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[GDS] September 2016 "Marble games" Questions and Comments

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richdurham
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Use this thread for any comments/questions or discussion on the September 2016 GDS

richdurham
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Entries for September

The last few month have had fewer entries than in the past. I know the GDS goes through cycles as members come and go, but for the current crop of active members, is there a missing value in the GDS?

What are you looking for in a a practical design challenge?

andymorris
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My two cents

Rich first off thank you to you and Mindspike for making the GDS happen each month. I really enjoyed it for a long time. I entered all but three times between March 2014 and January 2016. I love the challenge of trying to whittle an idea down to 500 words while hopefully making at least some sense. I love seeing what other people come up with. I appreciate how it forced me to think about ideas I never would have otherwise. I always nervously looked foward to the voting results being posted each month and then I really enjoyed hearing different people's perspectives on all the ideas. However, in the last few months of 2015 the last part really dried up. There were a couple of months where I was basically the only one providing feedback on the entries. With less entries and moreover virtually no input from anyone regarding how they decided on their votes, it stopped feeling worth the time and effort of typing out an idea. I suspect I'm not the only who stopped entering because of the lack of participation in the critiques thread.

As for this month's challenge, I actually really liked it. Trying to come up with an historical event that could be represented with marbles would have been interesting.

I know the GDS can still be as enjoyable as it was if there's a commitment from the participants to explain their voting and provide thoughtful feedback on the entries. There is a lot of value in practicing writing out ideas concisely, which is the greatest benefit of participating in the GDS. I know that if/when I manage to accomplish my goal of having a game published it will be in no part because of the GDS (odds are it will even be a game that started as a GDS entry).

Rich, perhaps when you post the next GDS you could include some thoughts on the benefits of entering and a reminder that when you enter there is an expectation that you participate in the critique thread.

Thanks again for all the work you do for the forum, especially the GDS.

Tedthebug
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I like it, but

I like the GDS but I'm really inexperienced in design & not confident or knowledgeable in a lot of mechanisms yet. I look at the challenge but between my lack of experience to come up with something clear & my family/study/work commitments I'm generally to slow to get anything done.

As for providing feedback,mor me that's a confidence issue. I'm happy to provide input if I have an idea when people are asking for something in a specific area of their game as anything like that could provide inspiration on where to head or where to avoid (for when my response makes them think it through & realise that that's an area they should stay away from) but for actual critiquing of game ideas then again my lack of experience is keeping me away from doing that as I'm not confident in my analysis.

richdurham
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Important points

Thank you for the feedback.

@andymorris - Good insight. I know in the past the stress was on the critique - it's the prize at the end we look forward to, since we don't have anything other than glory! It's imperative to have feedback for the system to work.

Looking at actionable steps, of course I can stress this again, but is that all we as the BGDF community can do to change behaviours? We're game designers, right? I'd hate to track it, but we could give a bonus point to contributors that provide critiques.

Optionally, I could praise individuals that provide copious and quality feedback in the next month's GDS posting.

Another option would to have a larger gamified system in place at BGDF, which is not an immediately actionable item.

Thoughts?

@tedthebug - Oh good sir, you have nothing to worry about in the GDS. The whole POINT is to learn and grow, and that doesn't happen without doing it. That's the only requirement, and I can guarantee you all the ideas are crap. All of them. Excuse the metaphor, but all ideas are crap because everyone has them, most of them stink, and likely they're discarded without closer examination.

But you don't know if it's actually crap or if it can be polished into a gold brick unless you look in the bowl.

As for not having the confidence, know that this is a supportive "contest." No one here is going to publish the 500 words they write for the GDS - they're all on equal footing. If you don't already know about imposter, look it up on youtube. Here's one to get you started.. And another.

richdurham
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Chart on entry data

I took a few minutes to make some charts based on GDS entry data over the last year and a half. Starting with January 2014 up through September 2016.

This chart shows the number of entries along with the number of critique-thread replies and views.

Hopefully it'll inform this discussion. Looking at the data, there's an obvious trend down over this time, with some spikes. Notably in December 2014 when there was a contest for a game to be published.

Squinshee
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Laziness. I see these every

Laziness. I see these every month and tell myself I'm too busy. I'm not. Designing with constraints would help me grow as a designer. I will absolutely participate next month!

Tedthebug
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Fair enough

I'll do my best to enter the next one, or at least try to provide my feedback even if I don't.

I have done digital game jams & I tried the global game jam run in January. My mate & I decided to do a Boardgame as it was less stressful than trying to code a game in 48hrs so I suppose I don't really have an excuse (except the aforementioned fear of embarrassment) for not giving this a go.

andymorris
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Nice chart

Thanks Rich for getting some discussion going on this. That chart sure paints a clear picture. I don't think any action is required beyond a friendly reminder of what the GDS is all about. Sounds like we've already got two new people in. Thanks Squinshee and Tedthebug. I'm looking forward to the October challenge already.

andymorris
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Feedback on Marble Revolution

Given that we're talking about the importance of feedback to the GDS, I thought I'd give Opinioso my thoughts on his entry.

I like how the rounds change what you're trying to do. I think the different marble types and the different rounds are logically consistent with the historical theme chosen. Overall definitely a good job on a difficult challenge. However, ultimately it is only a variant of regular marbles. Not to say thay is a bad thing. It is in fact a very clever variant. It would be nice to see marbles used for their "marble-liness" in a non standard way. If there were multiple entries to vote on, I would have been looking for the most original way of using the marbles. For example, filling up a container of some sort until it overflows. Perhaps sometimes you'd want your marbles spilling out and other times you do not. Maybe sometimes you dump the whole container and there could be low spots where you hope to get one of your marbles to stop. I don't know if any of that would be useful to your French Revolution theme, but a quick thought of something different to try with marbles.

