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February 2013 Miscellany

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

BGDF readers might want to look at "What's in a Name (especially trademarks) For various reasons I haven't wanted to post it here.

I expect to be at PrezCon in Charlottesville, VA on the last weekend of Feburary, and at WBC in Lancaster PA. Remains to be seen whether I'll be at Origins or GenCon.

Trying to define “the board”

Britannia board connectivity diagram

On LinkedIn someone asked if there were industry definitions and names for the various aspects of a game board. There aren’t any that I know of, but it’s worth trying to analyze what we actually have in a “game board”.

Triptych 1 (well, kinda): Familiarity, Killing Time, Fail Fast

Here are three items that are fairly long, but not long enough for blog posts in themselves:


Six words about a Christmas present for the game industry?

According to tweetdeck, one of the trending:worldwide topics on twitter not so long ago was 6 word stories. In the past few months I've asked people to say 6 words about game design, programming, wargames, stories in games, casual games, zombie games, chance/randomness in games, innovation and plagiarism in games, game sequels, and role-playing games.

This time the challenge is to say something about: "If I could give any present to the game industry this Christmas".

Pulsipher's Game Designer Survey 2012

This is a short (10 question) survey for people who call themselves game designers, video or tabletop (which is as good a way to define who game designers are as any other). Survey link:

December 2012 Miscellany

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


I said in my book Game Design that I thought video and tabletop games are converging, but sometimes I'm not so sure when I look at games like Farmville on one hand, and worse, the all-rewards-all-the-time games like Diablo III and many others, where anything that interferes with getting direct pleasure is regarded as a "fail".

The virtues (and sins) of using dice in game designs

In the very oldest traditional board and card games, dice are rarely used. (Backgammon and Parcheesi are the most notable exceptions.) Most of those boardgames have perfect information and the only uncertainty comes from the intentions of the other player, except where dice are used. There are always just two players. Think of checkers, go, chess, tic-tac-toe, Nine Men's Morris, mancala, and so forth.

Modifying chess conflict rules

I set myself the task of modifying chess in just one of the nine fundamental sub-systems of games: interaction of assets/conflict. Chess has a very simple conflict system: the attacker always wins via “displacement capture”. What happens if we change that?

Looking at game design as ways of introducing asymmetry

In many “natural” games, such as sports, and in many traditional board and card games, every participant begins with an equal position and prospects to every other. This is symmetry. We can look at game design as devising interesting ways to break up symmetry, to introduce asymmetry. Some of these are achieved through player choice, some through randomness, some through uncertainty, and some through choice or caveat of the designer.

How many dice (to include with a game)?

Those who like dice games are going to answer this question with “lots”! But game designers can’t think that way. Every item added to a game increases the retail price of the game very roughly six times the actual cost. So if you put in some extra dice that cost $.15 altogether the price of the game rises by at least a dollar. If you add a dollars’ worth of dice the price of the game increases by roughly six dollars.

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by Dr. Radut