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Evolution Board Game Ideas

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tomi71
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Michael C wrote: As Gogolski

Michael C wrote:

As Gogolski says...

Who hasn't designed an Evolution game at some stage? It's one of th great challenges of game design.

Yes :) Maybe we should create a club called Evolution Board Game Designers Club :)

Michael C wrote:

Mine is simply called EVOLUTION, and like Tomi's, it is a strategy/wargame with continental drift - though my drift is historical rather than player-driven (a nice idea that, Tomi). I use Risk counters for pieces and playing cards as the game-driver.

Are the risk counters like little soldiers in Risk? Or what are they? Playing cards are for competition?

Michael C wrote:

Players strive to rise up the Genus Table which gives them a competitive advantage in the territorial wargame that develops. But here's the kicker: each player can also evolve into an ecological niche. And it's not the carnivorees that the herbivores need to look out for - it's the other herbivores who are competing for the same food!

I have controlled this Genus Table thing with the speciestiles so that each individual speciestile shows which species they are. I wanted to make it so, that one could win the game even when playing with insects or critters (of cambrian era) and not necessarily mammals or dinosaurs. However I think your idea gives a good motivation for the species to evolve and survive. In my game this is not so straightforward (being good or bad?) but merely an individual thing in one speciestile; the colours of the species show how diverse they are (and on the otherhand how specialized they are; the more the same colour the more powerful they are competing in that biome (niche) but more easily killed by climate change. It´s realistic that the competition between species is not a predator vs. prey thing but more like a animals using same resources like you said. This was a big challenge for me too and I decided to keep it simple and just say:"my own species are adapted to each other and there is a "balance" but opponent´s species are competitors of food and living space.
Michael C wrote:

The game works very well, but it's far too long for today's market (about 8 hours for a full game). And while the drifting continents are really neat, they would make the production costs spiral through the roof.

Maybe you could divide the 8 hours to a smaller victory conditions. Like epochs or eras? Or just "kill your darlings" and streamline it faster? I know been there, done that. It´s of course a lot of work. However maybe every game should not be a fast food lunch. It depends who are you designing the game for.
Michael C wrote:

So this is just one for me and my wargaming friends - until I become uber-famous of course, and Fantasy Flight come knocking at my door. A man can dream, can't he?

FYI, I do remember once reading a (not very complimetary) review of a drifting continents game on BoardGameGeek a couple of years ago, though i'm afraid I can't remember what it was called.


M<
Yes. We are dreamers :) I guess that´s why we do this. I wonder if the game was called Conquest of Pangea? There has been some continent drifting game even earlier, but can´t remember what it was.
Michael C wrote:

I meant to say Tomi, that gameboard looks really beautiful.

How did you solve the problem of continental drift with pieces on the board?


Thanks. I am not sure what your problem is with continental drift? Peaces falling off etc.? Well I wonder if you could use magnets somehow? I have used magnet tape at the bottom of each little speciestoken (that stand in speciestile; speciestile is that rectangle thingy that can hold up to six species). Since I have used a cardboard squares for speciestokens they don´t so easily fall off.
Michael C wrote:

One of the cool things with my design as it stands is that you see the continents split and carry the creatures off with them. It would be much more cost-effective if I could have square continent tiles, instead of actual continent-shaped pieces. But if I did that, players would spend ages transferring pieces from one tile to another.

I like the idea of continents splitting and reforming. I considered it also, but decided to stick with the "known" continent forms and even then there are 35 of them which might be an expensive thing to do; of course publisher may use only 7 continents and use some kind of token to show which biome the continent is (desert, jungle etc.)
Actually the creatures traveling with continental drifting is kind of an peculiar way of planning an attack against opponent - like playing a continent card and then moving the continent next to a continent an opponent is holding and then moving and attacking there. Kind of an unexpected attack in the sense of how we humans see it :)
Michael C wrote:

Anyway, best of luck. If you really have managed to create a realistically 'historical' evolution game with continental drift that plays in less than 2 hours, you deserve to get it published.

M<


Actually sometimes realism is not enough and one has to improve it :) but hmm... who knows about realism when considering such a huge thing like evolution etc. I think my prioritys are that it feels right and is also fun, since players rarely are so specialized in the evolution theory. I intentionally want to keep it kind of an open, so that it simulates evolution but also is not too binded by it - so that there can be variations and different kinds of games every time we play. I still believe that Evolution Earth has enough realism so that it can be called evolutiongame yet I want evolution to be fun. I want an asteroid impact or climate change or volcano explosion to be a fun thing in a game.

Actually the playing time used to be 2 hours with 2 players but after I made that scoring system it can easily be played in an hour.

I wish the best of luck for your game too and I´d like to see it and play it too.

