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Board game mechanics seems to remove immersion and fun from a game

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larienna
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I'll need to do more exploration on this topic, but in summary it seems that playing a board game puts your mind into a mathematical and logical thinking state, that prevent immersion to be possible and reduce the level of fun. The only time where fun seems to be added to the game is when the players enhance the game with social relations.

What lead me to that hypothesis is by doing a solotest of games and mechanics. First, I tested a new combat mechanic for a solo game in development. I cannot say the experience was any how fun. Yes it was testing so the mechanics could have been broken. But if I compare to a java demo I made for leading libgdx, the experience was completely different. The demo is an incomplete game that has only 1 level where the goal of the game is to "collect coins and avoid spike". There is not much to this demo, but for some reason, when testing modifications to the code, I could not prevent myself from completing the whole stage even if it was pointless to do. The reason why is because it was fun even if incomplete.

I played elder sign lately solo. While I was plastifying the game, I read the flavor text on some of the cards and got really intriged and scared while doing so. It convinced me to buy some lovecraft books, since I had not read anything about it yet. Then while playing my solo game, I tried doing the same while playing. For example read the flavor text when going for an objective, but I got no experience at all. So maybe while playing the game, needing a mathematical and logical mind set seems to make thematic immersion impossible.

On the other hand probably as a video game it could have been different because most mechanical aspects of the game are not resolved by the players and sometimes they are even hidden to the player which makes the player focus more on the experience and immersion of the game. Elder sign video game might not be a good comparison because the dice play require a good load of mathematics and logic to resolve, but maybe the combat mecahnics I tested above would have been more fun to test as a video game even if the mechanics were exactly the same.

So it seems that the main interest of board game is to have that added value from player interaction to reduce the impact of the mechanical resolution of the game and add fun. It might not always make the game more immersive, but offers an alternate kind of fun.

mulletsquirrel
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This is probably why I like

This is probably why I like games like The Resistance so much. The rules are so thin and easy to comprehend that you focus on the social interaction.

Thinking about rules isn't the fun part of games. Games become much more fun when the rules become second nature. Think of RPGs. When you're a new player, every few minutes you need to look through the book to figure out how to do something ("What do I have to roll to do _______?") which slows the game down and makes it dull. Over time, you absorb the rules and can more fluidly perform actions (as is playing the video game), which usually makes the game more immersive and fun.

ruy343
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Yup.

Mullet's got it. The complicated games that aren't easily made "second nature" are often perceived as no fun.

However, as a creator of games, we have to bear in mind that we've often racked our minds to forsee every possible outcome. Playing chess against yourself isn't usually considered to be a fun pastime, but you do it to improve your own game. Similarly, when designing a board game, doing some solo tests can help you be a better designer, but the game isn't a game until you get other minds going against yours, bounded in their ability to do so by the width of the rules.

larienna
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Quote: Over time, you absorb

Quote:
Over time, you absorb the rules and can more fluidly perform actions (as is playing the video game), which usually makes the game more immersive and fun.

I was exploring solitaire game lately. So I guess that to increase immersion level, I would still need to keep the game simple, else with too much management, it could reduce immersion.

I'll continue exploring with some solo variants I have in mind.

pelle
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I have had some great solo

I have had some great solo game experiences. Maybe if you tried some more theme-heavy games work better, like Ambush!? Games I mostly play and design are wargames where immersion is everything despite (or because of?) thick rulebooks and solo play is very popular.

Big part of it is probably to make sure all rules are clearly tied to something obvious in the theme. Mechanics first is unlikely to be a good idea.

IMO the trick to immersion in rpgs is to have the GM be the only one that know the rules and makes all die rolls (in secret of course). I know I am in a tiny minority.:)

And regarding Lovecraft I started reading his stories recently. Good stuff (but to be honest liked the Howards stories I read before these better; Conan!). Look up Cthulhuchick's free (legal) ebook with all HPL storiesall and her blog with recommended reading list. I work my way down that list with ebook in phone.

ruy343
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well...

so, I've given it some thought since I wrote my last post:

I think that what's missing in some solitaire games is some sort of AI to pay against. Very few people play the game Solitaire, even though it's a classic, because it's very hard to find a way to play that's better than another, and there's no "mind" at the other end to compete with. It's just "is it possible in the scenario that I'm dealt".

