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Subject: Donald X, out of curiosity, what as wrong with Goko/MF, and why did you expect ShuffleIT to be better? rss

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Kris Rhodes
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The transition has occurred, and as far as I can tell the _universal_ opinion (for those who have even been able to get into the new client) is that ShuffleIT's implementation is awful.

I've been curious about this for years, but now I feel motivated to actually ask you directly, on the off chance you may be up for talking about it. I respect you and your game, this is not an invitation to argue, I am just really curious.

What is it about online implementations so far that you've been unhappy with, exactly? People seem to think Goko/MF was quite adequate at least. I found it so myself fwiw. But word on the street is you were unhappy with it. What was wrong?

And then, now that ShuffleIT is up, how are you feeling about it? Do you think it's better? Or are you disappointed? Or is this exactly what you were expecting?

Again I know these can come across as pointed questions but honestly I'm (while maybe there's some frustration here, mostly just) really curious. I'm sad that satisfactory implementations of your excellent game seem not to be forthcoming, when so many other games have wonderful implementations across multiple electronic formats. What is happening with this game that makes it so hard?
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Obviously, I'm not Donald X nor able to speak on his behalf in anyways, but my observations include:

Speusippus wrote:
The transition has occurred, and as far as I can tell the _universal_ opinion (for those who have even been able to get into the new client) is that ShuffleIT's implementation is awful.

Curious, what do you find awful about it? What about what others say about it?

AFAIK, they said the new version will be available Jan. 1st 2017. I did not take that to mean it'd be a version that's polished, free of bugs, and with everything implemented. They kind of had to wait until MF actually no longer had the license, even though it was discussed ahead of time (i suppose there were legal precedence for this).


Speusippus wrote:
What is it about online implementations so far that you've been unhappy with, exactly? People seem to think Goko/MF was quite adequate at least. I found it so myself fwiw. But word on the street is you were unhappy with it. What was wrong?

First off, I'll also note my comment in this bullet point that the new Dom OL is still a work in progress.

To play Devil's advocate, people didn't like with MF how info (e.g. login, password, credit card accounts) weren't encrypted. To be fair, MF also had a bit of a road to trek to get to where they're at. They had many bugs and things they needed to implement themselves. They also didn't like how MF's version, while it let you play vs. others or AI, was online only. So no internet means no go. Some DL-ed the game prior to boarding a plane, or a MetroRail train, only to find out they couldn't play it at all.

It was mentioned the way they were treated and "customer service related stuff". I'm sure there are details, but as that's between Donald X and MF (as 2 business parties), we likely won't be privy to that.

Speusippus wrote:
And then, now that ShuffleIT is up, how are you feeling about it? Do you think it's better? Or are you disappointed? Or is this exactly what you were expecting?

Again I know these can come across as pointed questions but honestly I'm (while maybe there's some frustration here, mostly just) really curious. I'm sad that satisfactory implementations of your excellent game seem not to be forthcoming, when so many other games have wonderful implementations across multiple electronic formats. What is happening with this game that makes it so hard?
Designers typically do NOT comment on digital versions of their games (as negative commentary may go against agreements).

I honestly don't know why digital bg are that hard to do, but if I had to take a stab at this, I'd say it's already a niche market of a niche market. As of 2013, some pubs in the past have opted NOT to do digital versions of their bg since it ends up being and expense. Not an investment. It's money and time that are better spent elsewhere. [shrug]
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ackmondual wrote:
So no internet means no go.

is this any different with this new implementation?

... honestly I played a bit earlier today and found it OK, it definitely feels more modern and I enjoyed it, despite some much needed features.

right now however I can't even log in, so I hope this is not a sign of things to come - a subscription model that is not available 24/7 is not going to cut it, no matter how fairly it is priced.
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Andrés Santiago Pérez-Bergquist
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So, I got an email and logged into the new system. Their layout is broken, there's flickering images, and they have obvious bits of their templating system showing through and not being processed correctly. Who in their right mind signed off on showing this thing to the public? These are obvious bugs; this barely qualifies as a beta. Why is every developer contracted to make Dominion online so utterly incompetent?


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The CSS and templating problems you saw (and I did too) seem to be browser-specific to Safari. Try using Chrome or Firefox.
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Speusippus wrote:
What is it about online implementations so far that you've been unhappy with, exactly? People seem to think Goko/MF was quite adequate at least. I found it so myself fwiw. But word on the street is you were unhappy with it. What was wrong?

I have never felt like the move was to post a big list of complaints. And so many people have posted those litanies; you could go look for them. I personally felt let down, over and over, and then after I thought, man should we get rid of them, in the months that followed that I felt let down over and over again.

