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This was recently posted as part of a comment on the pie rule in chess, and I think it's worth looking at, for me anyway, because I have no trouble collaborating (I enjoy it - see The ShortRange Project at chessvariants.org) or changing a game to suit players' wants/needs, and even their requests, as I recently changed the promotion rules of the chess variant design I've done that had the most people play, Modern Shatranj. A number of people asked for it and one person made a rules-checking preset for it. And that's not the only instance. I've added piece options to what's apparently my next most popular chess variant, based on requests.

But in some instances, when people have made suggestions, I've encouraged them to write up their version as a brand-new variant, because I've felt they were changing the game sufficiently to warrant it. And I encourage people to change or improve upon my games as they see fit. I always felt that was the point of games and game design.

But I get the very strong impression that this is somewhat unusual, that many or most designers don't look at their work in this way. So I'm asking.
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I would consider it flattering, even if I disagreed with the changes they proposed. And if they actually came up with good changes - things that actually improve the game, i'd be happy to put them into the game.

I don't think I would get any greater pleasure or pride out of "This great game was designed by Phil Fleischmann," than I would from "This great game was originally designed by Phil Fleischmann, and improved by Anne Onymous."
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Supplementary question: Do you feel differently about people who write to you to say that they have really enjoyed playing your game with their improvements and suggest that you consider making them part of the official rules versus people who just publish their improvements without first seeking your approval?

Clarification: This second group are not presenting your game with their modifications as being the official rules. That would clearly be bad form.
 
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Phil Fleischmann wrote:
I would consider it flattering, even if I disagreed with the changes they proposed. And if they actually came up with good changes - things that actually improve the game, i'd be happy to put them into the game.

I don't think I would get any greater pleasure or pride out of "This great game was designed by Phil Fleischmann," than I would from "This great game was originally designed by Phil Fleischmann, and improved by Anne Onymous."


I agree as long as those giving advice are being honest and trying to help you make your game better I appreciate it a lot, but also know that not all advice is created equal. Just because one playtester or customer thinks the game would be better with a change does not mean you need to do it.
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If your "artistic vision" is so vitally important to you that nobody is willing to play your game because it's a stinkin' pile of cat poo... Well, it's not much of a game, is it?

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Buckersuk wrote:
Supplementary question: Do you feel differently about people who write to you to say that they have really enjoyed playing your game with their improvements and suggest that you consider making them part of the official rules versus people who just publish their improvements without first seeking your approval?

Clarification: This second group are not presenting your game with their modifications as being the official rules. That would clearly be bad form.

At my level, I'm very happy to get any feedback at all, much less feedback in the form of rules modifications. So to be honest, I'd undoubtedly like the person who sucked up wrote with suggestions a little better than the one who didn't but just published, to start. But it would not change my decision to include the rules package or not, because it never has before when it's come to that. Even when leading to some hurt feelings in the family and an impromptu lesson in tact for me in how not to discuss things.

Grin, although I will also tell those people whose ideas I have no intention of using to write their version up, too, and test it out, because I am often a minority opinion even in the tiny little world within which I generally work. And because I am, I do encourage people to polish and publish their stuff, whether or not I like it. What do I know? I know that if you and your friends are playing something like my game with your mods, that's a handful of people more playing a game I at least inspired. And maybe a few more have caught the spark. Success!
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joejoyce wrote:
This was recently posted as part of a comment on the pie rule in chess, and I think it's worth looking at, for me anyway, because I have no trouble collaborating (I enjoy it - see The ShortRange Project at chessvariants.org) or changing a game to suit players' wants/needs, and even their requests, as I recently changed the promotion rules of the chess variant design I've done that had the most people play, Modern Shatranj. A number of people asked for it and one person made a rules-checking preset for it. And that's not the only instance. I've added piece options to what's apparently my next most popular chess variant, based on requests.

But in some instances, when people have made suggestions, I've encouraged them to write up their version as a brand-new variant, because I've felt they were changing the game sufficiently to warrant it. And I encourage people to change or improve upon my games as they see fit. I always felt that was the point of games and game design.

But I get the very strong impression that this is somewhat unusual, that many or most designers don't look at their work in this way. So I'm asking.


Here's my two cents.

Some games have to be assembled, Chess variants in particular. Such games easily accept modifications and will reward the players with better or worse game play. A vague notion like 'taste' may already put a player in one camp or the other.

Other games, the ones with homogenuous material in particular, may embody an idea in a way that is inherent to it. Their self explanatory character usually makes them less easy to modify, not to mention less inviting.

I'm fairly neutral about people modifying my games, as long as they acknowledge it as such. I'm less neutral about bad design, but since one can't avoid it anymore than bad weather, I usually wait for it to vanish.
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I have a Kaizen attitude toward all design in recent years, and welcome all attempts at improvement, even attempts to improve games that seem like they shouldn't be very improvable (according to Christian's classification above). Once in a while, someone finds a way to improve even the most "self-explanatory" of games and I find those discoveries thrilling.

