have enough, a victory token. Cubes are the currency in game, so placing bets is important to win, if you hold back you are risking losing. Basically everyone places bets all the time, but there is one active player at all times who has the option to trade in on his/her cubes. Every other player has to wait for his/her turn to do that. You can only buy one victory token per turn.

My main issue is making players WANT to buy victory tokens.

This is a four-player game, so I'd include 9 victory tokens. I guess seeing those tokens going down would push people towards buying them. And I guess the theme of the game will dictate that somewhat.

EDIT: I've come up with an alternative that guides the players to victory but doesn't push them. Rather than buy the victory tokens, there is a pool of them in the middle. When players win bets, they take one. When players lose bets, they lose one. Once all the victory tokens in the middle are gone, the game ends and the player with the most is the winner. This could do away with the fiddly 'cubes' and cut down on unnecessary complications. Since this is also a card game, it's important for me to keep the design free of clutter, and focus on the essential elements.
 
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Jack Poon
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Most people when they play a game, they want to win so inherently, once playing the game, players are inclined to pursue the victory condition. Of course I've played games where a single player will be a chaotic element and purposely go against the spirit of the game. Most recent example, I had a friend who bored of playing "The resistance" and never looked at his role card. He would just vote in the most chaotic matter, often just switching between vote yes and vote no each turn making him a rogue element. But in those rare cases, no manner of rules or story will change them.

Story can often help with guiding players along to WANT to buy victory tokens. If players relate to the story or character they are playing, they are more likely to want the character to do well. Sure I'll go after the victory tokens because I want to win but if there's a story such as I am competing in a hunger games like arena and these victory points are favors of the judges and if I win the most favors, then I am likely to succeed in the hunger games and win. Just an example but I'm more motivated to get VPs if there's a story rather than just a rule that says get 3 VPs and you win. However, I will still pursue VPs even if there is no story.
 
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Kendall McKenzie
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DavidSL wrote:
My main issue is making players WANT to buy victory tokens.

This is a four-player game, so I'd include 9 victory tokens. I guess seeing those tokens going down would push people towards buying them. And I guess the theme of the game will dictate that somewhat.


I know you have your edited version of the rules which might work for you and obviously it's up to you, but my thought on how to encourage players to buy victory tokens with the "first to 3" scoring is basically to make each token progressively more expensive. So for example, the first token costs 5 cubes. The next costs 6, etc right up to 14 (though if that made the final tokens way too expensive, bump the price up every two tokens instead of every one).

This way you add a little interesting risk/reward analysis - do you grab the tokens now while they're cheap or save up to place bigger bets in the hope you can get more tokens if your opponents don't buy them first and drive up the price? Think sort of like buying resources in Power Grid if you've played that.

And then if you do this you can add a little mechanic that stops the game running for way too long: have a track that shows the price of each victory token. Each round that no one buys a victory token, shift the victory tokens down one spot cheaper on the track. This way eventually people will be able to afford even the last couple of tokens. If it means things drop in price too quickly, when no one buys a victory token, mark it in some way and when you reach, say, three marks, shift all the tokens down in price.
 
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Jake Staines
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mechapython wrote:

Most recent example, I had a friend who bored of playing "The resistance" and never looked at his role card. He would just vote in the most chaotic matter, often just switching between vote yes and vote no each turn making him a rogue element. But in those rare cases, no manner of rules or story will change them.


Yes and no. Isn't this actually against the rules of The Resistance? I believe that as a resistance agent, you're obliged by the rules to vote 'pass' to every mission; it's only as a spy that you get a choice. So by not looking at their role card, your friend is very likely actually cheating.

And yes, you can't put rules in place to prevent players from cheating, but it's a very different matter.
 
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John
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Bichatse wrote:
Yes and no. Isn't this actually against the rules of The Resistance? I believe that as a resistance agent, you're obliged by the rules to vote 'pass' to every mission; it's only as a spy that you get a choice.

That's correct, but you vote approve/reject for whether a mission should go ahead and then submit pass/fail. I'm assuming mechapython meant the mission approve/reject votes, in which case the player isn't cheating (but in my opinion their behaviour is as bad as cheating as they are ruining the game). If it was obvious someone hadn't looked at their role card I'd refuse to start the game, and if I found someone had been doing after a game I'd be unlikely to want to play with them again.

In some games playing in a random way just means you'll lose, but in many games you'll ruin other people's chances of winning too. I'm not sure you should spend too much time worrying about people who might play like that.
 
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John
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DavidSL wrote:
Originally the idea was simple, you collect 3 victory tokens and you win. It was then that I realised why would a player voluntarily end the game unless they were bored?

In essence, I suppose all games 'force' players to the end, it's all about making the journey there a fun experience.


I'm sure there are plenty of games where you could continually take moves which didn't progress the game towards an ending. Actually I reckon about half the games I own have that but there are very few games where I can see that happening (and if it was obvious that no progress was going to be made then a draw should be agreed). I prefer games that are relatively short and that you can see progressing towards the end state, as others have said you can always play again.
 
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Jack Poon
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zabdiel wrote:
[q="Bichatse"]
That's correct, but you vote approve/reject for whether a mission should go ahead and then submit pass/fail. I'm assuming mechapython meant the mission approve/reject votes, in which case the player isn't cheating (but in my opinion their behaviour is as bad as cheating as they are ruining the game).


Yes, my mistake. I meant that they were voting to approve/reject the mission. I agree with you on not spending too much time worrying about people who play like that. I think from a player's perspective, you'd want to watch out for inviting other players like that who will ruin the experience for everyone but from a designer's perspective, if such a player were to play your game, no manner of rules, story or mechanics can change the fact that they will not follow along.
 
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