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Critique the January 2006 GDS Challenge Entries

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Brykovian
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Use this thread to give comments and critiques on the January 2006 GDS Challenge entries (found here).

-Bryk

Epigone
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Competitive Figure Skating

(edit): maybe wait until after voting for critiques

Xaqery
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Critique the January 2006 GDS Challenge Entries

Tease!

doho123
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Critique the January 2006 GDS Challenge Entries

Hmm, I didn't realize that new scoring rules are put into place this month! Now I have to think about things even more.

As a group as a whole, I was glad to see that most entries avoided the Carabande/Pitchcar route, which I thought was the obvious direction in which to take. On the negative, I am sort of disappointed in the "team" aspect of most of the entries. I guess I was hoping for some clever implementations of teaming people together, as opposed to just "team members take turns doing what otherwise one player can do" sort of thing. Of course, the restriction is simply that the games should allow the players to do just that, but I just think that's hardly a restriction, since most games can be played that way.

seo
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Critique the January 2006 GDS Challenge Entries

There are a couple entries that really need several players per team, though, and I count that as a plus. There are another couple that, IMHO, just barely deserve to be considered team games, and I'll take that as a drawback at the time of giving my votes.

Same thing happens, to some extent, with the "winter" aspect. And I have to say that the whole "winter" issue was a hard challenge to me, enduring 35ºC (95ºF) while trying to figure a game about snowballs and ice skating. ;-P

Seo

Brykovian
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Critique the January 2006 GDS Challenge Entries

seo wrote:
And I have to say that the whole "winter" issue was a hard challenge to me, enduring 35ºC (95ºF) while trying to figure a game about snowballs and ice skating. ;-P

I, ashamedly, have a Northern Hemisphere-centric viewpoint ... ;-)

-Bryk

Xaqery
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Not sure how to vote

I am not sure how to vote. I understand the rules. Whrere I am having trouble is I have three entries I want to vote for and I want to spend about 7 points on them but then since I didnt spend the full 10 points am I "cheating" by making my entry look better?

- Dwight

Hamumu
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Critique the January 2006 GDS Challenge Entries

The rules say you don't have to spend all 10, so I wouldn't fear. Since everyone has that same freedom, your entry could still get a big fat zero!

Brykovian
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Critique the January 2006 GDS Challenge Entries

A couple more hours left in the voting ... please send me a private message with your vote.

Also, feel free to add your critiques of the entries to this thread ... thanks.

-Bryk

Hamumu
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Critique the January 2006 GDS Challenge Entries

Okay, here goes:

