Skip to Content

[GDS] FEBRUARY 2015 "Terribly Suspicious" - Critiques

27 replies [Last post]
mindspike
mindspike's picture
Offline
Joined: 09/06/2011

We have a winner!

Project Y Derailed

by Hook

Followed closely by:
Jewelry Thieves by DifferentName
Widget Factories by andymorris

An unexpectedly tough challenge this month. Thank you to everyone who answered the call to arms!

Game Score Gold Medals Silver Medals Bronze Medals
Project Y Derailed 15 4 1 1
Jewelry Thieves 14 3 1 3
Widget Factories 12 1 3 3
Anti-Trust 4 2
Energy Crisis 3 1 1
Suspicious Fishes 0

Let the discussion commence! Please take the time to give the designers feedback on their games. While you're at it, give us some feedback on why this particular challenge failed to inspire. We know you've got lots of demands on your time. We want you to feel that answering the GDF Showdown is a worthwhile use!

Project Y Derailed by Hook Feb. 19
Jewelry Thieves by DifferentName Feb. 20
Widget Factories by andymorris Feb. 21
Anti-Trust by lonebluewolf Feb. 22
Energy Crisis by Miika Feb. 23
Suspicious Fishes by tcnisaiah Feb. 24
DifferentName
DifferentName's picture
Offline
Joined: 09/08/2013
Congratulations

Congratulations on the win, Hook! I'm looking forward to the critiques.

I was inspired this month, but sometimes I don't enter just because I'm prioritizing another project. I can force an idea if I put a priority on the showdown, or I can just look it over and see if an idea comes to mind. This month I thought about some possible themes, like cold war spies or something. I didn't know if I would enter until I hit on the jewelry thieves semi-co-op idea, that got me excited to work on it.

Hook
Hook's picture
Offline
Joined: 09/22/2014
wow :O thanks all.

@DifferentName Thanks!

When I saw the other games submitted I didn’t think I would win. When I read this Challenge I was intriqued by it and somehow got to think of a theme first - where people work together on some spaceship but with different agendas. I kept thinking on the documentary “Particle Fever”. Well from there I felt i was fairly easy to get more ideas - but the really hard part was to put it on paper in a good way. When I started read the other submissions I found it hard to visualize some of the game mechanics - and I immediately felt my game must have the same issues. I felt I had used too much space on describing the game parts and maybe confusing because I failed to tell the story. But it seems like you did get it anyway. Here is my comments

Gold for Jewelry Thieves because it sounded really fun and was described very vivid and clear to me. (and I just played battlefield hardline beta :-). The only thing I missed was more on how the heist rolls and security cameras worked. Great idea.

Silver to Widget Factory. Some parts was hard to understand but I loved the overall idea with goals on other players outcome. So I agree on this part :”This creates an interesting balance between worrying about everyone else without ignoring yourself."

Bronze to Energy Crisis because the theme sound fun and the way you affect the resource value towards your secret goal. I was not sure if there was a common/co-op goal for the players

Anti Thrustlooks like it has been given a lot of thought - but was too complex described for me to really grasp - sry.

At first I wanted Fishes to have the gold medal - it seemed so easy and clever. But I felt it wouldn’t really work - and could have used a few extra lines. What kind of questions would reveal the Shark?

This GSD inspired me to team up with my partner and maybe try to do some more speed game designs. And maybe try to give Project Y some more finnish :-)

andymorris
Offline
Joined: 03/05/2014
Congratulations

Great job Hook, congrats. I voted gold for project Y. I really like the balance between working together and yet working for yourself. I thought the theme was good as well. I think it could use more roles/missions in order to make it harder to guess who someone else is. Also I think it needs a little more to the scoring. I like the general structure that you have, but it feels like it needs a small additional layer to give one more thing to balance. Ideally each player would have an overlapping interest with each other player as well as an opposing interest. That would keep the negotiations very interesting.

andymorris
Offline
Joined: 03/05/2014
Comments on GDS in general

Thank you to Rich and Mindspike for running the GDS each month. For me, it is the perfect outlet for my game design interest. I don't have a lot of time available for prototyping and playtesting, but I do have plenty of time for coming up with ideas. I enjoy how it has stretched me on several occasions to think about different kinds of games I wouldn't have otherwise.

