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Win % Rate

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Leeton
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Joined: 04/28/2013

I'm working on a co-op symbol matching game in which you play 6 rounds, each round with more symbols in your possession and more to match. It's a game aimed at both kids and adults, so I don't want it to be too easy to win, although the gameplay is very simple to grasp.

I'm in the process of testing it. I've only played three games so far (each takes about 30 minutes), and each time it's been a victory. It's been narrow victories, but victories all the same.

I'm just curious what you guys like in your co-op card games when it comes to winning rate. Do you like to win every time? Do you prefer games where winning rare, so the victory is all the sweeter? Let me know what you think!

I'm hoping to balance this game for about a 80% win rate but I'm not fully decided.

questccg
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Pandemic!

Pandemic is a four (4) player coop game in which you are trying to rid the world of four (4) viruses. Each player has a distinct role and can have some unique advantage used in helping the eradication of the four (4) viruses.

The game is TOUGH... And most of the time, player LOSE...

But it's the mechanics which are interesting and somewhat predictable. Like it is possible to predict when an outbreak will occur in a particular city. Why? Well the cards you used get shuffled (spreading of the virus) AND get put on TOP of the draw deck... This means that a city that had seen an increase in the virus is VERY likely to see MORE.

But I guess it's about *hoping* to rid the world of the virus or small victories like eliminating one (1) virus and then trying to move on to the next one.

So if you want the win rate of Pandemic, I would say 10% WIN, 90% LOSE. It's a TOUGH game. But people like playing it and losing is part of the game's FUN... Like I said player try real hard to work together and win.

The one time that we won, we had FIVE (5) players playing. So ONE extra player made the difference and we were able to beat the game. There are five (5) different characters in the original game. So it is possible to play a five person game - but the game states only four (4) players... So by breaking that rule, we actually beat the game! :)

So if your game is TOUGH but ENGAGING, it can still be popular... I think it's about how challenging the game really is. If it seems too easy, players may not be interested (in the long run). But if the game is DIFFICULT, players may want to *try another round* to see if they can beat the game.

So that's Pandemic's win ratio and style of game play...

jhrrsn
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Narrow victories are okay,

Narrow victories are okay, though I'd worry if you're able to achieve them consistently from your first attempt. In tougher games, I'm okay with losing so long as I feel like it was our choices and strategy that led to our loss. A game where we lose due to pure random chance rarely gets a second chance in our group.

Pandemic is a great example - we lose regularly, but keep going back to play. There are so many decisions to make, especially in a larger group, but our success is largely a product of those decisions so we feel responsible and don't blame the game. It's a good idea to introduce difficulty levels if you go down this route, as it prevents people getting turned off the game as they learn it.

baberahamlincoln
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Effort in, reward out.

I like games where it is always possible to win, over those where it is sometimes impossible to win.

For example, compare Solitaire and Soduko. In Solitaire, through its random starting positions, it is possible to play a game that just cannot be won. For example, all your aces are buried deep, and the variant you are playing doesn't let you get at them. It doesn't matter how skilled the player is, just game over, thanks for dealing.

Soduko, to my understanding, can always be won, although the starting configuration has a huge impact on how difficult it is to do so. A skilled player should always be able to finish a puzzle, though less skilled players may make mistakes that prevent that from happening (like using a pen :)).

As randomness plays into most games, it is difficult to predict every starting condition and the subsequent scenarios that can play out during each game. However, for any co-op or solo game, I like to believe that skilled play on my part or the part of my friends, would allow me to win the game every time, even if does not actually happen. At the end of the game, I would hope to be able to say "Well, if I had done that differently, then maybe XYZ would have happened, and I could have pulled it off". If at the end of the game, I have lost, and there is nothing I could even have imagined of doing differently, then that's sort of lame to me.

So, I'd be okay with a low win %, if at the same time I felt like my input had some meaning to that. If I don't feel like I have much input into whether I win or lose, I'd hope to at least have a fun time with the game, and get a nice little ego boost at the end. Effort in, reward out.

Leeton
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More Testing Required!

