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Subject: Weekly Gaming Topic of Discussion - Replayability rss

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bryden
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I enjoy the gaming hobby and find discussions that promote understanding very rewarding. Sometimes it can be a bit perplexing that someone really likes a particular game over another. Especially, when I have played both and have the opposite opinion. I was hoping that comments could add color to the rather straightforward poll structure.

It is with this that I want to pose weekly questions about gaming that will cover all/most aspects of the hobby. The purpose is to have an open discussion on the topic of the week to see where it goes.

Regardless of your background, please participate. My goal is not to create animosity or create a stage for my opinions ...

With the disclaimer now completed, this is the first question. Which option best fits your preferences regarding variety and replayability in game design? If you have examples to support your comments, please add them.

Poll
In your opinion, what is the best way a game designer can provide/promote variety or replayability in his/her game design?
  Your Answer   Vote Percent Vote Count
Variable board setup
48.1% 26
Include random elements (card draws, dice rolling etc.)
22.2% 12
Produce additional content (expansions)
1.9% 1
Leave it up to the players (static game environment, ex. Chess)
13.0% 7
Other (please explain)
14.8% 8
Voters 54
This poll is now closed.   54 answers
Poll created by NoDicePlease
Closes: Sat Jan 16, 2016 6:00 am


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David Buckley
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Variable set ups and random elements help but Chess is far from the only game to prove that neither of these is necessary. The "best" way in my opinion is simply to make the game fun and/or interesting. Lack of replayability is rarely an issue for me. If I enjoy my first play of a game I'll probably also enjoy my 100th play.
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I think replayability is the best when it comes from having a deep game where players can continue to learn things about the systems even after playing for a while. This is opposite of the content-based replayability.

From there, if you have a game that allows players the flexibility to imbue their own play styles into the game, then you're pulling in the endless variability of human being's mind, which allows for infinite replayability.
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maf man
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Interesting thought but I don't think one is any better than another, its the implementation that matters.

The Castles of Burgundy
this game may be a great example and it is well liked by my SO and I. It answers your question with "all". The player boards are chosen by the players. The main board follows a template but is random in each category. Random elements of the tiles drawn and the dice rolls exist. And expansions are easily implemented.
This game is such a hit with my SO because is has so many possibilities but they don't change the game. She dislikes dominion because that replayability is done by changing the cards and thus the game forcing you to learn the same game again because its so different.
Each type of factor is controlled well
the player boards that are different all still have the same counts
the players all start out the same way (with a castle) but can be different (where they put it)
the main board is very regimented on what TYPE of tiles go out
each type is randomly drawn
dice rolls are d6 random but the player has so many action choices its effects are choosen
the expansions I've seen add only slightly to the game
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    I gotta be honest with you, it comes down to the implementation of random elements, something that likely isn't going to sit well with a guy named NoDicePlease.

    Chess is a great example, except for the 20 or 30 move programmed openings that dominate the game once you reach a certain level of competency. It's a good brain burner game, but there's a level of overhead presented by the beginning of the game being so dependably static.

    When all else has played out, the inability to empirically plan, the requirement to roll with the punches is what gives a game life over fifty or one hundred plays. Bridge continues to be a good game after 1000 plays because each hand presents a different setup, selected at random. You develop a set of skills instead of a set of memorized responses, and to me personally that's far more interesting, and far more useful to other endeavors in my life.

             S.

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meshnaster wrote:
I think replayability is the best when it comes from having a deep game where players can continue to learn things about the systems even after playing for a while. This is opposite of the content-based replayability.

From there, if you have a game that allows players the flexibility to imbue their own play styles into the game, then you're pulling in the endless variability of human being's mind, which allows for infinite replayability.


This, content-based replayability is more gimmick, a deep game design that is highly replayable is great design. The key to static but replayable games is giving the players meaningful decisions to make.

I do enjoy random elements (not to be confused with luck) for the chaos they can introduce to games, but this has nothing to do with replayability.
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maf man
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Sagrilarus wrote:
You develop a set of skills instead of a set of memorized responses, and to me personally that's far more interesting, and far more useful to other endeavors in my life.

well said!
I think thats how some good games don't have much replay-ability. I'd call them puzzles rather than games.
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darthain wrote:

I do enjoy random elements (not to be confused with luck) . . .


    I'm declaring confusion. You're speaking of non-random random elements of some sort?

             S.
 
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bryden
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For me I need to have some variability to keep me interested long term as I have a tendency to play games 10+ times.

