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Critique the May 2006 GDS Challenge Entries

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Kreitler
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Critique the May 2006 GDS Challenge Entries

Congrats to the top three! Very close contest, there. Special props to JPWoo and Nestalawe for placing so highly in your second and first GDSs, respectively.

I confess to being a bit bummed about "Alpha Complex Blues" -- not so much in terms of how it fared, but in how the entry read. I had a "lightning strike" idea for the core mechanics the night before the deadline. I wrote it up and submitted it feeling pretty good. The next day I reread it and realized it didn't communicate the overall game idea at all. :( I thank those 7 brave souls who voted for it with all my heart -- you were very generous.

See you next month...I hope...

K.

Jpwoo
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Critique the May 2006 GDS Challenge Entries

Since I have an hour to kill and I am high on almost victory I will post my crituqes.

Congrats to the lime for his two in a row! LIIIIIIMMMEEEE!!!! Ill get you for this!!!!

Here we go:

Stake Out

Theme: This game seems to be in the modern sort of quasi realistic spy genre, like the movie spy game or perhaps a Clancy novel. Solid themeing but nothing to make it stand out.

Presentation: For a complex game with many moving parts I think that it is presented well with clean diagrams and explanation. If there were ever a poster child for including graphics with entries this is it.

Gameplay:I like the various tracks that you can climb up to increase action points for abilities. And that with a partner you can divide labor. I am not so sold on the swapping tokens on the tracks, mixed with simultanious selection. That sounds like a log jam. And that adds a sort of random oh I got screwed factor. But that could be fun. The climbing and swapping seems to be the main mechanic that you can control. tHe moveing the pawns and peeking are just execution. I'm sure that with some testing this could be streamlined.

STAM (Spy/Tourist/Agent/Mole)

Theme: I like the theme of agents infiltraiting foreign cities. The extra bits like the code breaking and microfilm are definately add to the chrome and theme of the game.

Presentation: Well written and the graphics were nice as always. Sort of evocative of the 60 spy genre.

Gameplay: I like the flipping tokens, and the running around collecting things, the capture mechanism reminds me of a kind of updated fox and chickens. The numbers of tokens may have to be balanced, but that is what playteting is for. At first I was excited that you wouldn't be sure what was on the other side of a tourist. It could be a secret agent, or a bluff, or a mole to steal things, but it turned out that all the roles are known. The decoding mechanic is fun, like a puzzle built into the game. The microscope does seem sorta tossed in though. Ultimately the decoding seems like a complicated way of saying after X points you win. It does nail the theme directly though,and playing with gadjits is cool.

RAID ON OMNITECH

Our winner! Congrats.

Theme: Those Omnitech guys need to buff up security! Everyone who works in their pie lab is a spy! I like the idea of scattered agents, selling their services to the highest bidder from round to round, working to execute secret plans.

Gameplay: The bidding for control is interesting, and given that many missions would require several steps to complete they could get frustrating to be thwarted. I think that the laying down the order tokens may be a bit much. The bidding and then controling would probably be fun enough without the problems of messing up your 'programing' I really like the fact that any player can complete any mission for anyone. This could lead to setting people up to do the work for you. I think that this game fails on the "different experience every time" criteria. The rooms are in different orders, and the missionschange but the missions ultimately seem to be "pick up, move to X, drop". This game is very close to playable and probably fun!

IPL: Thunder Point

Theme: Dueling directors trying to gather favor with agents is cool. I like the world spanning tone of the game. I am sure this could be pushed further with the gadjits and missions. It certainly involves agents with gear!

Presentation: Nicely formatted with nice art. Could probably have used another once over though for clarity. There are a few things I still don't understand.

Gameplay: The hidden alliances aspect is cool, so playering don't know who they are helping or hurting at first. The mechanics that are presented are easy to understand, Equip or upgrade agent. Execute Mission. The things that I am unsure on is the voting and evil genius involvement. What is the Evil track for? How does the profile card or being on a particular Villians payroll matter? I can see how the voting plays out now, but it took me a couple of times reading it.

Alpha Complex Blues

Theme: Ahh Paranoia brings back great memories of jr high and highschool. I don't think we ever finished a mission, but we left oh so many pairs of smoking boots. To those familiar with the game it does fit the genre of highly equipt agents attempting to finish a mission.