Thanks for the replies guys. :)

I'm sure the more I test the game it'll become clearer, but at the minute it's hard to figure out what direction to go with it. My last test game ended in a narrow victory and it was only achieved by a risky move that paid off in the 2nd round (of 6). That game really was a tense one the way through. Whereas some were fun but a bit too easy at the end, although I'm already preparing how to fix that.

I think one of my main problems is that it's based on Superheroes (kid heroes, to be specific) and so I'm trying to capture that in the overall play of the game. I'm trying to make it so when you win, like you guys said, it's because of your decisions and you feel accomplished when you scrape over the finish line. Nothing heroic in trashing a game that wasn't hard!

You've also made me want to go buy Pandemic...

questccg
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Play Pandemic

If you have never played "Pandemic", I highly suggest you do...

Unlike the other post, I don't agree that "A game should always be possible to win." That's boring. Winning all the time results in a very POOR coop game. Notice I said *coop game*. The challenge of most tabletop games is beating your opponents. In a coop game it's a *common victory*. So winning or losing the game are key.

A *coop game* that can be won EVERY time you play, in my mind SUCKS. The challenge of the game IS WINNING TOGETHER. If that can happen every time, then you should play on the odds. Pandemic is special because the odds are NOT in the favour of the players... Predicting and trying to prevent outbreaks is a challenge in the game. Sometimes the game is too much to be able to actually win.

Another aspect of coop games is being *one step ahead* of the game. This sort of predicting how the game will play out before it actually does is part of proper planning in the game. Decisions to travel to a particular city with high odds of having an outbreak is part of the *meta* game... If you *understand* how the game works (mechanics), then it's a challenge to stay ahead of the game. But I totally disagree that it should be possible to win the game every time!

In my mind that makes a game too *easy*. In coop you want DIFFICULTY. Remember there are four (4) players playing TOGETHER to BEAT THE GAME. That's the *goal*. But if you want a game to be good, it should NOT be possible to do so every time.

Like Solitaire, not every game can be won. When you do WIN, you're that much more happy with victory. Some sense of satisfaction players get that is *unique* from other games (non-coop). Also games like Solitaire a good rule is: "I will play until I win." Often you can spend an hour playing, not winning and the finally achieve your goal - and stop playing.

Some games like Pandemic it is not possible to do this. Why? Well the game takes time to play (like 1 hour). So usually after a game you are like: "Man I thought we were going to win this time..." or "Had we done this we might have won...". After thoughts on the game... But the point is players are not TURNED OFF by losing. Quite the contrary, because they understand the game BETTER, they think the will have BETTER odds NEXT time they play!

devaloki
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It really depends on the

It really depends on the atmosphere of the game and what the story is. If it's a grim world, make the win percent rate low (e.g. Dawn of the Zeds style) , if it's more of a light hearted game make it higher.
If you do make the game hard make it FAIR is what's important. Don't just make it difficult by making enemies have more hit points etc.

jhrrsn
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Quote:Unlike the other post,

Quote:
Unlike the other post, I don't agree that "A game should always be possible to win." That's boring. Winning all the time results in a very POOR coop game.

I strongly disagree. If I know that there is zero possibility of me winning a game, that is not going to be fun. A game should always be possible to win. However, I agree that winning all the time reduces the game to a pointless ritual.

Raph Koster (A Theory of Fun - not as boring as it sounds!) talks about games being fun when you're learning. Pandemic is fun because even when you're losing, you're learning about which strategies work, and which mechanics to keep an eye on. That's the key.

questccg
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My point...

jhrrsn wrote:
I strongly disagree. If I know that there is **zero** possibility of me winning a game, that is not going to be fun. A game should always be *possible* to win. However, I agree that winning all the time reduces the game to a pointless ritual.

Well games like Solitaire, there are games you *just can't win*. The way the cards are laid out makes the game impossible to WIN. Is solitaire a BAD game? No... Granted it's not the BEST game... But I think the goal of winning make the game quick and easy to replay. I don't think there is GREAT strategy in Solitaire. Sure sometimes it's about playing which card where there are a couple of possibilities, but I don't think the game is a very strategic game.

