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information over-saturation

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truekid games
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Every turn you must take a card from a shared pool of available cards (a draft). Each card is information heavy, with 3 to 5 separate and unique abilities (each ability being roughly a sentence in length). how many cards can be in that pool before you feel like you're being presented with too much information each turn, to the extent that:

-Your choice would frequently take more than 10 seconds or so?
-Your choice would frequently take more than a minute?
-You would feel like there's too much information to parse, and that your choice was a virtually random selection from amongst several equally viable selections within the pool?

ReneWiersma
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It's tough to say, because it

It's tough to say, because it depends on a lot of things. If the pool of total cards is relatively small, players will recognize cards after a couple of games, or even a couple of rounds. If the total number of cards is large, players will have to read them all every time, which will obviously cost a lot more time. Also, if the abilities are all rather similar, it will take less time to take them in than when each ability is unique.

In cases like these I revert to the Rule of Five. This is a rule used in webpage design. You don't want to confront a user with more than five options per page. If there are more options, the user will be overwhelmed with the danger that he clicks the page away and goes to a different site. I think this works in game design as well. So, five cards would probably work for relativey complex cards. As an example you could look at El Grande where the players are presented with five different cards to choose from each turn. Note that choosing the card in El Grande is one of the main mechanics of the game, and not just a side mechanic.

If the cards were simpler, you could probably have up to seven choices. I'm always hesitant to add more than seven options at any point in the game. The human mind isn't very good at memorizing more than seven things at a time.

I also think stuff like this adds up quickly, so while having five cards might be OK, having six would be pushing it, and having seven cards would be overwhelming.

rcjames14
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Rule of Three

ReneWiersma wrote:
I also think stuff like this adds up quickly, so while having five cards might be OK, having six would be pushing it, and having seven cards would be overwhelming.

Due to combinatorial explosion, a linear increase in options creates a non-linear effect on decision-making. So, ReneWiersma is absolutely correct about limiting the options you give people.

American style games typically resolve this problem by eliminating choice altogether. You've got the hand you're dealt (or the card you draw), and it's up to you to figure out how to make the most of it. Fortunately, with this type of dynamic, most of the combinatorial explosion occurs in your hand so you have everyone else's turn in addition to your own to figure out how to manage it. Also, if you notice, most people sort and order cards in their hand. When confronted with more than five or so options, people develop a system of organization (all the same suit, all the same numbers, 'sets', etc...) to help them see patterns in the mix. So, I find that whatever you can do to place the problem of choice into the player's hand, the better your game will flow.

I think the worst thing would be to have a dozen cards on the table each with four or five properties which operate at cross-purposes (dimensionally orthagonal) to each other. In that situation, even experienced players will find themselves stuck by considering their options.

Whereas ReneWiersma points out the rule of 5 for options in play, I abide by the rule of 3 for the information on the card. I try to avoid having more than 3 different dimensions on a card. Perhaps it has a cost, a strength and a special effect. Or it has a number, a suit and a rank.

Think of poker, each card can either be used in a flush, a straight or a set based upon its suit and number, but the higher the number (it's rank) breaks typological ties. The interesting part of poker doesn't necessarily come from the cards, but from the rules that keep each player from knowing for sure what other people have and the huge variety of possible recombinations of cards that may allow a nothing hand to become a winner at the turn of a card. Having a number of different dimensions allows this dynamic recombination, but each dimension itself is extremely simple and intuitive. Hence... poker's broad appeal. That, and everyone's innate desire to gamble.

Pastor_Mora
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Count options, not cards

A card with 5 options is like 5 cards with one each. So I think you need to count options, not cards up to the level you feel comfortable with (say 7 or 8 as suggested above). This unless the cards deck is rather small/repetitive and would be memorized eventually, or there is a way to split options into cathegories.

For example, say each card has a melee, a magic and a range attack; you'll be first deciding which kind of attack you'll be performing, and then compare the available cards. This way you split the decision making process into two smaller easier sub-processes. Same for economic/diplomatic/warfare/research cathegories in each card or whatever fits your game.

More information can be given if the game is heavy in storytelling (I'm thinking something on the lines of Android here). But PLEASE make the cards READABLE !

Keep thinking!

PS I hate captcha

truekid games
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In my example above, I

In my example above, I essentially described a rochester draft in Magic (albeit one that refills rather than depleting). Those start at 15 or 16 cards in the pool, and players are given a 30 second review period, then each player in order is given a decrementing amount of time to make their selection (mostly because the pool shrinks). on average, players have somewhere between 45 to 75 seconds of evaluation before they must make their selections (inclusive the time they get while prior players are making their choices). I was more wondering at what point (based on number of cards) you- as individuals -would drastically exceed the time limit, and at what point it would become too easy for you.

ReneWiersma
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A Magic rochester draft

A Magic rochester draft assumes players are already familiar with the cards and with the rules of the game. Imagine teaching Magic to new players, who have never played the game before, then dropping them into a rochester draft with a set of cards they have never seen before. It would be a nightmare. Even a rochester draft with a brand new Magic set with experienced players would be slowish.

truekid games
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the question isn't about

the question isn't about learning curve though... it's about expected time (on an individual basis) to parse information based on quantity of cards. i'll stop asking though :)

ReneWiersma
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truekid games wrote:the

truekid games wrote:
the question isn't about learning curve though... it's about expected time (on an individual basis) to parse information based on quantity of cards. i'll stop asking though :)

Maybe I'm understanding you wrong, but in my opinion the two are linked together. If players are familiar with the cards the, decision process could take up to only a few seconds, even when there are 15 cards. However, if all the cards are new to a player simply reading and understanding the card text and knowing how it interlocks with your strategy could take up to 30 secons or more per card.

Yamahako
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A way to have a high amount

A way to have a high amount of information on a card but keep decision making down is to reduce the amount data that would have an effect on that particular decision.

For example, if a card can have 5 completely different and potentially complex effects in the game, and a player has to choose a particular one out of a selection of 5 - that could be 25 unique pieces of data to sift through - which would be a daunting task - however if the player is forced to use that card in only one of those ways - then only that piece of information matters - while still serving duties in all of those particular ways.

Say you had a game in which there are 5 ways to act - a build action, a payment action, an instant action, and a response action, and a score action. And cards had between 3-5 effects each working toward a separate action. You could have 5 cards face down in front of you each specifically dealing with that action. When you chose a score action you would get a greater effect from that action and other players could play a card from one of their spaces to ride on your score action - and then each player could draw 3 cards - and do a quick once around the table draft to replace the card they had played. Each player would be looking for a card that would maximize the role of the card they just played, and thus would be less interested in the other effects of that card - reducing relevant information (at a beginner's level) to one piece of data to evaluate from those three cards. At an intermediate level, they would also check (if sending left) the effect of the card the player to their left needs to replace so as to make sure they are not passing a card that would be too powerful to that player. And at the advanced level, you would be making sure that if the card made it around to the leader, they wouldn't advance their position too far, the person on your left wouldn't want the card - and the other effects of the cards you were drafting could be used as solid riders. As you reached those higher levels - then you would already be more familiar with the cards and the decisions would be less time consuming - as -for the most part- its that primary effect of the space you are filling that has the largest impact on the game.

So really it depends on the game mechanics. Cards can have a lot of data but as long as the amount and types of data you need to deal with is relatively small, or else easily pared down it doesn't have to be overwhelming. But if a player has to deal with potentially (in the above scenario) 15 unique and equal pieces of data - that might be overwhelming and lead to random choices. It all comes down to the design.

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