Some of this was stuff that seemed really seriously bad. Some of it was just, why isn't this done yet; if you look at it from a point after the fact, for things they eventually did, then you don't see those, but they were there.

When I thought, this is it we have to get rid of them, I then PM'd 20 people on f.ds to ask what they thought - just, random people who were posting in the online Dominion forum. Overwhelmingly they had no faith in MF, and were in favor of a change; some were worried about the possibility of some time with no online Dominion at all.

Speusippus wrote:
And then, now that ShuffleIT is up, how are you feeling about it? Do you think it's better? Or are you disappointed? Or is this exactly what you were expecting?

Shuffle iT spent last January and February making an early version of the program, and showed it to us in early March. We were impressed with how much they'd gotten done in 2 months, and felt like they'd manage to do enough by today.

I was disappointed with the released version. Obviously the interface needs a lot of work. One big thing is just how much the program depends on the log. I think most players do not want to have to look at the log, like, ever.

Speusippus wrote:
Again I know these can come across as pointed questions but honestly I'm (while maybe there's some frustration here, mostly just) really curious. I'm sad that satisfactory implementations of your excellent game seem not to be forthcoming, when so many other games have wonderful implementations across multiple electronic formats. What is happening with this game that makes it so hard?

Initially there was just no work being done on a digital version. I don't know why that is. I mean no company was signed. Some years went by. There were various free implementations and well as I like to say, I never lost any sleep over them. If someday we end up back there, that doesn't sound so bad.

When Goko (then called Funsockets) took the job in 2011, time flies, they had big plans, and talked a talk that convinced a bunch of companies to sign with them. I think they eventually relinquished most of the rights. I know they had Catan for example.

I don't know the whole story, but one day Goko seemed to be dead, then it rose from the ashes with a new CEO, Kate something. Kate farmed out Dominion to Making Fun. It's an important point to me that we didn't pick either Kate or Making Fun. A random stranger who apparently could afford to invest in a failing digital games company chose who would be working on online Dominion next.

After MF we wanted some established company that had done good work already. Shuffle iT pitched showing us what they could do in two months, and here we are, once again giving some new guys a shot.

They are the guys now; I can be optimistic or pessimistic but it won't affect the outcome. Good luck, Shuffle iT.
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RogueM wrote:
ackmondual wrote:
So no internet means no go.

is this any different with this new implementation?

... honestly I played a bit earlier today and found it OK, it definitely feels more modern and I enjoyed it, despite some much needed features.

right now however I can't even log in, so I hope this is not a sign of things to come - a subscription model that is not available 24/7 is not going to cut it, no matter how fairly it is priced.


beforehand, there was talks that they'll be an online version (what we're seeing now, but it needs work), and an offline mode that you pay once. The offline mode isn't available yet. This offline mode is something MF never offered.


EDIT: nm
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donaldx wrote:
There were various free implementations and well as I like to say, I never lost any sleep over them. If someday we end up back there, that doesn't sound so bad.


Not at all! I would find it outright wonderful to get Dominion on Isotropic back, it was excellent!
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Quote:
When Goko (then called Funsockets) took the job in 2011, time flies, they had big plans, and talked a talk that convinced a bunch of companies to sign with them. I think they eventually relinquished most of the rights. I know they had Catan for example.


That makes sense, at one time they were advertising they were going to have a Race for the Galaxy digital version.

I actually think all of the implementations have been okay to pretty good so far even the current one.

It's a little frustrating that there hasn't been an excellent version yet. It's like each implementation has these great pieces but individually it just cant get that last mile.

 
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Santiago wrote:
So, I got an email and logged into the new system. Their layout is broken, there's flickering images, and they have obvious bits of their templating system showing through and not being processed correctly. Who in their right mind signed off on showing this thing to the public? These are obvious bugs; this barely qualifies as a beta. Why is every developer contracted to make Dominion online so utterly incompetent?



Because RGG does not grasp the fact that their core competence is producing printed board games and selling them via retail and not software products sold online.

What makes this frustrating is that we have all played great implementations of this online (e.g., BSW) and on mobile OS. We have already seen it work, yet here we are years in and they cannot find someone to get this done.

Edit: grammar
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Darador wrote:
donaldx wrote:
There were various free implementations and well as I like to say, I never lost any sleep over them. If someday we end up back there, that doesn't sound so bad.


Not at all! I would find it outright wonderful to get Dominion on Isotropic back, it was excellent!


I'd pay to play on isotropic again. Loved it.
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monteslu wrote:
Darador wrote:
donaldx wrote:
There were various free implementations and well as I like to say, I never lost any sleep over them. If someday we end up back there, that doesn't sound so bad.


Not at all! I would find it outright wonderful to get Dominion on Isotropic back, it was excellent!


I'd pay to play on isotropic again. Loved it.

