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Subject: Revised Game: Glorieta 3.0 rss

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Nick Bentley
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Reposted from my blog.



This isn’t necessarily the last version of Glorieta (but it could be). I’ve made great progress on the game, using (for a second time) a mechanism I’ve not seen elsewhere, so I’m reporting on it. But the more I design games, the more I’m convinced they’re never actually done. Every ruleset is just a launchpad for another, better ruleset, always in pursuit of a platonic ideal.

Glorieta represents one attempt to design a game on a hex board where the goal is simply to form a connected loop of stones. I’m convinced that the goal has great potential, and it sounds simple enough, but realizing it has proven incredibly tricky, especially because I want it to satisfy a bunch of other constraints as well (example: draws should be impossible, and the game should be highly balanced, along with other constraints I won’t bother to record here).

I’ve been working on this project on and off for five years, and I have designed many, many (unpublished) games in an attempt to achieve it. Once in a while, I post an example: see here for the preceding version of Glorieta, see here for the one before that, and see here for a completely different attempt to solve the problem. Or don’t bother, because at the moment I like this new one more.

Equipment: Glorieta is played on a hexhex7 board with black and yellow stones that are pink on their undersides. The board is also surrounded with a ring of black and yellow spaces, as this picture of an empty board illustrates:



Definition - Loop: a connected group of like-colored stones, and (optionally) pink-side-up stones, which completely surrounds one or more spaces, regardless of what’s in those spaces. The picture below shows a board that contains two yellow loops and two black loops. Note that loops can also include like-colored spaces that surround the edge of the board (as illustrated by the small yellow loop on the right). The smallest possible loop is six stones/colored spaces surrounding a single space.



Rules

1. The board begins empty. One player owns the yellow stones and the other owns the black. To start, Yellow places a stone on any empty, uncolored space.

2. Then each player takes six of her stones and holds them in her hand.

3. From then on, starting with Black, the players take turns. On your turn, you must either take 1 or 2 stones from your hand and place them on any empty uncolored spaces on the board, or you must flip any one of your stones on the board so that it’s pink side up. If you run out of stones in your hand, your turn is over. If the board fills completely, you must keep playing by flipping a stone on each turn.

4. You must choose to flip a stone at least once for each handful of stones. You can do so after you’ve used all the stones from your hand, but before you pick up your next hand of stones, or on any earlier turn. After you’ve used up all the stones in your hand, and flipped at least one of your own stones, pick up another hand of six stones and continue.

5. The game ends when a loop is formed and the player who owns that loop wins.


Notes

-The game will always end with a loop and there will never be a draw.

-If I’ve designed the game right, the board will rarely fill completely before a loop forms. In any case, if you’d prefer to play a shorter, more tactical game, just reduce the number of stones in each handful.

-The picture at the top of this page shows a finished game, won by black, who has a loop near the bottom of the board.

-This mechanism can be applied to any pattern-completion game (as long as empty spaces aren’t part of the pattern), and it will make that pattern inevitable. I love this. Since pattern-completion games are a huge category, it’s cool to know that if nothing else, this game shows how to make a much wider range of patterns possible as game goals. A lot of those goals probably won’t make for good games, but maybe some will.

[Edit] In an attempt to come up with a way to represent the neutrals to make it cognitively easier for players to see contiguity between their stones and neutrals, I came up with this alternative where the neutrals are just the average of of the yellow and black pieces:



What do you think? Which is better?
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Nick Bentley
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One more note:

While a revision of a game isn't usually a notable event, this one is more noteworthy than other revisions I've posted, because in more or less completely restructuring this game, I employed mechanics which I believe are a) new; and importantly b) have broad potential for application beyond this particular game.

Two novel mechanisms:

1. The use of neutral stones to make loop formation inevitable. The interest here is that the same mechanism can make a wide range of other patterns viable as game goals that aren't possible by any other mechanism I know of. But more importantly:

2. The employment of a “hand” of stones. While “hands” of items like cards are among the oldest game mechanics, I’ve not seen the concept applied to a no-luck, perfect-info, abstract game. It strikes me that there’s great scope for innovation here. "Hands" allow you to enforce variety of turn/move types, of many different kinds, in an intuitive way. For example, you can force players to make sequences of hot and cold moves, as is the case in Glorieta: flipping a stone is a cold move, but placing stones are hot moves, and in Glorieta you have a hand of stones to ensure you make a cold move on a certain percentage of your turns. The concept of “hands” is such a general and generally unused idea in abstract games that I plan explore it heavily in future games.

