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Subject: Ignacy vs. Peter (CBJ Interview) rss

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Steve G.
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Listening to the Cardboard Jungle podcast turned me on to the arrival of the pre-order for TFM. I'd been on the fence about whether or not to pre-order it, or even at order all. While I find many design elements of Robinson Crusoe to be groundbreaking and fascinating, the experience from the times it hits the table have been mixed at best.

I decided to post this mainly because according to Ignacy, First Martians already has its first hater in the form of Peter (no last name given), who wrote the rulebook. Ignacy reacted to Peter's criticisms of constant and capricious setbacks by amassing comments from the community celebrating this very trait in Robinson Crusoe. This made Ignacy feel comfortable setting aside Peter's criticisms. In a way, this post is to put something in Peter's pile.

In general cooperative game design can get away with a lot on the back of the notion that co-ops are supposed to be hard. They're forgiven a lack of fine-tuning that would not be acceptable otherwise, just as long as things are ultimately tilted against the players. Most folks have to play a game a lot before they start to question what led them to their final destination. Maybe if they'd played more strategically, went with a different tactical decision at a key juncture, or perhaps they didn't incur enough risk, or maybe they pushed their luck too far and fortune didn't favor them. Rather than really dig into these questions postmortem, people just assign one of these rationales and pack up the game.

My group's experiences with Robinson Crusoe have lent the impression that at least with some scenarios, we're playing a complex game with lots of careful decisions to make and risks to take that don't ultimately matter because we're playing Russian Roulette with five loaded chambers. It's about playing Russian Roulette with five loaded chambers. And the more players who are participating, the more the game becomes an exercise in scratching off lottery tickets. There are things that can hit the players out-of-the-blue that render all strategy and tactics executed prior to that moment moot.

I mean, go rustle up three other players and do Cannibal Island. Then after the game is over, do a postmortem. I hope you win, but if you do, I don't need a session report to know whether or not the first two random events had book icons.

I wonder if Peter's comments to Ignacy mirrored these sentiments in any way. At any rate, the encouraging takeaway from the CBJ interview is that with the app, scenarios become living things, with feedback from the community allowing them to be fine-tuned over time. As for whether or not to pre-order....well, it's a no-brainer really I suppose. Even if it turns out not to be a game for me, there won't be any shortage of folks to take it off my hands.
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David desJardins
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I don't really understand what you're getting at in your post, but I share the opinion that Robinson Crusoe is too random, and the concern that this game may be the same.
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davide pessach
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Well, one thing is having elements of luck in a game, another is having a lottery experience.
I'm a fan of Combat Commander and I do appreciate the 'randomness' factor there as it stands for many 'faith things' that could happen in actual war. I don't have card to attack this turn, or I don't have a fire card to interrupt the enemy: that could mean a lot of things happening on the battlefield, and it is ok as the game is all about making the best of what you have.

Here I think it is the same. Luck can hurt you badly but you still have to make the best you can with what you have, which seems perfectly thematic here too.
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David desJardins
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In Combat Commander, it's never over until it's over. The same luck factor can lead to incredible comebacks.

In Robinson Crusoe, some things simply can't be overcome. That's what the OP seems to me to be getting at.
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davide pessach
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And btw, I have bought First Martians and my concern is not the random element but the fiddly machinations of rules and bookeeping. These, for me, are the biggest issues of Robinson Crusoe. I really hope FM gets some streamlining.
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davide pessach
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DaviddesJ wrote:
In Combat Commander, it's never over until it's over. The same luck factor can lead to incredible comebacks.

In Robinson Crusoe, some things simply can't be overcome. That's what the OP seems to me to be getting at.


Yeah, and that seems to me perfectly thematic. Being stranded on a desert island is definitely a luck management scenario with a lot of misfortunes and incidents just waiting to happen.
I do think it is just a matter of theme and kind of game.
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Steve G.
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DaviddesJ wrote:
In Combat Commander, it's never over until it's over. The same luck factor can lead to incredible comebacks.

In Robinson Crusoe, some things simply can't be overcome. That's what the OP seems to me to be getting at.


The supposition behind co-ops being hard to win is that when you are able to pull of a victory, it feels supremely satisfying. While that makes sense if winning a cooperative game stems from a team of players functioning like a well-oiled machine that can withstand a game's hazards. On the other hand, if the game is loaded with random events that can blow an engine to smithereens no matter how well the players coordinated their efforts, then that just means when you win--well, you were fantastically lucky. You flipped a coin five times and it always came up heads.

In my group, we try to do postmortems. All too often, Robinson Crusoe has felt like the latter.

patgarret77 wrote:
DaviddesJ wrote:
In Combat Commander, it's never over until it's over. The same luck factor can lead to incredible comebacks.

