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Subject: An app that tells you how to setup any game, for any player count, with any expansions rss

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Bryan Thunkd
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And there I was again, looking through the rule book, trying to find the setup instructions. Only they weren't all in one place and I had to look through a couple of spots. It's a continual frustration as almost every rule book is slightly, or sometimes more than slightly, different about this.

Some games are good and have the set up instructions in one section. But sometimes they're buried in dense text and you have to scan through the rules a bit to find them all. I tend to like the ones that have them surrounding a mockup image of a game just about to be played all nicely numbered for you to follow step by step. But even those will sometimes have a separate section at the back of the rule book with modifications for different player counts. And if you're playing with an expansion you'll invariably have to flip between two rule books trying to figure out how to mesh the base game setup with the revisions for the expansion's setup. Ugh! It's just all so painful!

What I want is an app that has a database of game setups, where I can select the game, the number of players and any expansions it might have, and it walks me through the setup. This wouldn't be hard to do. I'm honestly surprised some big publisher hasn't made one that works for all their games. Why isn't this a thing already? Okay, I know why, it takes time and effort, which usually means money... But come on, it would help so much and wouldn't be that hard to do.

Would other people want this too?
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Joe Kundlak
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Indeed, this woudl be nice.

It's true I make my own Rule summaries precisely for this for all my games (with complete setup and a summary of ALL necessary rules to refresh my memory after a longer time), but having an app that would summarize the setup handily... Would be nice too.
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John
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Sounds like a good idea, but whether it'll happen...

In the meantime the best suggestion I've seen is putting a sticker on the inside of the box lid with this kind of thing. Putting a piece of paper/card with it in the box would work too. I really should do this for games like Hanabi, Eight-Minute Empire, Pandemic, Priests of Ra where that is pretty much the only reason I ever look at the rules.
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Asher Kennedy
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Thunkd wrote:
But come on, it would help so much and wouldn't be that hard to do.


Wouldn't be hard to do??? It boggles my mind to think of the type of task this would be. Licensing for completing the task alone would be a nightmare. A larger single publisher (such as Asmodee) could pursue such a task, but it would be a pretty big deal.

Smaller publishers could pursue such a task for all of the games in their library, but at the risk of losing money on the app development and by default saying that their rulebook was insufficient and that they want to charge you twice for something they probably "should" have given to you the first time.
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Michael Debije
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Not interested in the least.
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Ray
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I thought about starting a YouTube channel that strictly did this: How to set up the game, the winning conditions and what a player could do during their turn. And even for the 100 or so games I own, that would be a daunting task.

So, now I simply write up my own one sheet that I can put in the game box. It is perfectly tailored to how I take in information and the outline helps me not forget crucial rules (still mess that up, though sometimes!)

As I got more and more games, I realized that I couldn't remember EVERYTHING about every game and it made me sad when someone would ask to play a game and I didn't know how to play it without going through the rule book for 10 minutes. The one sheet is a valuable tool and I highly recommend it!
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Charles Boyung
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Arydis4 wrote:
Thunkd wrote:
But come on, it would help so much and wouldn't be that hard to do.


Wouldn't be hard to do??? It boggles my mind to think of the type of task this would be. Licensing for completing the task alone would be a nightmare. A larger single publisher (such as Asmodee) could pursue such a task, but it would be a pretty big deal.

Smaller publishers could pursue such a task for all of the games in their library, but at the risk of losing money on the app development and by default saying that their rulebook was insufficient and that they want to charge you twice for something they probably "should" have given to you the first time.


There's no licensing required for something like this, as long as they don't use the actual artwork or text from the game itself, there's no legal issues whatsoever.
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Bryan Thunkd
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Arydis4 wrote:
Thunkd wrote:
But come on, it would help so much and wouldn't be that hard to do.


Wouldn't be hard to do??? It boggles my mind to think of the type of task this would be. Licensing for completing the task alone would be a nightmare.
You can't copyright game rules, only the specific text they were published as. As long as the setup instructions aren't word for word exact quotes of the original text, I don't see that you'd have a problem. Nor do I think having a list of game titles to choose from would be an issue either.

Arydis4 wrote:
Smaller publishers could pursue such a task for all of the games in their library, but at the risk of losing money on the app development
It doesn't seem that intensive a programming challenge. Certainly orders of magnitude easier than making an app game.