Thanks for entering and keeping the GDS alive.

mindspike
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Thanks for speaking up,

Thanks for speaking up, everyone!

It does seem that the best way to get more participation is to have more participation..... Hmm.....

Since the challenge is all about designing within constraints, how about some more specific questions:

How do you feel about theme restrictions?

How do you feel about component restrictions?

How do you feel about mechanic restrictions?

Do you detect a pattern here? :) These are basically the things we can control in posing the challenge. Does anyone have any additional suggestions for ways to constrain the challenge?

mindspike
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Marble Revolution feedback

I agree with andymorris, this is basically a twist on the traditional marbles game. Understanding that, it's a pretty good twist.

(+) This game lets you combine a bit of scoring strategy, a bit of "deck" building, and a good bit of dexterity.

(-) The main mechanic is just ordinary marbles, with no twist.

(=) The concept is solid. Taking a single game and changing the scoring or small points of procedure is the basis for a truckload of games that have endured for a long time. Darts and poker come to mind.

mindspike
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Some mechanical ideas.

I brainstormed with the family and came up with some mechanical implementations for marbles.

Pixel Art

Using only marbles, recreate an assigned work of art. The game includes marbles in solid colors, cards with work of art that have been pixelized, and a tray to contain the marble “canvas”.

Chopsticks

It's not so easy to pick up marbles with chopsticks. It's a lot more difficult when everyone is trying to get the same marbles.

Sponge Roll

Lay out the marbles inside of a playing area with a scoring area for each player. Using a regular kitchen sponge, each player takes turn rolling it across the top of the marbles in a straight line. Any marbles in the scoring area are removed at the end of the turn.

Stacker

Designate a 6 inch circle as the playing area. Arrange 9 marbles in a grid in the center. Players take turns stacking a marble on top of the existing marbles. The marbles will tend to fall to the bottom and push the arrangement outwards. Marbles that exit the playing area are scored. If any player manages to place a marble on the fourth tier, they win automatically.

Opinioso
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Thanks for the comments

It took me a while to answer, but I'm glad to see some comments about the idea. And I agree with everything you told: it wasn't an extremely original idea, but a twist on the usual marble game. And my intention was exactly that: to twist something that works with a different theme, like a lot of games do (as mentioned by mindspike). I thought that it should envolve dexterity (which I hate) because of the marbles, but I wanted it to be different from the usual game of taking the adversary's marbles out and that's it. It would certainly need a lot of balancing, but I think it would work, at least as an adult variant for the marbles game.

Anyway, I hope to see more people on the next showdown (and I guess I'll see, considering this post). I've alrady learned a lot with every edition, even the ones I didn't participate. :)

A Round Tuit
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Laziness and fear

I'd have to go with Squinshee and say "laziness".

I take the bus to school which is where I spend the most time doodling in my design journal. But I've been off school for a month and a half and the desire to work on my designs, visit and respond on the forums, and enter contests has fallen completely out the back of my head. The new quarter started this week and suddenly here I am again! Imagine that...

I like the current format of the contests. However, my own apprehension about trying to design outside of what I know has prevented me from entering more of them. For example, I have no interest in tournament style games... I don't play them and I don't know much about how they work. I didn't know where to start and I felt like my best shot would be garbage.

The July "Time's Up" contest a couple months back was the first contest I'd even entered and I won! (Thank you guys so much for the feedback, by the way!) I scribbled out critiques of all the other designs and my reasoning for voting the way I did in my design journal but I procrastinated on typing them up and eventually forgot to do it. My fear of stepping on anyone's toes didn't help either.

By the by, is it appropriate to respond to critiques of your own designs (and how) or is it better to accept it as-is? I journaled about every critique (good and bad) and responded to each. I changed parts of my design right away but defended my decisions for other parts. I welcome the dialog and criticism but I don't want to seem contrarian in my responses.

richdurham
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responding to critiques

Whether to respond to critiques in general is a deeper question, and at this stage of a game's lifespan I'd say that the best way to approach it is to "yes, and" the feedback. This isn't a playtest; all the feedback you're getting here is true in that it is a reflection of what the readers thought of the game idea and writing.

As in, someone thought the use of marbles wasn't particularly innovative? Use it to start a conversation to dig deeper, like "yes, and...what other ways do they see marbles commonly used so you can get a better sense of what's out already overused?" or "yes, and...how do components act as a draw for them in games?"

While a day per entry isn't enough time to really dig deep on all of the entries (unless people are on at the same time!) Hopefully some themes can be drawn out of it by the end of the critique cycle.

BoardGent
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Tighter restrictions

I don't know how many people are like me, but when I'm given a very loose set of rules to follow I usually can't choose something to do or narrow it down. Maybe the idea of a game with marbles could work well as a challenge, but something like: design a dexterity game with marbles and a history theme, or design party game with marbles and a history theme.

From there, the initial challenge of deciding what kind of game and the numerous ways marbles can be used has been narrowed down allowing people to skip a few brainstorming steps. Having a solid theme is really nice, because it'll also help narrow down how the marble mechanics are expressed.

It is probably too late, but using the properties of marbles and not treating them just as a sort of token, I'd try a game with a large marble with numerous designs going around its "equator". Each design will point at a different person around the marble, and that player will have to do something different depending on what design lands on them. For a historical theme, maybe the something that they do is preparing for the Crusades, and the marble can tell you what resources you gain or what tech options you can get.

I probably wouldn't have come to that idea without this contest, so I don't think the problem is the use of marbles. I apologize for not participating in the last one, school and stuff recently have kept me pretty busy. Will participate and vote/critique in the coming ones.

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