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Subject: Custom Dice Idea - would gamers like it? rss

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Justin Loiselle
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I had an idea for a dice mechanic that was perhaps a little "too" revolutionary, and wanted to gauge whether this would be something gamers would actually like to see.

I'm limiting the details, because I'm keeping this idea as secret as possible. Maybe that's paranoid, but I don't have many good ideas!

Basically, the idea is to create custom dice in custom shapes. So, we're not talking your traditional d6, d8, d20. We're talking shaped like hippos or flashlights or bananas. These aren't the actual shapes, just using examples. The dice would still have the flat sides needed to "land" on each result, but would be made in the general shape of the item you are rolling for.

The positive: It would really get you into the theme of the game. Special actions on certain sides would be themed as well, relating to actions you can really do with that item. It would also be unique to the game market, creating a new niche.

The negative: You can't just pick these dice up and throw them. They can't roll in any direction. Generally, the die could only be "rolled," such as barrel dice can't be exactly thrown; they will start to roll immediately. That was my biggest concern; would people get annoyed that these dice might be more fickle than symmetrical dice? They might be more awkward to hold and have to be thrown in specific ways. The other concern is cost, but I will come to that bridge when I get there.

And again without giving too much away, I do believe for the actual intended use the fact they are shaped in a thematic way would make a difference in terms of aesthetics and enjoyment of the game and genre.



Thanks everyone for your feedback!
 
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Reis
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Is the intent to make the outcomes all equally likely or is there meant to be some skill to rolling them? Pass the Pigs has dice shaped like pigs.
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Thomas Tamblyn
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Like Dice Age?
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John "Omega" Williams
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Crystal Dice

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Jonathan Challis
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If they aren't statistically perfect I wouldn't use them.

Truthfully I wouldn't buy them anyway, I don't care enough about themes, but if they weren't perfect dice, then I'd replace them with standard ones even if they came with a game.
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Justin Loiselle
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Luce wrote:
Is the intent to make the outcomes all equally likely or is there meant to be some skill to rolling them? Pass the Pigs has dice shaped like pigs.


No, the point isn't the roll with some special skill. There may be a few dice with "cold" spots that might be very special results because they, statistically, don't land as often. But in general they will be fairly symmetrical along a single axis, like barrel or crystal dice are.
 
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Justin Loiselle
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Lorc wrote:
Like Dice Age?


This isn't actually what I was envisioning, but it might be a good enough example for these purposes. The game would be geared toward more serious board game players, and the dice would reflect that.
 
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LudiCreations
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Kelanen wrote:
If they aren't statistically perfect I wouldn't use them.


Is there such a thing as a statistically perfect die?
 
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Sturv Tafvherd
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Loias wrote:
Luce wrote:
Is the intent to make the outcomes all equally likely or is there meant to be some skill to rolling them? Pass the Pigs has dice shaped like pigs.


No, the point isn't the roll with some special skill. There may be a few dice with "cold" spots that might be very special results because they, statistically, don't land as often. But in general they will be fairly symmetrical along a single axis, like barrel or crystal dice are.


It still sounds to me that people with the "right skills" would be able to get those statistically cold spots to be .. less cold. In other words... a dexterity game.
 
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John "Omega" Williams
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LudiCreations wrote:
Kelanen wrote:
If they aren't statistically perfect I wouldn't use them.


Is there such a thing as a statistically perfect die?


Statistically... yes.
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Reis
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Stormtower wrote:
Loias wrote:
Luce wrote:
Is the intent to make the outcomes all equally likely or is there meant to be some skill to rolling them? Pass the Pigs has dice shaped like pigs.


No, the point isn't the roll with some special skill. There may be a few dice with "cold" spots that might be very special results because they, statistically, don't land as often. But in general they will be fairly symmetrical along a single axis, like barrel or crystal dice are.


It still sounds to me that people with the "right skills" would be able to get those statistically cold spots to be .. less cold. In other words... a dexterity game.


Well to be fair that's true of any die. I was more wondering if the asymmetry was specifically part of a dex mechanism.
 
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Brian W
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Loias wrote:
The game would be geared toward more serious board game players, and the dice would reflect that.


If it's geared toward serious board gamers, I think you're going to be fielding endless questions about how fair the dice are. This is particularly an issue if they do have cold or hot spots -- assuming the randomization of dice rolls is important, you will need to know the odds of rolling each result and that requires ridiculous amounts of testing.

Normal gaming dice do roll pretty darned close to random (not truly random, but you'd need thousands of rolls to be able to see the difference).