#1 - Tobbac...
mine. Damn, I forgot you were supposed to support teams! Must remember to re-read the rules before submitting.
#2 - Snow Sculpture (1pt)
The scoring is a very interesting aspect. I don't like it how it basically locks the game to exactly 4 players, no more or less, but it seems like a cool system. It creates an everchanging tactical situation. There will be rounds in which you don't want to score any points, since it would help someone who's currently beating you. But on the other hand... very interesting.
#3 - Figure Skating
Scoring in this game seems like a lot of math! I don't like where players throw dice at the rink. Seems like very little could be left standing (and some people would be quite dangerous!). I like the idea of formalizing the bias of the judging into a part of the game. A big minus to me is how the mechanics of this game really don't reflect the theme at all. It's hard to think of ice skating when you're stacking blocks, and the throwing stuff at the stacks represents... smashing kneecaps?
#4 - Ice Castle Danger
It seems a competitor doesn't realize that Bryk is not the judge of the contest! Suck-up. And VERY nice artwork. I think the setup needed to play a round of this game is pretty extreme... and if it's too warm in the house, or the snowballs are too heavy, you can only play one round before the bricks are no good anymore! Actually, there's a related physics issue - the bricks will melt together into a solid mass. If you take long enough to build, or carefully apply a little friction with your fingers, you may build an indestructible castle! Plus it's a lot of ice trays to fit in your freezer. Okay, so as you can see I have big logistical concerns with this game (of course, if it was plastic instead of ice, it would be Castles & Catapults, or whatever that game was called!). Which is too bad, because it sounds pretty nifty, and I loved that game. Smashing things down is always fun. Innovation rates low here, since it is the same game really.
#5 - Downdraft Skiing (2pts)
This reminds me of foozball. Weird, I know, but you can see the connection with the teamwork. I like this game all around. Easy enough to play in the house any old time, too (if you have a ping pong ball). It's kind of a dorm-room sport (I would picture the cans being beer in that case, and there being suspiciously fewer gates as the game wore on). Good use of teamwork. I like it.
#6 - Hair Dryer Curling
Fundamental problem: once you hit masking tape, your stone will stop DEAD. I suggest that a masking tape circle is thus a bad idea. My other concern involves multiple hair dryers running and blowing a fuse. I'll let that one slide... Otherwise, seems workable. I imagine that like in curling (caveat: I know NOTHING about curling), your blowing would actually be intended to slow/speed the puck most of the time, not steer it. In the end, it's really just a small-scale, warm-weather, curling. Not so unique.
#7 - Winter War
While I accept that there is a dexterity component to this game (and kind of a fun one, I think), I definitely wouldn't call this a dexterity/action game. It's more of a 'strategy' (loosely used, since it's mostly random) game with a small dexterity component. I enjoy the die rolling snowball throwing, but I think there could be less ... I wanna say complexity, but it's obviously not a complex game. It's just not dead-simple enough for the theme, to me. I can think of two ways that have a better 'feel' to me: drop the dice, and you try to toss cards to land in the circle you want (oops... surely I didn't MEAN for it to land on you!), or drop the cards and all it is is tossing a die into someone's circle (and keep the idea of rolling a defense die first, so your choice of victim to aim for may change depending on who is an easy target). I don't know, I feel conflicted and confused now!
#8 - QUICKEY (1pt)
I'm not quite getting how actiony this game is from the rules - whether it's like pool, or like foozball. The 6-second rule seems to suggest it is action-oriented, which sounds pretty fun. I don't know, not quite following all around. It does sound fun and frantic, more of a sport than a game. Sounds pretty good.
#9 - Triple Lyndig (4pts)
I like a lot of the elements here. One thing I don't like is one team playing for hours on end while the other team basically just watches. It would be nice if they could alternate, and if there were enough holes for flags, I don't see why they couldn't - then the game ends when both teams are out of flags. Anyway, I like the combination of trying to get into a ring (and trying to coordinate that with your partner), followed by playing the cards. Good!
#10 - Winter Flickathon (2pts)
The rifles are great. In fact, I think the rifle part of the game sounds a lot of fun, while the skiing part sounds boring. I think the whole game seems a bit drawn out - a better game would be one skiier/shooter per player (and group the players into even teams), so that there are less guys to get to the finish line. It's interesting how there's a distinction between player count and 'character' count, but I don't know if it adds anything. All in all, it sounds pretty fun to me. I would like to do the shooting.

Scurra
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Critique the January 2006 GDS Challenge Entries

Whoah - people actually voted for me this time ;-)

#1 Toboggans (2 pts) - this was the most entertaining of the directly active games, albeit an apparently entirely random exercise.
#2 Snow Sculpture - lovely scoring system that skewed the rest of the idea. I probably should have given this at least a point though.
#3 Competitive Figure Skating - comment below since this is mine
#4 Ice Castle Danger (1 pt) - the one point was for the ice cube idea, which was very clever. Everything else was rather dull, sadly.
#5 Downdraft Skiing - I liked the Slalom idea, but otherwise it was a bit too "straw football" for me.
#6 Hair Dryer Curling (2 pts) - Excellent simulation with the blowers adding a fun dimension. Was also worried about the masking tape but I can't think of a better solution.
#7 Winter War - appears to be a dice rolling game (not so bad) with a flawed dexterity mechanic. I liked the whole "teams/free-for-all" stuff though.
#8 Quickey - appears to be Air Hockey with a vague winter theme stuck on top. Although the two teams idea is nice.
#9 Triple Lyndig (4pts) - two attempts at a figure skating game, and this one clearly had a mechanism that actually feels fractionally more like skating! The special move cards feel a bit clunky though.
#10 Flickathon - Should have earned something but I forgot. The Carabande skiing race was incredibly dull, but the shooting range looked very silly.

