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Subject: GGP 2.0 - Task 2.3.1 . Interaction: Game Format (who wins/loses) rss

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Before getting started, I think I should mention selwyth's GeekList. He did some good work here:
The Taxonomy of Board Games (Part 3: Inter-Player Relationships)

However, I think a cleaner categorization can be devised to cover all possibilities by asking these questions independently:

1. Are partnerships or teams possible? (yes, no, allied interests with multiple winners possible but not true joint victories)

2. Are partnerships or teams mandatory? (yes/no)

3. How many teams win? (exactly n, any number, 0 or all, 0 or 1)

4. When are teams established? (at the beginning of the game, or they may change during the game)

5. When are teams revealed? (at the beginning of the game, during the game, or at the end of the game)


This leads to far more categories, but it cover more possibilities and leaves room for games that may not have been invented yet. For example, suppose there's an 8-player game where mid-game player A can secretly ally themselves with player B (where even player B doesn't know it). So if player B wins, player A shares in the victory. At most two players may be allied. If any player determines who player A selected, then the alliance is broken immediately. Up to two teams may win, but it's possible that all teams lose if the "game" wins. This would be classified as:

1. yes
2. no
3. 0, 1, or 2
4. during the game
5. end of the game


A standard boardgame where everyone plays for themselves would be:

1. no
2. no
3. 1
4. n/a
5. n/a

There may be other questions to ask or possible answers that I've missed, and there is certainly a better notation to capture all of this.
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Martin G
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Re: GGP 2.0 - Task 2.3... Player Interaction / Competitiveness
I think as well as the inter-player relationships you set up nicely here, there could be a (more subjective) trait about the type of interaction between players. Genes in this trait could include 'blocking', 'trading', 'attacking' and so on.
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Re: GGP 2.0 - Task 2.3... Player Interaction / Competitiveness
qwertymartin wrote:
I think as well as the inter-player relationships you set up nicely here, there could be a (more subjective) trait about the type of interaction between players. Genes in this trait could include 'blocking', 'trading', 'attacking' and so on.

I think those would all fall under the mechanisms trait rather than this one. I think player interaction/competitiveness is just about who wins... whether wins are individual or with a group, how/when the groups are determined and revealed, and whether the game can win.

I think even something like temporary alliances in a game would fall under mechanisms instead of being recorded with this trait. That is, unless such a temporary alliance literally forms a team that wins or loses together. In many games, opponents will have interests that align so they work together for that goal. But I would say that because ultimately they are opponents where only one can win, it's not a true partnership like we're talking about here.
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Re: GGP 2.0 - Task 2.3... Player Interaction / Competitiveness
You're probably right - in which case, should the mechanisms trait have a few subcategories rather than just being a flat list of genes?
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Re: GGP 2.0 - Task 2.3... Player Interaction / Competitiveness
qwertymartin wrote:
You're probably right - in which case, should the mechanisms trait have a few subcategories rather than just being a flat list of genes?

Right.

Selwyth probably has the best list of mechanisms here:

http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/581158/an-alternative-classi...

He already has them in several subcategories.

But if you'd like to discuss mechanisms further, they should have their own discussion thread.
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Oliver Kiley
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Re: GGP 2.0 - Task 2.3... Player Interaction / Competitiveness
Going back to this blog post and some of the follow up conversation, I see a few ways that player-interactions need to be captures beyond those things that are more appropriately covered in the mechanisms/genres of Selwyth.

First, is what's I'd term the Mechanical or "Structure" of the Interaction. To me, this is what is described in the original post up above, i.e., how are player's/teams arranged, who wins/looses, are there partnerships, etc.

Selwyth made a set of categories as part of classification that I've paraphrased below:
Quote:

Mechanical / Structure of Interaction
- Competitive (beat your opponents, one player is the winner
- Cooperative (all players against the board)
- Coordinative (all players against the board, separation of player responsibilities, i.e. one player can’t play for all players)
- Semi-Cooperative (all players against one player, i.e. against a dungeon master)
- Teams/Partnerships (competitive teams with coordinative action)
- 2v2 (competitive games with an option for 2v2 team/partnership)

My sense is that there could be a few more categories, or split it up more into different sets of categories based on the questions proposed in the OP.