Presentation: Clearly written. The graphic at the end gives a good feel of the cards and boards without being too much.

Gameplay: Having various scenerios available definately helps the different experience every time requirement. The Directives cards coming down from on high captures the random feel of Paranoia as well as fullfilling hte controls groups of agents requirment. I think this game may have been most successful in hitting the design requirments. The mechanics are nothing revolutionary. Move shoot, look etc, but that is good, it gives lots of room for specials to break the rules. And it involves flipping counters, which is something that I like. Developing a game like this would be the hard part.

Sci-Fi Pulp Adventure

Theme: I really like the theme of this one. Desperate agents fightting to stop a doomsday machine. What more could you ask for? Zombie monkeys? It apparently has that too!

Presentation: Well written and direct. Though I do tend to agree that theuse of graphics mainly seemed to be used to cram in a higher word count. But it definately helped sell the theme of the game.

Mechanics: I like that it is co-op. I like the players against the game, and it fits the theme very well. I don't like that players don't control a particular agent, but rather decide by commitee. Personifying an agent is pretty important. (this is me! I killed the Hyrax!) So it if kind of iffy on the control single agent, control many agent requirement. The combat looks functional, yet somehow too complex for what it is. The fact that damage discards abilities is pretty cool.

CRYPTIC CITY

Theme: Very shadowrunish, freelance agents getting hired by the players to find out the dark secrets in the dark city. I like this one as well.

Presentation: Again well written and clear. the graphics put in a few words but I don't think that it was out of line, just one example of each type of card and the set up.

Gameplay: I like the lack of a board and the card play. The laying out control and bluff and neat. The fact that players don't steal from one another but only from the middle gives some interaction but not as much as raiding other players would. With six very different characters to choose f rom there could be a lot of cool bluffing and and counterbluffing involved. Almost like an openhanded game of citadels.This game has the potential to be developed into something like the FF silverbox line.

Gaslight Agents

My game. I will reserve most comments. I will however respond to Kreitler's excellent critisism.

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though once again they boil mostly down to token placement, which has a certain reserved feel.

I was shooting more for an investment or betting kind of feel. But I certainly understand this. Token placement is Dry!!

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The Double Agent is a neat idea but seems like a potentially large penalty for an essentially random game element (unless there is some way I can identify a double agent).

Yes. There would be ways to expose double agents. Basically they would allow you to peek at who another agencies double agent is. There also would be several missions that would let you shuffle agents from your hand to someone elses. Or steal an agent from someone else. It is built in as a large randomizer, though this might turn people off. I like it when you can't know exactly how close you are to winning. And a person may take half of a non scoring resource from you. This could certainly fail in playtesting, or need to be tweaked.

Mission: Improbable

Theme: High tech agents working together for personal glory. A nice tension there. I like games that are competitive but also include a way for everyone to loose. I didn't get much of a feel for the theme from this entry.

Presentation: This game goes to show that you can make a perfectly cogent presentation in 800 words with no graphics at all.

Gameplay: Agian the Must not fail too much mechanic is a fun one. though one that can break if one player decides that they are loosing and want everyone to loose. This is resource management through and through, keeping your dice from being exsausted while putting the proper challenges to the proper agents. The dice add a bit of needed randomness.

Jpwoo
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Critique the May 2006 GDS Challenge Entries

Thanks all for the nice comments! This has made my day.

Scurra
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Critique the May 2006 GDS Challenge Entries

OK, so here are my comments. I really didn't think that many of the games met either the "Mr Everyone" or the "Mr Unpredictable" constraints, but we all had fun with the gadgets bit.

Stake-Out was a very clever but ultimately overcomplex design. I think it failed on almost all counts, but it's a game I think has a lot of promise.

STAM went overboard on the gadget side, and yet I don't think they contributed enough to the actual game beyond fiddliness.

Raid on Omnitech got some points from me for meeting almost all of the conditions, and also being an interesting idea, albeit still sketchy. Annoyingly, I've got a deduction game that uses almost exactly the same variable board mechanism!

IPL was one that I thought missed all the targets, and yet had a very entertaining "high concept".

