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Subject: Variants - how acceptable they are in this community? rss

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Pablo Schulman
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So, what are the opinions on variants here? I have a hunch nobody here really cares if a game is "derivative" or "original" as long as it is good.

Thoughts?
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David Buckley
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I agree. And I like exploring variants sometimes, particularly chess variants in which all pieces move the same way but the victory condition or some other rule has been altered.
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Russ Williams
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Simple question, simple answer: Some people like them, some people don't.
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Luis Bolaños Mures
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Ahh, variants! Can't live with'em, can't live without'em!
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Robert Wesley
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Some were "afraid" of them, in that their 'purely' conception of this may become 'discombobulated' through whatever, or, were lone confining with SUCH "challenging enough"? whistle
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Pablo Schulman
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russ wrote:
Simple question, simple answer: Some people like them, some people don't.


Another question then... How much different does a variant need to be considered a legitimate game on their own?
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Stephen Tavener
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PSchulman wrote:
russ wrote:
Simple question, simple answer: Some people like them, some people don't.


Another question then... How much different does a variant need to be considered a legitimate game on their own?


Do I have to think in a different way? If yes, it's a new game.
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Russ Williams
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PSchulman wrote:
russ wrote:
Simple question, simple answer: Some people like them, some people don't.


Another question then... How much different does a variant need to be considered a legitimate game on their own?

That's certainly a more difficult question!

mrraow wrote:
Do I have to think in a different way? If yes, it's a new game.


That seems a good appealing answer, but it seems hard to decide what "thinking in a different way" concretely means. In some technical sense, every change to the game would require you to think in a (perhaps only slightly) different way, right? So really I guess "think in a significantly different way" - but how to quantify or measure or define that?

E.g. at a high strategic level, maybe someone is using the same way of thinking when playing Hex and Twixt. But certainly the detailed tactics are different. (Is one a variant of the other?)

Is Havannah a variant of Hex? (I think I've seen some describe it as such, yet the 3 different kinds of victory conditions make it seem different to me and require different thinking.)

Is Shogi a variant of Chess? (I've seen it described as such, yet the drop rule certainly requires a different type of thinking.)

---

Maybe it's useful to consider simpler cases. E.g. are 9x9 and 13x13 Go variants of standard 19x19 Go? I guess most people would agree that they are. Hmm, and yet the thinking required in the opening strategy is quite different.

So I don't know.
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christian freeling
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russ wrote:
PSchulman wrote:
russ wrote:
Simple question, simple answer: Some people like them, some people don't.


Another question then... How much different does a variant need to be considered a legitimate game on their own?




So I don't know.


I second that. Who would define 'legitimate' in the first place?
 
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Pablo Schulman
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christianF wrote:
russ wrote:
PSchulman wrote:
russ wrote:
Simple question, simple answer: Some people like them, some people don't.


Another question then... How much different does a variant need to be considered a legitimate game on their own?




So I don't know.


I second that. Who would define 'legitimate' in the first place?


The players, perhaps?
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David Buckley
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mrraow wrote:
PSchulman wrote:
russ wrote:
Simple question, simple answer: Some people like them, some people don't.


Another question then... How much different does a variant need to be considered a legitimate game on their own?


Do I have to think in a different way? If yes, it's a new game.


That sounds like a sensible definition but it implies that anti-chess is a new game rather than a variant of chess and that seems intuitively wrong to me.

I don't think there's really an objective distinction that can be made between variants of existing games and games in their own right.
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Russ Williams
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Buckersuk wrote:
That sounds like a sensible definition but it implies that anti-chess is a new game rather than a variant of chess and that seems intuitively wrong to me.

This seems probably true of very many of the games/variants at http://chessvariants.org e.g. I found Alice Chess to require me to think differently from normal Chess.
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christian freeling
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russ wrote:
Buckersuk wrote:
That sounds like a sensible definition but it implies that anti-chess is a new game rather than a variant of chess and that seems intuitively wrong to me.

This seems probably true of very many of the games/variants at http://chessvariants.org e.g. I found Alice Chess to require me to think differently from normal Chess.


I'm probably the last person to consult as a player, but Grand Chess quite obviously requires players to adapt tactically, but not so much strategically. But real players might disagree. So might any number of you guys, of course .
 
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Néstor Romeral Andrés
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PSchulman wrote:
So, what are the opinions on variants here? I have a hunch nobody here really cares if a game is "derivative" or "original" as long as it is good.

Thoughts?


Expect some trolling if you design a game too similar to another one you didn't know of (and thereby you don't mention it). It is impossible to know all 5000+ abstracts listed on BGG (not to mention other lesser known sites).

To your original question: IMO, variants are welcome if they enrich the game space.

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Chris Fell
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PSchulman wrote:
So, what are the opinions on variants here? I have a hunch nobody here really cares if a game is "derivative" or "original" as long as it is good.

Thoughts?


The way I look at it is...
thumbsup--If the variant is better than or different from the original. And give it a name. ie "Caldera" for the original "Volcano"
thumbsdown--For confusing the rules of the original game. Its not always easy to find opponents for abstract games and they can sometimes be turned off to a game when the rules are in doubt.
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Joe Joyce
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PSchulman wrote:
russ wrote:
Simple question, simple answer: Some people like them, some people don't. :)


Another question then... How much different does a variant need to be considered a legitimate game on their own?

Games only need to be playable to be considered "legitimate" games in their own right. People may not ever play them, but that doesn't change the fact they are actually playable games. And they may easily be as enjoyable as the games we rate as excellent and play over and over.

Chess variants and wargames are probably the best examples I can think of. If you take a look at the 5000 or more chess games, you can clearly see they fall into families of games that are extremely similar. So much so that it's obvious there is a kind of continuum of chess variants that while slightly granular, shade tiny step by tiny step into each other.

And the same is true of wargames. One of the knocks on Avalon Hill way back in the day was that the only thing that changed in many games was the board. All else was essentially the same. And all those games were supposed to be realistic. If you allow what-ifs, sf, or fantasy wargames, then again, with a little thought it's obvious that wargames can shade over into one another, too. And just because the games haven't been played or even designed yet does not change things. (Lord! I just thought of D&D modules...)

In fact, it's a design strategy to take a game you like that has some relation to a game you want to design, and modify that game step by step into the game you want it to be. One of the ways to ensure your final game is playable right away is to make each intermediate modification a playable game in its own right. And that creates a string of games between 2 different games that are similar to their neighbors and illustrate that with enough ingenuity, you could connect almost any 2 games like that.
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