For example, I would not have played Puerto Rico as many times as I have if it were not for the additional content. When we played with the same buildings (base game) the interest started to wane quickly as I figured out what was a red herring and what you "should" do. This is not tournament play that I am speaking of.

What happened with having a few new buildings in the mix is that I had to determine if/how this new permutation was going to fit together and how the others were going to react. However, I have witnessed experienced players who vehemently refuse to change the "perfect" game. I so wish that the original game had introduced a little extra material to eliminate the staleness feeling that I had.

In the end, fun is the name of the game and a large component of this for me is a little bit of unpredictability. Perhaps a different goal or scoring system. This falls into the variable category for me. At that point it becomes gaming skill the rest of the way out. These are the experiences that I enjoy the most.

As my moniker indicates, I don't like dice for the sake of variability. This to me is luck and can be extremely infuriating especially if it impacts the outcome.

I don't mind dice being used as Eclipse, Castles of Burgundy and other dice using games are some of my favorites. It is the implementation that determines my mood. There will be more to come on that later.

Thanks all for your comments so far.
 
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Justin Strickland
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I think replayability comes from the player interaction. How many different ways can the players act and react to one another. This is one reason why card drafting games and social deduction games are endlessly replayable.
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mafman6 wrote:
its the implementation that matters.


I agree with this. It highly depends on what game I am thinking about. But I also think there is more to it than that. Even with all of those tactics, the general idea is to keep the interest of the players. The more meaningful decisions and options a player has, different types of problems to solve, and new situations to face, the better the chance that the game has high replay value.

Nonetheless, how a player perceives those tactics also dictates replayability. Different tactics resonate differently with each person in each gaming context.

For example, many people here are mentioning Chess as having high replay value. I find it has little to none for me. I rarely ever play it because I get terribly bored with it. The moves are meaningful (otherwise you lose) so that isn't the problem. And no two games are ever quite the same, especially if you play different people. However, while there are different moves to make in a specific moment in a game and different player styles, they are the same limited move mechanics and the same limited tactics overall. For me, that creates a low replay value for Chess because that's not enough of the right kind of meaningful variation I require. For it to hold my interest, I have to add a little randomness (Knightmare Chess).

I think the human element is a very strong factor in defining high or low replay value.
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David Moffett
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For me it's variable board setup.

Kingdom Builder is my favorite example. Like Donald's most famous design, Dominion, the number of combinations of elements is what makes repeated play interesting (besides mastering the subtleties of the system). Each new arrangement of board, buildings, and kingdom cards results in a new puzzle. Your ability to formulate a strategy based on the random construction of the board and objectives will determine your success. Of course, some combinations are more compelling than others and the terrain cards often throw a wrench in your plans but a clever player will almost always outmaneuver less clever opponents.

To me this drives replayability, to see the next combination, it's kind of addictive.
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Claude Hemberger
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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emergent_gameplay is where it's at IMO.

Variable board setup, random elements and expensions are just a way to slow down the realisation that your game just isn't made to be played a lot. Once it's figured out, it's finished.

You want to have a game that is awesome, and where the player have a lot of options inside your system.
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chemberger wrote:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emergent_gameplay is where it's at IMO.

Variable board setup, random elements and expensions are just a way to slow down the realisation that your game just isn't made to be played a lot. Once it's figured out, it's finished.

You want to have a game that is awesome, and where the player have a lot of options inside your system.

The thing is that all/almost all deck builders that I have played and this is most of them fall into the "need an expansion" to increase replayability. It mystifies me that anyone who enjoys Dominion would only have the base set and still be playing it. Those that only played base Dominion and hated it might have enjoyed it later if they had played with an expansion. I did not buy Dominion until it had an expansion because it was too dull. This is no longer the case.

If all I played were deck builders the only option would be a system that is built to bolt on expansions.

In most all other genres that are out there, the designer should be making a complete and rich experience out of the box and not release "just enough" games. The examples that I am thinking of all come from Fantasy Flight (Runebound, anything Star Wars, Eldritch Horror among others). What does this say about FF?
 
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ReinhartTR wrote:
For me it's variable board setup.

Kingdom Builder is my favorite example. Like Donald's most famous design, Dominion, the number of combinations of elements is what makes repeated play interesting (besides mastering the subtleties of the system). Each new arrangement of board, buildings, and kingdom cards results in a new puzzle. Your ability to formulate a strategy based on the random construction of the board and objectives will determine your success. Of course, some combinations are more compelling than others and the terrain cards often throw a wrench in your plans but a clever player will almost always outmaneuver less clever opponents.