Btw: how does your attack/movement - combat system (interspecific competition to be exact :) ) - work? Do you use dice and if - how?

Michael C
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tomi71 wrote: Yes :) Maybe we

tomi71 wrote:

Yes :) Maybe we should create a club called Evolution Board Game Designers Club :)

Are the risk counters like little soldiers in Risk? Or what are they? Playing cards are for competition?

And compare designs on an annual basis to see how they evolve ;-)

The Risk counters are simple abstract plastic markers in different colours, with another big asterisk-shaped marker that I can't even remember what it was used for in Risk (it's been so long since I played that game). I needed a lot of pieces, and my original design came long before desktop publishing became so easy (yes, I am that old - I've been designing games for fun for nigh on 20 years now), and the Risk counters were perfect for my needs.

The playing cards act as the game driver - picture cards trigger an Evolution Event (ie. a catastrophe like the dino-killer asteroid). Number cards regulate an ordinary game turn.

tomi71 wrote:

Maybe you could divide the 8 hours to a smaller victory conditions. Like epochs or eras? Or just "kill your darlings" and streamline it faster? I know been there, done that. It´s of course a lot of work. However maybe every game should not be a fast food lunch. It depends who are you designing the game for.

Actually, this strand got me thinking about it again. It's only really 8 hours long because it's designed around a deck of ordinary playing cards, and I arbitrarily decided each turn would equal c.25 million years. Now that I design and print my own cards on computer, I could easily create an Evolution Deck that speeds the whole game up and have each turn span 100my or even longer.

tomi71 wrote:

I wonder if the game was called Conquest of Pangea? There has been some continent drifting game even earlier, but can´t remember what it was.

I think that was it. The continents move across the gameboard, but according to all the reviews/comments I read, that was the only good thing about it (with apologies to the designer if he/she's reading this).

tomi71 wrote:

I am not sure what your problem is with continental drift?

Ah. Bear in mind that I wanted to design a game that gave you a 'realistic' flavour of the evolution of life on earth from 600my BC to the present day, in which continents like Gondwanaland rose from the depths, combined with Eurasia and Laurussia to form Pangea, then split and drifted slowly across the board into their present-day configuration.

The simplest way of doing this was to design a set of tiles shaped like the ancient continents, which you added to the board, moved, split and removed as the tectonic plates shifted around. The game pieces sat on these. So once you had evolved into land-living creatures, you were carried across the board on an ever-shifting playing surface as you battled for survival with your fellow players. Looks & feels great, but in manufacturing terms, it's a total nightmare! You have dozens of oddly-shaped tiles which are b!**£y hard to produce.

The most obvious manufacturing solution would be to limit the amount of drift in the game and print the different positions of the continents onto square tiles which are replaced as the plates drift. But this creates the game-play problem of constantly removing your pieces from one game tile and replacing them on another, which is simply impractical.

So what i really need to do is simplify the whole continental drift thing down, so that you have fewer, less fiddly tiles.

tomi71 wrote:

Actually sometimes realism is not enough and one has to improve it :) but hmm... who knows about realism when considering such a huge thing like evolution etc. I think my prioritys are that it feels right and is also fun, since players rarely are so specialized in the evolution theory.

If I have learned one thing over the last 20 years, it's that realism is never enough - it must ALWAYS take second place to good games play. That said, I mainly design historical strategy games, and one of the reasons I design them is so that I can understand the way the history works. So I design a game that simulates what I want to explore, then tweak it until I have a game that people want to play.

To me, it's all about the 'feel'. You want a game that 'feels' right for the period or genre you are representing. For instance, I love Fantasy Flight's 'Android' because it FEELS like you're in the Blade Runner universe.

Another good example is an old Avalon Hill solo-game called 'Patton's Best', in which you play a Sherman tank crew in Patton's charge across Europe. It had what some people saw as an odd or faulty game mechanic in that every German tank or gun you encountered was automatically a Tiger or 88mm until you had identified it. Some people really hated that, because if it turned out to be a PzIV or a PAK47, it clearly never was a Tiger or an 88mm, but it could have destroyed you by then. However, if you read any account of Sherman tank crews in WWII, what comes across most clearly is just how terrified they were of ANY unidentified enemy tank because it COULD be a Tiger lurking round the corner. So the 'feel' of the game was perfect, because you were just as desperate to identify what was facing you as the real Sherman crews were. Now that's not a 'realistic' game mechanic, but it FEELS exactly right.

tomi71 wrote:

Btw: how does your attack/movement - combat system (interspecific competition to be exact :) ) - work? Do you use dice and if - how?

