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Subject: "The Other Side" Game Duration Preference rss

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Ramon Moore
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I am beginning the 3rd round of play testing on a tile based, Ghost themed game with the working title "The Other Side". I have been using a scoring based trigger for ending the game, but am considering testing a fixed number of turns, which is easy enough to install. It does seem like more games are using the fixed turns nowadays. Is this a distinct preference? Is it an aesthetic preference, or simply an design mechanism to try to more tightly control the duration of the game? What are people's thoughts?
 
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Rob Harper
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Unless you have some thematic climax to your game (last one standing, find the treasure, defeat the boss, etc) then the game end is a pretty arbitrary design decision, but it will have an effect on how people play the game. If the game is a certain (and known) number of turns, then players will time their push for victory based on that. If there is a VP threshold to trigger end of game, you may get some cagey manoeuvring as players try to get within a striking distance of the finish (while keeping an eye on opponents' scores). And so on.

One size does not fit all. You haven't given any details about your game, but just ask yourself what sort of feeling you want to achieve and then think about how different ways to end the game might help or hinder that.

If you aren't sure, then why don't you try running a couple of test games with an alternate game end trigger and see how it affects play.
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Ramon Moore
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I will certainly be testing some with the fixed turn number. The game does have One player (a Paranormal Investigator)who has a completely different set of victory conditions from the other players (who are playing various arch type ghosts from different cultures)so my initial leaning was toward a VP based ending. I agree with your "cagey maneuvering" assessment for that type of mechanic. I don't, personally have a bias for one type of ending over the other, but I am a little concerned that the perception of fixed turn games having more fixed play times has become so prevalent as to cause a bit of a stigma to games with VP triggered endings.
 
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JP Ginley
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maybe consider using scoring method of professional boxing where number of rounds can be fixed (agreed) generally six, eight or ten rounds. Number of rounds (time) depends mostly on number of players in your game. In the absence of an early winner during the course of the game with a 'knockout trigger score' the winner will be player with highest (points)score at the end of agreed number of rounds. This gives more choice of strategy...where players can aim for early knockout win or highest score at end of contest.

hope this makes sense !
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Rob Harper
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I don't perceive a stigma over ending the game after a VP threshold being hit. And if that is how your game works best, you absolutely should go with it. You would be in good company too.

If, however, players can cause each other to lose VPs and thus move the game away from an ending, then we may have a point for disagreement.
 
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Nathaniel Grisham

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Whatever you think flows best makes sense to me. If you are concerned about one method or another other causing the game to go long, it's not uncommon to have more than one end-game trigger, so that the game can still end at a reasonable time if players happen to be ignoring the victory points for a while.


If the end condition(s) make make sense in the context of your game, then I don't think anyone will have problems with it. People might not even really notice unless they are looking for it, or if it just doesn't fit the game.

Victory point related conditions usually make sense with whatever theme because it signifies a player having reached an objective first, or because the supply of points has been exhausted, so there is nothing left to do. They can also help prevent a game from dragging on if a player gains a lead that can't be overtaken.

Games that limit the number of total turns usually flow pretty well, and a lot of mechanisms can be used to do this, if you don't like just saying "The games ends after X turns." Again, some supply or deck can run out, or a track reaches its maximum.
 
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B C Z
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The time to end the game is when the decisions are no longer interesting or able to affect the final outcome.

Fixed numbers of turns are one way.

Reaching a timer/counter of some time is another (Think Puerto Rico or Race for the Galaxy, both of which have at least two different end game triggers).

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Jeffrey Brewer
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byronczimmer wrote:
The time to end the game is when the decisions are no longer interesting or able to affect the final outcome.


This is a great point. Once a player is so far ahead/behind that they believe they've already won/lost, they quickly lose interest. There are a few things that could help you prevent that happening too often.

1. Don't count victory points until the end of the game. This means the game end needs to be triggered by something other than VP

2. Keep some points hidden until the game ends. This could help enable come-from-behind wins.

3. Test play over and over until you figure out how many rounds/VP/etc it takes to keep the end exciting.

Just my thoughts. I'm sure there are some other ways. Best of luck with the design.
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Ramon Moore
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Most of the VPs are tracked throughout the game and it would be a major tweak to change that, but there are a small percentage which may be concealed. These would only be revealed to declare victory (in the case of a VP total trigger) or at game's end if there are a fixed number of turns. There is also a secondary victory condition for the ghost players which might lead to a sudden victory, even for a player who trails in the VP count. I agree that repeated play testing is the key to determining the number of turns if you are going that way. In fact, now that the game has gone through (I hope) most of the major mechanical adjustments, I will be paying closer attention to that dynamic.

Thanks for the input.
 
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Ramon Moore
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It seems like the consensus is that the mechanism for ending the game is not a deciding factor for most players, as long as the method suits the game and keeps the duration of the game under control. That sounds reasonable to me.

Thanks. I look forward to getting feedback on several such issues as I proceed.
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