[Edit] It just occurred to me, however, the Blokus could be considered an example of hand-management in an abstract. It's a bit of a stretch, but it certainly accomplishes the same thing as a more traditional "hand": enforces variety across turns. Ingenious has more obvious hand management of course, but that's not what I'm talking about, as Ingenious hands are, as is traditional, a way to introduce variety by introducing a random element through tile pulls. That's not what I'm after here.
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Russ Williams
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Games like Blokus, Quads, Inside, Cathedral, Callisto, etc immediately leapt to my mind as seeming like they have "hands". Well, and most placement games, whether with indistinguishable pieces (Pylos, most Shibumi games) or with a small number of repeated types (e.g. Pyramid games like Branches and Twigs and Thorns, Subdivision, Blam)!

If you mean more "dynamically varying" hands which you can deplete and refill instead of just depleting, Sploof leaps to mind. And Blam, in fact.

Well, and Shogi, actually!
 
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Nick Bentley
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russ wrote:
Games like Blokus, Quads, Inside, Cathedral, Callisto, etc immediately leapt to my mind as seeming like they have "hands". Well, and most placement games, whether with indistinguishable pieces (Pylos, most Shibumi games) or with a small number of repeated types (e.g. Pyramid games like Branches and Twigs and Thorns, Subdivision, Blam)!

If you mean more "dynamically varying" hands which you can deplete and refill instead of just depleting, Sploof leaps to mind. And Blam, in fact.

Well, and Shogi, actually!


I do mean "dynamically varying", mostly, although as I mention above, games like Blokus do seem to achieve something similar, so I'm not exactly sure the extent to which I mean games like that.

I don't know Sploof or Blam. Even though I'm familiar with hundreds of abstract games, there are still many many games I don't know. One of the drawbacks of living in a world with so many games. If my claims are really just the result of ignorance, my apologies.

I'm not sure I agree with Shogi's inclusion. I'm talking about employing the concept to explicitly shape turn sequences, to achieve certain design goals. I'm not sure Shogi should really count for that.

Here's an example of a chess-like game (which i just thought up for the purpose of illustration, so not necessarily good), which is maybe more in line with what I'm thinking of:

The initial set up is just like standard chess except the pieces are replaced by go stones (i.e. their identities are wiped away), except for the king, who remains a normal chess king.

Each player has 5 cards, each of which represents a different typical chess movement type (queen, rook, bishop, knight, pawn, for example). On each turn, you place one of those five cards on the table, and then move any one of your pieces (except the king, who always moves like a traditional king), according to the movement type specified on that card. You leave the card on the table, so that you can't use it again. when you run out of cards, you pick them back up and start using your hand afresh.

So the open question is: is there a meaningful difference between what I've just described and the "hands" of Shogi? Now that I ask myself the question, I'm not sure. Certainly a difference of the intent, but maybe not in the effect? Hmmm. Maybe it's this: in Shogi, the variety originates in the piece identities, not hand-constraints. But maybe not. It's hard to create variety in a hand without a variety of elements to populate the hand. Obviously, I don't know what I'm talking about.

Food for thought anyway.
 
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Russ Williams
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Certainly no apologies expected from my end, I'm just giving info/feedback.

FWIW I also just remembered that the Polish game designer Adam Kałuża (creator of some pure abstract games but more famous for several successful themed games) has a couple of (AFAIK unpublished) abstract game prototypes with literal hands of cards; each turn you play one of your cards to do various stuff on the board, and after you play your last card from your hand (e.g. every 4 turns) you reclaim all your cards. I.e. just like the card hands in your hypothetical chess variant. FWIW I'm not a great fan of that mechanism because I don't like the "artificial cycle" feel that it creates (that every nth turn is very special because you get all your cards back to use again).

