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[GDS] February 2011 Game Design Showdown - "The Dice Gods Must Be Crazy" - Critiques

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sedjtroll
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Use this thread to post constructive critiques of the entries to the February 2011 Game Design Showdown entitled "The Dice Gods Must Be Crazy".

sedjtroll
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Winners announced!

Congrats to the winner, runner up, and all entrants to this month's GDS. The winner and runner up were also the 2 games with the most votes in the first round of voting...

Rolling Plunder in 1st,
Died in the Wool in 2nd.

Thanks for entering!

- Seth

kos
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Congrats to all!

Congratulations to all the people who put together a game for the competition. And especially well done to Rolling Plunder and Died in the Wool. Big thanks to Seth for all the cut-n-pasting and collating votes for so many entries this month.
Regards,
kos

jekow
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Overall comment

As soon as I saw Rolling Plunder, I knew it was the one to beat.

And the reason why is simple, appropriate graphic design.
I was surprised at how many entries had absolutely NO graphics at all. I personally find it difficult and tiresome to read a set of rules with no visual references. I realize that not everyone has artistic abilities, but that's not the point.

A few minutes in Paint drawing some lines and circles with text to show some of the interrelationships among your game bits in my opinion is far better than nothing.

I suspect that a lot of people, like myself, entered the contest late and so that may have been part of the problem. I entered Pocket Wars with 5 days remaining other people probably did it with less time than that.
Nevertheless, I got a pic up showing at least the game's interrelationships.

For the next contest, I want to see everyone have at least ONE graphical image in their rules. Unless your game is a text adventure, lol.

(this is all my opinion obviously)

onihero
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Rolling Plunder

I just want to thank everyone for taking the time to read through all the entries and voting. I am very excited that my entry won against a field of good, well thought out designs.

We have begun some extensive play testing on the game and certainly plan to bring it to a finalized, polished state in terms of game play for possible publication.

Any input is very welcome.

And thank you to Seth for the competition!

Cheers,
Ty

kungfugeek
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Congratulations!

Congrats to the 1st and 2nd place winners. I voted for both of them, in that order, too. I think the best entries clearly won this showdown.

For critiquing, are we going to try to organize that at all or just have a big free-for-all? Is there a concern that some of the less-liked games (my own probably being one of them) will get overlooked as everyone naturally focuses on the top 8?

I know I could clearly use some pointers...

Traz
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what KFG said...

I'm with the Geek [isn't that a t-shirt?]. I took my prototype to SACRAMENTO CONQUEST over the weekend and had a great time with a number of folks playing it. I'm currently trying to post it in the Print-n-Play section over on BGG, but I can't figure out how to use the new image/gallery thingie they put over there. I want to run a 'contest' of my own to come up with a cool name for it and am looking to publish it on my own [with a little re-themeing] through Steve over at BLUE PANTHER.

But in the meantime - I'd really like to hear some feedback from my peers, as I'm sure all the entrants would. I totally agree with the visuals comment - you gotta come up with something. I may have messed up on mine [I don't know if my illustration was the right size or not], but at least I can use the gallery function *HERE*!!!

Congrats to the two winners! And I think it was very appropriate to have two winners given the number of entrants. Great job to everybody!

dobnarr
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Early rounds?

Any chance we could get the voting tally from the earlier round that included all entries? I'm curious how I stacked up. And thanks for running this.

Sir William
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Obviously there are a lot of

Obviously there are a lot of games here to look over, even more if you include the games that did not make it to the second round (like mine, King of the Nets). I just wanted to pop on and say that I am interested in feedback--it is my first entry and I figure I need it to get an idea on approach and the kind of mistakes I make. I'll be back on after work to give feedback to others.

kungfugeek
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I'm guessing

Everyone is in a situation like mine -- ready and willing to give feedback, but need to find the time. Hopefully tonight, for me. Wish me luck. :)

sedjtroll
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dobnarr wrote:Any chance we

dobnarr wrote:
Any chance we could get the voting tally from the earlier round that included all entries? I'm curious how I stacked up. And thanks for running this.

