# Queen Games seeking new Cube Tower game

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jeffinberlin
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Joined: 07/29/2008

Since Queen Games owns a patent (and pays for it every year) on their "cube tower," they are desparately seeking a new "big box" game using the device as a central mechanic.

The tower was previously used for the games Wallenstein (and it's remake, Shogun), as well as Im Zeichen des Kreuzes.

Unlike these previous games, however, Queen Games is specifically looking for a new game that does not use the tower to resolve battles.

The other requirement is that it should not be possible to use cards or dice to duplicate the mechanic using the cube tower (in other words, the game should be something that can only be played with the cube tower, making it a central mechanic).

A word of warning, should you choose to make a submission: Queen is notoriously slow in responding to game designers.

Zzzzz
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Joined: 06/20/2008
Thanks for the info, seems

Thanks for the info, seems like an interesting and intriguing challenge!

coco
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Joined: 07/27/2008
Math

Does any of you have statistically analized how this device works?

Néstor

jwarrend
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Joined: 08/03/2008
Queen Games seeking new Cube Tower game

For the online implementation of Wallenstein at Spielbyweb.com, the developer used this simple model:

A cube thrown into the tower has a 2/3 chance of coming out.
A cube stuck in the tower from a previous throw has a 1/3 chance of coming out.

I don't know if anyone has done a rigorous analysis but anecdotally, that didn't seem like too bad of an approximation.

-Jeff

coco
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Joined: 07/27/2008
Chance for a stuck cube to come out

jwarrend wrote:
A cube thrown into the tower has a 2/3 chance of coming out.
A cube stuck in the tower from a previous throw has a 1/3 chance of coming out.
-Jeff

Hmmm, so the chance for a stuck cube to come out doesn't depend on the number of cubes you throw in?

I mean:

Suppose there is 1 cube stuck in the tower. Is there the same chance for that cube to come out if I throw 3 cubes than if I throw 6?

Forgive my english.

Néstor

Zzzzz
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Joined: 06/20/2008
Jeff, Do you know if the

Jeff,

Do you know if the tower has to be used *exactly* like it is? Any potential for light/minor modifications?

Do you have a location that discusses this need in more detail? For example do they have a post on their site that lists the restrictions/limitations of the expect submission, etc?

jeffinberlin
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Joined: 07/29/2008

I'm afraid that's all the info available. I received this tip from friend and designer Peer Sylverster ("King of Siam") who has been submitting some games to Queen.

From what I understand, the tower needs to be used "as is" with no major modifications. It can be docorated with different art, of course, as it was for "Shogun."

If you can develop and test a prototype that uses the tower, email the rules to Queen Games and attach a photo of your prototype. Of course, you'll need one of their games in order to use the tower for your prototype. And, there's some risk involved--since they have the patent on it, you won't be able to shop your game to anyone else if it's rejected!

You can send emails to Bernd Dietrich, the Product Manager for Queen at:
b.dietrichATqueen-gamesDOTde

-Jeff

GamesOnTheBrain
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Joined: 07/24/2008
Hmmm.... thanks for sharing!

Hmmm.... thanks for sharing!

coco
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Joined: 07/27/2008
Thank you

Thank you, Jeff!

Néstor

sedjtroll
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Joined: 07/21/2008
jeffinberlin wrote:The other

jeffinberlin wrote:
The other requirement is that it should not be possible to use cards or dice to duplicate the mechanic using the cube tower (in other words, the game should be something that can only be played with the cube tower, making it a central mechanic).

Well, one could argue that the only thing the cube tower does can be replicated with a deck of cards.

Any argument that a deck of cards does about the same thing as whatever main mechanism we come up with could just as easily be refuted as my statement above. So I wouldn't worry too much about that part of it.

Thanks for posting this, Jeff!

- Seth

jeffinberlin
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Joined: 07/29/2008

The unique thing about the cube tower is that some cubes thrown in earlier MAY come out later in the game.
When the tower was used for combat in Queen's other games, this was somewhat unrealistic, as cubes of a color often came out in a battle that were not even involved in the conflict!

There must be a better theme for this.

Not sure how you would really be able to use a deck of cards or dice to replicate that part of it, though.
I suppose, then that is the key to using the cube tower--a theme that fits this "some cubes from earlier coming out later in the game" mechanic that is unique to the tower.

Meddler
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Joined: 08/05/2008
Time Travel leaps out to me

jeffinberlin wrote:
The unique thing about the cube tower is that some cubes thrown in earlier MAY come out later in the game.
When the tower was used for combat in Queen's other games, this was somewhat unrealistic, as cubes of a color often came out in a battle that were not even involved in the conflict!