Isotropic is not for sale. If it was, we wouldn't be having this conversation.
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jeffwolfe wrote:
monteslu wrote:
Darador wrote:
donaldx wrote:
There were various free implementations and well as I like to say, I never lost any sleep over them. If someday we end up back there, that doesn't sound so bad.


Not at all! I would find it outright wonderful to get Dominion on Isotropic back, it was excellent!


I'd pay to play on isotropic again. Loved it.

Isotropic is not for sale. If it was, we wouldn't be having this conversation.


Very well aware of that, I'm saying that if it were I'd pay for it. I enjoyed playing on it. A shame DougZ wasn't just contracted out to make the official implementation.
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monteslu wrote:
jeffwolfe wrote:
Isotropic is not for sale. If it was, we wouldn't be having this conversation.


Very well aware of that, I'm saying that if it were I'd pay for it. I enjoyed playing on it. A shame DougZ wasn't just contracted out to make the official implementation.

Well he was the first person they asked and he turned it down. Not that I blame him, given what a train wreck online Dominion has turned into.
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LastFootnote wrote:
Well he was the first person they asked and he turned it down. Not that I blame him, given what a train wreck online Dominion has turned into.


I'm almost certain it wouldn't have if he had been in charge...
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Thank you, from far down deep in my heart, for answering my questions Donald X.

My idea probably sounds like crazy talk but if you guys change developers again, I suggest you just make it a contest. The developer who is able to put together a _practically finished product_ which is satisfactory, gets the account. That's it. Let them totally prove they can completely do it, first, before giving them the account. None of this prototyping stuff.

Which I know is not how it's usually done. But Dominion is special, has a difficult implementation history and is sure to be lucrative monetarily when successful, and even aside from that, will bring the implementor a lot in terms of reputation, and people _will_ take the bait I'd bet. Then there's no risk--you're just picking the best _finished version of the implementation_.
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Wow this new online site is awful. I would give anything to be able to use the Making Fun app again. I would also really appreciate it if my previous purchases of expansions which I thought were "permanent" would be honored by this new site, but so far it's crickets from them.
 
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Speusippus wrote:
Thank you, from far down deep in my heart, for answering my questions Donald X.

My idea probably sounds like crazy talk but if you guys change developers again, I suggest you just make it a contest. The developer who is able to put together a _practically finished product_ which is satisfactory, gets the account. That's it. Let them totally prove they can completely do it, first, before giving them the account. None of this prototyping stuff.

Which I know is not how it's usually done. But Dominion is special, has a difficult implementation history and is sure to be lucrative monetarily when successful, and even aside from that, will bring the implementor a lot in terms of reputation, and people _will_ take the bait I'd bet. Then there's no risk--you're just picking the best _finished version of the implementation_.


There's a reason what you're suggesting isn't how it's usually done... making even a version of Dominion that's 90% complete is still hardly a nontrivial project. You're asking developers and everyone else in the software development process to pour in months and months of time, only to be likely they won't be paid. While all the money shouldn't be up front, it shouldn't be all paid out at the end either. Folks tend to shy away from jobs when there's suspicion that they're not going to get paid.


That is one thing I did like about unauthorized projects... they were labors of love. It was a community who could get surprising progress because money wasn't (and couldn't really be) in consideration.
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Speusippus wrote:
Thank you, from far down deep in my heart, for answering my questions Donald X.

My idea probably sounds like crazy talk but if you guys change developers again, I suggest you just make it a contest. The developer who is able to put together a _practically finished product_ which is satisfactory, gets the account. That's it. Let them totally prove they can completely do it, first, before giving them the account. None of this prototyping stuff.

Which I know is not how it's usually done. But Dominion is special, has a difficult implementation history and is sure to be lucrative monetarily when successful, and even aside from that, will bring the implementor a lot in terms of reputation, and people _will_ take the bait I'd bet. Then there's no risk--you're just picking the best _finished version of the implementation_.


Do you work in marketing by any chance?
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Darador wrote:
LastFootnote wrote:
Well he was the first person they asked and he turned it down. Not that I blame him, given what a train wreck online Dominion has turned into.


I'm almost certain it wouldn't have if he had been in charge...

Oh are you?

I think it's becoming increasingly clear that creating a commercially viable digital version of Dominion is very hard. Much harder than the community thinks. Three different entities have taken a shot at it and have all failed to live up to expectations. Now you can claim that all three were totally incompetent, but that's not very likely, is it? The far more likely conclusion is that creating a game of hundreds of cards with interacting abilities, nice graphics and sound, good production values, with good AI (this is a big one) across multiple platforms (this is the biggest one) is an absolutely massive undertaking. It's more work than creating the physical game by several orders of magnitude. No joke.