Alpha Complex Blues got my other top mark, despite also missing a lot of targets, simply because I like it as a Robo-Rally variant that I really want to play!

Spy-Pulp had some fabulous mechanics but was trying to do too much I think. And, as noted, I felt that the graphic component was cheating a little.

Cryptic City got a small vote from me, but for all the wrong reasons; it had a lot in common with my design did some things better and some things worse. But the card graphics helped it so much.

Gaslight Agents was another small vote from me for an original take on the idea, despite being a little vague.

Meanwhile, my game fell somewhat short, for many of the reasons Kreitler identified: all the interesting stuff got cut for space reasons... The design began with the group having a Traitor (who obviously won if the team failed) and then grew to encompass special abilities and so on. And once I'd explained all of that, I had no room for the rest of the game mechanics, which I really liked. So I cut all of that; at least someone could see where the game was intending to go.

I'm getting really depressed with yet another mid-table finish, but hey, one day I may actually come up with a good game!

TheReluctantGeneral
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Critique the May 2006 GDS Challenge Entries

Scurra wrote:
OK, so here are my comments. I really didn't think that many of the games met either the "Mr Everyone" or the "Mr Unpredictable" constraints, but we all had fun with the gadgets bit.

I think that meeting both these constraints in a game that is explainable in 800 words and understandable on a single read through was an incredibly difficult challenge so its not surprising we fell short.

Quote:

STAM went overboard on the gadget side, and yet I don't think they contributed enough to the actual game beyond fiddliness.

I also felt that theme was emphasised over gameplay here, however I did find the concept of invading and defending territory and the transformation of piece roles a very cool idea, but was worried that the point to point grid movement system wasn't going to work too well. That is something that could be tweaked though. I also felt the various gadgets such as the decoder did not add enough to the gameplay. In terms of the write up it did take me a few reads to work out how all the STAM pieces interacted. Here the gadgets such as microscope and decoder also confused things for me.

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Raid on Omnitech got some points from me for meeting almost all of the conditions, and also being an interesting idea, albeit still sketchy. Annoyingly, I've got a deduction game that uses almost exactly the same variable board mechanism!

I gave points for what seemed like a game that would be fun to play and well put together, but couldn't give it top marks because the 'spy merri-go-round' concept stretched my suspension of disbelief well beyond breaking point. I liked the same bits JP did, particularly the shared control mechanism, but also agreed with JP that re-arranging the game board would make little or no difference to gameplay, given the chaotic nature of the hidden information in this game.

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IPL was one that I thought missed all the targets, and yet had a very entertaining "high concept".

I didn't really get this one. I understood the mechanics for equipping agents and so one, but like JP could not fathom the evil genius track and remained confused about some of the meovement mechanics. The final voting scheme seemed interesting, and it did do well as far as the theme went. I also didn't think this game had 'geography', since it seemed from my reading that agents could move to any city they liked regardless of where they were. For me this means that the game does not really have geography, even though the board showed a map of thew world.

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Alpha Complex Blues got my other top mark, despite also missing a lot of targets, simply because I like it as a Robo-Rally variant that I really want to play!

I also had problems understanding this one since certain aspects, particularly shooting were not covered in enough detail for me. I actually think it hit all the targets at least a bit but for me but it seemed to do so at the expense of not being more fully fleshed out.

Quote:
Spy-Pulp had some fabulous mechanics but was trying to do too much I think. And, as noted, I felt that the graphic component was cheating a little.

I also felt the combat was clever, but too complex at the expense of evoking the tension and information discovery aspects of a spy game. Difficult to do in a co-op game, and this one suffered because I am not keen on co-op games in general.

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Cryptic City got a small vote from me, but for all the wrong reasons; it had a lot in common with my design did some things better and some things worse. But the card graphics helped it so much.

This game had some _really_ good ideas in it regarding bidding and shared control, so did get a vote. from me, but seemed to lack much sense of a spy game. While the was a 'theme' of investigating secrets, there wasn't much secret about the secrets themselves!. Again there was a larger element of personal combat than I felt was quite right to fit the theme.

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Gaslight Agents was another small vote from me for an original take on the idea, despite being a little vague.