In Robinson Crusoe, some things simply can't be overcome. That's what the OP seems to me to be getting at.


Yeah, and that seems to me perfectly thematic. Being stranded on a desert island is definitely a luck management scenario with a lot of misfortunes and incidents just waiting to happen.
I do think it is just a matter of theme and kind of game.


So, you and some friends sit around a table for an hour and change trying to make careful plans about what actions to take and sacrifices to make, and then some sudden out-of-the-blue random event cause ends the game rendering everything that preceded it meaningless--effectively, a "you lose" card appears--and that provides a satisfying gaming experience because hey, it's thematic? Is that what you're contending? Because that's back to being a Lotto experience.

Chaos can strike anywhere. No matter how well you manage your factory's resources, there can be a shortage in China you can do nothing about. A sword can just suddenly snick your head, hit points be damned. Farms can have droughts and the cattle all get hoof-and-mouth. No desert islands required.
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Vincent
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steveg700 wrote:
Listening to the Cardboard Jungle podcast turned me on to the arrival of the pre-order for TFM. I'd been on the fence about whether or not to pre-order it, or even at order all. While I find many design elements of Robinson Crusoe to be groundbreaking and fascinating, the experience from the times it hits the table have been mixed at best.

I decided to post this mainly because according to Ignacy, First Martians already has its first hater in the form of Peter (no last name given), who wrote the rulebook. Ignacy reacted to Peter's criticisms of constant and capricious setbacks by amassing comments from the community celebrating this very trait in Robinson Crusoe. This made Ignacy feel comfortable setting aside Peter's criticisms. In a way, this post is to put something in Peter's pile.

In general cooperative game design can get away with a lot on the back of the notion that co-ops are supposed to be hard. They're forgiven a lack of fine-tuning that would not be acceptable otherwise, just as long as things are ultimately tilted against the players. Most folks have to play a game a lot before they start to question what led them to their final destination. Maybe if they'd played more strategically, went with a different tactical decision at a key juncture, or perhaps they didn't incur enough risk, or maybe they pushed their luck too far and fortune didn't favor them. Rather than really dig into these questions postmortem, people just assign one of these rationales and pack up the game.

My group's experiences with Robinson Crusoe have lent the impression that at least with some scenarios, we're playing a complex game with lots of careful decisions to make and risks to take that don't ultimately matter because we're playing Russian Roulette with five loaded chambers. It's about playing Russian Roulette with five loaded chambers. And the more players who are participating, the more the game becomes an exercise in scratching off lottery tickets. There are things that can hit the players out-of-the-blue that render all strategy and tactics executed prior to that moment moot.

I mean, go rustle up three other players and do Cannibal Island. Then after the game is over, do a postmortem. I hope you win, but if you do, I don't need a session report to know whether or not the first two random events had book icons.

I wonder if Peter's comments to Ignacy mirrored these sentiments in any way. At any rate, the encouraging takeaway from the CBJ interview is that with the app, scenarios become living things, with feedback from the community allowing them to be fine-tuned over time. As for whether or not to pre-order....well, it's a no-brainer really I suppose. Even if it turns out not to be a game for me, there won't be any shortage of folks to take it off my hands.

So, to summarize what you are saying:
Peter finds the game too difficult
Ignacy feels that lots of people like the difficulty
You agree with Peter that RS was too difficult, but you hope that with the app the difficulty can be adjusted?
 
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Howard Massey
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No, he is saying it's pretty much a game design he doesn't like.
Listing to himself & others his dislikes, ad nauseam.

But if he buys it (and odds are he wont like it .
He can sell it .

The podcast and Peter have little to do with it.
 
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Darius Blackwell
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I think that in a game such as this the "luck fucktor" is a must (yeah not factor). Ignacy design philosophy is that game should tell stories. You can put 4 seal team members with survival training stranded on an island and still a tiger or some other funny creature gobbles them up. Sure the app changes everything in regards to fine tuning. I didn't buy robinson (my friend has it) but I preordered Martians because the app and the customization that it offers is the missing link in this game.

Don't get me wrong - I hate apps in game but this has a chance of doing it right. If the game is too hard for your mood just turn it down a notch.

All in all "luck fucktor" doesn't bother me in this sort of a game.
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davide pessach
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The fact that luck can struck anywhere has nothing to do with game designs. From the night of times there are valid game designs that entails a certain amount of luck and there exist people who like these kind of designs.

It's not always about winning, as someone said, it is about telling stories and games like this are good at that, telling stories. So maybe you did everything good, maybe you took some bold decisions and maybe you failed just short of one small detail...and that will make for a nice story even if you didn't win. I don't find it frustrating, I find thematic and fun...exactly because winning here is just a part of the picture.

