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October 2013 Miscellany

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

Competition, direct conflict, wargames, and screwage games

Hard-core gamers are much more inclined to like competition and direct conflict than are casual gamers. Part of this is because casual gamers tend to like short experiences while most games that have direct conflict are longer games, which allows that conflict to “play out”. Another might be

Really Small Games

Complexity and Length vs Development Time

Recently I was designing a couple games that are so small you couldn't even call them microgames. Maybe nano-games would do? At the World Boardgaming Championships in early August I saw yet again the postcard-size wargames that "Against the Odds" magazine gives away as promotional materials. The entire game is on the postcard, board on one side, rules on the other side, 17 to 20 half inch pieces printed along the edge.

What do RPGs amount to, what are you actually designing (if you do the whole thing)?

I debated whether to post this on bgdf, but I think there are enough RPG-oriented boardgames that it may help someone. LP

Ruminations about “Magical Numbers” in boardgame design

In the course of designing “nano-games” that have between 17 and 20 pieces for two sides and very small boards that fit on part of a postcard, I again had occasion to wonder if there is some kind of "sweet spot" or "magical number" of pieces and spaces for a boardgame (or any other kind, for that matter) where pieces occupy locations?

A revolution in card printing capabilities may affect game design

In the OneBlogShelf blog Steve Wieck of DriveThruCards describes what he calls a revolution in card printing capabilities. http://oneblogshelf.blogspot.ca/2013/09/the-coming-revolution-in-card-ga... His company is no longer tied to traditional sheet printing methods and can now print individual cards, though still using ink rather than toner for higher quality. He suggests that this can cause a revolution and how card games are designed:

Brief, free audio-visual Introduction to Game Design class

I've created a brief, free audio-visual Introduction to Game Design class. It is primarily aimed at those who want to design video games (a much larger contingent than tabletoppers), but applies to TT as well. While many readers here already understand most of what I say, you might know someone who is just getting started in design who could benefit.

Video Wargame Conversions from the Tabletop

I've recently become quite interested in conversions between video games and tabletop games, especially wargames.

GenCon (and WBC) 2013

If you've never been to GenCon you might not realize the scope of the convention. Last year there were more than 40,000 attendees and I suspect yet more this year. The convention is spread out over the Indiana Convention Center, which is very large - immensely larger than Origins' Columbus Convention Center - and *eight* large hotels. The convention is not just about tabletop games, but also has a little bit of video games and a lot of anime, film, cosplay, comics, fiction writing - that's a big segment - and other cultures related to the gaming culture.

How NOT to start a print game magazine

Of course, given the trends in publishing it would be very wise not to start a print magazine. Game Developer Magazine, a venerable print magazine for videogame professionals published by the same company that owns the Game Developers Conference (GDC) and Gamasutra.com, recently closed down. It was always profitable but not sufficiently so to keep it alive in the current climate. The World Wide Web is effectively a competitor with magazines, and I’ve seen in the video game fan magazines how competition from websites has changed the nature of Gameinformer and PC Gamer. The reviews always appear much later than the reviews on the web, so both magazines now devote a large fraction of their now-thin printed form to extensive previews of unpublished games. Print magazines are not sufficiently immediate for the Age of Instant Gratification.

But if you’re going to start one, and you want the largest possible pool of contributors, then your writers’ guidelines should not omit some of the things I’ve just seen omitted from a recently started print game magazine’s guidelines.

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by Dr. Radut