To me this drives replayability, to see the next combination, it's kind of addictive.

This is a good example. Simple mechanics, nice pacing and variable. Not the deepest game but more than carries its weight.
 
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I think many people tend to underestimate the replayability of games. Unless they define "worn the game out" to mean "no longer learning anything new about the game". Off the top of my head I'm struggling to think of any popular hobby titles where almost all the decisions are obvious by the time I have played the game a few dozen times.
 
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meshnaster wrote:
I think replayability is the best when it comes from having a deep game where players can continue to learn things about the systems even after playing for a while. This is opposite of the content-based replayability.

From there, if you have a game that allows players the flexibility to imbue their own play styles into the game, then you're pulling in the endless variability of human being's mind, which allows for infinite replayability.

THIS.

edit to add:
chemberger wrote:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emergent_gameplay is where it's at IMO.

Variable board setup, random elements and expensions are just a way to slow down the realisation that your game just isn't made to be played a lot. Once it's figured out, it's finished.

You want to have a game that is awesome, and where the player have a lot of options inside your system.

AND THIS.
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Sagrilarus wrote:
darthain wrote:

I do enjoy random elements (not to be confused with luck) . . .


    I'm declaring confusion. You're speaking of non-random random elements of some sort?

             S.


The way I read this, there are two different types of randomness in games. There are random elements which are predictable (calculating 2d6 probabilities on a bell curve, variable setup from a fixed set of pieces, etc.), and then there are random elements which are completely unpredictable. The former can be reliably predicted, calculated, and used by the savy game and used to their advantage. The latter type of randomness cannot be predicted, planned for, or manipulated to the player's advantage. Think the movement cards in Candyland, or flipping cards in War. The former greatly enhances replayability. The second removes meaningful choce from the hands of the palyer and leads to boredom.
 
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Buckersuk wrote:
I think many people tend to underestimate the replayability of games. Unless they define "worn the game out" to mean "no longer learning anything new about the game". Off the top of my head I'm struggling to think of any popular hobby titles where almost all the decisions are obvious by the time I have played the game a few dozen times.

I have come to believe that worn out means that the decisions are no longer interesting. For me that would be a game like Ra. Initially it was interesting and player interaction was high. Over time 20+ games conventions get created in your mind that you cannot refute. I have figured out the probabilities etc. and you know what you are going to do when your turn comes around. At this point there needs to be some social aspect outside the game to keep me going. The card game Hearts creates this even though I have played it hundreds of times. Perhaps it is the closed system that keeps it interesting?

Titles such as Ra survive in my collection by being played intermittently. The days of multiple plays in a month/year have long passed.

Some gamers profess that they are quicker at sussing this out and let others know. The solution IMO is to give the player multiple viable options but not so many that it devolves into "intellectual luck" (I can see the perfect move for you, can you? (Five Tribes)). This is not fun for many and something that I was told about Agricola in relation to the cards.
 
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BeyondMonopoly wrote:
meshnaster wrote:
I think replayability is the best when it comes from having a deep game where players can continue to learn things about the systems even after playing for a while. This is opposite of the content-based replayability.

From there, if you have a game that allows players the flexibility to imbue their own play styles into the game, then you're pulling in the endless variability of human being's mind, which allows for infinite replayability.

THIS.

edit to add:
chemberger wrote:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emergent_gameplay is where it's at IMO.

Variable board setup, random elements and expensions are just a way to slow down the realisation that your game just isn't made to be played a lot. Once it's figured out, it's finished.

You want to have a game that is awesome, and where the player have a lot of options inside your system.

AND THIS.


I agree but what makes a "deep" game? Interactive elements, rules complexity, theme or ??? This is what the poll originated out of. Perhaps an example may help?
 
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My favourite game is Eldritch Horror which has random elements and random board set up and a lot of dice rolling but my approach is to try and mitigate that randomness by improving my investigators , collecting gear etc. I feel my decisions on what to do and where to move are relevant and I have to react to changing board conditions. The expansions add more variability and choices. It may be too random for some but every game plays out differently and the results are never certain and has a high (for me at least) difficulty level this to me is what makes a game replayable. It's like you have opened a new game for the first time but already know the rules Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island also does this very well.
 
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Jorath wrote:
My favourite game is Eldritch Horror which has random elements and random board set up and a lot of dice rolling but my approach is to try and mitigate that randomness by improving my investigators , collecting gear etc. I feel my decisions on what to do and where to move are relevant and I have to react to changing board conditions. The expansions add more variability and choices. It may be too random for some but every game plays out differently and the results are never certain and has a high (for me at least) difficulty level this to me is what makes a game replayable. It's like you have opened a new game for the first time but already know the rules Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island also does this very well.