If winning/solving is all you look into a game...well there are plenty of games for that and there you have your preference very clear for you!

PS Also, it helps to add that there is no single card 'you loose', or any other super negatively powerful card that makes you lose entirely. It's usually a chain of events and wrong decisions that lead to failures...
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Didier Renard
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I don't know what the OP is getting at... perhaps RC is random, but it seems to me his thoughts are just as random! whistle
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I hope none of you invested in KD:M because in that one you have to roll a dice before you open the box. RC isn't at either extreme of the luck spectrum it sits nicely in the middle, you can mitigate a lot of the bad luck but not all a bad event can hurt but if was all plain sailing it wouldn't be as much fun.
 
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William the Fool
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steveg700 wrote:
--effectively, a "you lose" card appears--
I've played a whole lot of RC and I have no clue what card or cards you are referring too. Could you give a specific example? In my experience the island never outright kills us whith a sudden blow, instead it seems content with whittling us down to shadows of our former selves. The trick is to get ahead of the curve, take big but calculated risks in the beginning so that you can prepare to deal with what is coming later.
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Stan Matz
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Hey guys, my morale is almost zero.
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Howard Massey
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Daddiodaddio wrote:
Hey guys, my morale is almost zero.

Execute One action in the crew Quarters ?
(liquor cabinet location)
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Frank Calcagno
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I very much like RC because of the challenge it provides; yet it can be brutal, and I can relate to the criticisms about that.
True, there is no one "you lose card" but there are some events that forecast that you will lose the game. An example is Scenario 1 where you need to gather 15 pieces of wood, along with enough wood to build the tent/roof/palisade to stay alive in the process...
We had one game where the first event exhausted the camp's wood supply...then another; then a -1 worker came up. Essentially, we knew before the game was significantly less than half over that it was unwinnable. (Instead of crying about it, we admitted defeat and strove for victory in the next game.) But, there are times when you absolutely know you will die..and that is not necessarily the best scenario for a game...
Regarding the app and making FM easier, I hope that is true; yet I still fear the app will make FM obsolete several decades down the road. (I can still play AH's Blitzkrieg; will I (more accurately my children) be able to say that of FM in 50 years?)
In RC, I adjust difficulty by assigning up to 4 starter equipment cards instead of 2, and/or playing with Friday and the dog even with 2 players. I do not need an app to do this; only imagination.)
To conclude, RC is very thematic, and that is why I love it. I also have similar expectations of Mars...and I expect to die on Mars more times than live. Such is life.
 
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Jakub Suszek
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Both RC and First Martians are a board-gaming iterration of computer games genre known as rogue-like dungeon crawlers. Randomness doesn't matter since the whole idea of genre is to repeat gameplay until you succeed which, in case of computer games may take dozens up to hundreds attempts. Also every attempt differs from others altough it's based on same mechanics and after all limited number of possibilities. Still i was able to finish Robinson successfully more often than some of the PC games (just to name Tharsis or FTL as an example).
My point is that, in my case, I don't need another simple game i can finish at every try. I prefer 1 happy end on 20 attempts cause it gives me more satisfaction upon completing a scenario.
If FM will be as good as RC thats enough for me.
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David desJardins
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patgarret77 wrote:
Yeah, and that seems to me perfectly thematic. Being stranded on a desert island is definitely a luck management scenario with a lot of misfortunes and incidents just waiting to happen.
I do think it is just a matter of theme and kind of game.


I'm not looking for a simulation of a desert island. If you actually were marooned on a desert island, most likely you'd quickly have some injury and then slowly starve to death over weeks or months. But if you're playing a game and most of it is the inevitable starvation, that's not much of a play experience. The problem for me with Robinson Crusoe isn't the difficulty or the luck factor, it's the distribution of how and when that luck occurs and the (in)ability to manage it.
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DaviddesJ wrote:
patgarret77 wrote:
Yeah, and that seems to me perfectly thematic. Being stranded on a desert island is definitely a luck management scenario with a lot of misfortunes and incidents just waiting to happen.
I do think it is just a matter of theme and kind of game.


I'm not looking for a simulation of a desert island. If you actually were marooned on a desert island, most likely you'd quickly have some injury and then slowly starve to death over weeks or months. But if you're playing a game and most of it is the inevitable starvation, that's not much of a play experience. The problem for me with Robinson Crusoe isn't the difficulty or the luck factor, it's the distribution of how and when that luck occurs and the (in)ability to manage it.


THe only luck you can't mitigate is drawing from the event deck and even then you are shown what to do before things get worse. If one bad draw is enough to lose the game then the chances are you were in a poor position already.
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Scott Hill
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Gr3yDeath wrote:
Both RC and First Martians are a board-gaming iterration of computer games genre known as rogue-like dungeon crawlers.