Scurra
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Critique the January 2006 GDS Challenge Entries

Competitive Figure Skating.
What drove this was the Judging game - the intro to the game is a perennial argument, and I wanted to see if I could make it work with an actual "strategy" component to the game - especially as I know from experience that my ability to play dexterity games is practically nil. The downside was that to come up with a scoring system that looked vaguely plausible was inevitably going to result in a brain-bending maths session (at least at first.)
The whole "stacking dice on columns" idea is horrible from a simulationist aspect, but I hoped that it would be sufficiently different from most approaches to earn me some credit. As for the whole "throwing dice" business? That was my attempt at handicapping the people who could routinely stack six dice on a really tall and narrow column!
I rather like the Judging game part. Having a fixed pool of cards which diminishes during the game means that players can make assessments during the second round - and hold back certain cards to try and hit the leader. I think a few iterations of the scoring system and I might have a workable mechanic there... :-) And it made for an amusing team game variant too.

seo
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Critique the January 2006 GDS Challenge Entries

OK here are my comments.

One thing I'm convinced of is that all this games, being so dependant on player skill, are also conditioned, to a high degree, to the prototype or final product construction. A small modification in measures, materials, etc. would mean a huge change in playability. And that made judging this month entries a lot harder to me, or to be more accurate, it made me feel any judging without actually playing the games to be even more prone to be totally mistaken. But my judging is ALWAYS prone to be totally off the target anyway. ;)

#1 Tobacconist Tobogganists
Looks like a fun game (almost a fun activity), but a bit too random for my taste. I don't know, maybe there is some room for strategy if the players are really skilled. I might be biased about this game, as one of my first ideas for the challenge was doing something about bobsleigh, freestyle skiing or luge, letting something slide down a slope. I failed to found a way around the too-random issue, hence discarded the idea. So while I love the game idea, maybe I'm a bit too hard on the judging, as I the same flaws I saw while trying to design my game. Giving it any points was out of the question due to the lack of teams, which is somewhat ironic, given that Mike shares my "if you fail to meet the requirements you can't get my vote" criteria.

#2 Snow Sculpture
An interesting idea, pretty strategic and with skill playing an important role. The team requirement was faced in an original way, so much that sometimes a player would be in a team by himself, and most times you won't be your teammate's teammate. Weird but interesting, and I like the changing of teams through the game as cards are being drawn. Had I hade more points to spare, I would have given one to this entry.

#3 Competitive Figure Skating
I liked the idea of judges being partial according to the contestants nationality, but the total lack of connection between the dice piling and demolishing and real figure skating hit me like the spare dice in the game hit the piled ones. Unless I misunderstood the team mechanics, while you win or loose as a team, acording to your chosen nationality, you don't play as a team, you don't even know who's your teammate until the game is over. So it acomplishes the team requirement, but only to some extent.

#4 Ice Castle Danger (1 point)
I really liked this game: simple, a good use of teams, different skills required. The ice cubes sound nice at first, but I think it would be much better to simply have fake, clear-plastic slightly irregular cubes. With real ice you can't just say "Let's play a game of ICD", you should instead say "let's make the game components and play later, and after we play let's clean all the mess". It might earn the Guiness World Record for "More time-demanding game setup", though. ;)

#5 Downdraft skiing (4 points)
This game is so simple that I gave it extra credit just for that. It also earned one extra credit in my scoring as the entry with the best solution for the team requirement. Most of the other entries (mine included) are basically individual games with some tweaking to include the teams, while in this game team play is the core of the game.

#6 Hair Dryer Curling (2 points)
Most of what I said about the previous entry about teamwork apply to this one too, but this one lacked the sheer simplicity of Downdraft skiing. Sounds like it is either a game you already had and just fitted this month's challenge, or you had the time to actually build a prototype and play it. If I were to produce this game I guess I would use a clear acrilic sheet, printed on the bottom face instead of the table top. That way the surface would be perfectly smooth and the setup much faster.

#7 Winter War (3 points)
I like the way the game combines skill with strategy a lot. Team implementation matches the game theme 100%. The game sound fun, simple and a real joy to play.

#8 Quickey
An OK idea, but it didn't sound too original (too much like a variation on air hockey, as David pointed). The two players per team and two pucks factor can add some interest and add to the already fast pace the game seems to have. I think it might actually be quite fun to play, but it didn't made it to the points section of my ranking.

