What makes an excellent board game? Here's the place to share the process of creating a board game (or card game) from ideation to testing and completion. Add your favorite resources (books, websites, people, conferences). There's a separate thread for production and printing.

Views: 269

Replies to This Discussion

On designing cooperative games, RIch Hutnik said (in the original forum):


Cooperative games either can end up feeling like puzzles you end up solving together or could end up being ”lovefests” where there isn’t much challenge there. There is also the ”beat a randomizer”. There are a number of good ones though. I do believe a company called ”Family Pasttimes” specializes in them.

And to shill for myself, I do have a variant to my Oneota Whist trick-taking card game, which can be played solitaire or with more than 2 players (not teams) and introduced a variant to it for cooperative play. Here is more on it:

As for HOW you do cooperative play in a trick-taking cardgame, here is a way how to:
Go around, and everyone makes their bids. The object is for the group to collectively (every person in their group) to meet their bids. Players determine at the start how much communication is allowed between players. Everyone plays as one team. The object is to get a high score. One could also base scoring around lowest scoring player.

The trick is EVERYONE has to make their bid. It plays very much like a normal cooperative trick-taking game, but you do your aims a bit differently."

Jack Everitt added: "We’ve added two cooperative games to our household at Chistmas – Forbidden Island (I’ve read the rules but not played yet) and WotC’s Castle Ravenloft. The latter is well done except for the lengthy set-up time (and I’m not a fan of the components). Castle Ravenloft will be the big cooperative boardgame for the year…and introduce that concept to many who haven’t played a regular-looking game that’s cooperative.

It looks like both a regular D&D product and a regular boardgame – something for those who buy anything from German boardgames to Heroscape. Maybe I’m wrong, but I think that few frequent-casual gamers (rather than hardcore gamers) have played cooperative games. CR doesn’t look like anything different – so it’s going to be a surprise to some who play it for the first time.

Of note is that whichever player (basically) explores the next part of the map (tile) has to take a hit from the monster that appears there. A very take-one-for-the-team kind of thing. Dungeoning games seem very ideal to be cooperative games; strange how many of them are not. But the tide is turning…"

I replied: "

When I joined Aristoplay, I tried out all of their games, including one called Friends Around the World. Like most of the cooperative games I’ve seen, it’s a race game in which you all have to beat an either randomly or steadily advancing “meanie” of some sort. I found it kinda lame, in truth. Some of the game testers just tossed aside the advancing “blob” and made it a competitive race game. The board/pieces/roll-and-move are all pretty standard, so the switch was easy.

The take-one-or-the-team idea sounds so much more interesting as a dynamic and a strategy. I think of Hearts–keeping someone from shooting the moon by taking a loaded trick. For the next hand, it becomes hard for other players to dump on the altruist and in fact might want to reward him/her, so there’s some gain in the long run. A player who doesn’t take one for the team, but chooses individual gain instead, faces a whole different social response. It’s a good tension. Pondering. . ."

Jack answered: "

Maybe the Gameful approach (or devious approach) would be for a game/game designer to not say a game is cooperative; but it turns out that cooperating is the key to success. (…and aggressive play the least successful.)

Side note: I play a lot of medieval browser games, like KingsAge and Grepolis (and Evony), and these games reward only very aggressive play. This so bugs me.

Btw, I also played another well-known cooperative board game for the first time a week ago: Shadows Over Camelot. Excellent mechanics."

Rich chimed in: "

Shadows over Camelot put “traitor” boardgames on the map I believe. Werewolf would likely be the first of its type, but Shadows was the one that did it. It inspired others, which leads up to this post."

I replied: "Traitor games: Reminds me of Bang! card game. You know who the sheriff is, but who are the outlaws and deputies? Who’s cooperating with whom? Played it once with a large, casual group, and the dynamic worked. Will give that one another go."

Rich Hutnik had more to say about cooperative games and solitaire play in another thread (from the original site):

Here is two mechanics I found working on Oneonta Whist game, which started out a a solitaire trick taking cardgame. Please feel free to use and comment:
* Solitaire play: always have a dummy hand lead. Players bid, then try to take or avoid tricks in response. Players never lead in solitaire play.
* Cooperative play: Players win a round collectively if all players make their tricks.

I was a little confused:

Dummy hand always leads: As a randomizer? No one knows what’s coming and so can’t strategize too far ahead? (Or maybe I’m not understanding . . .)

Cooperative: So, players would give up, take tricks to help others as well as themselves? All about balancing the #’s of tricks taken? What do players get (other than satistfaction) for successfully completing a round? What’s the “win”?