Arydis4 wrote:
and by default saying that their rulebook was insufficient
That's like saying that including a player aid that describes all the actions a player can do and the turn sequence would mean that their rulebook was insufficient. I don't see that it does at all. It's simply another way to create a summary list of setup steps. The fact that they choose to do so as an app versus a supplement page is just a design choice.

Arydis4 wrote:
and that they want to charge you twice for something they probably "should" have given to you the first time.
If a publisher was putting this out, I wouldn't expect them to charge for it. I'd see it as something they could bill as a feature. "Download the Asmodee app for quick and easy setup instructions!" If they wanted to get something out of it, they could build ads for their games into it. Or have it send you notifications about sales direct from their website or somesuch.
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Russ Williams
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Weird; I can't think of any games of mine where I feel like I have that much trouble setting them up. Usually the setup instructions seem pretty clear and straightforward to me.
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Asher Kennedy
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motoyugota wrote:
Arydis4 wrote:
Thunkd wrote:
But come on, it would help so much and wouldn't be that hard to do.


Wouldn't be hard to do??? It boggles my mind to think of the type of task this would be. Licensing for completing the task alone would be a nightmare. A larger single publisher (such as Asmodee) could pursue such a task, but it would be a pretty big deal.

Smaller publishers could pursue such a task for all of the games in their library, but at the risk of losing money on the app development and by default saying that their rulebook was insufficient and that they want to charge you twice for something they probably "should" have given to you the first time.


There's no licensing required for something like this, as long as they don't use the actual artwork or text from the game itself, there's no legal issues whatsoever.


Without any of the artwork or component images from the game, what would be the point of the app?
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Joe Kundlak
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russ wrote:
Weird; I can't think of any games of mine where I feel like I have that much trouble setting them up. Usually the setup instructions seem pretty clear and straightforward to me.

For me looking through the rulebooks is too tedious, if I can have all that in a paragraph or three for quick scanning.
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Russ Williams
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Joeyeti wrote:
russ wrote:
Weird; I can't think of any games of mine where I feel like I have that much trouble setting them up. Usually the setup instructions seem pretty clear and straightforward to me.

For me looking through the rulebooks is too tedious, if I can have all that in a paragraph or three for quick scanning.

Paragraphs are paragraphs. I'm not seeing how starting up an app, searching for the game in question, and reading the paragraphs on a tiny cellphone screen would be more convenient or faster than looking at the paragraphs in the rulebook, which I don't have to search for since the rulebook is in the game I'm setting up.

It seems an over-engineered solution to a non-problem. (At least a non-problem in my life as a gamer. Maybe y'all play games with much worse rulebooks or something; in the games I play, the setup instructions are where I'd expect them, early in the rulebook, and usually quite easy to follow.) Evidently I'm not the target market for this wondrous app!
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Joe Kundlak
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Nonono, I meant "in a paragraph or three for quick scanning on my own laminated summary card" whistle.
 
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I've made a few cards like this:


In other cases I have just stuck a post-it note on the rulebook.
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ackmondual
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Thunkd wrote:
And there I was again, looking through the rule book, trying to find the setup instructions. Only they weren't all in one place and I had to look through a couple of spots. It's a continual frustration as almost every rule book is slightly, or sometimes more than slightly, different about this.

Some games are good and have the set up instructions in one section. But sometimes they're buried in dense text and you have to scan through the rules a bit to find them all. I tend to like the ones that have them surrounding a mockup image of a game just about to be played all nicely numbered for you to follow step by step. But even those will sometimes have a separate section at the back of the rule book with modifications for different player counts. And if you're playing with an expansion you'll invariably have to flip between two rule books trying to figure out how to mesh the base game setup with the revisions for the expansion's setup. Ugh! It's just all so painful!

What I want is an app that has a database of game setups, where I can select the game, the number of players and any expansions it might have, and it walks me through the setup. This wouldn't be hard to do. I'm honestly surprised some big publisher hasn't made one that works for all their games. Why isn't this a thing already? Okay, I know why, it takes time and effort, which usually means money... But come on, it would help so much and wouldn't be that hard to do.

Would other people want this too?


Some of this is sort of already there...
1) if you look on the files section, some folks have already uploaded such content. For example, somebody has a Ticket To Ride setup guide (how many train cards, how many trains, how many Destination Tickets you look at, at least how many you much keep). IIRC, it's a few pages that covers all of the expansions to date, but print one of those out and keep it in the box

2) I've seen games with QR codes. I'm assuming these take you to the company's tutorials and game setups. However, if it's on the outside of the box (as opposed to in the rulebook), I'm guessing it'll take you to an ad for that game, as at that point, you're probably in a FLGS deciding whether or not you'd want to buy it.