There must be a better theme for this.

I'd be tempted to throw together something based around an unreliable time travel theme, with different turns representing different eras in time. Players therefore will often get their pieces through to the intended time (if dropped in at the start of an era) but will sometimes end up with them delayed and turning up later. Add a few pre placed cubes in before game starts and you can also approximate pieces turning up earlier than the intended era or even representing pieces sent through by the player in the future well before anything was sent etc etc.

MatthewF
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Joined: 07/22/2008
It could be replicated with

It could be replicated with cards by having people add cards of different colors to a deck, then shuffling, then dealing out a random number of them, adding later to the remaining deck. You might have a card that's always put back in the deck labeled "STOP," to stop dealing them out. It's somewhat clunkier and less fun, but the mechanism could be done with cards.

Meddler
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Joined: 08/05/2008
How would you get the same

How would you get the same probability split (2/3 chance to go through, 1/3 chance to get stuck reported above) using cards though? If you deal the newly added cards in with the old then the new ones won't be more likely to make it through. If you keep them seperate and deal some from each pile you're no longer using a random chance on old vrs new proportions but instead just dealing at a fixed ratio.

Edit: Ok, I admit you could simply roll a dice (or use another random method) for each individual card to determine stuck/not stuck or still stuck/unstuck if you really wanted to. Can't think of anything that the tower does that this wouldn't roughly represent (inner intricacies ignored for now). Big thing is that it's quick and different, that sort of manual approach would be a real game killer in terms of fun/time.

MatthewF
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Joined: 07/22/2008
You could shuffle all the

You could shuffle all the cards and deal the first 2/3 of them, leaving the 1/3 "stuck." It doesn't make the new ones more likely to fall than the old ones, though in practice with the tower it seems like the odds of getting old or new ones are about the same. Still, I'll be playing with it this weekend to see how they really fall.

Torrent
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Joined: 08/03/2008
The idea that came to mind

The idea that came to mind was something to do with commodity speculation or production chains. Such that the Outputs of the Tower are recieved by players to use and pay for actions ala normal Euro. You perhaps 'buy' a number of cubes to toss into the tower, and may get more or less back. If there was a finite number of each cube, if you knew there was alot of 'bricks' in the tower, mayber you could buy cheaper 'corn' cubes to toss in and try to get bricks.

So you use the 'expected outcome' kind of action of the tower to be able to sort of predict what will come out, but not exactly when or how much. Just as a concept as far from resolving battles as I could muster.

I'm posting this as an idea mainly because I already have so much in my life there is no chance I could develop it myself, so posting for other's benefit.

Isamoor
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Joined: 08/06/2008
Potential Use

Thanks for the heads up. It was a fun thought exercise. Because I don't feel like writing this all the way up for submission:

Gold Panning

Work that river for the gold!

Cubes:
Gravel Cubes
Gold Cubes

Seed the tower with about 5 Gold and 25 Gravel Cubes.

Seed each river space with 3 random cubes.

Panning Action:

Roll 3d6. Take gold from the supply equal to the lowest value on a single die. Take additional gold from the supply equal to the number of gold cubes on the space. Take gravel from the supply equal to the highest value on a single die. Take additional gravel from the supply equal to the number of gravel cubes on the space. Toss all those cubes into the tower and recover everything that falls into the tray.

I think it fits the mechanics to the theme somewhat. However, I wonder if they'd frown on the whole "use dice + cube tower" bit...

Darkehorse
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Joined: 07/21/2008
Cube Tower probabilities

Folks,

Geoff Engelstein of the Dice Tower broke down the cube tower probabilities in episode #119. If you are seriously thinking about entering a design you should definitely listen.

http://audio.funagain.com/thedicetower/TDT119-TheDiceTower-Episode119.mp3

-Darke

MatthewF
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Joined: 07/22/2008
Great tip, Darke, thanks!

Great tip, Darke, thanks!

InvisibleJon
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Joined: 07/27/2008
The cube tower opens up a lot of interesting design space.

I think that the cube tower opens up a lot of interesting design space.

Disclaimer: I've never seen one of these "cube towers", so my assumptions about what it can and can not do may be in error

I'm assuming that it's like a dice tower, where you put cubes in the top and they come out of the bottom, but the twist is that what you put in the top is not guaranteed to immediately come out of the bottom. I'm also assuming that the cubes that go in the top are roughly the same size as small dice.