Re: Shogi & your distinction between "piece identities" and "hand-constraints" - I'm not sure I grok what you're getting at there. Certainly I see differences between Shogi and the hypothetical chess variant you described. But your captured prisoners in Shogi seem like a "hand" which dynamically varies as the game progresses, and you can choose to play a literal knight piece from it, which seems at some level pretty much like playing a knight card in the hypothetical chess variant. (One could even imagine Shogi having been described as a physical implementation of "when you capture an enemy piece, you get a card with that piece type on it; later you can play a card to...") Of course the details of the effects of "playing from your hand" are different and the details of how the hand elements enter your hand are different...
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Nick Bentley
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Quote:
Re: Shogi & your distinction between "piece identities" and "hand-constraints" - I'm not sure I grok what you're getting at there. Certainly I see differences between Shogi and the hypothetical chess variant you described. But your captured prisoners in Shogi seem like a "hand" which dynamically varies as the game progresses, and you can choose to play a literal knight piece from it, which seems at some level pretty much like playing a knight card in the hypothetical chess variant. (One could even imagine Shogi having been described as a physical implementation of "when you capture an enemy piece, you get a card with that piece type on it; later you can play a card to...") Of course the details of the effects of "playing from your hand" are different and the details of how the hand elements enter your hand are different...


Good point about "shogi with cards". Very forceful, and suggests the distinction I was trying to sketch out isn't very meangingful.

I'd like to see some of Kaluza's prototypes. I've been thinking along these same lines a lot and it would be good to see what people have already tried, so I don't go around reinventing the wheel.
 
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Russ Williams
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milomilo122 wrote:
I'd like to see some of Kaluza's prototypes. I've been thinking along these same lines a lot and it would be good to see what people have already tried, so I don't go around reinventing the wheel.

As I recall, they both had the idea of action points you could spend each turn, and the cards gave you (e.g.) 1, 2, 3 or 4 action points, so you decided which turns you were going to do a little or going to do a lot, having to conform to a long-term budget with short term variations under your control.

About "reinventing the wheel": your games (as I know them) are quite unlike his overall, so I don't think using stuff like that in common would be "derivative" or "unoriginal" or whatever. (Insert obligatory allusion to that other recent thread about "originality".) To me, it's like worrying that you're "reinventing the wheel" because Glorieta has a hex grid.
 
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russ wrote:
About "reinventing the wheel": your games (as I know them) are quite unlike his overall, so I don't think using stuff like that in common would be "derivative" or "unoriginal" or whatever. (Insert obligatory allusion to that other recent thread about "originality".) To me, it's like worrying that you're "reinventing the wheel" because Glorieta has a hex grid.


I used the wrong term. I meant "reinventing the wheel" not in a copying sort of way, but in a "finding out about problems other people already know about" kind of way. Writing too quickly.

Yeah, I probably wouldn't allocate action points. Not an area of interest.
 
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I just posted an alternative piece set in the post above. See the first and last pictures of the post to compare. If you have feedback about which is better, I'd love to read it.
 
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Rey Alicea
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Nick my suggestion is to change the color of the board.
 
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reyalicea wrote:
Nick my suggestion is to change the color of the board.


You mean make the white spaces some other color? What do you have in mind?
 
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Corey Clark
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Nick, the pink is ungodly. The brown is the better alternative. The other option with the orange outline and black center annoyed me because it looked as though it favored the orange player. Did you consider maybe a checkered or swirled pattern?
 
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CoreyClark wrote:
Nick, the pink is ungodly. The brown is the better alternative. The other option with the orange outline and black center annoyed me because it looked as though it favored the orange player. Did you consider maybe a checkered or swirled pattern?


yeah, I tried checkered and swirls and alternating wedges and none worked. All the high-contrast edges made the neutrals too distracting.

I agree about the orange-outline-black-center
 
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milomilo122 wrote:
5. The game ends when a loop is formed and the player who owns that loop wins.

Small ambiguity here. You'd need to specify what happens when a move forms loops for both players. (I'd award the win to the moving player in those cases.)
 
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Nick email me an editable image of the board and I'll play with the color scheme.

My email address will be in your geekmail.
 
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luigi87 wrote:
milomilo122 wrote:
5. The game ends when a loop is formed and the player who owns that loop wins.

Small ambiguity here. You'd need to specify what happens when a move forms loops for both players. (I'd award the win to the moving player in those cases.)


Hey Luigi,

A loop will always form for one player first, I believe, though since it's you bringing the point up I'm getting nervous (though I still can't picture a situation where a loop forms for both players at once. can you illustrate?)
 
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milomilo122 wrote:
luigi87 wrote:
milomilo122 wrote:
5. The game ends when a loop is formed and the player who owns that loop wins.

Small ambiguity here. You'd need to specify what happens when a move forms loops for both players. (I'd award the win to the moving player in those cases.)


Hey Luigi,

A loop will always form for one player first, I believe, though since it's you bringing the point up I'm getting nervous (though I still can't picture a situation where a loop forms for both players at once. can you illustrate?)