The challenges I have enjoyed the most are the ones that have had a clear restriction. Something where you end up saying, "I want to do this, but I can't." I think perhaps the last couple haven't drawn as much interest because they were too open ended. I think my favourite was the month where we weren't allowed to use numbers. It's suppose to be a challenge, so don't be afraid to make it challenging.

Also, I've noticed that the participation in the critiques has not been very strong for most of the last several months. I remember a couple of regulars commented back in the summer about this and they have not participated since. I'm not sure if this a factor or not in the overall participation, but perhaps there are some who feel it is not worth their time if the others participants won't take the time to post critiques. Personally, I'll keep entering every month, so I'm just speculating here.

Thanks to all the participants for making the GDS fun. I always look forward to seeing what everyone comes up with. I look to seeing what next month has in store.

mindspike
mindspike's picture
Offline
Joined: 09/06/2011
Feedback: Project Y Derailed

It's a spy movie in a card game.

(+) Great job matching the components, theme, and hidden goals. The number of possible parts combinations means that multiple roles can be served by different combinations. I like having one player that everyone can trust and whose motivation is known. Having the game played on a timer adds a valuable element of suspense.

(-) I worry that the timer is too short for the game, but that's easily adjusted. The Chief Engineer is a good role, but it seems like the least fun to play, as everyone will be trying to take advantage of you. I have nothing against player elimination, but in this case it seems undesirable to eliminate just one player and then have the engineer do double duty.

(=) I think this is a good use of the player screen as a play aid, especially as it can double as a role card. Each role could build different parts out of card combinations, giving a clue to player identity. I'd like to see the engineer be a hidden role as well. Good use of suspicion in trying to achieve your own goal while defeating other players.

lonebluewolf
lonebluewolf's picture
Offline
Joined: 01/23/2015
Project Y Feedback

The satellite components and various roles were my favorite parts of this game. I love simultaneous gameplay when it's implemented well, and the negotiation round where everyone's trying to figure out possible builds seems really lively, and gives everyone a chance to participate (or hang back, if that's your agenda). Each role was distinct and interesting, and there's a good blend of reasons for people to withhold pieces until they can use exactly the components they want.

As mindspike had noted, the only downside that immediately stuck out to me was the timeout rule; after being accused, does the Hired Agent just go make a sandwich? Maybe there should be a way for them to overtly sabotage construction after being revealed. Otherwise, a solidly simple concept that has some interesting emergent strategies. This got my silver.

DifferentName
DifferentName's picture
Offline
Joined: 09/08/2013
Project Y Derailed

Project Y Derailed

I voted gold on this one. I like the theme of working together to build a ship, with the possibility that someone will be trying to make the ship unstable. I imagine a player may want to make the ship stable, but might use an unstable card or two if that's all they had available, so you wouldn't know if they were working against you or not.

The specific numbers you gave make it sound very easy for the team to win. Over 9 turns, one player would get all the pieces they need to make the ship by themselves, if they had the right pieces, so it would probably be very easy for 2 or 3 players to make the ship. Also, 66% unstable sounds like a ton for the hired agent to win. These are the kinds of things that a little playtesting would reveal, but that's not expected for the contest. Aside from a little number tweaking, the overall design sounds fun, and really plays to the suspicion theme. Good job!

Hook
Hook's picture
Offline
Joined: 09/22/2014
you got me :-)

Thanks Andymorris, Mindspike. & Lonebluewolf for the great input - I couldn’t agree more. Interesting idea with the roles overlapping (I guess the only overlap it has now is the common goal to complete the project). And the scoring would probably be more fun if there was several extra common scoring possibilities.

The reason I thought I needed a chief was mostly because I wanted someone with a final say on who could place finished parts on the ship.. but maybe it is more fun if two roles could be racing on building the same part. I thought it could be fun if one player, the agent, did not share goal with others - but then I thought I needed a way for her to be stopped. Great input!