#9 Triple Lynding
As I was reading this entry I felt it was going to receive a lot of votes. I can't really say why, cause I failed to catch what the game would feel during play. It has good player interaction, the winter subject is well implemented, skill too. But I simply failed to feel the game. I know this was my fault and not the entrant's, but I just couldn't give points to a game I wasn't sure was as good as some of my neurons kept claiming. The back of my brain was telling me "You'll see, this game will win and you'll feel stupid", and it was right on both assertions. :/

#10 Winter Flickathlon (My entry)

Hamumu wrote:
The rifles are great. In fact, I think the rifle part of the game sounds a lot of fun, while the skiing part sounds boring. I think the whole game seems a bit drawn out - a better game would be one skiier/shooter per player (and group the players into even teams), so that there are less guys to get to the finish line. It's interesting how there's a distinction between player count and 'character' count, but I don't know if it adds anything. All in all, it sounds pretty fun to me.

Yeah, I'm very proud of my rifles. :)
The shooting is indeed really fun, though a lot harder than I first thought. I had to place the target closer and enlarge it, and even then hitting the target requires some real skill and practice. So much that I think the game should have two different targets, one bigger for rookies and another not so big for experienced players.
The first incarnation of the game featured just one skier per player, and it was a lot less fun. So I understand your concern, but experience taught me one skier per player is more boring. With four skiers you add some strategy to the race (you can decide which skier to move according to the current skiers positions, and palytesting showed this is not a minor choice), and it also helps the balance when some players are more skilled than others. This is most noticeable in the one on one version of the game.
Four skiers per team instead of one per player also help building the team spirit, as all the team members share their skiers during the race. One skier per team member would mean teams aren't really teams but groups of individual players scoring toghether. As the shooting opportunities can fall on any of the team members, this also add to the reinforcement of team spirit, and to some degree team strategy (teams can decide which member flicks a skier through the finish line based on their shooting skill, or simply to allow all team members to have a chance at shooting).
Hamumu wrote:
I would like to do the shooting.

Here's a detailed tutorial for the rifle construction: "Use adhesive tape to fix a 2" piece of straw to a piece of corrugated cardboard."
And one for the bullets: "Cut a brochette stick in 1cm pieces."
Here you have. Now you can have your oun rifle and start practicing for the next Flicathlon World Championship. ;)
Scurra wrote:
#10 Flickathon - Should have earned something but I forgot.

OK. Next time take notes so you don't forget. ;)
Scurra wrote:
The Carabande skiing race was incredibly dull, but the shooting range looked very silly.

I didn't know Carabande, but it seems to be a fun game. I read Tom's review and he seems to love the game. I guess my ski unintentional copycat plays really different from Carabande, though (maybe that would be a good thing, maybe not). You don't have guardrails here, so more precision and control are required, and you have a markedly uneven surface, which adds complexity (again, this might be considered as adding fun or making it even more boring). As for the shooting, I guess "silly" means, in this context, "fun in a simple way", not just "stupid". If so, thanks, I agree. :)
By courtesy of a rainy few days during my summer (yes, Bryk, it's summer here!) vacation, I had enough spare time to actually build a prototype and play this game. That's a first, but it's also first in the list of games I design that my daughter actually asks to play just for fun after helping me with playtesting. The race track could be shorter, though, to get faster to the shooting bouts, which is certainly the more appealing aspect of the game. I've also considered replacing the flicking in the race with a card mechanic. This would add strategy to the game, but I fear the shooting would then seem too silly (in a negative sense). Maybe just making the race track shorter and reducing the number of skiers to three per team would make the game faster withouth losing coherence.

Seo

clapjaws
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Critique response

I'm not sure if it is appropriate to respond to comments here - if not please forgive:

I appreciate the comments about Hair-dryer Curling, and will try to learn from my mistakes for future challenges. To address some of the comments so far – I guess I took the ‘play on a tabletop’ a little too literally (first time entry), so had a blind spot there. The masking tape was the only way I could think of to not permanently damage the table. And as far as the stones stopping “dead” – I have to disagree somewhat. The target area is so small – only 3’ diameter, that the little bit of momentum the stone still has is appropriate – keeping the stone near the Tee (center of target). Otherwise the stone might continue of the board entirely. The blow-dryers were meant to take the place of the sweeping – steering the stone as it proceeds across the table – although I see that I neglected to mention this intent in my description! I also assumed that a blower would be positioned on each side of the table – so 2 different outlets would be needed – and the fuse-blowing concern never occurred to me (but good point!).