I wonder: A cooperative game with a rotating and hidden traitor/mole/saboteur who is trying to muck things up (and, if successful, wins all the points) versus the cooperating players (if successful, they split the points). There’s a lot of incentive to be the mole (you can earn a lot of points), but it’s also riskier (there’s a greater chance of earning nothing). Without a dynamic like this–some sort of push and pull–I’m not sure how rousing the game would be, or satistfactory in the end.

I’m also not fully picturing the game you have, so feel free to disregard. I might be off track here.

Rich explained:

Whenever you do solitaire player, or cooperative, there will be a mix of determinism and chance in there. What the dummy hand always leads does, it ensures cards can be followed properly. The strategy involved is in card management, and bidding properly. You know, for the most part, what is coming, but will bury a few cards.

Cooperative play involves people ducking tricks and winning them, to make their bid. They are required to bid properly, and then not come on too strong or weak. This was discussed as a mechanism that can be used, not how to make it score in a game. Depending on the environment, you would adjust differently.

One proposal, if someone wants to have this into a full game is have a racetrack. Each time the players cooperatively win, you advance their race marker one space. They go against a dummy player who has a race marker. If the players cooperating fail to meet all their bids, the dummy player advances one space on the race track, and they don’t move. Have the race track a set number of spaces. First to reach finish wins the game, either the players, or the game. This is just one way to handle it. Others could be used, with trick-taking as an in-game mechanism to do something.

You could also mixed the cooperative with solitaire play and have all players try to play against a dummy hand that always leads.

I posted this video (a Google talk by inventor of Pandemic, Forbidden Island):




Hi guys

Earlier this year, I threw together a simple tool to help one brainstorm game ideas- a website that gives you two random mechanics and two random themes, with the challenge being to think of a game with those characteristics. Since the mechanics are (mainly) lifted from BoardGameGeek, the results are especially useful for board and card game ideas.

I just joined gameful, and thought the community here might enjoy playing with it. To check it out, go here: http://www.adrianherbez.net/gameroller/

Enjoy! And if you have ideas for new mechanics or themes, I’d love to hear them (it’s database driven, so really easy to add new items).

[I asked how it worked—unable to load initially.]


You should see two mechanics and two themes, something like:

Chit-Pull System / Tile Placement
American West / American Revolutionary War


Area Movement / Partnerships
Game System / Puzzle


Card Drafting / Rock-Paper-Scissors
Adventure / Aviation / Flight

… and when you mouse over either mechanic, you should see a description of what the mechanic is."

I replied: Cool. You could add the link to the new Ludology University (in alpha) by Gameful member Mzo: http://ludologyu.com/

Michael proposed:

We all have our favorite games, and I’m sure we have all picked them apart at this point. What does that mean?

It means we’re each left with an itinerary of scavenged left-over parts. We should share! We should sit down and Tetris ourselves a game! Lets see how we can Frankenstein ourselves a crowd-sourced game.

For Instance: I love the ability of a game line Pandemic (http://tinyurl.com/yav6fxr) to allow for players to work together against a world wide problem, without forcing one player to be a ‘bad guy,” like another of my favorites, Mansions of Madness (http://tinyurl.com/2d4m89r)

I replied:

I like Pandemic, too, but think Forbidden Island (same designer) is even better, as it’s more streamlined and the final lifting off of a sinking island levels up the drama factor. Checking out ”Mansion” now—new to me, thanks.

So, has anyone cobbled together a new game from leftover parts of favorites? (I know several people have rewritten rules for classic games—there's a book of them, I believe.)

Jim White asked:

What’s your favorite game mechanic and why?

I think mine is using cards as every currency in the game, as typified in Bohnanza and San Juan (the card game very loosely based on Puerto Rico). It’s elegant and it really introduces dilemmas about how you’re using your resources. Do you go for broke and build a Library or build something smaller so you can hold on to your City Hall until closer to game end when you can afford it and it’ll make an impact on scoring?

Dastyni was the first to reply:

One of the few game mechanics that has ever stuck me as unique would be from the card game Magic: The Gathering. On the surface it’s a normal card game where you lay the cards out and play with them following the basic game rules and all of the special rules that apply to each card individually. So far, neat, but not so special. Then comes the card with rules that change it all. The card that created what amounts to a meta game place within the game itself — the Chaos Orb!