Making an actual app for this though... even if it's offered for free, it gets costly. For iOS, you need to maintain a developer account at $99 a year. Since iOS is very aggressive in pushing OS updates, it's a roll of the dice on how much work you need to put in to update the app for the new version of iOS. Sometimes, it's not that bad, but I've read online accounts how some iOS devs just didn't want to have to sink so much work into "less than desirable" versions of iOS just moved on.
For both iOS and Android, apps are still hardly a "zero sum" work effort. This sounds less involving than other apps, but it's still a lot of time spent.

AFAIK, they're probably better off just sticking to online FAQs they maintain on their own site. Heck, even nice stuff like sleeves and better storage solutions have already been left for another entity, like May Day Games, Dragon Shield, and FFG for sleeves, and Broken Token for better box organizers.
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Cris Whetstone
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Maybe it would just be full of helpful hints like:

Step #1 - Turn to page #2
Step #2 - Complete paragraphs 2,3 and 5
Step #3 - Turn to page #3

Etc
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Bryan Thunkd
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Arydis4 wrote:
motoyugota wrote:
Arydis4 wrote:
Thunkd wrote:
But come on, it would help so much and wouldn't be that hard to do.


Wouldn't be hard to do??? It boggles my mind to think of the type of task this would be. Licensing for completing the task alone would be a nightmare. A larger single publisher (such as Asmodee) could pursue such a task, but it would be a pretty big deal.

Smaller publishers could pursue such a task for all of the games in their library, but at the risk of losing money on the app development and by default saying that their rulebook was insufficient and that they want to charge you twice for something they probably "should" have given to you the first time.


There's no licensing required for something like this, as long as they don't use the actual artwork or text from the game itself, there's no legal issues whatsoever.


Without any of the artwork or component images from the game, what would be the point of the app?
To walk you through the steps to set up the game, including any changes that need to be made for various player counts and/or expansions.

I'm confused. How could you read this thread and not get that that's the entire point of the app?
 
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Bryan Thunkd
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russ wrote:
Weird; I can't think of any games of mine where I feel like I have that much trouble setting them up. Usually the setup instructions seem pretty clear and straightforward to me.
In Concordia, the base game setup instructions are on a separate setup sheet. Which is fine until you start adding epansions.

Cities are assigned goods types at the beginning of the game randomly. Goods tokens are labeled A - D on the back and the cities are labelled A - D. Some maps don't use all the A - D's, but that's pretty obvious from the game map. If you're playing with the Salsa expansion, however, you have to make all sorts of adjustments to switch out regular goods types for salt types. So depending on the map you have to pull out different goods from each letter group. The Hispania map is even weirder in that if you aren't playing with Salt, then you set it up as if you were and replace the Salt with C goods (C goods aren't used at all on that map).

So whenever I set that game up, I have to pull out the setup sheet of the base game, which I only need because I can never remember how much money to use. Or if you play the advanced variant, there's a different set up where you don't get any starting goods but you get a bunch of money and you buy whatever goods you want on the first turn, but that variant is only mentioned in the history supplement to the game, so then you have to pull that out if you want to play that version (which again I only need to do now to remember how much money it starts with). Then I have to pull out the Salsa expansion and find all the wonky setup changes for salt. And the Salsa expansion adds a forum tile expansion, which has it's own setup which is in a different area than the Salt setup. I've played enough that I kind of have everything down now, but it's still a pain for the few things I need to look up. I finally just made my own crib sheet which details what I need to do depending on which expansion bits are in play. Which is pretty much what I'd want an app to do.

And this is hardly the only or worst offender.
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Derek H
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Thunkd wrote:
Arydis4 wrote:
motoyugota wrote:
Arydis4 wrote:
Thunkd wrote:
But come on, it would help so much and wouldn't be that hard to do.


Wouldn't be hard to do??? It boggles my mind to think of the type of task this would be. Licensing for completing the task alone would be a nightmare. A larger single publisher (such as Asmodee) could pursue such a task, but it would be a pretty big deal.

Smaller publishers could pursue such a task for all of the games in their library, but at the risk of losing money on the app development and by default saying that their rulebook was insufficient and that they want to charge you twice for something they probably "should" have given to you the first time.


There's no licensing required for something like this, as long as they don't use the actual artwork or text from the game itself, there's no legal issues whatsoever.