I think in aggregate, abstract game design has evolved for the better in the last decades (I think the spread of the 12* drop rule and the principle behind it, for example, represents a real step forward), and I think those sorts of advances are most likely to happen when designers believe in the possibility of improvement and pursue it devotedly. Bring it on.
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milomilo122 wrote:

I have a Kaizen attitude toward all design in recent years, and welcome all attempts at improvement, even attempts to improve games that seem like they shouldn't be very improvable (according to Christian's classification above). Once in a while, someone finds a way to improve even the most "self-explanatory" of games and I find those discoveries thrilling.

I think in aggregate, abstract game design has evolved for the better in the last decades (I think the spread of the 12* drop rule and the principle behind it, for example, represents a real step forward), and I think those sorts of advances are most likely to happen when designers believe in the possibility of improvement and pursue it devotedly. Bring it on.


Well, saying something can't be done only makes one look silly if it's done, so saying a game cannot be improved upon seems less than inviting.

But in a generic sense there have been interesting new developments indeed, in particular in the field of move protocols where you, Luis, Corey Clark, Mark Steere and yours truly have contributed, and probably others that I can't think of, so right off the top of my head.
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Quotes from Mark Steere's website offered without comment:

PROGRAMMERS
Please
• Don't change the names of my games.

Don't change the rules.
• Attribute my games to me, Mark Steere.

Feel free to program my games without monetary obligation.* But in return I ask that you program them right. Don't alter my games by leaving out rules, modifying rules, or adding new rules.

The artwork, interface, and other programming details are your business. The rules are mine.

The rules of my games are final. While I cherish the highly skilled programmers who implement my games, if you are unwilling or unable to program my games correctly and completely, then please don't program them.

* A modest licensing fee will apply to those who expect to earn a substantial profit from the use of my games. But most mom-and-pop organizations may implement my games free of charge. Check with me.

DESIGNERS
Please
• Be original.

Don't copy my games.
• Be ethical.

My games are highly original. When you base your game on my game, you create something that looks like it was created by me but which doesn't meet my usual, very strict design standards.

When you plagiarize my rules, you aren't "building on my work". You're damaging my trademark.

In one instance, a "designer" copied my game, Cephalopod, and reduced the board size from 5x5 to 4x4, making tie scores possible. He then added a photo of his 4x4 board, with "Cephalopod" printed on it, into a group of actual Cephalopod photos at a popular game database. This created the distinct appearance that I had bastardized my own game, damaging my trademark.
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Lancer4321 wrote:
If your "artistic vision" is so vitally important to you that nobody is willing to play your game because it's a stinkin' pile of cat poo... Well, it's not much of a game, is it?

blush While around here, we're more "accepting" with help as "in the flesh out" at times even.

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christianF wrote:
Here's my two cents.

Some games have to be assembled, Chess variants in particular. Such games easily accept modifications and will reward the players with better or worse game play. A vague notion like 'taste' may already put a player in one camp or the other.

Other games, the ones with homogenuous material in particular, may embody an idea in a way that is inherent to it. Their self explanatory character usually makes them less easy to modify, not to mention less inviting.

I'm fairly neutral about people modifying my games, as long as they acknowledge it as such. I'm less neutral about bad design, but since one can't avoid it anymore than bad weather, I usually wait for it to vanish.

I grant you chess is absurdly plastic, so in that sense is "easy" for modifications to occur. But that viewpoint misses perhaps not only senses of style, which you may or may not find reason enough to greatly restrict the potential changes, but collaborations, where 2 or more people actually design one or more games together. Homogeneously. Seamlessly. So much so that for TSRP, neither Christine Bagley-Jones, a young woman in Australia, nor I, in New York, could actually tell in some games who did what. There is at least 1 game where each of us thinks the other did most of the work with a minor amount of assistance.

Since my non-chess board games are not quite ready for prime time yet, all I can say is that during extensive play testing, people asked for various mods in a few games, and the ones that worked well, I included. The ones that worked, I added as optional rules or in game notes.

I've just read the posting of Mark Steere's comments on this topic from his website. Somehow we've wound up as Facebook friends, and as far as we can tell, we are about as completely opposite as you can find in 2 white American males. But it's been my impression his attitude is closer to the norm than mine, although he is an extreme example.

As another related question, how many designers will discuss ongoing projects?
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Buckersuk wrote:
Quotes from Mark Steere's website offered without comment:

...
The rules are mine.
...


While I understand the sentiment, this is the very thing you cannot own, luckily...

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arnest_r wrote:
Buckersuk wrote:
Quotes from Mark Steere's website offered without comment:

...
The rules are mine.
...


While I understand the sentiment, this is the very thing you cannot own, luckily...


You can't own them legally, it seems. But I believe, with Mark Steere, that you can, morally.


