Sadly, I had to cut out early and I missed some discussion about cooperative games that I found really interesting! I'll have to listen to the podcast to see what I missed,
Before I left I did ask a question - but I'm not sure I really got an answer to the question I asked. In fact, I was really just re-posing the question Derk had asked, since that one kinda got dodged as well. In case it wasn't clear, here's what I was trying to get at:
I understand all of the stuff Reiner was saying about players having individual responsibility so that 1 player can't play everyone's hand, but is there a way to mechanically encourage or enforce that? As Doug said - even without perfect information one player can dominate the game by saying "I'm doing this, you should do this, and you over there should do that." My guess is that the plan is for players to have a discussion and agree on the course of action - This is a system I refer to as "Solitaire by Committee." Most of the recent coop games run this way, and some of them have some gimmick which might serve to counteract that. For example:
Space Alert has a timer so it's difficult to micromanage all the players in the time allotted
Shadows over Camelot and Battlestar Galactica have Traitors and Cylons - people who aren't really on your team so you might not want to just do everything they say.
I haven't played it, but I think Red November has a mechanism by which anyone can at any time make an attempt to win on their own (so presumably any 'help' a player is offering, while helpful to the team, has the potential to really be just a ploy to set up a solo win).
What I would like to see, and what I really wanted to ask Reiner about his thoughts on, is a game which is cooperative, but is not Solitaire By Committee. Something where one player, no matter how experienced or dominant, can not simply play everyone's turns on their own. Can it be done? What would it take? Is it even necessary?
I suspect that RK isn't really worried about that - as many players of cooperative games don't seem to be either. Ask any fan of Ghost Stories - which is the very definition of Solitaire by Committee! They don't seem to mind that 1 person can tell everyone exactly what they should do on their turn. Maybe they just don't have that kind of person in their group, or maybe they like following orders, or maybe they are that person and enjoy playing the whole game their way, with occasional interjection from their friends.
There's nothing wrong with that, I'm just looking for the next evolution of the cooperative genre - something where players have their own responsibilities and make their own choices, but have incentives to cooperate with their friends.
I would suspect that boardgame sales are taking some major hits in this economy, especially the monster games from companies like Fantasy Flight where a single boardgame is retailing for $80 (or more)! A few years ago, dropping that kind of cash on something that could very well only hit the table once or twice wasn't really an issue, but now, I definitely have to seriously think about it before I make such a purchase.
That said, I am far more apt to take the risk and buy one or two $20 games!
I was also thinking about FFG expanding some of their games as they have... The idea that I really would need to spend over $200 to get a "complete" game of 'Arkham Horror' (for example) is nuts!
While people are probably staying home more, I'm not so sure they're spending outrageous amounts of money on NEW boardgames, rather they're likely enjoying the older titles in their collections that are tried and tested.
A part of me hopes that the economic situation forces game publishers to scale back their releases, and instead of churning out numerous titles with unoriginal themes and mechanics (Renaissance Traders, anyone?), they'll take more time to design unique, exciting and far more desirable games.