Without any of the artwork or component images from the game, what would be the point of the app?
To walk you through the steps to set up the game, including any changes that need to be made for various player counts and/or expansions.

The point he was making was that having graphics to illustrate the setup process is almost a a "must have". If you can't use graphics already provided (because of copyright issues), you need to create them yourself, from scratch. And that would be a lot of work.
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Derek H
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ackmondual wrote:
Thunkd wrote:
And there I was again, looking through the rule book, trying to find the setup instructions. Only they weren't all in one place and I had to look through a couple of spots. It's a continual frustration as almost every rule book is slightly, or sometimes more than slightly, different about this.

Some games are good and have the set up instructions in one section. But sometimes they're buried in dense text and you have to scan through the rules a bit to find them all. I tend to like the ones that have them surrounding a mockup image of a game just about to be played all nicely numbered for you to follow step by step. But even those will sometimes have a separate section at the back of the rule book with modifications for different player counts. And if you're playing with an expansion you'll invariably have to flip between two rule books trying to figure out how to mesh the base game setup with the revisions for the expansion's setup. Ugh! It's just all so painful!

What I want is an app that has a database of game setups, where I can select the game, the number of players and any expansions it might have, and it walks me through the setup. This wouldn't be hard to do. I'm honestly surprised some big publisher hasn't made one that works for all their games. Why isn't this a thing already? Okay, I know why, it takes time and effort, which usually means money... But come on, it would help so much and wouldn't be that hard to do.

Would other people want this too?


Some of this is sort of already there...
1) if you look on the files section, some folks have already uploaded such content. For example, somebody has a Ticket To Ride setup guide (how many train cards, how many trains, how many Destination Tickets you look at, at least how many you much keep). IIRC, it's a few pages that covers all of the expansions to date, but print one of those out and keep it in the box

BGG could be tweaked (by the devs, of course) to add a field called "setup" to the game's database table. Via a crowd-sourced approach (um; that would be me and you ) this could be populated with an appropriate set of instructions. Then the various apps that access the BGG via the API (I have written one; not that hard to do) could retrieve this data and display in whatever form/device that is needed.
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Russ Williams
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Thunkd wrote:
In Concordia, the base game setup instructions are on a separate setup sheet. Which is fine until you start adding epansions.

Perhaps this is the difference between us which makes me find the idea of the app useless (for me): I rarely play with that kind of expansion that adds lots of wacky qualitatively new stuff and setup complexity.

(I do play with "new faction" expansions e.g. for Neuroshima Hex and "new boards/cards" expansions e.g. for Kingdom Builder, but those never cause the kind of setup confusion which you're describing.)

Also, I tend to not be very "cult of the new", so I know the setup rules (or how to find them in the rulebook, or expansion rulebooks) pretty well anyway for most games I play. The closest I come to your Concordia + expansions situation is probably Power Grid with various expansion maps, but I play that almost every month, and the specific setup info for expansions seems trivially easy to me to find on the rulesheet for the given expansion. (Similarly Age of Steam expansion maps have never seemed hard to find their setup info.)
 
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Bryan Thunkd
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gamesbook wrote:
The point he was making was that having graphics to illustrate the setup process is almost a a "must have".
Really? I've made quite a few "set-up cheatsheets" for myself and every one of them is text only. Here's the one for Concordia for example:


I'm not really sure why you'd need images for most game setups. This isn't an app to teach you the game, it's just a summary of the setup steps, so you don't have to hunt through a rulebook, or more than one, to find all the setup details, or variants or revisions for different player counts, etc. You still need to read the rulebook, this app would just be a reminder checklist kind of thing.
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Asher Kennedy
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It seems to me you are saying "app" and you mean singular Geeklist database with links to cheat sheets that you can bookmark on your phone.

Even a low quality app would be over-engineering what you are looking for.
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Bryan Thunkd
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Arydis4 wrote:
It seems to me you are saying "app" and you mean singular Geeklist database with links to cheat sheets that you can bookmark on your phone.

Even a low quality app would be over-engineering what you are looking for.
No. I don't want it to just display a cheat sheet. I want to be able to select the game, number of players and expansions and then have it step through all the setup stages, showing me the correct steps, quantities and so forth that are applicable to the player count, map, expansion that I have in play.

Admittedly it's only slightly more advanced than a setup cheat sheet, but I never said it was anything more.

I doubt that making the app would be terribly difficult. I imagine compiling the database of setups would be the harder part.
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Seems like a hot dog toaster.
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