It was a bit vague but I still managed to get the sense of a reall interesting game concept even though I didn't quite work out in my head how it would all play out. I definitely got a sense of cumulative investment rather than simple token placement, but how it would actually feel in practice I'm not sure. I really liked the theme, and it fitted my expectations of what a spy game should be about better than any of the others (although we all seem to had very different expectations on this front). I liked the possibility of carrying over game setup from one game to the next, making a campaighn or something. This was my major vote winner.

Quote:
Meanwhile, my game fell somewhat short, for many of the reasons Kreitler identified: all the interesting stuff got cut for space reasons... The design began with the group having a Traitor (who obviously won if the team failed) and then grew to encompass special abilities and so on. And once I'd explained all of that, I had no room for the rest of the game mechanics, which I really liked. So I cut all of that; at least someone could see where the game was intending to go.

Yes, I felt the same pain. I have to agree with kreitler's comments that while the mechanics were strong and would be quite playable, I just got no sense that this game would evoke any kind of espionage feel. Shame that you couldn't have fitted in some of the elements mentioned above, which probably would have resulting in this entry getting some votes from me. But I did like the mechanics which felt nicely balanced.

And now onto my effort...

Quote:
Stake-Out was a very clever but ultimately overcomplex design. I think it failed on almost all counts, but it's a game I think has a lot of promise.

This actually feels more encouraging than the text would suggest. I'm surprised to think it may have failed on all counts, however my complete relegation of the gadget side of things to a single line of the components list might be partly responsible for this. I also think it managed to address the agent control issues reasonably well.

My motivation for submitting this entry was primarily to get a road test of the key mechanics from a game I'm currently working on which uses the shared pawn and action track mechanics. It's got nothing to do with spies, and this entry was admittedly created by ripping the key mechanics out of my other game and tacking on the spy theme, with most effort spent trying to get a full expo of the rules in under 800 words. I think people detected this and I paid for it. But the general feedback so far is that the mechanics have something going on, but need streamlining. I'm looking forwards to hearning what others think about these ideas.

Invisible_Jon
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Critique the May 2006 GDS Challenge Entries

Now that the voting is over, I'd like to share the complete version of Sci-Fi Pulp Adventure with y'all. It's available at http://www.invisible-city.com/file_download/61. The zipped archive has two password-protected pdfs in it. The password is "bgdf".

Kreitler
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Critique the May 2006 GDS Challenge Entries

This month we've had the best round of critiques in the history of the (new) GDS! Thanks to everyone who has contributed so far. I hope others critiques are on there way. This is definitely a very successful month!

K.

Nestalawe
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Critique the May 2006 GDS Challenge Entries

Hey everyone,

I'm not terribly good at giving feedback, but will give it a go, I think these will be more general overviews and feelings about the games, but hope it helps!

I will make a most about my own game after these ones are done...

Stake Out

Presentation of Rules: This was one of the harder games to come to grips with for me, and took a few readings to get to understand. The diagrams were excellent and great tools, but the rules explanations didn't flow very easily for me.

Gameplay and Fun-ness: Once I had a better understanding (I think) of the game, it felt like it would be quite fun, with a lot of interesting interlinking decisions. I liked the thinking behind the various game parts and I'd like to see it developed further. Got a vote from me ;)

STAM (Spy/Tourist/Agent/Mole)

Presentation of Rules: Everything was very clear and easy to follow. But, it felt like some things were missed out, or not easy to understand. It felt like more explanation was needed, or maybe I just needed to read over it again.

Gameplay and Fun-ness: I quite liked this one, and think it could be really fun. It may get a bit chaotic though, and the tricky components were a bit over-the-top. Got votes from me ;)

RAID ON OMNITECH

Presentation of Rules: The rules as written were very clear and well laid out. Very easy to understand, especially as it had some similar aspects to my game.