At home last night I thought I'd left that at my office, so I didn't post it. Now that I'm at work I realize exactly where (at home) I left it! I'll post the round 1 tallies tonight or tomorrow.

I'd love to see comments on each of the entries, but I realize with 38 entries it is unlikely they will all get the same amount of love.

I'd recommend designers of each (who want feedback) start a thread for their game, maybe link the contest threads, and ask for feedback. I'll note that asking for specific feedback (or feedback about a particular part or system) seems to elicit more response than "so what do you think?"

- Seth

hotsoup
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The winners of this one were

The winners of this one were definitely ones I voted for, and I pretty much assigned votes in that order too. Mine tied for 3rd (Shipwrecked!) with Mythic Dice, but I'm not ashamed to lose to two great games!

kungfugeek
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sedjtroll wrote: I'd

sedjtroll wrote:

I'd recommend designers of each (who want feedback) start a thread for their game, maybe link the contest threads, and ask for feedback.
- Seth

That's probably what I'll end up doing. But I want to take some time to offer critiques before I ask for some. Seems fair to me that way.

Sir William
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Both Rolling Plunder and Died

Both Rolling Plunder and Died in the Wool made my Top 10. Both obviously stood out since they managed to draw votes in both rounds. My overall favorite was Died in the Wool. Out of the games that did not make the final cut I found Nightshade vs. Milkweed to be an interesting idea.

Seems like people are thinking about starting threads (might be hard to follow comments for more than two dozen games in one thread) so I am gathering my thoughts (ready to throw them out on the threads that appear).

kungfugeek
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I'm concerned about that, too

Sir William wrote:
Seems like people are thinking about starting threads (might be hard to follow comments for more than two dozen games in one thread) so I am gathering my thoughts (ready to throw them out on the threads that appear).

I'm concerned about that, too. It's the same problem of getting lost in the shuffle.

Oh well. If I don't get the feedback I want I will just bump it like I'm getting paid.

That being said, I will offer feedback here for games that don't have their own threads.

kungfugeek
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Boom!

I really liked this push-your-luck design. I did have to read the rules through a few times before I got it, however. I didn't get that the Boom Number was different from the Boom Icons right way.

I did think that maybe the "Boom Number" aspect was unnecessary. Not being an expert on odds, I didn't really see what it added to the game that a pre-printed "Boom Side" on the dice wouldn't have solved. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that a "Boom Number" of "1" is a little safer, since the Boom Dice don't have a "1"?

I like the beginning of the turn, rolling 3 dice and choosing which ones represent which, but I wondered if choosing a minimum number of rolls wasn't as interesting since a player could go beyond those, anyway.

I also dinged it a little for not having a scoring device. Not a huge ding, as you could play this by memory, but it's there. 6d20's could have been used for scoring and still been within the component limits. So would VP cards.

It might have limited replayability, too, but that's hard to work into dice games, I think.

I think this one would be fun to play. It's also an inspiring design -- getting my creative juices flowing. I think the gem of this game is in that initial roll of 3 dice. I think that would always be an interesting decision. The game is set up so you'd want all of those numbers to be low, so you would always have to choose which ones to live with.

Like any of the games in this showdown, it would be very luck-based. I didn't dock it for that, though. In fact, I thought that made it fit the theme of the contest even better.

In keeping with the theme of disarming a bomb, I wonder if some more explicit countdown mechanic might have helped. It's kind of implied in the minimum rolls, but there's a disconnect there because the number is counting up, not down.

OdysseyDyse
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Graphic design

I confess that I've picked a girlfriend because of looks rather than because she was interesting, however I never picked a game on that criteria. But then I never had to weed through almost 40 applicants.
I think the number of games to look at in this contest made it impossible to take a good look at how the games played. If that becomes the norm this might need to become a quarterly event and/or the number of words allowed increased. I would like the game designer to tell me something about their game in their own words, (other than the rules) Sort of a game review. Graphics are nice for many games but the don't really sell abstract games.

kungfugeek
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Tasty Minstrel

So did Michael like anything he saw?

Traz
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duhhh....