 
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Buckersuk wrote:
Quotes from Mark Steere's website offered without comment:


"Without comment" is actually a comment. I wonder if you'd care to elaborate.
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joejoyce wrote:
I've just read the posting of Mark Steere's comments on this topic from his website. Somehow we've wound up as Facebook friends, and as far as we can tell, we are about as completely opposite as you can find in 2 white American males. But it's been my impression his attitude is closer to the norm than mine, although he is an extreme example.

As another related question, how many designers will discuss ongoing projects?


To begin with the latter, my ongoing project turned out to be a complete overhaul of mindsports. That will get me through the winter. Nothing stirring at the design front, and that suits me just fine.

I brought up the 'generic' side because this forum seems somewhat preoccupied with new games rather than new tools. And with lists of course, but that's another issue.

I mentioned a couple of inventors who contributed more or less generic move protocols. One of them is Mark. The protocol used in Oust and Flume is intriguing because one is an elimination game, the other a territory game. That suggests some degree in flexibility regarding its application.

A difference between Mark and me is that he probably would object to people using 'his' protocol, while I would be honored if someone would use for instance the 'one-bound-one-free' opening protocol, which besides being flexible also provides a fair balancing mechanism in itself.
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christianF wrote:
Buckersuk wrote:
Quotes from Mark Steere's website offered without comment:


"Without comment" is actually a comment. I wonder if you'd care to elaborate.


Hmm. Mostly I just thought it interesting to consider a contrasting perspective. Some of it seems a little bit "precious" to my way of thinking.

christianF wrote:
A difference between Mark and me is that he probably would object to people using 'his' protocol, while I would be honored if someone would use for instance the 'one-bound-one-free' opening protocol, which besides being flexible also provides a fair balancing mechanism in itself.


I tend to share your perspective on this. "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery" as the saying goes. Claiming 'ownership' over individual rules and ideas seems to impose restrictions on designers and players for no good reason. I agree with Arnest that it's fortunate that he can not actually do this. And what is Atoll if not a plagiarization of Hex?
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There's some irony in the fact that among game designers, Mark's games could use "sprucing up" more than most, because he often doesn't play his concepts to see if they actually make good games. He just posts the rules. This often results in interesting ideas with poor implementations.

He's under the impression that a good game *must* follow from a good idea. It's true that good games *can* follow from good ideas without any other development, but not always and not for everyone. Most of the time, not for Mark.
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My opinion? I want people to have fun.

If you prefer house rules, play with them. Share them with people. Tweak the game and expand on it knowing that you have my blessing to expand in any way you choose.

I just demand you tell me so that I might be able to enjoy it to.

The only issues I have come from financial and credit standpoints. If you're profiting off my work without my permission I might be upset. (Even then, a substantial expanding of my concept is awesome)

As for credit, I'd just a appreciate a thank you, asking permission or just saying "This was inspired by X". This isn't a requirement, but a request to show you aren't trying to clone/steal my work, but to build on it.

The truth is, I'm not egotistical enough to make games for me. I make them for players and their enjoyment means everything to me.

They have my full support.
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milomilo122 wrote:
It's true that good games *can* follow from good ideas without any other development, but not always and not for everyone. Most of the time, not for Mark.


It would be pretty boring if every good idea would implicitly point to a good implementation. Where would that leave plodding inventors like us? Fortunately it is not the case, usually. But for Oust and Flume it probably was.
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christianF wrote:
But for Oust and Flume it probably was.


Yep, but these are exceptions, in my view. The fact that they're good games feels a little accidental.
 
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christianF wrote:
Where would that leave plodding inventors like us?


Sarcasm noted.
 
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milomilo122 wrote:
christianF wrote:
Where would that leave plodding inventors like us?


Sarcasm noted.


Not intended I assure you, though I'm fairly plodfree now as far as games are concerned.
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it depends on the game. some are perfect and give you NO ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT (in Siberian Dice for example, any improvement leads to a fatal disbalance). some are ugly overly complicated and allow for very many reasonable improvements. or sometimes they are so poorly defined that you may treat them as a class of games...
 
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Buckersuk wrote:
christianF wrote:
Buckersuk wrote:
Quotes from Mark Steere's website offered without comment:


"Without comment" is actually a comment. I wonder if you'd care to elaborate.


Hmm. Mostly I just thought it interesting to consider a contrasting perspective. Some of it seems a little bit "precious" to my way of thinking.

Wet slippery dark cave … I can picture that, yes, interesting metaphor.

Buckersuk wrote:
Claiming 'ownership' over individual rules and ideas seems to impose restrictions on designers and players for no good reason. I agree with Arnest that it's fortunate that he can not actually do this. And what is Atoll if not a plagiarization of Hex?

'Ownership' would be a questionable idea if, like me, one offers the games for what they're worth. But I appreciate acknowledgement and since my work is reasonably well known to a reasonable number of people I'm in little danger of losing it. Some of my games will probably be copyright free by now in some if not most countries. I wouldn't be surprised to see Chinese Grand Chess sets for instance. And it would bother me if in that case they would fail to mention the inventor, yes. But, that being common knowledge in at least some circles, not even all that much.
 
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