Second, is what I dubbed the "Experiential Interaction" ... which basically relates to the level of competiveness found in the game overall, and has a strong relationship to both the actual mechanisms of the game and the strategy. This trait is attempting to describe a range of game types from "direct conflict to multi-player solitaire." In other words, how competitive or fierce are the interactions? Can you screw your neighbor? Can you destroy their stuff or is just about blocking them or getting to the finish line firs? Here are some categories:

Quote:
Experiential Interaction
- Conflict
Players interact directly via force; i.e. chess, wargames, etc. You must actively destroy your opponents’ assets to win / aggression is required for victory
- Direct Competition
Players can affect each other directly for/with/by their assets, but the aim is to further your own relative position. i.e. You can destroy/block your opponents assets, but it isn’t required for victory. Potentially about diminishing your opponent’s capacities, reducing their score/resource/etc
- Indirect Competition
Players compete for the same resources but cannot directly affect another player. I.e. You can prevent access to neutral territory/resources/choices (blocking, taking something first, etc.), but cannot directly affect your opponent’s acquired assets. Often riddled with "negative" interactions.
- Solitaire Competition
Aka pure "Race" style games) where players strive to be the first to reach a finish line. I don’t like the "solitaire" (or multi-player solitaire) tag line personally. Yahtzee is a good example of a pure race game, as there is zero interaction between players. In my experience, most games labeled as multiplayer solitaire nonetheless have some interaction and aren’t pure race games (i.e. Race for the Galaxy).
- Cooperation
- Cutthroat
Included as an additional modifier to the above, referencing games with the ability to severely hinder/hamper/undermine an opponent). I’m not too intrigued with this descriptor, as it appears more of a latent quality of most competitive (except solitaire) multiplayer games.

That list no doubt needs some refinement. While I could understand ignoring this trait and just letting the mechanisms speak for themselves, from the standpoint of game classification and making recommendations, I find this explicit description of a game's competiveness really interesting and useful. Some player's don't like direct conflict games where you can destroy other people's pieces (for example), and it would be good to identify that outright.

Third, an idea that came out in conversation in the blog post comments is the difference between the "on the table" versus the "above the table" interaction. There is frequently a misunderstanding on the forums when people talk about interaction.

For example, one person might say that Chess is highly interactive because the player's respective pieces are interacting on the same board space, attacking/capturing each other, blocking moves, etc. But another person might say that Chess has zero player interaction because player's don't ever need to even acknowledge their opponents presence. There is no meta-game or "above the board" level of interaction that requires you interact person-to-person, it's all happening down on the table. Of course, there is some deduction work going on and trying to out-guess your opponent, etc.... I'm just showing the extreme cases.

So, I do think it will be interesting to also consider what types of interactions are going on "on the board" versus "above the board" and what the range of possibilities is for this.





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Re: GGP 2.0 - Task 2.3... Player Interaction / Competitiveness
Your second and third ideas are worth discussing, but I think they should be separated from the first idea (competitiveness). Probably new traits.

Slight vocabulary note... I think "above the table" is a better term than "above the board", since not all games would actually have a board.
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Re: GGP 2.0 - Task 2.3... Player Interaction / Competitiveness
Great post Oliver. The second type was what I was trying to get at, and I think it could be deserving of its own trait rather than just a subset of mechanisms. I think it's on the same level as 'genre' in defining the essential character of a game rather than its component parts. This discussion should continue in a new thread though.
 
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Oliver Kiley
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Re: GGP 2.0 - Task 2.3... Player Interaction / Competitiveness
I'm proposing thre threads to track interaction:

Task 2.3.1 . Interaction: Game Format
Task 2.3.2 . Interaction: Competitiveness Level
Task 2.3.3 . Interaction: Inter-player Dynamics

The "Game Format" is this thread, covering team structure, who wins/looses, etc. [Rename this thread?]

"Competitiveness Level" addresses the nature/intensity of the competition.

And "Inter-player Dynamics" considers how the player's might interact person-to-person during the game.

I'm open to other names of course.
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Re: GGP 2.0 - Task 2.3... Player Interaction / Competitiveness
Mezmorki wrote:
Task 2.3.1 . Interaction: Game Format
I like "Game Format" as a term for this trait. I'll rename it.
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Re: GGP 2.0 - Task 2.3.1 . Interaction: Game Format
Should we consider player rank as part of the game format? I think we shouldn't. Most gamers think in terms of "winning" or "losing", not "first, second, third place, etc." Some games may define places, others may have no defined runner-up. Some may have no defined runner-up even though points are tallied. Regardless, I think it's probably best to ignore place and just go with winning/losing. Plus incorporating how the players are partitioned into groups to select a winning group (or groups).
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Re: GGP 2.0 - Task 2.3.1 . Interaction: Game Format
FlyingArrow wrote:
Should we consider player rank as part of the game format? I think we shouldn't.

I agree that probably isn't crucial to the classification of game format. I could see it popping up as a possible trait for scoring mechanisms. I.E... how are different games won? Is it a fixed win condition like chess? Does it use a continuous VP range? Is scoring on-going or all at the end? A lot of that may be captured in Selwyth's mechanisms, but I'm not sure.
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Re: GGP 2.0 - Task 2.3.1 . Interaction: Game Format
The thought came to mind after watching Richard Garfield's lecture on luck, and his definition of 'orthogame'. That definition says that there are multiple players and players are ranked. In other words, he's not talking about solo games or roleplaying games. But that definition also eliminates a bunch of other games that have no scoring mechanism... only a fixed win condition and >2 players.
 
