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Thoughts about representations and the game board

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Anonymous

Hi

Not sure if I'm violating forum rules here, but this post seemed to be both ignored in the bottom of a thread and of more general interest than the thread it was in, so I thought I would give it it's own thread.

The general issue is: can you change what the board represents midway through a game without confusing the players or should a game boards representation be stable throughout?

Background: I'm working on a game about cycling and I'm unsure if the board should be abstract (showing time) or concrete (showing distance).

We have now playtested an "ordinary" from a-b type board and in a lot of ways it worked very well - the board certainly worked for seeing the positions of the riders, determined the sequence of actions and helped calculations.

The problem: we need to record not just who wins the race but the time the rider finishes ahead of the other riders. Turns as a time unit is not accurate enough as the best riders will finish the race in the same turn.

This leaves us with a couple of choices which all involve measuring the distance on the board once the rider(s) cross the finish line.

This represents a change in what the board represents - the finish line is no longer the end of the race and the board no longer represents distance but time. Do you think this gets too confusing or am I not being pragmatic enough about it?

And in general terms: should a game board stick to one representation or is it ok for it to switch representation mode in the middle of the game? Any examples of games where it worked or failed?

And do you have any other ideas? I am seriously reconsidering the concrete distance based board and returning to an abstract time based board with the race length determined by number of turns. This keeps the board representation stable throughout the game - stable, but abstract.

Thanks for your feedback!

Kreitler
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Re: Thoughts about representations and the game board

kaotmus wrote:
And in general terms: should a game board stick to one representation or is it ok for it to switch representation mode in the middle of the game? Any examples of games where it worked or failed?

And do you have any other ideas? I am seriously reconsidering the concrete distance based board and returning to an abstract time based board with the race length determined by number of turns. This keeps the board representation stable throughout the game - stable, but abstract.

Thanks for your feedback!

My gut feeling is that you shouldn't change the representation in mid-game. I'm also guessing that you don't need to. Without knowing anything about your game, here's a suggestion: why not have a "scoring track" around the outside of the board that represents the time? Players can move color-coded markers along the track to represent their race times and simultaneously move identically color markers on the normal board to represent race positions.

This way, you can determine the winner by comparing the scoring track positions of everyone who reaches the final geographical position -- the one the least distance along the scoring track wins (i.e., has the shortest time).

Could something like this work?

BTW, the game sounds very interesting. Have you posted any rules or a more detailed summary anywhere?

K.

Challengers
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Thoughts about representations and the game board

I would like to suggest that you examine your board and other components to see if you even need to change the board's representation.

Consider that the question really is: What is the speed of the racers?

Time = Distance / Speed {Thanks, Kreitler!}

Once you have the speed, then the difference between the winner's time and the other racers is easily calculated.

If you say that your board clearly depicts distance, then perhaps you could use a "logarithmically-striped" surface to represent time.
As your racers change speeds, they simply slide to an adjacent track.

This works if you want to measure time as soon as one racer crosses the finish line.

Each block represents 1 minute, no matter on which track it is (hence the logarithmic scale in base 2).
So, no matter where the other racers are, just count the number of blocks they are from the finish line - assuming that they maintain their current speed.

This won't work if you're doing laps. (At least, I can't figure out how to do laps.)

Mitch

Challengers
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Re: Thoughts about representations and the game board

kaotmus wrote:
Hi

The general issue is: can you change what the board represents midway through a game without confusing the players or should a game boards representation be stable throughout?

Here is a thought to ponder:

Every board undergoes a representational shift during a game.

At the beginning of a game, the board has an equal balance between forces (chess, checkers), is empty (Monoploy, tic-tac-toe) or has a random configuration (Risk, Settlers of Catan).

As the game progresses, territory becomes attractive or repulsive to each player. Repulsive examples: the squares around a castled king in chess, the Mason-Dixon line controlled by a king in checkers, hotels on property in Monopoly, "incorrect placement" squares in tic-tac-toe, any territory with a preponderance of forces in Risk and the "2" and "12" hexes in Settlers. In the same vein, attractive territories are those that give the controlling player an advantage in the game.

