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/
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."