Gameplay and Fun-ness: I was swinging on this one, as I went through it a few times it felt good, then a bit funny, then good again (yeh, like that makes sense...). In general I liked it and thought it would be a fun game to play, but I could see it being very frustrating when you didn't have any idea on what the other players were trying to achieve, so you couldn't really work out how to stop them properly. Also you would be very hesitant about doing some things, as you may think you were helping other players. This would also become more evident after some plays of the games when players had learnt most of the missions... Still, got some votes from me, grrrr... ;)

IPL: Thunder Point

Presentation of Rules: Very clear layout and easy to read. I think having the world map indicated the game would be different from what it turned out to be (I am glad New Zealand didn't get left off the map though ;)

Gameplay and Fun-ness: I like Evil Geniuses (very cool computer game too...) but I think the shuffling around of Equipment wasn't as exciting as it could be. I felt it had potential and a fun theme, but that playing the actual game wouldn't be as exciting as it should have been...

Alpha Complex Blues

Presentation of Rules: Not so much a ruleset as an overview of the game, would have been more readable with a bit more layout. I think the RoboRally boards put me off a bit though (I've had good and bad RoboRally experiences...)

Gameplay and Fun-ness: Paranoia is a very cool game and I like the way this game approached the Paranoianess. I feel like it could have been a bit more extreme though, or needed more humour or Catch-22ness thrown in. I Really like the Use/Watch aspect and could see similar uses of it in games popping up on th bgdf soon...

Sci-Fi Pulp Adventure

Presentation of Rules: Pretty good layout, though a lot of text on the cards, probably didn't need so many. Fairly easy to understand the rules.

Gameplay and Fun-ness: The gameplay didn't tickle my fancy so much. It did feel like a solo-game, and maybe that should be its focus, though I do like the idea of a game that can be solo and multi-player. All the numbers felt a bit fiddly though, and though I liked the theme a lot, the rest of the game just didn't turn me on :(

Gaslight Agents

Presentation of Rules: Not the greatest layout or presentation, it also felt like more of an overview than ruleset. It all came across though and felt easy to quickly pick up and provided a lot of interest.

Gameplay and Fun-ness: I gave this game my biggest score, as it felt like it had a really interesting and developing game state. The theme was great and it felt like a great game to play. Looking over it again, the write-up sounds very general, but somehow I 'Get It' and though some things were a bit hazy, it feels like it would work well.

Mission: Improbable

Presentation of Rules: Easily laid out rules, though I was still confused at times. It felt like some things were missing, i.e. did you need pens and paper to write down the player's stats? (doh, I just read it again, and you use the dice...)

Gameplay and Fun-ness: The gameplay is very simple, which is nice, but it feels like something is lacking a bit, and is not as exciting as it should be. At the same time as being fairly simple, it seems there are some complicated things you need to remember while playing which could have been made simpler.

OutsideLime
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Critique the May 2006 GDS Challenge Entries

JPWoo wrote:
Gameplay: The bidding for control is interesting, and given that many missions would require several steps to complete they could get frustrating to be thwarted. I think that the laying down the order tokens may be a bit much. The bidding and then controling would probably be fun enough without the problems of messing up your 'programing' I really like the fact that any player can complete any mission for anyone. This could lead to setting people up to do the work for you.

Thought-provoking comments here JP - I may try removing the Orders Tokens from the process and see what that does... originally my design intention was such that no player should know whose orders were being carried out for each Agent, hence the need for orders tokens... I couldn't reconcile the process simply enough though, so I removed that aspect, and the tokens are a leftover vestige.

Setting people up to do the work for you - this is a major aspect that I am trying to encourage, but the game as submitted does not stress it very much. To that end, I am going to add:

• Different Mission Grades, with lower-grade missions forming segments of the higher grade missions.
• The Ability (maybe the necessity) to Pass Mission Cards to Other Players
• A new VP structure balanced to the grade system.
• Some new mechanic whereby Mission cards are acquired.

What will this do?

A 4-point Mission might be something that involves multiple requirements in multiple rooms, eg "The SCRAMBLER must be in the COMPUTER LAB. You must be at least 3 rooms away from the COMPUTER LAB with the REMOTE." Now say there's a 1-point Mission that is "You must be in the COMPUTER LAB with the SCRAMBLER."

If I end up with both Mission cards and can pass the 1-pointer to another player, perhaps he will take the bait and deliver that Scrambler for me while I concentrate my Initiative to get my Remote-guy into place or complete other high-point missions. (Of couse, I might just keep the 1-pointer for myself and try to get the full 5 points... if I don't mind focussing my Initiative like that.)