For those that don’t know, the rule for the chaos orb was that when you activated it’s ability, you picked up the card at least a foot over the play area, drop the card in such a way that it flips over at least once and lands on the opponents cards. Any of the opponents cards it comes to rest on are destroyed.

This totally blew me away when I first encountered it. I was seriously rolling on the ground laughing and saying “this is awesome!” repeatedly. The ramifications of the card change the way people laid out their cards and in competitive tournament play even encouraged tearing up the chaos orb card and sprinkling the pieces over all of the opponents cards. Talk about a game changing card in an otherwise somewhat traditional card game.

Gary: "Did you ever see Chaos Confetti (unglued)? I don’t play M:tG anymore, but it was even better with that. It was a common that you tore up and did something similar. lol"

Unnamed person said:

I remember that card! I miss M:TG, but the “killer” type gamer really took the fun out of it for me. Playing to win was one thing, but some players (with deep pockets) became bullies.

I liked Netrunner a lot for a similar reason to the Chaos Orb. The cards of the “Corp” deck weren’t activities and creatures as much as they created the environment that both players used which was new to me. I also liked how the actives of both players were helped and hindered but not dependent on the cards themselves. A “runner” could make a successful “run” in some cases without ever using a single card.

I replied:

Cards are my game design friends, too. Big reason is the amount of info they can carry in symbol, color, and word. MIT Media Lab has an informative class on it: http://techtv.mit.edu/videos/9028-a-gambit-class-cms608-game-design

Unnamed person said: "Awesome link! I will be digging around this for a while.
As a consultant I often have to get rooms full of coworkers to talk to each other in ways they don’t want to (you know….openly) about their tech needs. I’ve been playing with using cards to get people loosened up. Maybe this speech will give me ideas!"

Gary added:

Though it isn’t a complicated mechanic, the “blips” used in Space Hulk were amazing. The idea is that you have a radar blip that represents a number of genestealers (antagonists) from 0-3. The blip is revealed at any time (with certain movement and placing rules) the genestealers’ player chooses or it comes within the line-of-sight of any of the Space Marine player(s) units. It’s so simple but adds a great deal more strategy to the game.

Another that is up there in my top five or so is the idea of persistent games. Games like Necromunda, Gorka Morka, Descent, Warhammer Quest, etc. They all have a certain RPG element that carries stats and composition over to the next game. Again, not a complex mechanic – but something I have fallen in love with.

Another mechanic that I’m a huge fan of is the idea of diplomatic involvement in a game. In Twilight Imperium, for instance, there is a very large diplomacy deck. Each player has a number of votes dependent upon their races and what planets they control (basically). They use these votes to effect the policy, law, or whatever was drawn.

Trading… again, not anything like Particle Physics Dice (no, I don’t think it exists). But, this mechanic allows each game’s economy to be unique regardless of the static costs. Settlers of Catan obviously showcases this as one of the best examples. Imagine the difference in Monopoly if players were or were not allowed to trade. In one instance they’re allowed to trade money, deeds, cards, etc. In the other the in-game economy is strictly written with exchanges between players being only for rent or penalties and all the rest of the “trading” would occur with the bank. Engaging vs stagnant.

I’m sure I’ll revisit this thread later. ;)

Foma Bourne replied to him:

Kind of jumping off what you’re saying, I’m not sure if this is an actual game mechanic or not but I love the ability to play ”between the rules” games. If there is a way that a game can be hijacked into one of personalities, I’m in. By making counter intuitive game choices in games like Munchkin, Risk, Monopoly, personal interaction and cooperation can completely change the nature of the game and make it way more interesting. (e.g if I just randomly give my best cards away to other players in Munchkin, or start letting players have free rent in exchange for the same from them, or pledge armies to the control of other players during certain portions of my turn in Risk.) I love games that have latitude for this kind of creativity. Granted I can find the latitude for it in most games, but whatever that is called it’s my favorite. (possibly not mechanic.) – I like your term diplomatic involvement. :)

David Whitcher chimed in:

don’t have a specific mechanic. I like when a players action benefits other players as well as themselves. This makes the decision making more interesting.

An example might be a stock market game where players manipulate the stock value. Players might own stock in the same company but not necessarily the same amount. If you drive the price of a stock up it benefits every player that owns some of that stock possible aiding others more than yourself.

Brad Buchanan added his thoughts:

Personally, I love games with spatial or graph-based mechanics (Go, Chess, Monopoly) but I find they aren’t as popular with the people I game with. I’m always looking for the mechanics that both my wife and I enjoy. Lately our favorite is Dominion and its deck-building mechanic. Cribbage is always a standby, and I find melding games are almost always a hit at my house.