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Oliver Kiley
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Re: GGP 2.0 - Task 2.3.1 . Interaction: Game Format
Switching gears back to the OP (i.e. Game Format), what I think would be interesting to do is to see how the 5 questions you propose might actually evolve into discrete categories similar to what Selwyth originally proposed.

Quote:
A standard boardgame where everyone plays for themselves would be:

1. no
2. no
3. 1
4. n/a
5. n/a

So, there are probably a lot of games that have the same set of values, can these all be called the same thing?

I think the questions you propose could be the "method" for determining what the game's format is, but we need to define the categories too. Maybe it's overwhelming? I don't know. I wonder if we could get a list of 8-12 categories for "game format" that cover most of the games?

I.e., the example above perhaps is "Closed Competiton"

If the answers instead were:

1) yes, but no joint victory
2) no mandatory games
3) 1 player wins
4) partnerships can form/dissolve at any time
5) during the game, may not be explicit

Perhaps that is an example of "Free-For-All Multiplayer Competition" ... which is a pretty typical format for games that allow meta-gaming, negotiation/diplomacy/backstabbing, but ultimately one player wins.

Can we start with Selywth's definitions and see what's maybe missing or what sub-categories might be warranted?
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Re: GGP 2.0 - Task 2.3.1 . Interaction: Game Format
Actually, I think the 'yes but no joint victories' should be removed. If you don't have a joint victory, then the other player is still an opponent. Just a useful opponent that has a goal that aligns with yours. That sort of thing goes under mechanics - negotiation/temporary alliances. Not the format of the game.

The game that I have in mind is A Line in the Sand: The Battle of Iraq. It's quite unique and couldn't be categorized according to Selwyth's classification. I wanted to categorize it appropriately and in the process create 'boxes' for many other (possibly as-yet-unseen) game formats as well.

I originally had it as:
1. yes but no joint victories
2. no
3. any number
4. at the beginning
5. at the end

But really, there are joint victories. There are many places where players have common interests and can join forces for a purpose, but they are not on the same team. However, there are a few places where a team's victory condition is literally "you win if Team X wins". So true teams do exist. That gives us:

1. yes
2. no
3. any number
4. at the beginning
5. at the end

In summary... temporary alliances that do not join victory conditions together are a game mechanism, not part of the game format.
 
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Re: GGP 2.0 - Task 2.3.1 . Interaction: Game Format
Mezmorki wrote:
Can we start with Selywth's definitions and see what's maybe missing or what sub-categories might be warranted?

As mentioned, I couldn't categorize Line in the Sand mainly because Line in the Sand lets each player win or lose on their own. Each player has their own randomly drawn victory condition. Sometimes they conflict with other players' conditions, but not necessarily. So you might see 3 players win, maybe only 1, maybe 5 of them. Maybe even all 6 could win, but that would be very, very rare because in a game there will almost certainly be some conflict among the victory conditions.

So it's not a co-op, it's not teams, and it's not competitive in the traditional sense. I introduced the 'how many teams win' question to address this issue.
 
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Oliver Kiley
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Re: GGP 2.0 - Task 2.3.1 . Interaction: Game Format
Here's a little thing that I cooked up, which started as an attempt to make a flow chart out of Flying Arrow's question's that also expanded on Selwyth's inter-player interaction type to encompass a few more types of games under the "Game Format" label.



The green boxes are the final category types, as follows:

Competitive - Per Selwyth's definition

Free-For All - Essentially competitive with shared victories. Flying Arrow ... a Line in the Sand or other games that are competitive yet often have multiple discrete winners appears in this bucket.

Team - Feeds into the competitive buckets, but highlights games where formalized pre-arranged teams are a core part of the game. Non-coordinative though, so each team could technically be played by 1 person, hence the connection back to the competitive games.

Partnerships - Re-naming 2v2 category, for coordinative team vs. team games.

Hidden Loyalties - Games where teams are defined but unknown to all players. These games are automatically coordinative in nature, since otherwise the teams wouldn't be hidden!

Shifting Sides - Experimental ... not sure if any games really fit into this category. Teams vary during the game and are mechanically enforced? Maybe some party games?

Pure Cooperative - Co-op with non-coordinative sides.

Collaborative Co-op - Co-op that is coordinative, with a seperation of responsibilities (Selwyth's Coordinative category)

Semi-Cooperative - Games with a Game Master vs. all the other players. Effectively a variation on 1 player wins while others loose, or all players win except 1

Traitor - Games that are structurally players vs. game, but 1 (or more) players can or will win for themselves, while other players effectively loose.
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Re: GGP 2.0 - Task 2.3.1 . Interaction: Game Format
Looks good. (typo: sharred)

Where would N-vs-1 cat & mouse games like Scotland Yard or Letters from White Chapel go?
 