Earlier today I came to think that maybe the part blueprints was on cards dealt randomly in the start. This would make every play more different - but on the downside make it harder to learn to spot other roles … unless something else would reveal them.

Thank you again for the critiques.

BubbleChucks
Offline
Joined: 06/07/2012
Project Y Derailed

Project Y Derailed

(+) I liked the theme of the game and how the actions the players carried out, along with the components, really brought that theme to life. The mechanics worked as they should and it would generate suspicion and tension. I gave it my Silver medal.

(-) I didn’t like the player elimination and having a central chief engineer that experiences alternative game play to the other players isn’t my favorite mechanic in the world. Everything is solid, but I feel it needs a little something extra to spice up the general activity of passing pieces around.

Suggestions

The chief engineer role could be rotated around the players each turn. Each player is given a suspicion token in their color. In the chief engineer role the player can pass their suspicion token to any player that they suspect might be the agent. The targeted player has to pass their pieces to the chief engineer, who uses them in the round, and the suspected agent sits out the round.

At the end of the game the agent is revealed and any player that gave them a suspicion token receives bonus points. Any player that gave a non agent player a suspicion token looses points.

Event cards could be drawn at the start of the round. These cards can influence the overall timer with situations that can result in less time or increased time. The players have special skills according to their roles that they can use to address events at the expense of being able to pass around part pieces.

So a player could satisfy a bad event, helping the team by stopping the loss of time, but loose the opportunity to pass a part piece. Or did they deliberately address the event so they had an excuse not to pass a much needed part piece in their possession.

If a player has been excluded from the round, as a consequence of a suspicion token, their character role skill can't be used to address an event card.

BubbleChucks
Offline
Joined: 06/07/2012
General Feedback

I really like the GDS and the creative restrictions that it imposes on the design process. It is always a stimulating challenge that I look forward to reading about every month.

Winning is always of lesser importance to me than taking part. So when I decided to start entering I set myself a couple of additional restrictions, along with an alternative goal. I would enter 12 months in a row with new games that where designed in a maximum of 3 hours; after reading what the nature of the challenge was (2 hours to come up with a game and 1 hour to tidy it up and get it down to the fiendish 500 word limit).

I had a whoopsie over the submittal day one month (the move around challenge), although I did do a design for that month (so I figured the 12 in a row was still sort of a go). The contest with the publishing promise didn’t really appeal to me so I decided not to enter, which nailed the coffin lid shut on the 12 in a row goal. However, that particular contest and the wonderful opportunity it presented was a very welcome addition to the GDS (well done to everyone concerned for arranging it).

My personal reason for not entering that month was that I didn’t really know a lot about the publisher (entirely my fault and certainly not theirs). Obviously, I like challenges and Kickstarting a game would be a very interesting (albeit time consuming) one. So if a game is going to be published via that particular funding route then I would prefer to do it all myself, unless it also offered the opportunity to share the experience with people I had a developed awareness of. Working with fun, interesting and stimulating people always outweighs my fondness for setting and completing personal challenges.

With the 12 in a row failure I will probably take a break from entering for awhile and try again later in the year. I’ll still read each months outline with avid interest and I will probably design a few games as a consequence of the stimulus, but I should really focus 100% on the games I’m designing outside of it.

However, I will continue to vote and offer critiques when I can. I don’t always get the time to post critiques promptly and when I do have the time it’s usually the case that the other perceptive designers have pretty much covered any points I would raise, making them somewhat redundant. Not commenting makes me feel bad, like I’m letting down the team effort in some kind of way, so it will be nice to step in and out of things without feeling uncomfortable if I can’t contribute fully.

I also tend to be a little blunt in my opinions and long winded in some of my alternate suggestions. It’s a consequence of being a straight to the point and say what I believe northerner. And I suspect this might not be to everyones liking, because designers can be delicate individuals. When I do offer alternate avenues for thought I’m certainly not stating that I think the particular design I’m commenting on is a bad design or that it really needs to be changed. They are simply suggestions that could be play tested for validity and worth, function as a catalyst for idea generation or dismissed outright as being of no value. Any of these outcomes work for me.