Hmmm, you're right, since flipping a stone of yours can only form an enemy loop. I was under the delusion that neutrals could help both players not only in general, but also in the specific sense that a flip could form a loop for both players right away.

Sorry.
 
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Quote:
Hmmm, you're right, since flipping a stone of yours can only form an enemy loop. I was under the delusion that neutrals could help both players not only in general, but also in the specific sense that a flip could form a loop for both players right away.

Sorry.


Phew.
 
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Lopez123 wrote:


I think that the forum need some shaking move unless it is going soon to be an ocean of mediocrity.




Oh the irony. Lopez why don't you go away? Far far away where nobody will be affected by your idiocy. You are clearly a man in possession of sour grapes because you can't (as far as I can tell) design a decent game. Instead of denigrating others, how about you work on that? And if you can't hack it then too bad. Stop all this posturing, you are a non-entity right now. You're even worse than me claiming that the abstract games community is too concerned with popularity and marketability. I agree with that sentiment. But now you're attacking Nick Bentley who invented Ketchup, one of the most essential games ever conceived. If you're not just sour grapes then you must be a troll. Nobody could be this insulting for no reason (well besides maybe Marvin Spellbinder).
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Fellow game designer Rey Alicia, who is a graphic artist, took pity on me and created, without solicitation or compensation, this much more beautiful layout for Glorieta:



The neutrals seem to really work for me, though I can’t say why exactly. Some graphic designer perceptual magic that's beyond me. Endless thankyous, Rey!
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Lopez123 wrote:
[q="milomilo122"]

Really big art!!!!
Ha ha ha
If this guy is an artist then I`m Picasso.


I thought Picasso had talent.

 
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Russ Williams
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Nick, by coincidence I just learned of Paiko which uses a "hand" mechanism also. (I've not read the rules in detail, but at first glance it looks potentially interesting in a chess/shogi kind of way.)
 
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russ wrote:
Nick, by coincidence I just learned of Paiko which uses a "hand" mechanism also. (I've not read the rules in detail, but at first glance it looks potentially interesting in a chess/shogi kind of way.)


In the description it looks like you draw tiles to fill your hand. Is this true?

p.s. something you said earlier in this thread has inspired a little design idea. You mentioned that you don't like games where you exhaust your hand, and then pick the hand back up again and start over, as in my imaginary chess-like game earlier. I wonder how a game like that would play if both players ordered their hands before the game started, and then each just cycled through the hand in the predetermined order, over and over?

I might actually try that imaginary chess-like game with that little alteration, or a slight variation on it, to see how it feels.
 
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milomilo122 wrote:
russ wrote:
Nick, by coincidence I just learned of Paiko which uses a "hand" mechanism also. (I've not read the rules in detail, but at first glance it looks potentially interesting in a chess/shogi kind of way.)


In the description it looks like you draw tiles to fill your hand. Is this true?

p.s. something you said earlier in this thread has inspired a little design idea. You mentioned that you don't like games where you exhaust your hand, and then pick the hand back up again and start over, as in my imaginary chess-like game earlier. I wonder how a game like that would play if both players ordered their hands before the game started, and then each just cycled through the hand in the predetermined order, over and over?

I might actually try that imaginary chess-like game with that little alteration, or a slight variation on it, to see how it feels.

Another such idea is that you have a hand of e.g. 5 cards/pieces/doodads and there is a queue of the remaining cards/pieces/doodads. Each time you play one from your hand, you draw the next one from the queue to refill your hand. And whenever one dies (perhaps immediately when you play it from your hand, depending on the specifics of the game), it reenters the rear of the queue. That way you still have some decisions about which piece to play, but there's no goofy effect of a continually diminishing hand size and then suddenly a fully hand again. The hand size stays constant.
 
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Quote:
Another such idea is that you have a hand of e.g. 5 cards/pieces/doodads and there is a queue of the remaining cards/pieces/doodads. Each time you play one from your hand, you draw the next one from the queue to refill your hand. And whenever one dies (perhaps immediately when you play it from your hand, depending on the specifics of the game), it reenters the rear of the queue. That way you still have some decisions about which piece to play, but there's no goofy effect of a continually diminishing hand size and then suddenly a fully hand again. The hand size stays constant.


On first glance, that's a really cool idea. Allows more freedom than my proposal. Seems worth trying to design a serious game around it. I'm going to think about it, and will report any (seemingly) unstupid thoughts for further discussion.
 
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