It's very deliberately mechanistic. Creatures expand across the board by evolving their speed of reproduction and placing new units. The distance they can travel depends on whether they have evolved legs/flight etc. When you encounter other creatures, there's a comparitive mechanism you use to see which species survives. Put simply, carnivores, omnivores and herbivores can co-exist in an area by forming a food chain. However, if two herbivores meet in an area, they will compete for their food source and only one will survive.

No dice and no luck other than the massive game-changing randomizer of Extinction Events. Simply strategy based on evolving into the right niches at the right time, and taking advantage of the Extinction Events when they happen. What I wanted was a game where the dinosaurs could evolve and if the asteroid never hit (because the Extinction Event didn't happen), they could take over the world. But equally, they could be decimated by an Extinction Event, evolve into birds and take over the world by a different route - unless of course the Arachnids didn't evolve a Hive Mind, or the Archosaurs didn't evolve into Mammals and beat them to it.

This post is already far too long, so I'll stop now.
M<

tomi71
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Interesting game. I guess the

Interesting game. I guess the game time comes from the deck. How about cutting it before the game or are the cards related to eras like cambrian, devonian etc.

How how you managed the occupation of land? And how is the adaptation tested in those kind of situations?

I also wonder that what are the winning conditions and when the game ends?

Have you avoided the runaway problem as well?

And one more: do players play the cards against each other or does the deck play itself, so that you open a card which says something like: asteroid hits Africa?

Just curious.

PlatypusGames
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Evolution: The Super Human Phase

Well, there might be a LITTLE telepathy needed. For Evolution: The Game That Evolves As You Play, once a team reaches the Super Human phase they try to end the game either by reading someone's mind or by predicting the future. And how do they do this? In the MIND READER challenge, let's say the category is ICE CREAM FLAVOR. One player holds their answer in their head while the second player attempts to read their mind. Once they think they got it, they write their answer down on a piece of paper and then the first player reveals to the rest of the group what they were thinking. If the answers match, the proof of telepathy has been proven and the game ends. Similarly, to predict the future, a player must predict how another player will finish off a sentence or phrase. So, if the card read JACK _______. Player one would write down what they think the second player will say and then they pass the card to that second player who blurts out their answer. If the answers match, then player one has correctly predicted the future. Not exactly, Nostradamus sort of stuff, but players seem to get a kick out of it!

The Magician
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PlatypusGames wrote:Well,

PlatypusGames wrote:
Well, there might be a LITTLE telepathy needed. For Evolution: The Game That Evolves As You Play, once a team reaches the Super Human phase they try to end the game either by reading someone's mind or by predicting the future. And how do they do this? In the MIND READER challenge, let's say the category is ICE CREAM FLAVOR. One player holds their answer in their head while the second player attempts to read their mind. Once they think they got it, they write their answer down on a piece of paper and then the first player reveals to the rest of the group what they were thinking. If the answers match, the proof of telepathy has been proven and the game ends. Similarly, to predict the future, a player must predict how another player will finish off a sentence or phrase. So, if the card read JACK _______. Player one would write down what they think the second player will say and then they pass the card to that second player who blurts out their answer. If the answers match, then player one has correctly predicted the future. Not exactly, Nostradamus sort of stuff, but players seem to get a kick out of it!

This is interesting, I noticed you posted something about this in another thread. My game is all about seeing the future. I am addept at the skill and am working up a game to make the player potentially addept. It will never see the mass market obviously. It's a specialty game. I am inclined to keep it mostly a secret, but I'm not too concerned about theft. I am positive no one would want to steal it. Mostly the controversy over the idea is why I leave this fact out. Prety much where I stand with it now is ask me if you want to know.

Michael C
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Sorry I didn't reply earlier

tomi71 wrote:
Interesting game. I guess the game time comes from the deck. How about cutting it before the game or are the cards related to eras like cambrian, devonian etc.

How how you managed the occupation of land? And how is the adaptation tested in those kind of situations?

I also wonder that what are the winning conditions and when the game ends?

Have you avoided the runaway problem as well?

And one more: do players play the cards against each other or does the deck play itself, so that you open a card which says something like: asteroid hits Africa?

Just curious.

I've been busy - partly with completely overhauling this game. This forum got me thinking, and I suddenly realised how I could significantly shorten the game, and introduce a more interactive Euro-style element a the same time. But before i could do that, i had to completely remake the board (well, if a thing's worth doing....)

To answer your questions in a general fashion:
- The game is now 12 epochs long, with each epoch marking approx 50 million years. BUT, epoch length is completely variable, depending on the card play of the players. If a player plays a 'Plate Shift' card, you move to a new epoch. If no players play a 'PlateShift' in the round, the epoch stays the same.

- Through a series of very simple mechanics, which I'm going to keep to myself, each player can evolve the Breeding Rate, Locomotion, Behaviour and Feeding Pattern of his species. He can also change its Genus (this is important). Quite simply, if you have evolved Amphibious Locomotion, you can climb up onto the land.