In respect to this month I will admit that the “player screen” restriction didn’t excite me a whole lot. It’s a very boring and predominantly functional piece to work with. But, as Rich said, that is one of the points of the showdown. Forcing designers outside their comfort zones and developing their mad skillz.

I did design a game in my allotted time frame and I think it’s quite a good one. However, it didn’t use the player screen in a creative and original way so I wasn’t that impressed with its suitability for the showdown. It was also my Birthday during the week of the showdown so I got distracted with events around that and never bothered entered it.

After reading Richs comment I had another go and designed a game that sort of did use player screens in a reasonably novel way. I’ll probably post this second design after the critiques are done if anyone would be gracious enough to comment on it after the event.

And I will comment briefly on the games this month over the next couple of days.

Hook
Hook's picture
Offline
Joined: 09/22/2014
It feels

Awesome to get so much cool feedback. I really like your ideas BubbleChucks -
Great to shift the chief role around. Great to have suspicion tokens. Great to let the roles have special skills.
Maybe the chief is chosen/voted for somehow.

lonebluewolf
lonebluewolf's picture
Offline
Joined: 01/23/2015
Jewelry Thieves

I love a good heist! This got my gold. The idea of having to work together on a high stakes task, where you're absolutely suspicious of everyone and essentially have to put in just enough effort for it not to fail, did the best job of capturing this month's theme, in my opinion. I also liked how simple it was, in using a deck of playing cards.

The only thing I would've wanted to see more of was to make the player screens more integral, somehow. It wasn't completely clear to me where cards ended up as they were being dealt with, or how exactly they were returned to the deck for the next, bigger heist. I would love to see a fully fleshed out version of this concept!

DifferentName
DifferentName's picture
Offline
Joined: 09/08/2013
My game.

Thanks! I agree, I kind of just threw the screen in there because it was required. Since cards can be face down, the screen doesn't do much but hide the amount of money you have, which players won't necessarily care about. I was hoping to figure out something more useful for the screen, but already had too much to explain for the 500 words, and hoped the focus on suspicion would be enough.

I'm considering working on this game more, maybe with the goal of making a print and play game, or even a pure playing card game? You could play with playing cards and poker chips, along with a few printed characters or something.

I forgot to say that failing a roll gives you an alarm token. I mentioned getting alarm tokens can cause the team to lose the game, but not how you get them. Here are some other details wanted to fit in, but hit the 500 word limit.

Difficulty would increase by 1 each round (after all players have drawn a card). Difficulty also increases from security cards that are played face up. Jack increases difficulty by 1, Queen increases difficulty by 2, King increases difficulty by 3. Ace is the same as failing a roll, kicking you out of the heist and increasing difficulty by 1. To give a little greedy incentive to playing the card face up, if you play a security card face up, you get to draw an extra card. So playing the card face up would make the heist more difficult for the team, but might help you personally. I left out jokers, which could be used to reduce difficulty by 2 (to a minimum of 1), or to draw another card.

DifferentName
DifferentName's picture
Offline
Joined: 09/08/2013
Widget Factories

I voted bronze on Widget Factories. It was kind of tough to wrap my head around the theme in this one. I can't control my workers, or my factory, and don't benefit from my factory, so everything that you say is mine doesn't feel like mine. The game dynamics could be interesting though, working with/against other players to try to get an economy going on multiple factories.

I could see the screen being used for something very unique, if the factory can only function by using resources that are behind another players screen. Like, if I choose to mass produce some widgets, and it turns out the player doesn't have all the parts required, or can't pay the workers, then my action was just ineffective.

andymorris
Offline
Joined: 03/05/2014
Overdue thoughts Jewelry Heist

Sorry I didn't get a chance to post anything on Friday. I liked this game. I thought the no honour amoung thieves suspicion element was perfect for the challenge. I like the way the points were split up.