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Re: GGP 2.0 - Task 2.3.1 . Interaction: Game Format
FlyingArrow wrote:
Looks good. (typo: sharred)

Where would N-vs-1 cat & mouse games like Scotland Yard or Letters from White Chapel go?

Thanks. The games above would probably be "Semi-Cooperative." It's not so much different from many players collaborating to work through a dungeon controlled by a dungeon master versus collaborating to track down the criminal. The fundamental team structure is the same, with the "1 player" providing intelligent opposition to what is essentially a co-op experience. But other interpretations are welcome.
 
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Re: GGP 2.0 - Task 2.3.1 . Interaction: Game Format
Mezmorki wrote:
Thanks. The games above would probably be "Semi-Cooperative." It's not so much different from many players collaborating to work through a dungeon controlled by a dungeon master versus collaborating to track down the criminal. The fundamental team structure is the same, with the "1 player" providing intelligent opposition to what is essentially a co-op experience. But other interpretations are welcome.

I guess that leaves me wondering about the difference between N-vs-1 and teams. N-vs-1 seems to me more like a variant of teams than a variant of co-ops. Although I guess it's sort of like a combination of the two.
 
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Re: GGP 2.0 - Task 2.3.1 . Interaction: Game Format
Yeah, I struggled with that too. Fundamentally, its a question of whether the two teams are DOING comparable things in the game. In a parnetship game like Euchre, both teams are doing the exact same thing, same in a bigger wargame like Axis & Allies, both sides are buying units, attacking, following the same turn structure, etc.

That's different from the N-vs-1 games, where the two sides are performaing radically different actions over the course of the game. Their respective turns might be structured differently, etc.

Of course, in the flow chart above things could move around. Maybe the Semi-Coop and Traitor categories fall under a 4th major game type in response to the top level question? Or perhaps its another option under the "How are teams formed" question. Lots of places it could go, but ultimately I think the final result will be the same.
 
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Re: GGP 2.0 - Task 2.3.1 . Interaction: Game Format
That's just a question of symmetry. What about an n-vs-n game where the game is completely asymmetric?

I like your first 3 categorizations. I just think that if it's players-vs-game, then the game should be able to win. If the game is represented by a player, then it's not the game they're playing against... it's the other player. So the semi-co-ops go under team-vs-team. Traitor still belongs with the co-ops, though, I think.
 
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Re: GGP 2.0 - Task 2.3.1 . Interaction: Game Format
FlyingArrow wrote:
That's just a question of symmetry. What about an n-vs-n game where the game is completely asymmetric?

I like your first 3 categorizations. I just think that if it's players-vs-game, then the game should be able to win. If the game is represented by a player, then it's not the game they're playing against... it's the other player. So the semi-co-ops go under team-vs-team. Traitor still belongs with the co-ops, though, I think.

Good points, I agree with your take on things that the N-vs-1 is a fundamentally a question of team structure and symetry rather than what the opposition is.

I'll update the chart + descriptions when I get another moment. Do you think potential categories are missing?

I want to make sure that everything in the "traitor" category is captured too. For example:

- Cutthroat Caverns + Castle Panic is a PvE game where at the end of the day, 1 player is the winner OR everyone looses to the game.

- Dungeon Run is interesting, in that it's PvE and then the game switches to PvP! So it's co-operative in one sense (without a GM), but 1 player ends up winning with the others trying to stop them. I'm assuming this would ultimately be just a normal competative game? Not unlike Munchkin in this regard.

- BSG (I'm assuming) is a game where all players except the Cylon wins (cooperative victory) or they all loose except the Cyclon player (which wins). BSG makes the most sense as a hidden loyalities game right? Even though it's also an N-vs-1 type game.
 
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Re: GGP 2.0 - Task 2.3.1 . Interaction: Game Format
It seems to me that one example of shifting sides might be VivaJava. Each round, some subset of players (the ones who went to specific regions) are a team working together to make a coffee blend. Each round could be different and the team within a round does want to maximize their points against the other players.

I like the chart!
 
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Re: GGP 2.0 - Task 2.3.1 . Interaction: Game Format
tinkha wrote:
It seems to me that one example of shifting sides might be VivaJava. Each round, some subset of players (the ones who went to specific regions) are a team working together to make a coffee blend. Each round could be different and the team within a round does want to maximize their points against the other players.

I like the chart!

Are they a team working together toward a common victory or just a team that has common interests for a round, even though ultimately only one player will win. (I haven't played the game.)
 
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