I did not have this game already – the curling idea sort of popped into my head when I read the challenge. I found the ‘official’ rules of curling and went from there. I’m surprised no one has mentioned my biggest gaff yet – I totally forgot to mention that ‘teams alternate turns flicking’ stones! I state how to begin the game, and that’s about it. The 800 word limit caught me too – I was thinking about including the curling rules about the opposing Skip being able to steer any of his own stones that are moving, once they cross the Tee line (having been collided with by the delivered stone).

Still, it was fun and interesting – and I’m just glad I got a few votes anyway. I look forward to next time. And my hat goes off to the other entries – I took a look at the list and was floored by the creativity and work that went into them. It certainly gives me something to shoot for next time.

Jim

Yogurt
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Critique the January 2006 GDS Challenge Entries

Oh I'm such a dimwit. I forgot to vote. First time since the Showdown started!

I hadn't picked my winners yet, but I liked Doho's inventiveness with the team requirement, so I'm glad to see him win. I also like the simple games, like Tobacconist or Downdraft. There's something about dexterity games that calls for 1 minute rules.

I continue to be amazed at the drawing, rendering (and now modelling!) that contestants put forward to illustrate their entries.

Well done!

From winterless Vancouver Island,

Yogurt

Hambone
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Critique the January 2006 GDS Challenge Entries

I lost track of who I voted for. I wanted to mention again how impressed I was by the entries. I need to work on some visual aids for my entries. It really improved the post. As only my second attempt at the challenge, I totally agree with Clapjaws.

Quote:
Still, it was fun and interesting – and I’m just glad I got a few votes anyway. I look forward to next time. And my hat goes off to the other entries – I took a look at the list and was floored by the creativity and work that went into them. It certainly gives me something to shoot for next time.

A few comments on some of the games:

#1 Tabacconist Tobogganist - I missed the team part. It guess you could have some strategy of placement of barriers, but it seemed too hard to get good at it. I really enjoyed the theme and it looked like it would be fun.

#2 Snow sculpture - I read through this a few times and still couldn't grasp the flow of the game.

#3 Competetive Figure Skating - I liked this one alot. It was a real surprise when I read the rules. Not what I expected from a figure skating game. The dice stacking sounded interesting, especially if there was a LOT of dice. I remember a Crown Royal bag of dice I had in High School. It would be fun to pick out dice for this game with a timer running. The scoring was interesting too. I remember giving this one votes.

#4 Ice Castle Danger - This didn't seem practical. As I was working on a game entry, I kept thinking about a board that would be kept in the freezer. I kicked that idea out, and I think I threw this one out with it. I agree with the messy comments.

#5 Downdraft Skiing - I liked the simplicity. I can play anywhere, anytime, with minimal investment. Teams, action, winter theme...It has it all.

#6 Hair dryer curling - I liked the hairdryers. Imagining the gameplay was worth a giggle. I didn't see much originality beyond that.

#7 Winter War - My entry. My 5 year old son enjoyed rolling the dice for the playtest. Referencing my dice bag again, I thought of the round "ice dice" and immediately thought of snowballs. I was thinking that precision dice rolling (hitting a target) would qualify as skill, and the turn role selection (throw, duck, or gather) would add strategy. My "team" play was kept loose for a reason. I wanted to capture the spirit of snowballs, where you always end up throwing them at everyone. I made it so you can hurt or help anyone at any time, making teams really determined in the end by your actions. The winner chooses their partner to share the win with...how cool is that? Thanks for all of the comments and votes. I really should have gone for my "hungry, hungry Snowmen" game.

#8 Quickey - I agree with Seo, didn't seem original enough for my vote.

#9 Triple Lynding - I don't remember giving this any votes. I had a hard time playing it out in my mind. I will try to go through it slower again and play it through. I respect Doho and everyone that voted for it.

#10 Winter Flickathalon - As with most comments, I liked the shooting. I thought about the biathalon myself, and I think this was a good representation.It looked like the terrain would be incredibly difficult. Wonderful visuals. It is great to hear your stories of playtesting.

It is getting late and I had to abreviate my comments. Great work everyone. Congrats Doho on another win. Good luck to all next month.

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