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July 2014 Miscellany

Thoughts about some game-related topics that are not long enough for separate blog posts.

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I'll be giving a talk at WBC in early August, and four at GenCon in mid-August.

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I am all for using games in education. But not for what so many "experts" mean by "gamification". *Shakes head*. The bandwagon for "gamification" (which I call scorification) is immense. I would not want to be associated with the word. Use "game-based learning" when you're using actual games for learning. Leave the word "gamification" to applications that don't use actual games.

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GenCon now clearly as much a story convention as a game convention: writer's panels displaced the independent game seminars from the convention center.

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Recipe for disaster? An English-language Kickstarter pitch for a Dutch game, but they haven't finished the English translation of the rules. What about testing them?

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Can you call something a "block game" if it doesn't use steps (rotate)? If it doesn't use dice? Is Stratego a "block game"? No, I'd say. What seems to characterize block games is hidden identity and the rotation to show different strengths.

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Why do people pay $4 for a coffee, not for a mobile game? Maybe because there is no cost to making more of the video game, while there is a cost to making more coffee.

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Games often show a typical misunderstanding of pirates. Pirates used small ships full of men to board, not guns, lousy for commerce. Pirates were NOT merchants, nor could they profitably live as merchants using those small ships.

Moreover, piracy tended to be a democracy, not highly disciplined. And pirates did NOT like to fight, by and large.

(Vikings had that fame and Valhalla thing about fighting, but mostly they avoided fighting, as well. And when they did fight a pitched battle, they lost as often as they won.)

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Narratives - accounts of what happens - are often NOT good stories, not interesting unless you're the person it happened to. If I were a professional story-maker I'd never call myself "narrative consultant."

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I’ve never seen a plastic meeple. Surely when mass-produced they’d be cheaper than wood. (What brought this to mind was the idea that plastics are cheaper from China, wood cheaper from Germany/eastern Europe.)

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I suspect there's a pretty strong tendency for new publishers to prefer unknown designers to someone who is well-established/well-known. First, they'll pay them less. Second, the new designer will be less demanding/have lower expectations. Third, the publisher will be the most prominent part of the package, not the designer.

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I keep reading about photo-realistic video games that nonetheless sound more and more abstract in actual play. . . So many gaming conventions (that's things typically done, not gatherings of gamers) that have no correspondence to reality (such as weapons and med-kits lying all over the place, switchable skills).

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"Replayability is a primary quality of the greatest games. Product sustained by the cult of the new only has to be good for a few sessions." -Jeff Johnson, http://jeffro.wordpress.com/2014/05/21/my-hobby-is-not-about-making-sure...

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Odd email request: someone making a game for his girlfriend. Asked for the astronomical photo I used as background for a prototype, minus the grid etc. So I sent it to him.

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TV/fiction tropes: Interesting reading for aspiring writers (and, sometimes, game designers): tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.…

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There's more to designing games than the activity of designing games, especially for video games. Usually video games are created by groups, and the designer must clearly and accurately communicate with the programmers, artists, and others making the game.

For tabletop games it's more solitary, but you have licensing, marketing

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The heart of a novel is characterization, though there's more to it than that (plot, dramatic tension, etc.). The heart of a game is gameplay, though there's more to it than that (interface, appearance, sometimes story, etc.) We might add here, the heart of an interactive puzzle (such as many one-player video games) is challenge, though there's more to it than that.

Quoted from my "Game Design" book (McFarland 2012)

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“Gamification” in practice amounts to scorification of *contests*, not use of actual gameplay techniques. There is no game. . .
Contest: each competitor does something separately, without being able to affect the other competitors through gameplay. Compare results.

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I see people designing lots of tabletop fighting games an even shooters and equivalents of MMOs.

Just because it's a game, doesn't mean it's suitable for the tabletop.

Lots of fundamentally repetitious video games don't translate well to the tabletop. Those video games are quite long or don't have a well-defined end at all (fighting games are an exception). And most of those games are essentially athletic contests, sports. Neither of those characteristics translates well to the tabletop. Moreover, the computer can keep track of details, and provide "fog of war", that are very hard to reproduce in tabletop games.

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When I need to change something to improve a game, I look for an historical/modeling reason first, rather than simply look for a good mechanic. Those accustomed to making essentially abstract games, even if they have a so-called "theme", think of mechanics first, not modeling.

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Morgan Freeman on art :
"I don't think that anything where you start off with something is an art form. If you start off with a blank page or a blank canvas or a blank slab or a blank stone, you're going to create something."

Games certainly qualify by that definition.

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At a tabletop game club meeting earlier this year, there were 55 attendees. Many of them did not appear to recognize Axis & Allies . . .

Comments

<< I’ve never seen a plastic

<<
I’ve never seen a plastic meeple. Surely when mass-produced they’d be cheaper than wood. (What brought this to mind was the idea that plastics are cheaper from China, wood cheaper from Germany/eastern Europe.)
>>

Survive: Escape from Atlantis
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/2653/survive-escape-atlantis

The latest edition use plastic meeples that have numbers printed on the bottom.

Could not agree with you more about "gamification".

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blog | by Dr. Radut