Nick Bentley
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I've been utterly seduced by negative feedback game mechanics of
late. By negative feedback, I mean, the closer you get to winning, the weaker you get. Yinsh is an example: the more points you have, the fewer rings you have.

I realized last night that there may be a simple way to add it
to two of the greatest abstract games (IMO): Y and Poly-Y. I discuss
the idea on my blog:

http://nickbentley.posterous.com/negative-feedback-y-and-pol...
 
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Nick Hayes
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I read your blog post and thought it was interesting. The one question I kept thinking of is this: If a game features too much negative feedback, it makes the entire game an exercise of staying in second place until the very end. That could lead to some very slow games.

Take for instance a foot race where the goal is to reach the other side of the track. Whoever wins the race gets $10, but at the end of the race you get payed $1 for every minute you are behind your opponent.

So is there such a thing as too much negative feedback in a game?
 
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Paul Nowak
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The human race, to which so many of my readers belong, has been playing at children's games from the beginning, and will probably do it till the end, which is a nuisance for the few people who grow up. - GKC
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Black Canyon wrote:
I read your blog post and thought it was interesting. The one question I kept thinking of is this: If a game features too much negative feedback, it makes the entire game an exercise of staying in second place until the very end.


Like blue shells in Mario Kart?
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James Hutchings
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I'm not sure it'd make that much difference. Wouldn't people just leave the outermost spaces till last? Which would make it very close to the original game if each side of the board was 1 hex shorter.

And if spaces in the centre are more valuable, as they are in a lot of games, then people would tend to avoid the edges and go for the centre anyway.
 
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Nick Bentley
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Black Canyon wrote:
If a game features too much negative feedback, it makes the entire game an exercise of staying in second place until the very end. That could lead to some very slow games.

So is there such a thing as too much negative feedback in a game?


Yes, definitely! It seems to me like the right amount of negative feedback leads to a situation where you want to jump out in front at some points and hang back in others, so that you're never quite sure what the best strategy is.

On the other hand, consider Power Grid: there's so much negative feedback that everybody is kind of "hanging back" for big chunks the game, and the game is still very good. It may be that negative feedback can be strong as long as there is *some* force that pushes a game forward.

Power Grid illustrates another nice feature of negative feedback: it can make for explosive endgames. Even if everyone is hanging back for a while, at some point, somebody is going to have to "lunge" for victory. I think this is why the endgame of Power Grid is so powerful. Everybody's hanging back...hanging back...who's gonna be the first to build those cities?...and then bang! somebody goes for it.

Also, it should be noted that negative feedback seems to lose it's effectiveness as players become more experienced: a player can learn to use the subtleties of the negative feedback against his opponent.

Think Yinsh: sometimes it's worth letting your opponent score a point if the cost to him of losing his ring will be greater than the value of scoring the point. If you can evaluate the trade-off inherent in the negative feedback of losing a ring better than the opponent can, you can take advantage of that.

Final Note: negative feedback, in my view works best in games with little or no chance, as it seems often to multiply the effects of chance on the outcome of a game.
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Nick Bentley
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apeloverage wrote:
I'm not sure it'd make that much difference. Wouldn't people just leave the outermost spaces till last? Which would make it very close to the original game if each side of the board was 1 hex shorter.

And if spaces in the centre are more valuable, as they are in a lot of games, then people would tend to avoid the edges and go for the centre anyway.


This is possible, for sure. I think it's more likely for Y, than Poly-Y. If either one is broken, I think that will be the reason. However, just playing through some edge sequences in my head suggests that it may not be broken. I don't know. I've got to do some tests!
 
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Nick Bentley
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apeloverage wrote:
I'm not sure it'd make that much difference. Wouldn't people just leave the outermost spaces till last? Which would make it very close to the original game if each side of the board was 1 hex shorter.

And if spaces in the centre are more valuable, as they are in a lot of games, then people would tend to avoid the edges and go for the centre anyway.


You've given me an idea for another variant: divide the Y board into say, 3 zones: one zone comprises cells in the center, another zone comprises cells on and near the edges, and the third zone is between the first two. So for a triangular board, each zone would be a triangle. on your turn, you must place all your stones into one zone, and the zone you place your stones into determines how many stones you can put there: 1 stone into the central zone, 2 stones into the middle zone, or 3 stones into the edge zone.

I'm straying from the negative feedback topic, but it seems like an interesting idea to play with.

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