Playing a game like Pandemic can be fun though, because there's some measure of predictability, but also some randomness that makes it feel like the game is against you.

larienna
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Solo game AI are generally

Solo game AI are generally not as sophisticated as computer AI which perform the same action that the player.

Board game AI generally threaten the player and ask him to do the actions to overcome the threat. It can still be an interesting challenge.

firstcultural
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One thing I do is try to

One thing I do is try to match the mechanics and math to things that actually involve mechanics and math - for example, if a game needs to have numbers, it comes across easier if that number represents money than if it is representing experience.

larienna
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Quote: it comes across easier

Quote:
it comes across easier if that number represents money than if it is representing experience.

Hmm! interesting, but not always possible.

Else I am thinking testing mecahnics as board games to benefit from the space and time compression, and then reimplement them as video games. So I get some of the benefit of board game compression and makes testing easier. Still exploring.

Jarec
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Cents everywhere

To me twitch-based, story-based and strategic/tactical games are so different from each other, so I wouldn't even try to compare their enjoyment value.

Board games are mostly strategic and video games twitch, so of course by that definition video games are much more enjoyable to iterate and test. And even if testing maybe only a programmed RPG battle mechanic, there's the aspect of the computer "opponent" and the sort of primal urge which makes us gamble, which the AI provides.

I do agree tho, that video games makes blending these much more easier, as it does a lot of the work for you, so you can handle the different aspects.
One of my favorites, Diablo 2, I have not ever gone through any of the lore that the game offers, as it deducts from the "zone" that I'm in when whacking all the monsters and trying not to die.
So I find it's not always so in the video game realm either.

But there are also some really fast paced board games that IMO almost give you the same twitch sensation.
And some other things that board games have going for them is of course the physicality, it's there on the table, you can see it all right there. And when at the end of the day you look at the mess that Imperium Twilight has made on the table, you have a story to tell about it.

larienna
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Quote:Board games are mostly

Quote:
Board games are mostly strategic and video games twitch, so of course by that definition video games are much more enjoyable to iterate and test.

Could you give a definition of "twitch"?

So what you mean is that the video game medium would be more fun to playtest than a board game.

mulletsquirrel
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I think "twitch" here was

I think "twitch" here was meaning "reflex" or "reaction" type games.

For example, in a first person shooter video game, you have to be more skilled in aiming and dodging to defeat your opponent.

In a board game, you usually have time to decide your next action.

These two different types of play styles will affect how one perceives the game. I'm not sure what this has to do with testing though, because video games will require orders of magnitude more testing than board games ever will.

DrFro
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I had a similar "aha" moment

I had a similar "aha" moment a few days ago while playing a card game titled "Kittens in a Blender." The game itself is not deep - the mechanics involve placing cards decorated with adorable handdrawn cartoon kittens into one of three locations: a box, the counter, or a blender - and then seeing if you can blend your opponents kittens while saving your own. The game is really, really dumb - and yet we were all laughing histerically as we played (and I am a cat lover!).

It occured to me that if the game didn't feature the kittens - say, instead they were just wooden cubes - with a rule that said objects on "space 3" were to be removed when the right card was played, the game wouldn't be nearly as much fun. The whole experience of the game is driven by the dark (and slighly uncomforable) humor of blending kittens.

While not a video-game with twitch mechanics, the game moved quite fast. No one deliberated about what they should do - they put their kittens in the box, their opponents in the blender, tried to move their kittens out of the blender, and tried to blend when the timing was good (or sometimes just to be an @$$!). It was a game that exhibited an experience over its rather simple mechanics, and it worked well because of it.

larienna
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OK so the twitch is the

OK so the twitch is the real-time/dexterity aspect of the game. In my case, I don't really aim for games with dexterity elements, video games designs I have in mind are strictly turn based. Since some mods were for turn based games, and I was still compelled to playtest, it might not be related to the twitch in my case. But it's true that the twich can have an effect.