But just because "I can't WIN EVERY TIME." doesn't mean that I won't play?! That's my point, I think a game that you can always WIN is somewhat boring. Take Free Cell. Just because I can win every time, doesn't mean it's a better game than Solitaire... That's *my* point.

Personally if I had to choose between the two (Free Cell and Solitaire), I would prefer to play Solitaire. Free Cell may only have one (1) solution to win the game. Solitaire, you know you can't beat. What would I rather spend time playing? Personally solitaire until I beat the game. Free Cell goes on forever (you can keep playing new games...) and each game is different. But it is ALWAYS possible to win.

I'm just not a FAN of needing to follow a specific order to win the game... But that's just me.

Corsaire
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You have crawl around in the

You have crawl around in the head of the player. It doesn't have to be possible to win every game, but the players need to believe it is possible. In the same way the majority of players want to play again if they believe they can get better. They have to believe their choices make a difference in the game. If they win every game, there should be some qualitative measure that they played better than last time or as mentioned earlier a way to ramp up the challenge. With a kid audience, as an adult and the designer you need to make sure you aren't guiding the optimal play in testing or your design is going to get all skewy.

p.s. To the direct question for your audience and theme, 80% win would be my goal.

jhrrsn
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Quote:I'm just not a FAN of

Quote:
I'm just not a FAN of needing to follow a specific order to win the game...
Quote:
It doesn't have to be possible to win every game, but the players need to believe it is possible.
These are both really interesting points. I guess with our solitaire example, since you don't know the game is unwinnable it feels like your decisions have consequence. And yes, something like a Rubiks Cube which is always solvable with the right pattern is not that much fun either (once you crack it). I guess I should change my stance to 'I wouldn't play a game I knew I had zero chance of winning'. Although, I would still argue that, all else equal (including win % loss), solitaire would be a better game if it was possible to win every time.

CGB
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I'm in the boat of wanting it

I'm in the boat of wanting it to always be possible to win. That isn't the same as always winning. Using some of the examples mentioned already:

That is one of the reasons I really dislike solitaire. I feel like I'm wasting my time because I don't even know if it is possible for me to win or not.

Pandemic on the other hand I love. My experience though has been more of a reversal of what was mentioned previously and we have about a 90% win rate and 10% loss with Pandemic. Even when we lose though, which we did on Saturday, it always feels like there's one little thing we could have done differently to win it. For example with our loss on Saturday, we were only one turn from winning (the next person had all the cards needed to cure the last disease), but we had a double outbreak, which with one of the added rules from the virulent strain expansion counted as 4 outbreaks instead of 2 and we lost. But had we done things slightly differently before that point, we could have survived to the next player's turn and won the game. Being possible to win everytime and actually winning everytime are two very different things, but to me knowing that it is at least possible is what makes it fun. Even when the game beats the crap out of you, like it did us this weekend, I still believe that if we played just a little bit smarter we would have won.

Rubik's cubes in my opinion are a totally different category. Once you know how to do it, you can't "lose". You can hand me a Rubik's cube in any configuration and (assuming nobody messed with the stickers or flipped any pieces around) I can hand it back to you 3-5 minutes later completely solved. I find that a fun little exercise, but it hardly carries the same thrill as winning - or even losing - a game like Pandemic. On the other hand, if I win a game like solitaire, that also doesn't carry as much thrill for me because I feel like it had more to do with how the cards were dealt than what choices I made.

That said I also have friends that like games with a higher level of "luck" in them and less strategy - the exact kind of game I generally try to steer clear of. And I have friends that perfer the kind of game they can/do win everytime (not just knowing it's possible but actually winning everytime). So to an extent it probably depends on the person. For me though, I don't want to win everytime, but I do want to know that it's possible. And even if I lose most of the time, knowing that it is possible will help keep me interested.

jhrrsn
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This is a great summary of

This is a great summary of our debate! I really enjoyed hearing everyone's perspectives on skill and luck in cooperative games.

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