The kind of graph I’m referring to is a set of vertices connected by edges (see Wikipedia: Graph (mathematics)). I didn’t mean to write “Monopoly” above, I was thinking “Risk” and my fingers went astray. Risk is a great example of a graph-based game. If you think about it, the physical layout of the territories on the board is completely irrelevant to the game – all that matters is the connections between them. You’re moving pieces from vertex to vertex on a mathematical graph, not in a true continuous space.

I kind of use spatial- and graph- games interchangeably, though I think there’s a spectrum of how relevant our spatial concept is to a graph-based game. Games with nodes spaced and connected uniformly (Chess, Go, Catan) are very strongly connected to a spatial concept. Nonuniform games (Risk, Pandemic) less so – the game expresses to us that precise concepts of distance are not important.

There are a few board games that actually do take place in a continuous space. This is probably most popular in miniatures wargames, but shows up other places… see http://boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/52642/stepless-stageless-analog-g...

I replied:

This is what popped into my head when you said, “graph-based games”: http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/18481/racetrack Vector mechanic–set speed and direction on each turn. I used a hexagon tessellation to make a car race vector game for kids–shift gear to 1, 2, or 3 speed, move without crashing into wall or obstacle or other car.

Alan Au said:

I’m a big fan of game mechanics that require players to assess risk vs. rewards. In some games this takes the form of bidding, where players spend points to gain a more favorable starting position. Auction games also rely heavily on this concept. In any case, this game mechanic relies on social skill as well as mathematical skill, as well as encouraging players to think about what other players are doing.

Tim C said:

Back to mechanics from Magic cards this is one of my personal favorites:

Goblin Game

Each player hides at least one item, then all players reveal them simultaneously. Each player loses life equal to the number of items he or she revealed. The player who revealed the fewest items then loses half his or her life, rounded up. If two or more players are tied for fewest, each loses half his or her life, rounded up.

I asked:

What’s your take on games in which players have to bid on whether or not other players can answer a question correctly (Odds ‘R, eg, but there are others)? I tried this in my NOVA True Science, but it’s a tough balance to pull off, since players can sand bag, and there’s almost always an uneven ability level (esp when playing with kids). Seems mean to bet against a kid, IOW.

Someone replied:

I like how Deadlands used poker cards for initiative. I also want to echo Alan Au. I played power grid and it had a wonderful economic mechanic about resource gathering. You must buy fuel for your power plants and the more players are buying a particular reason, the more expensive it becomes, due to supply and demand. It simply does this by arranging the resources on the game board on cost slots and the leftmost (near empty) slots are more expensive.

Michael Ho said:

Puerto Rico was the first serious board game that I (seriously) played. The role selection mechanic in the game is pretty unique. When you select a role, you get to perform that role’s action first and get a small bonus for that action, but then every other player gets to perform the action as well!

Question poster Ian Douglass returned:

Two mechanics come to mind here: one being a common mechanic in D6 based war games, where an attack or action that required rolling multiple D6′s allowed you to roll an additional D6 every time you rolled a “6″. This mechanic allows any unit to succeed at any roll regardless of odds or negative modifiers, and the excitement of rolling 6 after 6 tends to blow the game out of the roof. I believe this mechanic is present in Confrontation and Brikwars, and likely other games.

Secondly I’m in love with Macro Games, or larger games that are played in a series of smaller games (not unlike war game campaigns), since playing a board game, card game, or war game in the context of a much larger struggle changes the dynamic completely. Risk Legacy comes to mind, since the individual games matter little in the grand scheme of things, and a player might be comfortable with losing rather than attempt to win at the cost of possibly being wiped out so that they can claim the “held on” bonus.

I wanted to know:

Macro games! The long haul, pic picture. How many times have you (anyone here) played Risk Legacy, and have the players or game sets changed?

I’m so curious. What’s your take on this experiment, Ian? And, if you play with someone else’s set, which has been permanently changed in a different way than yours, is that disconcerting to pick up on the new world view? Do players who play regularly (but insularly) form their own New World Order, particular to the zeitgeist of that group?

I sense some overlap here with D&D in terms of evolution of a game (story)world—every group different, every story different, every game different. But, there’s a progression. in the sense that: can you be global (have universal rules that everyone accepts, wants to adopt) and local (be flexible, and allow factions to evolve their own game world) at the same time?

Let's end with a joke by Jack Everitt.