Something tells me I didn't get the whole concept of this contest at all. The fact that my design [which was WAY less complicated than almost everything else submitted] only received 2 votes has put my brain into MONDO CONFUSEDO MODE.

Retracing my steps to figure out where I went wrong, I started at the beginning - the Contest Pitch.
********
Main Design Requirements:
Theme Restriction: None! This month feel free to come up with whatever theme you'd like.
*********
Check! Since my game was pretty 'themeless' I figured I had that notched. My idea went a bit further - my design deliberately didn't HAVE a theme, figuring if the TM guys were actually interested in it, they would slap any theme they thought would sell and chuck mine anyway. Was that a mistake?
**********
Mechanics Restriction: None! Be as creative as you like with the Components allowed by the Component Restriction this month.
**********
Check! Start with components and develop mechanics - no problemo.
**********
Component Restriction: The goal of this month's Showdown is to create a game comprised primarily of dice. You may use standard 6-sided dice, standard polyhedral dice, or custom dice. You may use as many dice as you like, but keep in mind that a realistic publishing limit will come into effect sooner or later, so it might be good not to go over 36 or 40 dice.
**********
Now here I may have misunderstood - I certainly didn't press the design with as many dice as possible. I was thinking in terms of THE DICE driving the mechanics of the design. Thought I had that one covered - others opinions?
***********
In addition to the dice, you may use ONE of the following components:
up to 8 tiles
a handful of wooden bits (standard eurogame cubes, discs, or 'roads')
up to 5 sculpted minis
up to 18 half-sized cards
************
OK - so dice AND one OTHER item [thinking that the dice would be the game mechanic driver]. I chose the 8 tiles, and off I went - with the following commentary firmly in mind as the canvas to my masterpiece-
************
Michael Mindes of Tasty Minstrel Games has expressed an interest in a quick playing, light game made primarily of dice. I thought it might be fun to expand this month's Showdown and incorporate his request to find out if the BGDF can produce something he'd be interested in publishing.
************
I focused in on the 'quick playing, light game' quote. I may be nuts, but my first thought was - 'they want a quickie-playing something with minimal bits [hence the very restrictive list above]'. Probably something they could use as a 'loss leader' style product that could sell for extra cheap that would be... well... 'quick playing and light'....

My design specifically held down the number of dice [it only uses eight D6], but they are driving force [as required by the pitch].

And yet - only 2 votes?

I'm not saying I don't like the designs that won [I voted for them too], and I'm not here whining because I came in dead last behind everything else - well... maybe a little whimpering... ;-)

What I'm really interested in is - where did I go wrong in interpreting the design parameters?

I caught the complaints about some designs exceeding the parameters [I'm still not sure if I goofed on the size of my illustration], but I'm pretty sure I met those.

Opinions and brickbats cheerfully accepted - others might benefit from darts thrown my way as well, so have at me!

onihero
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Traz

Traz,

I am assuming your game was the Dice Gods Must Be Crazy game?

From my understanding of the rules, the game had your lay out the tiles, roll the dice, then score points based on what you rolled.

This certainly met the requirements of being quick and light. However, there were no real meaningful decisions to make during the game play. Without decisions to make, there is not anything compelling to do.

It could be said that you decide which tiles to score, but even that decision holds an obvious path (choose the tile that scores the most).

I would suggest adding something as small as one or two rerolls and a odds based tiered scoring system with the tiles would enhance game play greatly. Adding the rerolls would add the risk/reward compelling decision coupled with the increased odds on the higher scoring tiles. This would give players the choice of sticking with the lower score on a bad roll, or risk even a lower score if they try to reroll for the higher scoring tiles. Perhaps even remove the tiles that are scored (for the player that scored them) when they are scored (for the later rounds) forcing greater and greater risk (creating diminishing returns).

kungfugeek
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Traz, What Oni said is true.