I wasn't sure about the dice. I didn't like the idea of an unlucky roll on your first turn and then you're out for the whole round. The chance element fits the theme, so I'm sure that you'll find the right balance.

Initially I didn't like the use of standard cards, but hearing your plan they would be totally fine. Using custom cards gives you more flexibility and visual appeal and avoids the what does a jack mean again issue. Obviously, you are aware of this, and the trade off to make it an easy print and play would easily be worth it.

I voted bronze for this game. Nice job.

andymorris
Offline
Joined: 03/05/2014
Thoughts on Antitrust

I voted a silver for this entry. I like the secret teams element. I like the secret allocation of people. I like that you pass the people around. I wasn't totally clear on what the goals are and how you achieve them, but overall I thought it sounded like an interesting concept. Good job.

lonebluewolf
lonebluewolf's picture
Offline
Joined: 01/23/2015
Widget Factories Feedback

I particularly liked the idea that your output is entirely at the whim of other players, it feels like a novel approach to me. Makes negotiating way more important! However, the player screens didn't really seem to have an important role in concealing information. I would have liked to know more about this, and the various player actions and goals. It also seems like the three round limit is very short, but that would depend on how complex all of the actions and goals are.

DifferentName
DifferentName's picture
Offline
Joined: 09/08/2013
Antitrust

The rules were pretty hard to understand on this one, and I think it's because there were a lot of unanswered questions. There aren't really any examples of the goals or of how the merger affects the game. I understand through the theme that I would be trying to figure out the other players corporation, but without understanding my goal, it's not clear what benefit I get from this information. What does HR do? Why would I want to give away agents?

I think these were probably just problems with the word limit. Corporate espionage fits great with the suspicion theme, moving agents around between corporations, and using game abilities to figure out another companies goals. There were just too many details missing for me to wrap my head around the gameplay.

lonebluewolf
lonebluewolf's picture
Offline
Joined: 01/23/2015
AntiTrust

The 500 word limit definitely lead to some challenges as to what to include and what to gloss over. Definitely something I'll keep in mind for the future, this being my first GDS. It was a lot of fun!

Admittedly, AntiTrust is just the Prisoner's Dilemma a lot, with multiple people, plus a couple of twists. I tried to keep it from getting overly complicated. To elaborate on the goals, for those who were curious, contracts I had in mind were things like revealing a certain color combination for your Co-op Committee that matched/coordinated with your partner(s).

As an example, for a team with potentially three people, each card might say something like, "[Color of the partner to your left], [Your color], [Color of the partner to your right]," whereas a team of up to two could be "[Your partner's color] x3." If you discover you have no partners, the card would have a different set of goals, like revealing more/less Agents in the HR (unused pool) than anyone else, or the majority of another player's color. When you and any partners think you've completed your goal, you would all reveal your identities to the other players to win.

DifferentName
DifferentName's picture
Offline
Joined: 09/08/2013
Energy Crisis

I voted Silver on Energy Crisis. This game has some fun ideas with manipulating the market, but some of the ideas seem to conflict with eachother. It sounds like you get points only from a single resource type, but your goal may be to make that resource less valuable. Having a secondary goal to make a resource less valuable could be fun, but if that's the only resource you get points from, the goal seems self defeating.

The tug of war with multiple resources makes me think of Hare & Tortoise. In that game, players have two racers they're trying to help, and can keep an eye on other players to try and figure out which they might be trying to help. I bet having a couple resource goals, would be funner than just one. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SjHyHDKi66A

lonebluewolf
lonebluewolf's picture
Offline
Joined: 01/23/2015
Giving away Agents

DifferentName wrote:
What does HR do? Why would I want to give away agents?