Q. What's your favorite mechanic?

A. Latka.

In 2011 Daniel Solis held a contest for designing a board game that will last 1,000 years (like chess).

Is it possible to design a game that will last 1,000 years? The next chess, Go, checkers? Here’s a contest: http://danielsolisblog.blogspot.com/2010/12/thousand-year-game-desi...

Here’s the link to the games that were entered: http://danielsolisblog.blogspot.com/2011/09/whats-next-for-thousand... Nearly 50! $1,000 prize to be awarded in January.


I said:

I just found this clever product: http://boardgame-remix-kit.com/ It remixes the parts and rewrites the rules for four common board games (Monopoly*, Scrabble*, Trivial Pursuit* and Cluedo*—) to create a couple of dozen new games. It assumes you own these games (I don’t have Cluedo) and just provides a unique way to extend their use. Does anyone have this kit? Care to comment?

Has anyone else been following the Risk: Legacy project: http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/105134/risk-legacy ? Reinventing that classic, but the twist is that the takeovers and moves are permanent—the board and cards never “reset” to the beginning. Curious to see how people will react to that idea.

Classic game history: Monopoly was used to help free prisoners in WWII camps! Here’s a museum game event structured around that fascinating fact: http://www.annarbor.com/news/ypsilanti/escape-opoly-offers-chance-t...

Mike Rizza replied:

Checked out the Remix kit. They have a PDF sample of some games. Quite clever. Cluedo is our Clue.

One of my favorite remixes is our “final round” of Apples to Apples. By the normal rules, one green “adjective” card is drawn and players compete to select the red “noun” cards that best fit the green card. Players take turns judging the best fit, and the winner of the round gets the green card. You win the game by winning a certain number of green cards, usually 5-7 depending on the number of players and time available. We then do our final round where the “winner” lays out all of their collected green adjectives, and the remaining players try to play a single red card that matches as many of the green cards as possible (usually the judge counts successful matches for each red card played). It is a nice way to end the game. Besides allowing a second winner (who may have done poorly all game), it also seems to allow the game to have a more satisfying conclusion.

I then said:

I love this! I’m going to try it at our next family game. By the end, the leftover noun cards can get pretty skanky, so I imagine it’s quite a challenge. Apples to Apples is also one of my go-to games for teaching English as a Second Language (I’m a volunteer group coordinator for adult ed). I have remixed the rules to create a bunch of lessons and activities for my small groups—geared toward different language goals and levels. I use the junior set of cards because the adult ones have too many Americanisms and idioms and cultural references that make it too hard for immigrants. It’s a great game. (I also use Taboo cards a lot.)

Aviad wondered:

I actually liked the fact they had an iPhone app for that. Just think: you have an iPhone app to give you the instructions for a board game with stuff you already own. That’s not a bad idea… Do you know of any other implementations like that?

Mike answered:

I haven’t seen any, but this would make a cool challenge for gameful. Remix an existing game or games.

I also like the idea of moving the rules from a book to something more interactive. One of our favorite games is Jungle Speed. It is simple and fun, but the best way to learn to play is by watching a round (which is difficult when NO ONE knows how to play yet!). There used to be a website which showed you how to play using Adobe Flash automation. Unfortunately, I can’t find it anymore! It certainly is more fun to watch a 2 minute video than one person reading a rule book for 15 minutes!

What other sources of board game remixes, new rules have you found?

I later added:

Modifying existing games: It’s a great way to learn game mechanics, quickly. I adapt a lot of games to use in my ESL conversation group–teaching immigrants how to speak English the fun way. Taboo, Apples to Apples, Wheel of Fortune, etc.

I just stumbled on a street game version of Asteroids–the shooter is in a shopping cart, wheeled around by a driver, and the “asteroids” are waltzing couples. The gist is to break apart the couples before they run into the shopping cart and detonate it. San Franciso–where else? (Maybe a gameful person is involved in this?) http://www.gamesetwatch.com/2010/09/giant_robot_hosting_come_out_p.php

On FAIRNESS in board games (my post from the original site):

Game: Offer a player $10 but challenge her to split it with another player. If the other player says, “no thanks,” nobody earns any money. Game theory says, “Offer a penny” bec that’s better than nothing for the responder. Real-world tests reveal that responders turn down offers below 20-30% ($23), the insula (‘disgust”) centers of their brain lights up, and this result is contingent on a person and not a computer making the offer.

Powerful sense of fairness thwarts game theory.