Traz,

What Oni said is true. But I would also add that the limited number of players and going a wee-bit outside the components restriction by requiring some score-keeping bits made it lose a few technical points, IMV. Even if those scoring bits are M&M's. :-)

But, I also want to add that I share some of your bewilderment. I want to know where my design (Dice Defense) went wrong as well. I know it's no Rolling Plunder, but I'm dieing to know if my own criticisms of it match what other people thought. Sir William left some suggestions that the theme wasn't reflected in the mechanics as he'd expected, but I still want to hear from more people.

kos
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TDGMBC

Regarding the entry "The Dice Gods Must Be Crazy":

Good points on the game:
- Colorful tiles, attractive geometric designs
- Simple rules
- Meets the competition requirements

Areas for improvement:
- There did not appear to be much avenue for skilful play. In fact, the only way I can see to use skill would be to choose not to score points on a tile in order to flip it over. (For example, on the back of tile 1 you can score 1 point, but you might forego these points and flip it over so you can score 3 points next round.)
- There is no player interaction. Consider whether you could build some player interaction into it. E.g. You can place an unused die on your opponent's empty tile to stop it flipping. Or if you match the set of dice on your opponent's tile it cancels that tile. Or you can combine dice with another player to make a combination and share the points (multiplayer variant).
- The dice combinations on the tiles do not appear to be balanced well against the points values, and there is not much variety in the dice combinations.
- The game is for only 2 players. If it was a high skill, low luck game then 2 players is good (e.g. chess), but in this case it is a low skill, high luck game so 2 players really counts against it. Using the same set of components you could have made it a multiplayer game, simply by making a common pool of tiles and adding 4 dice per player. With some rules changes, this would open up avenues for both skill and player interaction as well.
- Title and theme (or lack thereof). While I understand your reasoning for not slapping a theme on it (since a publisher may very well ditch the theme and slap their own theme on), in the competition you're up against people who did put themes on. In a popularity contest like GDS, you've got to have something to catch people's attention.

Regards,
kos

Traz
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thanks guys

Appreciate the critiques. My main concern was that I had somehow SNAFUed the contest restraints.

I see your points on the low complexity here. Obviously I took the design parameters of 'quick and easy' WAY too literally. My intent was to create something that would be QUICK and EASY. That didn't leave much room for strategy, and while Kos' suggestions [ESPECIALLY] could take this simple game to a whole new level - that was NOT where I was going with this.

The strategy is severely limited - it is almost entirely luck driven. The only strategy is deciding which dice go on which tiles. If you have all three of the tiles face up that show 4/5/6 and you roll 4/4/5/6 you can put ALL of them on the same tile, thereby forcing the other three to flip. That's about it.

That being said, this is a very fun game to play [especially with young children]. There is no 'real' strategy - it's just simple, addictive fun. I would compare it to 'WAR', except this gives you an option or two [which WAR doesn't]. In that vein I think it works just fine.

But obviously, as you gentlemen have kindly pointed out, these types of games are not going anywhere here. Which is fine - it just helps to know that up front.

So - bottom line for next time? If anything is labeled 'quick and easy', it doesn't really mean 'quick and easy'. It means LOW LEVEL COMPLEXITY. What would be helpful is something to compare it to. List a game with a comparable complexity level. For example-

LOW - RISK
MEDIUM - basic SETTLERS OF CATAN
HIGH - ALHAMBRA [with expansions]
UBER - EL GRANDE

Working within the parameters of the component base/word count for rules is where the real challenge should be, which is just fine by me.

In the end, I'm going to take TDGMBC to another level [Kos - when you see it, be sure to remind me you get a free copy for all the excellent suggestions!] - but it will be the 'advanced' version. I'm still going to keep the 'basic game' where it is because there are darn few simple games out there that I can sit down with any of my grandkids and not have to explain it to them for half an hour. This fits the bill - call it an introductory if you like.

Other than my suggested 'comparable complexity' idea, I think the challenges are fine just the way they are. I'm usually busy with twenty other projects and won't participate, but every once in awhile the challenge will catch my imagination and *I* get a great game out of it! ;-)

When's the next one?

kungfugeek
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If anyone isn't tired of critiquing yet...

I'd like some feedback on Dice Defense. I started a thread on it. Mostly I want to know what turned you off of it (if you were turned off). Unlike previous GDS's I've entered, I thought I had a pretty strong offering this time. The results show I was wrong about that, but I'd really like to know why.

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