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Subject: Two Questions on General Gamer Preferences rss

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Sarah W

Iowa
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I am working on a game that I really don't know how to classify. Some parts tile-laying, some parts resource management. I have two questions about general preferences people have for games.

One way to spend resources in my game is by upgrading one of three categories. Each category has 5 levels, and it is required to move through the levels in sequential order, but each category's level is independent of any progress made in the other 2 categories. I have thought of two ways to keep track of these categories during play:

Something like the Cities and Knights flip book, where you would flip the card to the level for that particular category. Also, on the C&K flip books the bottom half listed the cost of the different things you could build. This seems like it might be a better option for me, as most of the improvements in these categories will affect the cost of other actions in the game, so a visual reminder would be a good dynamic way to keep track of your current building costs.

The other idea I had was to use an individual player board, where you could have spaces listed for each of the upgrades and mark off as you upgrade through a category.

Personally, I think I like the first option better. However, I am wondering if anyone knows if this sort of game component is in anyway patented / copyrighted via the Settlers of Catan franchise? I don't think I've personally seen any thing of this sort used in any other games, but there are still a lot of games that I haven't played. I would also be curious if anyone has an idea of which would be cheaper to produce? Or whether players in general have a strong preference for individual boards vs. a flip book?


And the second unrelated question: How do people playing games (generally!) prefer dealing with resources? As a resource card or by using resource cubes / other wood bits? What are the general reasons games use one versus another? What are the cost differences between the two methods? There are 4 types of resources in my game. Which do you think make set-up / clean up of the game faster? Which way is more accessible to the greatest number of players? (i.e., color blindness, mobility difficulties, other issues I haven't even thought of?)

Thanks!
 
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Mikko Mentula
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I think a flip book is a bit fiddly, but it is good to provide information specific to each level. If the options available for each level are not too difficult to memorize, I would choose player mats with spaces for each level and a marker showing the current status. I kind of like this kind of manual "progress bar" function that clearly shows your level of progress and how far from minimum/maximum you are.

Another option is to forget individual player boards and integrate the same function into the actual game board (if there is one). You could make spaces for each level of each category big enough for markers of all players. This way it would be easier to see where are player's are with their upgrades.

About resource cards vs cubes: It depends on a game. Cubes provide more tactile playing experience and I'm sure that's the main reason they are so widely used. They are simply fun to play with. Still if there are lots of physical components in the game already (like tiles), cards could be more elegant solution. I'd assume cards are cheaper to produce than any wooden bit, but I don't have any real knowledge of the issue. Cards are also better if some of the resource information needs to be hidden.

Wooden bits would be good for the color blind, if they are of different shape and/or size. Then again you can print patterns on cards more easily.
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Walt
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Caylus uses a common board area to track power levels. Each player has a token of his player color. I think Antike may do this, too, for technology.

Goa and Hansa Teutonica have individual player boards. Goa has players move markers down the board. HT has players remove tokens, which are then available for play.

This is not an exhaustive list, I'm sure. As long as your game doesn't end up looking very close to an existing game, I doubt anyone will give it a thought.


In addition to giving people things representative of commodities, some games have a track showing you have so many of something. At least one game has both, unfortunately: pick one in my opinion.

I think it's satisfying to get a physical object when you get something, even if it's just a card. If the resources are easily denoted by color, then cubes will work. If they are more complex (vacuum cleaners) or abstract (thoughts), then cards or chits with pictures or symbols may communicate better. I think the general trend is to use bits when possible.

If you're making a prototype, you might look at the available sets of bits for Agricola or Stone Age. If you're self-publishing, look for the cheapest things possible, probably cubes. Remember that the publisher may completely re-theme and re-design the bits in the game, so don't go crazy trying to get perfect bits.
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Richard Irving
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The answer to your questions are: There is no one right answer.

Whether to use a individual player board, a chart showing all players info together, a flip book, a set of cards, etc. depends on the other elements of the game--is there space for a chart on the board, is it too far away for some of the players, can other players easily read the info across the table, etc.

As for cost, flipbooks are going to be the most expensive, a card based could be economical is you printing other cards--card printer want specific numbers of cards per printing sheet (like 54 or 60). Individual player boards might work well, if you other information to track, etc.

As for using wood bits or cards or counters, etc. for resources. There are a lot of questions: Do the holdings have to be kept secret, how many of each are you going to have, colorblindness issues (worst with cubes as there is less distinguishing artwork), do they fit to fit on the board, are there to be drawn at random somehow, Are the item traded regularly, etc.
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Joe Mucchiello
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kaebaka wrote:
I have two questions about general preferences people have for games.

Don't worry about preferences. You name it and I'll find a gamer who loves and another gamer who hates. That's not how to go about designing. Don't try to find the most favorite presentation method of the "average" gamer. Find the presentation method that best fits/serves your game. You will never please everybody.
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Mr Pavone
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jmucchiello wrote:
kaebaka wrote:
I have two questions about general preferences people have for games.

Don't worry about preferences. You name it and I'll find a gamer who loves and another gamer who hates. That's not how to go about designing. Don't try to find the most favorite presentation method of the "average" gamer. Find the presentation method that best fits/serves your game. You will never please everybody.


And to that I would like to add that trying to include the greatest number of gamers (like color blind people) only jacks up the cost of your game whether you address it by adding many different types of pieces, changing colors, adding special surfaces or textures, etc.

Remember, the average number of hands on human beings is a little less than 2. The average gamer is NOT color blind, blind, deaf, Asian, from Mexico or in a wheelchair. Those that are will find a way to overcome.
 
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