(*pause*)

Okay, so I just looked Shogun and Wallenstein up on BGG and looked at several good pictures of the cube tower. It looks like the cubes and other widgets that you put in the tower are pretty tiny. Even so, they're big enough to offer some interesting opportunities.

The cube tower provides a lot of vectors for game designers to use and tweak that a deck of cards would have a very hard time simulating:
* You can vary the size and shape of the cubes you put in the tower, thereby altering their chance of coming out later or altering the chance of future cubes coming out (by blocking their passage).
* You can block one (or more) of the four top openings, thereby preventing any of the cubes under that opening from coming out until the blockage is removed.
* You can put markings on the faces of the cubes that you put in the tower. The effect of the cube depends on what its top face's markings are.
* Cubes can have varying numbers of faces. You can use most of the platonic solids as well as cylinders, hemispheres, and spheres.
* You can make where the cubes land on the output tray relevant. For example, if a red cube lands in a red zone (marked on the template you lay in the tray at the start of the game), its effect could be doubled. When where a "cube" lands becomes relevant, shape and weight of the cubes becomes a lot more relevant. It also introduces the opportunity to place barriers, special zones, and the like in the output tray during play.
* You can create a rule for jostling the tower without adding anything to the tower. (Okay, this is actually pretty easy to simulate with a deck of cards).

There are a lot of nifty opportunities.

Best Regards,

Jonathan

sedjtroll
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Joined: 07/21/2008
Nice!

InvisibleJon wrote:
* You can vary the size and shape of the cubes you put in the tower, thereby altering their chance of coming out later or altering the chance of future cubes coming out (by blocking their passage).
* You can block one (or more) of the four top openings, thereby preventing any of the cubes under that opening from coming out until the blockage is removed.
* You can put markings on the faces of the cubes that you put in the tower. The effect of the cube depends on what its top face's markings are.
* Cubes can have varying numbers of faces. You can use most of the platonic solids as well as cylinders, hemispheres, and spheres.
* You can make where the cubes land on the output tray relevant. For example, if a red cube lands in a red zone (marked on the template you lay in the tray at the start of the game), its effect could be doubled. When where a "cube" lands becomes relevant, shape and weight of the cubes becomes a lot more relevant. It also introduces the opportunity to place barriers, special zones, and the like in the output tray during play.
* You can create a rule for jostling the tower without adding anything to the tower. (Okay, this is actually pretty easy to simulate with a deck of cards).

There are a lot of nifty opportunities.

Nice ideas! This is a good description of how one could use the cube tower in a non-trivial way.

My earlier statement about the deck of cards was in reference to using the tower "as-is", the way you do in Wallenstein for example. Jon's ideas really rely on the tower itself, which is cool.

lucasAB
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Joined: 07/26/2008

I still haven't figured out how the tower works. So you throw ten cubes in. 7 come out. What happens to the other 3? Do you take them out after the toss, or do you leave them in?

MatthewF
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Joined: 07/22/2008
lucasAB wrote:I still haven't

lucasAB wrote:
I still haven't figured out how the tower works. So you throw ten cubes in. 7 come out. What happens to the other 3? Do you take them out after the toss, or do you leave them in?

You leave them in, such that they might well fall out later, though you never know when.

Gizensha
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Joined: 07/26/2008
Although apparently if

Although apparently if they're still there after about 3-5 tosses they're probably not coming out for that game at all.

SiddGames
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Joined: 08/02/2008
Thanks for posting this --

Thanks for posting this -- every time we play Shogun I think about other ways to use the thing. My favorite is throwing dice (or as Jon says, marked cubes) into the thing. That's really just a mechanic in search of a game, though. I like the idea of considering what could the tower really represent, rather than just being a randomization device, so I'll have to give that some thought.

/sniff

I smell a project brewing...

coco
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Joined: 07/27/2008
Near events

Hi!

I've been thinking (as many of you) about this device an about how much its randomness/results can me manipulated by the players through smart and strategic gameplay. Strategy implies 'seeing things in advance'. The tower could be strategicaly used as it keeps 'cubes for the future' inside. But in order to work properly, players must know what is going to happen in the next 2 or 3 turns. I'll call this 'near events'.

In my opinion, excesive randomness is not a good thing in a strategic game. I suggest these near events must not be determined by the tower results, as the system will become too random again.

Example:

In the next turn it is going to rain.
In the second turn it is going to keep raining.
In the third turn it is going to stop raining.

But the players should not modify this by setting the amount of cubes they throw into the tower.