My thoughts: Board games, far more than solo video games, have to take the insula into account, no? Esp board games that involve lots of trading (rather than random exchanging of items) such as Bohnanza. If so, I wonder if: Designers treat fairness as a powerful or even overriding game mechanic. And: How iterated play changes that dynamic over time. (Sometimes playing the same game with the same people lots of times causes that game to run on automatic and cease to be fun. Everyone makes the agreed-upon fair offer.) Thoughts? Examples?

Timothy Dang replied:

(In defense of game theory, we’re aware of this and are working to revise game theory to account for such things, although it’s extremely difficult.)

My guess is that this is unlikely to be a major issue for board games, for two reasons: first, they’re generally competitive, and second, because of the repeated game/reputation aspect. Both of these things already bias stuff so far into “fair” like territory that the disgust (or whatever) factor is probably an insignificant addition.

First: The ultimatum game (that’s what game theorists call that game), is a positive-sum game, so players can both win to some degree. If the recipient were to take the penny, they would at least get a penny. In a typical board game, anyone you’re interacting with is an opponent. You might not see exactly how much they’re going to benefit from a transaction. Most transactions probably depend on both players thinking they’re getting the upper hand, because if they don’t think so, they’d be contributing to losing the game. So, if the recipient took the game-penny, leaving game-$9.99 to their opponent, they’d actually be aiding in their own defeat.

Second, in ultimatum game experiments, experimenters are generally quite careful to remove “repeated game” effects. That means that I usually don’t know who’s offering me a penny, or if I’ll ever see them again. If I did expect that I’d see–and have similar interactions with–that person in the future, I’d have a good reason to reject the penny on fairly traditional game-theory grounds of letting them know I won’t be their sucker. Even without fairness/disgust concerns, I’d reject the penny hoping that next time they’d offer a better split. In most board game situations, there’s a repeated game aspect-even within one game session, there’s a strong chance we’ll have similar interactions. If you take into account the meta-games we play with friends/family, there’s years of similar interactions yet to come.

(In fact, evolutionary psychology at least sometimes attributes this fairness response to the repeated games we play with our small social groups. Better to be hardwired to spurn the unfair offer than take the quick payoff and suffer from a bad bargaining position the rest of your life.)

I replied:

Yes, but in a trading game you can form alliances and cooperate for mutual benefit against another opponent or team, no? I guess that falls under ”both win to some degree.” Like Survivor–you need strong alliances but there’s only one winner in the end. In some of those Survivor games, though, the alliance members seem happy to hand over the million to a particularly strong player who carried them through the game or is well-liked/admired. So complex.

On the larger point, I’m curious about designing a board game whose mechanic either revolves around or seriously incorporates the fairness issue–and wonder if there’s something out there already.

I designed a board game called Feeding Frenzy–classic Tragedy of the Commons–that involved sharks eating fish (you’re the shark). When I play-tested with a group of middle grade girls, they quickly got upset at each other (”you’re eating too many fish! Leave some for us!”) and then worked out a cooperative agreement with a strict fishing limit. Admiringly, they solved the problem in two game plays but then made the game pretty boring to play.* They still wanted to win, but it wasn’t a driving force in the game, and they treated it as almost a random event. Fairness was more important to them–an accidental result. btw: Boys and mixed test groups played the game competitively and occasionally depleted the fish stores, as anticipated. I didn’t measure this result in any scientific way–all observational.

I should also add that I haven’t studied game theory formally–all self-taught–and appreciate your helping me understand this stuff, Timothy. My curiosity arose from listening to Scott Stevens lectures–Games People Play–and recollecting the Feeding Frenzy tests. He does run through (quickly–it’s a survey class) some of the alternate tests–with repeated plays, for ex.

Another question: You’ve framed the fairness issue as a competitive one–not wanting to lose bargaining strength. Stevens mentions a social arbiter–the type of person who runs around making sure rules are followed and people (even one-time strangers) aren’t ripped off. I’m still wrapping my head around this idea and am now feeling the need to listen to some social psychology lectures. ;-)

*There was an element of ”you must eat a lot cuz you’re a shark”–I should have strengthened that.

Tim chimed in:

(This is fun)

There’s a lot going on here, so I’ll hit just one point for now. Sure, players form alliances and such in games, but if it’s a game with a single winner, then the players have a balancing act.

This is something I’ve just started modeling, that also came up in a conversation on BGDF, the idea of ”non-zero-sum” activities within a zero-sum game.