Apart from being absolutely nothing like a rogue-like.
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Jorath wrote:
[q="DaviddesJ"]THe only luck you can't mitigate is drawing from the event deck and even then you are shown what to do before things get worse.

I think perhaps folks are trying latch on to the "you lose card" metaphor rather literally; there are plenty of ways your party can get mortally wounded by a card draw insomuch as they are hammered so hard that they're done in, and building a pot or what have you isn't going to bring you back. Perhaps a better bit of imagery would be a "you-all-but-lose" card.

Some might keep going because they savor a collective storytelling experience of existential futility generated by random card draws (that is, essentially, treating RC as an activity rather than a strategy game). However, going back to my Cannibal Island example, if you get attacked by the cannibal events before you're in any position to take out their villages, you can be stuck in a death spiral from which only fantastic luck from which save you. This is especially true with more players, because having numbers on your side don't help in those events, rather they seal your fate all the more quickly. The theme of this scenario actually deceives players, because nobody would assume that the best way to fight off tribes of cannibals is all by yourself.

You can similarly all-but-lose by dint of the various cards that will instantly destroy resources the players are relying on to mitigate the number of wounds coming the party's way. It's not as evident as a 16-ton weight falling on your head, but even moderate experience with this game should have players acquainted with an awareness of when a vital artery has severed beyond repair.

Quote:
If one bad draw is enough to lose the game then the chances are you were in a poor position already.

Given that RC's basic design doesn't generally put players in a position to avoid taking wounds, but rather more accurately requires making efficient decisions about when and where to distribute wounds, the notion of what constitutes a "poor position" is a pretty tenuous thing. We are always harboring risk in this game, which is something I very much want from it, but in the form of a sound strategic game, not something that initially is enticing as a strategy game with brilliant mechanisms that are ultimately undermined by the heavy-handedness of some gameplay elements.
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Steve G.
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DaviddesJ wrote:
patgarret77 wrote:
Yeah, and that seems to me perfectly thematic. Being stranded on a desert island is definitely a luck management scenario with a lot of misfortunes and incidents just waiting to happen.
I do think it is just a matter of theme and kind of game.


I'm not looking for a simulation of a desert island. If you actually were marooned on a desert island, most likely you'd quickly have some injury and then slowly starve to death over weeks or months. But if you're playing a game and most of it is the inevitable starvation, that's not much of a play experience. The problem for me with Robinson Crusoe isn't the difficulty or the luck factor, it's the distribution of how and when that luck occurs and the (in)ability to manage it.

Indeed. I very much want what the game offers in its premise: constant pressure to make efficient decisions, to balance cautious, strategic decisions against sudden bold, aggressive tactics. And some elements of the game, like the ramifications of assigning one worker or two to an action, is damned clever. I love that. Why aren't other designers stealing that? In premise, it's quite cool. It's the execution that is problematic.

And the thing is, I think Ignacy did not set out with Robinson Crusoe to create a game that sits in the same category as, say, Arabian Knights or Talisman. He considers himself a designer of strategy games--i.e. Euros, not Ameritrash. So, I would hope that when Ignacy is hearing the criticism directed by Peter and responds by citing community feedback unilaterally supporting RC's tendency to hit players with setbacks far in excess of their ability to make forward progress, he is appreciative of how much of that feedback comes from folks who value RC as an activity rather than a game.

It is important in discussions to parse those who disagree about the level of mitigation that strategic planning and tactical decisions can offer versus those that just think players should focus on witnessing the game unfolding around them as if it were some kind of masochistic LARP.
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William the Fool
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steveg700 wrote:
And the thing is, I think Ignacy did not set out with Robinson Crusoe to create a game that sits in the same category as, say, Arabian Knights or Talisman. He considers himself a designer of strategy games--i.e. Euros, not Ameritrash.
The fun thing about Ignacy is that he happily ignores those outdated boundaries you are setting there and does his own thing, which is create board games that tell stories: https://boardgamegeek.com/blogpost/61607/experience
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David desJardins
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Masque28 wrote:
The fun thing about Ignacy is that he happily ignores those outdated boundaries you are setting there and does his own thing, which is create board games that tell stories: https://boardgamegeek.com/blogpost/61607/experience


I think it makes complete sense that he makes games for the population that likes these things. It's better to make games for a subgroup that really likes them, than to try to make games that please everyone. But that's also the reason why I am giving away my copy of Robinson Crusoe, and am unlikely to buy First Martians. If you discount what some people like, in designing your games, then your games aren't going to appeal to those people---that's pretty obvious.
 
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