Also, a potential new Action - "Room". Controlling an Agent in a specific room lets you activate the Room's intrinsic ability instead of issuing orders to the Agent. eg - Radio Room: Player can draw an extra Mission Card from the deck, Command Centre: Player can take the SECOND-lowest revealedInitiative card instead of the lowest, etc. This should add a bit of flavour to the facility.

Thanks for the comments and critiques everyone, I think I'll try and take this one a bit farther!

~Josh

TheReluctantGeneral
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Critique the May 2006 GDS Challenge Entries

Kreitler wrote:
This month we've had the best round of critiques in the history of the (new) GDS! Thanks to everyone who has contributed so far. I hope others critiques are on there way. This is definitely a very successful month!
K.

Well, thanks for giving everyone a 'nudge' to generate some feedback and leading by example! (and to jpwoo for being first to step up with his crit of last months entries). Getting feedback makes the effort wothwhile, at least for me.

Nestalawe
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Critique the May 2006 GDS Challenge Entries

On Cryptic City

My original intention was to develop a game where players had control over a pool of agents, but these agents could then turn out to be double agents, or double-double agents, or double-double-double agents etc. Players would then perform missions with the agents under their control, gaining VPs, but then another player may declare that the agent is actually a double agent, and sneak away some of the VPs, or then another player may also declare that the agent was actually one of their agents etc etc.

Anyway, it came down to me wanting to have a common pool of agents, to which players could give hidden actions. I wanted players to be able to gain and lose control of agents throughout the game, and not be able to count on staunching up a particular agent and use them throughout the whole game (a player could do so, but it would be rather difficult). I also wanted different agents to be better at different things, so there would never be a singel uber-agent.

I also wanted players to be forced to give orders that they may not want to, and not be able to do all the things they wanted to during a turn.

The game as entered feels pretty simple, and was almost too simple. What interests me most about the game is that gameplay is fairly simultaneous and the play of actions is spread amongst the players. All the players have access to the same sets of orders, and thus have the same limitations. A big thing is that you can only give one order to each Agent.

Also, the timing of order resolution was key. Control orders happen first, so that players may mess up other player's plans on making Investigations. Fight orders happen next, so that you may be able to mess up other player's plans by discarding their Investigate, Action and Advantage markers. You could either choose to target an Agent that had a single Action and or Advantage marker, forcing the players who played those to not get a card for free, or you could target an Agent that had a lot of Action/Advantage markers, so that all those players would lose out.

This game was pretty much conceptualised whie trying to go to sleep on the Sunday night, then all written down and finished during work on the Monday. Images were made Tuesday night and sent in the next day.

There were a few things that worried me after sending the game in. One was that Bryk asked me to make the cards smaller and put three into a single image. That was fine, but I realised afterwards that you could hardly read the text (I should have made it clearer anyways) and that people may think that there were only 3 types of cards in the game, as I chopped out the Action card example. FYI here is the sample -

I was also worried about a few other last minute changes, and that I couldn't go into more detail about the 'Advanced' Order markers. These were intended to be a bit stauncher than the normal Order markers, and would either replace your original order marker, or could be used as well as the original marker. Thus they would either make you more successful in the thing you were trying to do, or would give you more options (i.e. be able to start two Fights.). I should also have put in something about how you could only get 3 Advanced Orders or something, or make them a bit harder to get.

The Bluff orders were a last minute addition and I am still not convinced they will be useful. They were mainly added to give the players a bit more choice, and to make up for when players didn't want to use their Control markers. I like the idea that players are forced to play their orders, even if they don't want to.

But anyway, the guts of the game is there, and with a bit of tweaking I think it could be quite fun, trying to outguess the other players, as well as developing strategies of what Agents you would try to staunch up and gain control of now, or at a later date.

I think the most important thing for me in this design was that I wanted to keep it simple (which I think it was) and primarily that I was able to think of the strategy, interaction and gameplay as an intregal part of the design process. As ideas came to me I was constantly thinking of how they could be abused, or used to good affect by players.