Suppose that the game has points, and those points translate into a probability of winning the game. Points might be unlimited, but if there’s three players then the probabilities of each winning must add up to one p1+p2+p3=1. If I form an alliance with another player, and by doing so increase my points and their points, I could actually be *decreasing* my probability of winning. In order to be sure that I’m increasing not only my points, but also my chance of winning, I need to make sure that the trade is ”fair” to some degree.

Your Feeding Frenzy game is reminding me that I haven’t read enough Elinor Ostrom. She won the Nobel in economics a couple years back, primarily for looking at how and when people solve the Tragedy of the Commons. She’s much more optimistic (based on her research) about such problems than the stanadrd game theory would lead one to be.

Then he started a tangent thread:

A thought along different lines, less game theory and more “magic circle”. When I’m playing a game with friends, and one of them screws me over, I don’t usually feel screwed over. It took me some time to get to that point, but I’m there now. Similarly, my disappointment at losing a game is nowhere near as serious as my 7-year-old kid’s disappointment at losing.

The “disgust” kind of feeling at being treated unfairly might not kick in if one is treated unfairly in the context of a game, and one is a mature game-player.

To which I replied:

Interestingly, the description of this ultimatum game pointed out that kids take the penny willingly. Big discussion of innate (but delayed) and learned behavior ensued. I also wonder if ”disgust” comes in degrees (annoyed, frustrating, thoroughly done with etc) and if, in social contexts, adult players often feel this way but suppress or disguise it (harder for kids to do). Stiff upper lip, good sport, and all that jolly stuff.

Confession: I’ve never played an MMO. I always opt for the single player experience. One reason is that I prefer board games for a social experience–with friends and family or, if strangers, people I can see and hear and talk to in person and stand a good chance of meeting again.

–> I’d love to hear how the social experience of an MMO is the same/different. It just seems so anonymous and random and temporary to me (and intimidating, if truth be told, for a newbie).

David Whitcher wondered about a BOARD GAME ABOUT TRASH/RECYCLING (from the original site):

Even though there are much larger groups I want to solicit opinions here because I’m talking about a board game.

Joining Gameful has made me reconsider a design I started years ago which is collecting dust in my workshop. Namely a co-operative strategy game called Trash about cleaning up a city park and recycling the trash.

Without getting into Mechanics im wondering if there is a market for such a game being that R-Eco and other titles have covered this subject although in a different fashion. My personal feeling is as long as it’s fun and different from the others then I should go for it. The reality is I have limited time and must spend most of it on developing commercially viable products.

For those of you who are avid gamers I pose the questions:

Would you buy a/another game about recycling?

GARY Replied:

My honest answer is: not likely. However, that doesn’t mean that the game isn’t viable. Is the game concept large enough on its own or could it be rolled into another concept (or perhaps enlarged from it’s present standpoint)? In my opinion, viability depends on whether or not you envision selling off your first run at least (although I’m not a veteran designer and/or publisher).

If you wanted to take that concept and make it more appealing to casual gamers, I’d suggest going that route. Take a fun spin on recycling. So, while maintaining the overall moral, hide it beneath a layer of aesthetics. I would be more likely to buy a game based on some fantastical setting that had the same highlights or undertones that I’m picturing your game having. Just my $.02

I said:

Before I joined Aristoplay they published a game called Pollution Solution. It was a tile-flipping game (one side: clean, the other side: polluted) with the goal of cleaning up the entire board. Tiles flipped via answering questions but also some luck involved, as I recall. It sold well enough to stay in print a couple of years, which is not bad. Personally, it’s not a game I’d buy and play with kids as something “fun.” Teachers used it in schools. Environmental groups touted it. It didn’t fly off the shelf.

Recycling: Look into the serious games field. If this were my product I’d try to find a group or nonprofit arm of a company to sponsor the game–pay for printing and distribution in the name of doing good. But, I’d also make darned sure it was fun to play. And, I’d print a short run to gather testimonials, buzz, reactions, sales #’s before pitching it to a major player.

Another thought: The game dynamic of recycling is built-in–zero sum. NASA has been researching closed loop systems for the space station for a couple of decades–recycling all water and other resources. With a space hook and a realistic science/tech goal, the game might sell well commercially. The concept could then be translated (by educators or with a spin-off game) into a “Spaceship Earth” scale–the planet is a space ship w/ a closed loop set of resources (except for sun’s energy).

David chimed in:

I’m all about the fun. Educational games that aren’t fun should be banned as a form of torture. It’s like offering a piece of candy that tastes like dirt. That may be a poor example since I recall eating a dirt flavored jelly bean, Ahggg.