Curiously, I even have a video game screen saver of pac man and missile command, and I am compelled to watch how well will the computer do.

Quote:
I'm not sure what this has to do with testing though, because video games will require orders of magnitude more testing than board games ever will.

Well that is subjective, it depends what tool you are using. But most test are for finding programming issues rather than game design issues. Still, I was also originally thinking that board game would demand less work and testing. But so far the amount of work seems very similar but just of different nature.

So if there is little differences in time investment between both, at least the turn based strategy video game has a couple advantages over the turn based board game:

- Requires less space to store.
- No physical prototyping to do (no generic components to save)
- Can play faster, so more playtest are possible in a time period.
- Loose game design, reduce mechanic searching and abstraction.
- Ready to play (No printing or assembly required)

There are still disadvantages that remains

- Requires a device (with tablets, game can be carried in many more locations)
- Requires electricity
- Can hardly be modified (depends if the game allow modding)

So this is why I am thinking in the future about designing a Database & Board Game framework to handle turn based strategy games on a video game platform. It is still in a dream state, but having such tool could allow making TBS games in less time more easily for me.

Quote:
The game is really, really dumb - and yet we were all laughing histerically as we played (and I am a cat lover!).

From what I understands, it's the social interaction with other players that extends the board game's capabilities. This is why simple random game like 5t0ck T!ck3r can be fun due to the social interactions. This is why for board game design I am thinking to aim only for that kind of game.

mulletsquirrel
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Time...

The time to develop a video game would be at least 10x to 100x more than developing a board game with the same rules (from scratch). This seems to be a point many people forget...

One sentence of rules for a board game might be thousands of lines of code...

larienna
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That is what I thought and

That is what I thought and that is what everybody told me. But considering my first game took me 5 years to complete, I am starting not to believe it. I don't think the time difference is that high. Megaman Unlimited, a video game developped alone, including the art, took 5 years to complete.

One thing that I thought to "accelerate" the development is to have an engine speciallized for Board Games / Database game. I don't intend to do board game only, but rather a mix of both.

I mainly want to do game similar to what koei used to make (Romance of the 3 kingdoms, gemfire, PTO, etc). I first wanted to do a database management engine, a bit like MS Access but for gaming. But I realised quickly that certain game elements, like tactical battles, overworld maps, etc, would require board game like elements. So I do not have any choice to integrate both in what I want to do.

But having such engine on hand would simplify the implementation time greatly. But for now, I am still dreaming, Not sure yet if I could achieve this. So I am currently working on my wizardry video game and might work on some mod or variants. Once that game is near complete, I'll see if I can do something else.

X3M
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I think...

larienna wrote:
That is what I thought and that is what everybody told me. But considering my first game took me 5 years to complete, I am starting not to believe it. I don't think the time difference is that high. Megaman Unlimited, a video game developped alone, including the art, took 5 years to complete.

That is because you start balancing by yourself. And your number of players slowly increase while you keep balancing. The balance in a board game is much more important that a video game. While a video game can have some imbalances that can be overcome with that "twitch". Moreover, video games have a faster growing group of play testers. And you get much more and faster feedback. Since they can test it in their homes by simply installing and playing.

While board games have simple rules. The rules need to be sharp from the beginning to get play testers.
Video games have simple rules written in complex programming. Yet the sharpness will come much more automatically. Since play testers often play more numerous times.

mulletsquirrel
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larienna wrote:That is what I

larienna wrote:
That is what I thought and that is what everybody told me. But considering my first game took me 5 years to complete, I am starting not to believe it. I don't think the time difference is that high. Megaman Unlimited, a video game developped alone, including the art, took 5 years to complete.

You worked 5 years full time on one board game?

X3M
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mulletsquirrel wrote: You

mulletsquirrel wrote:

You worked 5 years full time on one board game?