If the specialness of the dice is mechanically integral to the game -- then of course you need to use them. But it doesn't sound like it is. If it's just a nifty component, I think you might be better off just using standard dice for randomization for a game targeting serious board gamers. You don't want the actual game to be overshadowed by discussions of a quirky component.
 
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M M
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Kelanen wrote:
If they aren't statistically perfect I wouldn't use them.

Truthfully I wouldn't buy them anyway, I don't care enough about themes, but if they weren't perfect dice, then I'd replace them with standard ones even if they came with a game.

This is a bit close-minded.

It doesn't matter if the dice are statistically perfect. All that matters are that the outcomes are properly weighted for the statistical imperfections in the dice. These are special-purpose dice to be used with this designer's game, not generic dice for you to use in any other random game.

@ the OP: Yes, I think custom dice would be neat. Anything to accentuate theme.
 
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M M
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Stormtower wrote:
It still sounds to me that people with the "right skills" would be able to get those statistically cold spots to be .. less cold. In other words... a dexterity game.

If you truly believe this, you shouldn't use any dice as someone with the correct dexterity could force themselves to roll a 6 or a 1 or whatever they needed.
 
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Justin Loiselle
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OP here:

I was surprised that the discussion delved into statistics, dexterity, and fairness in dice rolls. But that is why I fielded the question; to get the outside perspectives.

The dice will be much more "fair" than I might have implied in the original post. Most would be more or less column-like as the objects I intended to base them off of are also more or less symmetrical along a single axis. Nothing like the Dice Age mentioned earlier. Some dice might have some "cold" spots, meaning spots that won't land as often, and these could be, as an example, a critical hit. Rare, but significant in its result. And this would also not be dice you could train yourself to roll intended results any more than you do with traditional dice.

I hope that helps!
 
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Vic DiGital
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Just keep in mind that if there's any one thing that frustrates serious gamers, it's the randomness of dice. Nothing worse than getting everything lined up for that perfect victory, then you roll two 1's. Instead of referring to the "statistical perfection" of dice, let's evaluate dice as "reliable" and "unreliable". It sounds like your dice will be highly unreliable, as far as being able to evaluate one's chances at success or failure prior to rolling. When I'm using two regular D6's for example, I know the bell curve and have some idea of how likely it is that I'll be able to roll that "10" I need. Even though there's still total randomness with the dice, I can make a reliable decision. For me, that tempers the frustration of all the rolls I make that don't turn out like I wanted.

If it's dice that are so unusual and unreliable that it's pure guesswork if I might succeed or not, that would be totally frustrating.

I'd maybe go with something that's more reliable, such as a fixed deck of cards or tiles that give you the desired results over the course of a game. Let players pull them out of a bag, maybe.




 
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M M
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VicDigital wrote:
Just keep in mind that if there's any one thing that frustrates serious gamers, it's the randomness of dice.

I would object to this characterization. There's a certain style of gamer that doesn't like the randomness of dice, but "serious" is not the correct adjective.
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Also for the OP: look at the tremendous response to Relax's DnDeeples in the Lords of Waterdeep forum. Mechanically, it's exactly the same game. But substituting in little adventurers for generic cubes lets people playing the game buy into it a lot more and really improves the whole experience. It helps that they're very, very well done of course, but I think it also stands as a more general truth.
 
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Justin Loiselle
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VicDigital wrote:
Just keep in mind that if there's any one thing that frustrates serious gamers, it's the randomness of dice. Nothing worse than getting everything lined up for that perfect victory, then you roll two 1's. Instead of referring to the "statistical perfection" of dice, let's evaluate dice as "reliable" and "unreliable". It sounds like your dice will be highly unreliable, as far as being able to evaluate one's chances at success or failure prior to rolling. When I'm using two regular D6's for example, I know the bell curve and have some idea of how likely it is that I'll be able to roll that "10" I need. Even though there's still total randomness with the dice, I can make a reliable decision. For me, that tempers the frustration of all the rolls I make that don't turn out like I wanted.

If it's dice that are so unusual and unreliable that it's pure guesswork if I might succeed or not, that would be totally frustrating.

I'd maybe go with something that's more reliable, such as a fixed deck of cards or tiles that give you the desired results over the course of a game. Let players pull them out of a bag, maybe.


It's not going to be as unreliable as you think. I would ensure that any game produced would not require wild swings in luck. That kind of game wouldn't be successful, anyway, let alone not enjoyable. If you consider Pass the Pigs, you have a few fairly common results, 1-2 hard to come by results, and 1-2 near impossible results. The "dice" are by no means equal, and although dexterity plays a part, it's not a game you can "fix" with practice. Yet it is still a fun game. Having the rare chance to do something really great during your roll, and receiving a proportional reward for that, is not what I would consider unreliable dice.
 
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