During the end phase of a game, another - rather psychological - shift occurs: the board becomes a manifestation of victory, defeat or dead-lock. Imagine these scenarios:

    Your lone king and bishop versus a lone king and knight (dead-lock)
    Your three singletons trying to cross the Mason-Dixon line versus a king on the line
    Five hotels in the High rent district, all belonging to your opponent(s), and you're on Marvin Gardens with only $3,000 to your name
    Any tic-tac-toe layout, where your opponent has two ways to win
    You are the lone holdout in Madagascar, your opponent has the other 41 territories
    Your streets are all blocked off and you don't even hold a port

Can you feel the board as a malevolent reminder of your impotence?
Do the pieces stand in mock tribute to the bleakness of your position?
Don't you feel hopeless?

Alright, set em up! You'll get your revenge this time! AAARGH!

Mitch

[/]
Anonymous
Thoughts about representations and the game board

Time in a race can be applied different ways. I will suggest two ways. The first way is the amount of time the player completes the race. The second way is the difference of time that the winner beats the other opponents.
If you create your game as a grid that compares distance by time, time can be measured by the distance between the winner and the player who is in second place or the locations of the over players when the winner crosses the finish line. By recording this distance as time, it could be treated as a leg of the race. Now, when the race game is replayed as a different leg of the race, the other players must make up for lost time which is actually the numbers spaces that they lost by.
In other words, represent time as the number spaces that the other players lose by. If the game is calculated this way, this can allow you to create different race boards for different legs of the race.

Kreitler
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Re: Thoughts about representations and the game board

Challengers wrote:
Here is a thought to ponder:
Every board undergoes a representational shift during a game.

Absolutely true, but is does this address the same issue?

The "representational shifts" occur because the game state changes, but the way the game boards express the state is constant (e.g., in Monopoly, your position is always geographical, hotels always represent investments, etc).

Kaotmus' game has the same shifting game state, but he's also proposing to change the way in which the board reflects the game state. I can think of no other game that does this. This would be akin to saying that the representation of army strength in Risk would change from number of "bits" to the color of the bits halfway through the game.

The fact that velocity = distance / time is an easy conversion makes it easy to convert between his representations, but I don't think it's desirable.

However...I get the feeling that I may have missed the point of your post, Mitch. My apologies if that's the case. I should've gotten more sleep before I read it... :)

K.

zaiga
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Thoughts about representations and the game board

A game you might want to take a look at is "Around the world in 80 days". In this game players travel around the world, racing to be the first player to return back to London. However, time is not measured in game turns, but in travel days. When you travel from one city to another it will cost you a number of travel days. So, the player who reaches London first (in game turns) may have done inefficiently in terms of travel days and still lose the game if someone else reaches London later (in game turns) but in less travel days.

Challengers
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Re: Thoughts about representations and the game board

Kreitler wrote:
Challengers wrote:
Here is a thought to ponder:
Every board undergoes a representational shift during a game.

Absolutely true, but is does this address the same issue?

The "representational shifts" occur because the game state changes, but the way the game boards express the state is constant (e.g., in Monopoly, your position is always geographical, hotels always represent investments, etc).

However...I get the feeling that I may have missed the point of your post, Mitch. My apologies if that's the case. I should've gotten more sleep before I read it... :)

K.

Well, that's why I wrote it as a separate post. When I read the original post, I wanted to respond to both questions. The first response was a suggestion to his problem, while the second response was more philosophical. Technically, it's a new thread.

Mark, you made a good point about the way the board expresses the state of the game. That is a counter-point to my suggestion that the way the game represents the state of the player's mind.
So, basically, I am guilty of comparing apples to toothpicks! But it was fun thinking about boards that way.

Mitch

Kreitler
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Re: Thoughts about representations and the game board

Challengers wrote:
Well, that's why I wrote it as a separate post. When I read the original post, I wanted to respond to both questions. The first response was a suggestion to his problem, while the second response was more philosophical. Technically, it's a new thread.

...

So, basically, I am guilty of comparing apples to toothpicks! But it was fun thinking about boards that way.

Mitch

Gotcha. I figured you were making a separate point, but being one of those people that needs flashing neon arrows to find my own thumbs, I didn't catch the significance of the separate post.

Challengers wrote:
Can you feel the board as a malevolent reminder of your impotence?
Do the pieces stand in mock tribute to the bleakness of your position?
Don't you feel hopeless?

I love this quote. I might have to "borrow" it for my .sig file...

K.

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