Doug Z. (the guy who made isotropic) had a better idea than most about how much work would be involved in that project, having created a working game engine and a very limited interface (with no AI, on web browsers only). I would not be surprised if he took one look at that and said, "Nope!" Would he have done a better job than these other entities? Maybe, if he'd hired on a composer, a graphic designer, a business specialist, etc. But even then I bet he would have failed to live up to the unreasonable expectations that have plagued digital Dominion since day one.
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LastFootnote wrote:
Darador wrote:
LastFootnote wrote:
Well he was the first person they asked and he turned it down. Not that I blame him, given what a train wreck online Dominion has turned into.


I'm almost certain it wouldn't have if he had been in charge...

Oh are you?

I think it's becoming increasingly clear that creating a commercially viable digital version of Dominion is very hard. Much harder than the community thinks. Three different entities have taken a shot at it and have all failed to live up to expectations. Now you can claim that all three were totally incompetent, but that's not very likely, is it? The far more likely conclusion is that creating a game of hundreds of cards with interacting abilities, nice graphics and sound, good production values, with good AI (this is a big one) across multiple platforms (this is the biggest one) is an absolutely massive undertaking. It's more work than creating the physical game by several orders of magnitude. No joke.

Doug Z. (the guy who made isotropic) had a better idea than most about how much work would be involved in that project, having created a working game engine and a very limited interface (with no AI, on web browsers only). I would not be surprised if he took one look at that and said, "Nope!" Would he have done a better job than these other entities? Maybe, if he'd hired on a composer, a graphic designer, a business specialist, etc. But even then I bet he would have failed to live up to the unreasonable expectations that have plagued digital Dominion since day one.

Isotropic was starting to show signs that some of Doug's design decisions were less than optimal. There are now 10 expansions out there. Each expansion adds new mechanisms that have to be coded into the system. Since each mechanism potentially interacts with every mechanism that came before, the complexity increases geometrically. It helps to a certain extent to know what is out there, but that also increases your initial complexity. When Isotropic went away, Adventures had only been partially implemented and Empires not at all.

This is not to say that Isotropic couldn't have been scaled up, but it's far from certain.
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jeffwolfe wrote:
Isotropic was starting to show signs that some of Doug's design decisions were less than optimal. There are now 10 expansions out there. Each expansion adds new mechanisms that have to be coded into the system. Since each mechanism potentially interacts with every mechanism that came before, the complexity increases geometrically. It helps to a certain extent to know what is out there, but that also increases your initial complexity. When Isotropic went away, Adventures had only been partially implemented and Empires not at all.

This is not to say that Isotropic couldn't have been scaled up, but it's far from certain.

Small correction: isotropic had all of Adventures (even Inheritance, which the new implementation doesn't yet have). Doug stopped updating partway through Empires' development. But yeah, I agree that some of isotropic's early design decisions, while probably perfectly reasonable at the time, ended up creating issues with new cards. I remember Crown had a lot of problems. Split piles, too.
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LastFootnote wrote:
Doug Z. (the guy who made isotropic) had a better idea than most about how much work would be involved in that project, having created a working game engine and a very limited interface (with no AI, on web browsers only). I would not be surprised if he took one look at that and said, "Nope!"


Another way of looking at it is that he's got a good-paying day job, as does nearly everyone who could do this project. Baumol's cost disease is at work here---all of the people with the software skills to do a project like this, can get high salaries from Google, Facebook, Apple, etc. So that makes it much more expensive to do projects like this than it used to be, before demand for people with software engineering skills was so high. Pretty much you have to find someone who's willing to accept less compensation than they could get for doing something less interesting but more commercial.
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On a sort-of side-note I thought the Baseball Highlights: 2045 app was implemented well, it includes the expansions and some cards have effects such as cloning. I hadn't used the previous Dominion site in a long time and I appreciated the email notifications from both sites recently, and was able to login and play. I guess I'm taking a bit of a wait and see approach but meanwhile, I'm playing again and getting beat by the bot. Overall I'm optimistic ATM about the new site.
 
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DaviddesJ wrote:
LastFootnote wrote:
Doug Z. (the guy who made isotropic) had a better idea than most about how much work would be involved in that project, having created a working game engine and a very limited interface (with no AI, on web browsers only). I would not be surprised if he took one look at that and said, "Nope!"


Another way of looking at it is that he's got a good-paying day job, as does nearly everyone who could do this project. Baumol's cost disease is at work here---all of the people with the software skills to do a project like this, can get high salaries from Google, Facebook, Apple, etc. So that makes it much more expensive to do projects like this than it used to be, before demand for people with software engineering skills was so high. Pretty much you have to find someone who's willing to accept less compensation than they could get for doing something less interesting but more commercial.


Interesting though a bit depressing for the hobby.
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