Trash has two facets; collecting the refuse spread throughout a park and sorting it so that it could be recycled. To succeed both needed to be done efficiently. Collecting the garbage influences how the sorting must be done forming a puzzle of sorts to be solved. Hopefully the challenge coupled with teamwork will provides an enjoyable experience.

Being a big fan of space exploration I do like the ISS idea. Im also big on theme integration meaning it might take some serious retooling to change from park to ISS.

Trying a short run to determine interest is a tricky thing. First there is a large amount of money involved even in a short run (Kickstarter?) and selling games is more about marketing than anything else. I can design games in my sleep but I can’t market my way out of a wet sack. Unless I get help with that end it’s a game killer.

I said:

“selling games is more about marketing than anything else. I can design games in my sleep but I can’t market my way out of a wet sack. Unless I get help with that end it’s a game killer.”

I hear you! There’s a group here on Gameful packed with marketing types. As a creative sort, I’m interested to see what partnerships develop here.

Rich came back to it:

I will operate under the assumption there is ALWAYS room for another game, if it brings something new, and/or does things that are fun. One can either follow an “Ameritrash” approach and build a game around the theme of garbage, or end up follow what looks like a more “Euro” approach and have it so that garbage fits a good set of play mechanics.

A market exists because a design that was made was enjoyed and word got out. I think it would be wrong to presume that you first get a market, and then try to design a game for it. You want to respond to what people want, but then to follow a maximize a market approach, rather than one of being an artist, is the wrong approach.

I will mention here the game Agricola. Who would normally want a game that involves being a farmer in Europe fighting off famine and lack of resources? Is there a market for such a game? Well, it is because the game is an excellent design it has a good follow, and is like either #1 or #2 on Boardgamegeek.com now. And the number 1 game, if Agricola isn’t it? Well, it is a game involving setting up plantations on Puerto Rico and settling colonists. Is there a natural market or demand for that? And then, none of the above, but one that has a good following, is a game involving avoiding collecting cow heads (6 Nimmt).

Rich Hutnik tossed out an idea about a BOARD GAME SYSTEM with pieces:

I have a vision of a trend that would catch on, where the idea of game systems got to be popular. Think a deck of cards, chess/checker/go sets, Icehouse, piecepack and so on. A game system game is one where you have one set of components but the usage varies according to the rules used. End result is a checker set can play a dozen variet of checkers or other games. Icehouse is likely the most noted version of this, with its pyramids. piecepack also had a run. Stonehenge by Paizo is another one that was released, but pretty much failed in the market. I designed 1/3 to 1/2 of the totally library of additional games for it, as I got captivated by it.

Well the idea of game system games working together is that they could act as expansion packs and designers could create games that get played. The idea would be to have a proper set of standards, so they do work together. For a designer, you have stuff you could use to try out games, before having a full version come together.

Anyhow, anyone else interested here in this idea?

Matthew S. threw out a card game idea about STEREOTYPE HIGH SCHOOL (from the original site):

have been mulling the idea around in my head for a bit now, and I would like to make a collectable card game that takes widely held misconceptions about race,class, gender, and any other stereotype you can think of and break it. in a dark humor ironic way.

the game is set in Stereotype High school.
their will be three types of cards: character, stereotypes, and events.
the object so far is for your characters to accumulate the most prestige points, and therefore become the coolest kid in school.

I’m working on refining the system and would like a little help. if anyone replies ill put up more info, but that’s enough of a primer right now.

I asked:

Matthew–interesting! Ironic humor sounds key to me, given the topic. What kind of help do you need?

Game writer Kurt McCLung chimed in:

An adaptation in a game of Breakfast Club, Heathers, Donny Darko and High School Musical all rolled into one. It sounds like a great idea!
The goal of becoming the coolest kid in school though is a little vague. How do you define cool?



Welcome Gameful Monster!

Welcome to Gameful, which we are happy to report is officially a partner with Games for Change!

After you signup, here's what you can do to get started:

  • Explore the groups. Find one that interests you? Join it! Want to invite friends and find new allies? Create your own group.
  • Looking for an opportunity? Looking for collaborators? Check out the classifieds. By the way, here is a Gameful opportunity
  • Check the webinars and learn more about what we love the most
  • Invite friends and group members from Gameful 1.0 to join this shiny new one
  • Make a blog post
  • Friend and talk to the Mayor, or chat with anyone online (lower right)
  • Stay tuned for Gameful challenges, where you can design your own social impact game!
  • Take off your shoes and enjoy :)

Thanks everyone!


© 2023   Created by Mod.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service