One example of this was the Action and Advantage orders. Action orders are good for players because it doesn't matter who they play them on (though I did want at least one Agent's abilities to be beneficial to Action orders being played on them, to make players have to decide if they wanted to play them on that Agent or not, and risk other players wanting to as well) but if they play them on an Agent during the same round as other players do, then they will have to pay for the Action card they draw. Advantage orders are similar, in that if more than one player plays Advantage orders on the same Agent, then players must pay to place Advantage cards onto the Agent.

So yeah, lots of stuff. Also, a big part of the strategy of the game would be the specific abilities of the Agents, which players would need to plan for and utilise well to succeed.

Anyway, thats a brief overview of my individual process, I am sure I have missed a lot out... I do plan to develop this a bit further, as it is prety simple really, and the various cards etc would be fun to design. If anyone has any other suggestions or comments, do let me know (PM me etc) as I want to get this up and running and any more comments at this stage will prove invaluable.

Cher cher!

Nestalawe'

seo
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Critique the May 2006 GDS Challenge Entries

Congratulations to the winners, specially to my dear arch-rival Josh!

Now that you won two in a row, I hope you're happy and let the other children play. ;-)

I'm a bit overloaded with work right now, haven't even had time to read the critics, much less write up my own, but I will post them as soon as I can.

Seo

Xaqery
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Critique the May 2006 GDS Challenge Entries

Congrats Josh! and nice job jpwoo and Nesty.

I am up to my eyeballs in work too. I barley had to time quickly read the entries and cast some kind of a vote.

- Dwight

Jpwoo
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Quote:
Still, got some votes from me, grrrr... ;)

I agree.. The lime can't win again, so next time vote for your second favorite game. :)

OutsideLime
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Critique the May 2006 GDS Challenge Entries

Quote:
I agree.. The lime can't win again, so next time vote for your second favorite game. :)

Then I'll just have to invent the second-best game, smart guy! :-P

Actually, this month I even went so far as to use the American spelling of "Armory" to disguise myself... not that anyone noticed, I'm sure.

Next month who knows what chameleonic efforts I'll take to camouflage myself to avoid the backlash?

Will I copy Seo's crisp professional dead-giveaway graphics style?
Will I ape Kreitler's baroque and verbose descriptions?
Will I adopt Scurra's philosophy and submit a graphic-less entry?

Nobody knows for sure!

You'll never take me down!

Mwa ha ha ha ha!
Mwa Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha!
MWA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HAAAAAAA!

~Josh

PS - ;-)

Nestalawe
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Critique the May 2006 GDS Challenge Entries

Jpwoo wrote:
Quote:
Still, got some votes from me, grrrr... ;)

I agree.. The lime can't win again, so next time vote for your second favorite game. :)

Heh, yours was my favourite game Jpwoo ;) Gave you a good chunk of my votes too, gah, could have beatn ya ;)

Kreitler
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Critique the May 2006 GDS Challenge Entries

OutsideLime wrote:
Will I ape Kreitler's baroque and verbose descriptions?

Dang. I'd be offended if it wasn't true.

"Liiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiimmmmmmmmmme!"

K.

Yogurt
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Joined: 01/09/2009
Critique the May 2006 GDS Challenge Entries

I was busy fighting S.Q.U.A.S.H. on an uncharted volcanic island, so I missed voting on this month's challenge. I wanted to support the trend of longer commentary though, so my thoughts are below.

A few general comments:

The art continues to amaze, daunt and discourage me. Even with weeks to spare, I couldn't match these gorgeous entries.

Many people seemed to ignore or misunderstand the requirement to affect entire groups of agents. We saw lots of games where people could control different individual agents, but not so many where groups were affected at once.

Like Seo, I was hoping 007 gadgetry would be the focus of more games. Equipment lends itself to being either bonuses (jetpack, +1 move) or prerequisites (you need the laser to complete this mission) and it would have been exciting to see a new approach. No suggestions from me either, sadly.

Component lists! Do these help other readers? I always feel like I'm failing a memory test when I read them. I do better with a BoardGameGeek-style overview of the game that puts a frame around everything that follows.

On to the games:

StakeOut!
I never did understand this one. There may be a fun game here, but I was baffled by sentences like "A player has two HQ markers each confering one action of a type defined by the track with Action Points (AP) defined by the numbered position on that track the marker occupies." The diagrams were very complex too.