This is an interesting area to explore as well with the thematic presentation. I have played Robinson Crusoe, Eldritch Horror and for comparison The Witcher Adventure Board Game. The former 2 have more stuff in the box but played very differently.

EH fell apart due to its length and randomness. Initially, I was thematically impressed but by mid-game I felt that the dice were getting in the way of enjoying the story. 3 failed attempts at the same thing (only needed 1 success) was a bit much. In retrospect if we had just auto-successed the second attempt it may have found new legs.

RC kept it all together and you could choose not to roll. In this way you could see progression at a cost. Sure it is difficult but all in all I could play the same scenario over and over and get a different experience due to the different equipment that is available. The differing setups was the key.

The Witcher on the other hand streamlines the whole thing and condenses the package (limited material, no expansions). The board does not change, the goals are the same etc. But I feel immersed and feel that I have a sense of purpose that you can see and feel. It is as a result that this is played more frequently than RC and EH won't get any more plays.

This for me was a very interesting experiment that I undertook and I was surprised how it came out. I thought for sure EH was where it was going to be at but the dice rolling soured the experience.

RC > Witcher >> EH
 
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NoDicePlease wrote:
Buckersuk wrote:
I think many people tend to underestimate the replayability of games. Unless they define "worn the game out" to mean "no longer learning anything new about the game". Off the top of my head I'm struggling to think of any popular hobby titles where almost all the decisions are obvious by the time I have played the game a few dozen times.

I have come to believe that worn out means that the decisions are no longer interesting.


Yeah. Come to think about it, that's a better definition of worn out than either of mine. I still hold that there are few hobby titles (Love Letter, maybe) that can be completely figured out in a few dozen plays but that's not what matters. If your ideas become so fixed that your decisions appear to be obvious that is bad enough.

Quote:

For me that would be a game like Ra. Initially it was interesting and player interaction was high. Over time 20+ games conventions get created in your mind that you cannot refute. I have figured out the probabilities etc. and you know what you are going to do when your turn comes around. At this point there needs to be some social aspect outside the game to keep me going. The card game Hearts creates this even though I have played it hundreds of times. Perhaps it is the closed system that keeps it interesting?


My experience of Ra has been completely different. I have always felt like it is a dynamic game where the value of tiles on the auction track can not be determined by simple probably calculations. The difficulty of predicting which players will do well from the start of the game makes me think it might be more luck-dependent than it appears to be but it is one of my favourite games.

Quote:

Titles such as Ra survive in my collection by being played intermittently. The days of multiple plays in a month/year have long passed.

Some gamers profess that they are quicker at sussing this out and let others know.


I know. Most of the time they haven't really sussed it out though.

Quote:

The solution IMO is to give the player multiple viable options but not so many that it devolves into "intellectual luck" (I can see the perfect move for you, can you? (Five Tribes)).


That makes sense.

Quote:

This is not fun for many and something that I was told about Agricola in relation to the cards.


There are a lot of cards in Agricola. And a lot of possible choices on each move. I am convinced there is no shortage of replayability here, at least in the sense that your play will always leave room for improvement. And even if you become stuck in a rut with fixed ideas on strategy there's still tactics to keep your mind occupied. Maybe tactics aren't enough for many gamers, which might explain why boardgames go stale for them faster than they grow stale for me.
 
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I used to believe that if a game had attribute X, Y and Z then it's replayability will be high. However, I now believe that replayability is just another synonym for repeatedly fun. I don't think the "funness" of a game can't be attributed to a set of characteristics, but rather the gaming experience as a whole.

I thought Dominion (23 plays), Small World (11 plays), and Dixit (4 plays) would have a ton of replayability with their variable game setup and different strategies/tactics. But those games wore out their welcome for me even after a bunch of expansions. I have no desire to buy any of the new expansions to come out for any of those games.

I thought expansions were important, but not really. Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game (56 plays) and Android: Netrunner (45 plays) are repeatedly fun for me and I'm excited for any expansions coming out. Carson City is still fun for me after 7 plays. There's an expansion out that I have no desire to get because the game is fun for me as is. It's the same story for Ticket to Ride, where the base game (with USA 1910) is replayable for me (14 plays and a ton more plays on the phone), and I don't care to get any of the new maps. Maybe those games are not played out yet?

In conclusion, I believe replayability = fun, and funness isn't about a particular characteristic, but rather the experience as a whole.
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