This was another aspect I was worried I hadn't fully conveyed. The only way to look at another player's identity is to reveal a Co-Op Committee color combination that matches Agents in their HR (the pool of unassigned pawns), and the Agent they assigned to you if there is one. Therefore, you're more likely to make a match if you've managed to get your Agents into your opponents' corporations, and they don't assign them against other players.

andymorris
Offline
Joined: 03/05/2014
Thoughts on Energy Crisis

I like the central mechanism in the game. Choosing which cards to take and which ones to discard would create some interesting decisions as you watch the overall values. I'm not sure about the guessing element. It doesn't seem like there's a lot to base the guesses on and I'm not sure what it implies thematically. I think it's interesting that it is a game where you collect resources, but you don't ever have to spend them. While that qualifies as different, I don't think it feels like an energy crises if you don't have to worry about burning your fuel. Overall an interesting concept, but I was left a few more questions than the entries I voted for.

lonebluewolf
lonebluewolf's picture
Offline
Joined: 01/23/2015
Energy Crisis

This got my bronze. While I was confused about how each turn played out, I thought that Energy Crisis made good use of the screens by concealing the resources unique to each objective. I think with some clarification on the rules, this could be a neat game about economics and market speculation.

mindspike
mindspike's picture
Offline
Joined: 09/06/2011
Feedback on entries

Feedback: Jewelry Thieves

(+) The suspicion element fits so naturally with pulling a heist. I love the idea of players working together to boost the value of the heist while still trying to keeping something back for themselves. The main mechanic seems to be solid, and there's an opportunity to accuse others of doing dirty.

(-) I feel like this can be implemented more cleanly, with greater concealment of information so that players don't know who is pulling their own weight. The screens aren't used very well.

Feedback: Widget Factories

(=) I didn't really feel I had a firm handle on the rules. I didn't see how the players are supposed to be suspicious of each other, or how a screen was to be used. This could be an interesting worker-placement model, but I didn't really understand it.

Feedback: AntiTrust

(=) The construction of teams with conflicting agendas could be very cool, and the cyberpunk theme appeals to me. I feel like there could a lot of second guessing going on as corporations trade team members for assignments. The suspicion and screen elements are used well, but the word limit really hurts.

Feedback: Energy Crisis

(=) The hidden goals are the heart and soul of this one, and trying to obscure your own while guessing others could be very interesting. I don't have a strong sense of how this would play out.

andymorris
Offline
Joined: 03/05/2014
Thoughts on Suspicious Fishes

I really like the title. I was disappointed I couldn't come up with a more clever name for my entry, good job. I think the base concept is solid, but I don't think you had enough time to flesh it out. I suspect you responded to Rich's last minute plea for entries, so thank you for pulling something together. I don't think it would take much to develop this into a quick, fun group game.

DifferentName
DifferentName's picture
Offline
Joined: 09/08/2013
Suspicious Fishes

This game makes me think of an upcoming game called Spyfall, which I'm excited to try sometime soon. In spyfall, one player is a spy, and everyone asks questions to figure out who the spy is. But the key in Spyfall is that everyone gets a card with the same location on it, except the player that gets the spy card. So the questions you ask are based on shared information, trying to figure out which player doesn't know the location, without giving away too much information about the location you're in.

Suspicious Fishes seems to be aiming for a similar mechanic, using your wit to figure out who's going against the team, but what kind of questions would you be able to ask to figure out who the shark is? It wouldn't really come down to wit, just whether the shark has a good poker face or not.

I like the core idea of Suspicious Fishes, but it would also be helpful to clarify some of the rules, like when you can make a guess of who the shark is, or the penalty for getting the guess wrong. As written, you can just guess everyone one at a time till you get to the shark. You also gave no details on the sharks ability to take more fish. They could just dump out the fish and win instantly. Showdown entries don't always need all these details, but you had the spare words available, so fleshing out some of these details could be helpful for us to imagine how the game would play out.

Miika
Miika's picture
Offline
Joined: 02/01/2015
Fun project

I have already forgotten most of the entries and rules.. However, I remember the Project Y. Satellite building game. It seemed like a lot of fun and it could actually work "in real life" also.

I made a card game version of Energy Crisis after this entry. I wanted this to be simple and short game, since the Energy crisis was a bit confusing, even to me. Unfortunately, the thing that has collected at least some positive feedback, has also been left out, the screen and guessing the goals. I'll post it on forum afterwards.

Syndicate content


forum | by Dr. Radut