STAM
This component list I didn't mind, because it says a lot about the game to come. UV rays! Decoder grid! Still putting the game goal at the top wouldn't hurt.

The "capture" rule is very thematic -- that poor agent, struggling against the crowd to escape. A less abstract board with open spaces and narrow alleys would have been an interesting twist.

The microfilm portion of the game was complex for what it does. The fun of the gadgetry may have overwhelmed the elegance of the game here.

STAM was one of my favourites, although I think the Everyone and Unpredictable aspects are missing.

Kids would have fun with this game, if they're unafraid of Greek. Which they should be.

Raid on Omnitech
The rule about getting to take the valuable bid if you use someone else's order was very clever. I liked the variety of the missions. I admired the simplicity of this game, although I wonder if the gameplay might prove to be low-key, because the orders are so straightforward (move clockwise, drop item). I suppose the tension is in the bidding and revealing.

Another favourite. Also missing Mr. Everyone.

IPL: Thunder Point
I'm fond of the "everyone's a traitor" idea, which always reminds me of Paranoia. The graphic design was lovely too. The profile was a good way of keeping players at odds, although there's the risk that someone could be screwed by the intial draw in a three-player game.

I stumbled on this rule "An agent needs at least three cards." This means equipment cards, right? I had to go back over the rules a few times to be sure.

The gameplay didn't grab me. It would have helped to spell out the agonizing/fun choices players would have to make.

Alpha Complex Blues
While I like games that feel like Paranoia, I have an immediate aversion to games that actually use published properties. Doing so seems naive, like young screenwriters writing their own Predator sequels. This is just a pet peeve, I know -- what does it matter in a friendly competition? -- but it put me off on the wrong foot.

The theme ended up complicating the rules too (does it matter which secret societies are present?) and it wasn't really on topic -- Paranoia troubleshooters are pretty far away from spies.

But after all this harshness, I have to say, there was a lot to like about this game. For one, it actually meets the Mr. Everyone requirement in an inventive way -- I like how directives *force* people to use their powers. The scenarios and themed boards that indirectly affect gameplay were a great answer to the Unpredictable requirement. The gadgets have dramatic effects.

I also liked the simple choice between Use/Watch. Making "watch" so important suits the paranoia theme too.

Hit points might be unecessarily complex, but that's a quibble.

A favourite.

SF Pulp Adventure
This reminded me of Talisman without the board. Do individual players make any decisions on their own? If not, I'm not sure how satisfying that would be as a game.

I think this one strayed too far from the requirements.

Secret City
This shares the approach of IPL and SF Pulp: you power up a pool of agents who can be controlled by anyone. As before, I didn't think this met the Mr. Everyone requirement. Maybe I'm being too strict with this one, but hey, I didn't vote anyway.

The bidding might get tiresome, and yet it's really the heart of the game, because if you lose a bid for control, all your previous work buffing an agent would reward someone else. Be careful that poaching other agents doesn't become a dominant strategy, as that wouldn't be much fun.

Gaslight Agents
The idea of carrying over modifiers from game to game is a fun idea and something I've never seen before. The pockets makes it easy too.

Faction and agency seem to describe the same thing, which confused me.

There didn't seem to be much player interaction. I'm also missing what sort of decisions a player would face over the game. Is this largely a resource management game -- you have to decide which missions are worth doing?

Mr. Everyone seemed absent again.

Mission: Improbable
I love games where competing players have to work together, but you have to avoid the situation where a losing player has to either (1) end the game and lose or (2) play spoiler and try to make everyone lose. Neither option is fun.

The rules could have used another smooth-over. They seemed jumbled in places.

Some sample gadgets would have helped clarify what they do.

The idea of Runebound-style expansion decks is a good one.

...

All in all, it was a tricky challenge to distinguish yourself in, because the requirements tipped a lot of people down the same path.

I continue to be impressed by the people who can keep finding strong new ideas month after month!

Yogurt

Jpwoo
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Critique the May 2006 GDS Challenge Entries

Quote:
Component lists! Do these help other readers?

I like to see the component lists. It is like when you open a new game and look at at all the cool bits before you actually read the rules.

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