- The victory conditions are how I deal with the runaway 'problem', because I've made it into a target. To win, you have to have achieved dominance in your particular evolutionary niche (eg. fish) by completely exhausting your countermix and fulfilling another criteria which I'm going to keep to myself. But the minute anyone sees you getting close, the rest of the players gang up on you to drag you down. So you need to evolve a good, strong species that can vigorously compete for lebensraum and expand across enough territory to survive a couple of extinctions in order to survive. Put simply, you win by BECOMING the runaway 'problem', and everyone else is ganging up to stop you (whilst evolving into a niche of their own).

- The players play the cards, and their choice of card combined with the evolutionary status of their species determines turn order for each round.

OK, I'm going to take advantage of what's left of my holiday to complet the redesign and start playtesting.
Best,
M<

Michael C
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Historicity

tomi71 wrote:
The Magician wrote:
Michael C wrote:

Anyway, best of luck. If you really have managed to create a realistically 'historical' evolution game with continental drift that plays in less than 2 hours, you deserve to get it published.


Realistically historical is a no thing because there is contreversy sarounding the history of evolution. I think being creative about the interpretation of evolution is just as relavent as creatively creatig a time travel game.

Yeah. I agree. If evolution would take place now certainly things would go along some same lines, but there would be totally different things too e.g continents might form differently and different kind of natural disasters would occur differently thus affecting species and their evolution and extinction.

Also the replayability is improved by the thing that game is different every time (e.g the climates of the continents can change differently etc. etc.)

As I've said before on this site, in my opinion it's all about 'feel'.

So far in my redesign, the game has been won by a superintelligent race of spiders, a horde of carniverous fish, a swarm of killer bees, and a race of long-necked possums which evolved from a shoal of Ichthyosaurs that crawled onto the desert plains of Gondwanaland in pursuit of their arachnid prey , and evolved intelligence to survive when the spiders died out in a massive ice-age that preceded the creation of Pangaea.

And all of this has taken place on a represenation of the proto-Earth that grows up beneath them. None of it is 'historically accurate' in the literal sense of the word. If it was, all you'd ever do is evolve into Dinosaurs and try to crap on the mammals before the asteroid wiped you out. However, it 'feels' right - you are responding to the types of changes the Earth underwent, whether that be shifting continents or devastating extinctions.

For me, a game like this works if you always feel that the Dinosaurs COULD evolve, but don't HAVE TO evolve for the game to progress - and equally importantly, if they evolve, the mechanics should make them naturally evolve AT THE RIGHT TIME. Yet none of this should be proscriptive. For instance, those Icthyo-possums evolved intelligence c.200 million years ago as a response to the Pangaea desert - but they only managed to get that far because we were living in a world where the Dinosaurs had never evolved and the Deccan Traps had never poisoned the atmosphere, so the natural curbs to mammalian expansion never occurred.

And hopefully, that's what makes this a good game - one where everything that happened to the World can potentially happen to the World, but does not have to. And where a simple twist of fate can change the course of evolution completely.

You know, writing this it occurs to me that it would be interesting to have an 'historical' variant of the game, where the Extinction Events are pre-programmed, to see whether this naturally ends up with a Dinosaur dominance that ends in disaster.

M<

tomi71
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New images to Evolution Earth

I removed the images from imageschack. Instead there are plenty of new images here:

http://picasaweb.google.com/tomi71/EvolutionEarthBoardGamePrototype?feat...

They were taken couple of days ago. I and my girlfriend photographed one 2-player game session. Feel free to comment. I´d like to know what you think about the prototype even though there is not any kind of commentary about the flow of a game. Maybe I add it later.

Nix_
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Evolution Earth

This game had better make it to the U.S. It looks awesome!

tomi71
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Nix_ wrote:This game had

Nix_ wrote:
This game had better make it to the U.S. It looks awesome!

Thanks for your kind comment Nix_. It cheered me up a lot, since just had heard from a Finnish publisher that this game might be too massive for production (expensive). They are still thinking about it though (I hope).

I wonder if in the USA would have better chances (more money in publishing)?

Has any game company produced big games with a lot of components like this Evolution Earth is. Even though I still believe that some components might be able to reduce and maybe re-design some things in the game. And well if most of the pieces are cardboard would that really be so expensive.

Any experience in these kind of things, folks?

cottonwoodhead
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My Two cents

I think this looks very interesting. I recently got the first copy of rules for my own evolution game finished, still pretty vague but still enough to get an idea of it I think. I think I differ from some of the other ideas in that there is no clear definition of species in my games, a pretty big step away from realism but something that I think is interesting. It's called Intelligent Design: A Game of Guided Evolution and there's a game journal for it. Comments would be loved and adored.

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