She isn't the only one.
Although, my excuse is that it is only my hobby and not intended for profit. I got plenty of things to do.

But when watching what the title of this topic says. I actually had a lot of fun thinking of mechanics and discarding the bad ones. Designing the game is a game on itself. :)
That is also the only reason why I kept going in the beginning.

Of course I understand that knowing your game from inside to out removes the fun of the game itself. I call that, being the "skilled expert" on the game. You don't have to explore and experience your game any more. But I guess it is only after such a long time?

The only way to keep it fun is to make a game complex enough that you don't know all the answers. But then you are not sure if your game has good balance for the players.

The Professor
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Fascinating Conversation

I'm intrigued by the articulated points regarding board and video games. One of the issues I'm finding as I'm in the throes of moving a game forward as the Developer of a war game is the level of minutia which the designer wants to retain.

In a video game, despite the countless lines of code, it's hidden from view as pointed out earlier allowing one to enjoy the game. In a not-so-recent podcast by Tom Vasel, he pointed out that those engaged in the design aspect of board game should remember we're designing a fun activity. For the game currently under development, I'm finding that the level of fidelity provided on say the movement of an airship is only paralleled to the level of tedium experienced by potential players.

The Professor
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Fascinating Conversation

I'm intrigued by the articulated points regarding board and video games. One of the issues I'm finding as I'm in the throes of moving a game forward as the Developer of a war game is the level of minutia which the designer wants to retain.

In a video game, despite the countless lines of code, it's hidden from view as pointed out earlier allowing one to enjoy the game. In a not-so-recent podcast by Tom Vasel, he pointed out that those engaged in the design aspect of board game should remember we're designing a fun activity. For the game currently under development, I'm finding that the level of fidelity provided on say the movement of an airship is only paralleled to the level of tedium experienced by potential players.

The Professor
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Fascinating Conversation

I'm intrigued by the articulated points regarding board and video games. One of the issues I'm finding as I'm in the throes of moving a game forward as the Developer of a war game is the level of minutia which the designer wants to retain.

In a video game, despite the countless lines of code, it's hidden from view as pointed out earlier allowing one to enjoy the game. In a not-so-recent podcast by Tom Vasel, he pointed out that those engaged in the design aspect of board game should remember we're designing a fun activity. For the game currently under development, I'm finding that the level of fidelity provided on say the movement of an airship is paralleled only by the level of tedium experienced by potential players.

larienna
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Tripple post combo! +500

Tripple post combo! +500 points.

Quote:
You worked 5 years full time on one board game?

Well, consider it's hobby design, so I still need to have a regular job and assist regular activities like eating sleeping and cleaning. I mostly worked part time job so I did have some extra time. I took a break a couple of times to search for mechanics when some of them failed. The production of the game (designing components) took around 6 consecutive months.

Quote:
Of course I understand that knowing your game from inside to out removes the fun of the game itself. I call that, being the "skilled expert" on the game. You don't have to explore and experience your game any more. But I guess it is only after such a long time?

That is another important point. Beign excited about playing mods and video games I made seems to make the replay of your own game less tedious. The hidden aspect of video game allows you to keep you in suspense of disbelief. While for board game, you will only remain in that state when you are new to the game and know little of how the game works.

Quote:
In a not-so-recent podcast by Tom Vasel, he pointed out that those engaged in the design aspect of board game should remember we're designing a fun activity.

Like explained in a previous post, most people say that you should enjoy yourself in the process because you cannot gain any profit from it. But right now, there is no reward for me because I do not necessarily enjoy the process. But for video games, I seem to enjoy the design process much more, so maybe I should focus more on that.

I am have more a mathematical and logical mind than an abstract mind. This is why the VG experience could be better for me. Yes programming can be somehow tedious, but when it get to that point, I could do other things, work on art or other stuff. I also have "coding frenzy" which helps making programming progress faster.

Still for my Framework project talked above, I want to reduce programming to the maximum I can to make it easily modable, and maybe even design the game with having little code compilation to do.

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