Just thinking...

Néstor

paolo
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Joined: 08/01/2008
available resources

The tower could be good to determine the quantity and type of available resources.
Player build things and need specific resources. If you're building a wall you'll need stone, that is: grey cubes.
The other players could need other things: wood, metal, etc.
All the players simultaneously play a card that shows the number and kind of resources that they want to throw in the tower. The card can also show the 'picking order' of each player, as well as how many (or which) resources they can take from the tower.
All the resources are thrown in the tower together, then each player, in the order determined by the played cards, pick the resources he needs, if there are enough.

Or something like that. If anybody wants to explore this mechanic, please let me know.

InvisibleJon
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Joined: 07/27/2008
He who controls the weather, controls the universe!

I know this is the exact opposite of what you suggested, bit this gives me a neat idea...

Context: Players are nations fighting for territory in a Civilization-style game. Players use units to gather resources (food, minerals, etc) and perform military operations (attack / defense).

Imagine that the tower represents a global weather control system.

Rough Turn Sequence:
* Purchase weather contracts: You can spend action points to purchase weather cubes (sun, rain, fog, wind, etc.).
* Weather control: Players may add some or all of their purchased cubes to a pool of control cubes. Dump the control pool into the weather control tower. The cubes that come out dictate what the weather is like this turn.
* Declare & Resolve Actions: Players declare and resolve their actions. The weather has a direct impact on the likelihood of an action's success. Farmers produce more when it rains. Ships move faster and aerial units have more trouble when it is windy. Military actions become more likely to fail in fog.

Access to weather control could be dictated by two things: Spending action points to purchase weather cubes and control of weather nodes on the board. If you lose all of your weather nodes, you can't purchase or add weather cubes to the weather control tower any more. This could also be the victory condition of the game: A player who controls (say) 80% of the weather nodes wins the game.

Certain weather cube combinations could create special weather conditions. For Example:
* 4 rain & 4 wind puts a hurricane marker on the board.
* Every 3 wind not used for another effect puts a tornado on the board.
* 4 wind & 4 sun puts an electrical storm on the board.
...and so on.
Who controls the special storms? The player who controls the most control nodes does. If tied, they can share the power, or bid for sole control.

lucasAB
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Joined: 07/26/2008
I guess I will think of something

Well, I don't know about you guys, but I'm going to see if they could produce one of my games that uses their "unique" cube tower mechanism. I e-mailed them in German, and they said they would send me one of their towers, so I guess I can start fidiling around with it next week. Do any of you think it is worth a designer's time to work on a project like this? Doesn't Queen have in-house designers that are already working on this?

Isamoor
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lucasAB wrote:Well, I don't

lucasAB wrote:
Well, I don't know about you guys, but I'm going to see if they could produce one of my games that uses their "unique" cube tower mechanism. I e-mailed them in German, and they said they would send me one of their towers, so I guess I can start fidiling around with it next week. Do any of you think it is worth a designer's time to work on a project like this? Doesn't Queen have in-house designers that are already working on this?

Is it worth your time? Heh. What's your time worth? How do you judge what an activity is worth? Will a 2% chance of publication be worth 10-15 hours of your own time tinkering with an idea?

Could you work some overtime and make another few hundred dollars in that time?

Would you rather be playing other games or prototypes you enjoy?

Will having your name on a box be worth more than the cost of your time?

It's all rather fuzzy to me. I tend to just do whatever brings me joy. For the most part, I see about 5 hours a week of tinkering to be the best balance for me.

Sorry for the tangent, I was just feeling, well, tangential...

MatthewF
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Joined: 07/22/2008
Isamoor wrote:Is it worth

Isamoor wrote:
Is it worth your time? Heh. What's your time worth? How do you judge what an activity is worth? Will a 2% chance of publication be worth 10-15 hours of your own time tinkering with an idea?

Honestly, unless you're the most amazing designer ever, 10-15 hours isn't going to produces something Queen would pick up, and 2% is, imo, quite a bit on the high end of likelihood. Especially if you only put 10-15 hours into it.

Publishers don't buy game ideas, they buy game designs. Big difference in terms of time.

Quote:
Could you work some overtime and make another few hundred dollars in that time?

Would you rather be playing other games or prototypes you enjoy?

Will having your name on a box be worth more than the cost of your time?

Opportunity cost is always a factor. If 30 people out there are working on something to pitch to Queen based on this desire, or even 130, maybe I should be working on a design of my own that's closer to being ready, competing less directly for this specific thing. I think it's a very valid question.