Skip to Content

Hippodice

236 replies [Last post]
robinventa
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969

Hi

As a browsing newbie I have been introduced to the Hippodice competition by this forum. I note that at least three people here anticipate entering. The competition interests me, and I have a few questions which people here may be able to answer -

1) Research shows me that virtually all the winners last year were entries from Germany. Do you think this says anything about the competition – as far as ‘foreign’ entries are concerned?
2) Has anybody seen or played any of the listed winners – in other words, does anybody know what sort of games they were?
3) Has the competition real kudos? I mean, would the overall winner be able to get their game looked at by Hasbro, for example?
4) Are there any previous winning games that are now successfully in production?
5) Will others submit by e-mail or hard copy?
6) I wonder if the judges speak good English – I’m sure the subtleties of game rules can easily be lost in unsophisticated translation.
7) Has anybody any idea how many submissions they get? In other words, what percentage does the ‘final 50’ represent?
8) Is anybody aware of any obligations or restrictions imposed on designers regarding their submitted games?
9) What, if any, protection for your intellectual property will others be taking before submission?

Thanks in advance

Robin

jwarrend
Offline
Joined: 08/03/2008
Re: Hippodice

Hi Robin,

Others can answer your questions more intelligently, but I'll hazard a few guesses, having asked similar questions. I probably won't enter this year, but I probably will try to enter next year.

robinventa wrote:
Hi
1) Research shows me that virtually all the winners last year were entries from Germany. Do you think this says anything about the competition – as far as ‘foreign’ entries are concerned?

I don't think so, at least not in the sense that you mean. I think it shows, rather, that most of the people who are designing the kinds of games that do well in Hippodice are, in fact, from Europe, which isn't too surprising given that these games are also more popular in Europe than in the US. But Americans can certainly do well. Stephen Glenn, who posts here as "Snoop", has placed in the top 10 in the past, and last year, Brian Leet, who is an American (right?) was a finalist. There's no bias against Americans as far as I know...

Quote:

2) Has anybody seen or played any of the listed winners – in other words, does anybody know what sort of games they were?

Haven't played any of last year's winners, but I think they generally tend to be all manner of "German" -style games. Simple, easy-to-understand rules, playable by either 2 or 4-5 players, in less than 90 minutes, and all the other stuff that typically accompanies German games. A wargame probably would not do well. A roll-and-move game would not do well. A party game would not do well (with some exceptions, I'm sure...). But lots of other kinds of games probably could.

Quote:

3) Has the competition real kudos? I mean, would the overall winner be able to get their game looked at by Hasbro, for example?

Hasbro, probably not. I don't think anyone knows how to actually get your game looked at by Hasbro; I think it's basically impossible. But if you're looking to publish with a European company, it's a great way to go, as the judges for the finals are all execs from the big German publishing houses. The goal of the contest, in fact, is to bridge the gap between publishers and designers, so in some sense, doing well is probably the best way to get your game looked at by publishers. But of course, it depends who you want to publish with, and what kind of games you're interested in publishing...

Quote:

4) Are there any previous winning games that are now successfully in production?

Yes. Someone else can correct me, but I believe that both Aladdin's Dragons and Mississippi Queen were Hippodice finalists; Blindes Huhn, Kontor, and Das Kollier were all winners, and all have since been published. There are others that have gone on to be published as well. Check out Mik Svellov's site, some of the names may sound familiar...

http://www.brettboard.dk/lib/award/hip0.htm

Quote:

5) Will others submit by e-mail or hard copy?

I would submit by email, but I think both are ok.

Quote:

6) I wonder if the judges speak good English – I’m sure the subtleties of game rules can easily be lost in unsophisticated translation.

I think English is ok. Again, others can comment more intelligently. I think explaining your rules as plainly as you can could mitigate the chances of their being misunderstood, but sure, I guess there's always the risk of that happening. They provide you with a feedback form about your game, from which I guess you could deduce whether your rules had been misunderstood; it would be small consolation if that was what kept you out of the finals, but I suppose at least you'd know.

Quote:

7) Has anybody any idea how many submissions they get? In other words, what percentage does the ‘final 50’ represent?

I think they get about 150 submissions, believe it or not! I may be way off on that.

Quote:

8) Is anybody aware of any obligations or restrictions imposed on designers regarding their submitted games?

I don't think there are any formal obligations, although certainly if your game does well, you may get some offers from publishers, and that would be a good thing!

Quote:

9) What, if any, protection for your intellectual property will others be taking before submission?

Personally, I'll probably just do the "poor man's patent" of sending the rules to myself in an envelope that I never open. Protecting games is tricky, as I'm sure you're aware if you've read the archives on this group or the BoardGameDesign group, yet I am pretty sure that one doesn't need to worry too much about companies stealing their ideas; these companies see so many games that if they like yours, it's probably easier to pay for it than try to steal it and risk lawsuits or something. Don't let that be the reason you don't enter, certainly!

Good luck!

-Jeff

Anonymous
Hippodice

Hello Robinventa,

I can't answer any of your questions concerning the Hippodice contest, sorry. I'm not planning on submitting anything this year due primarily to the deadline.

Now...I did have a question of my own, curiosity stoked by the way you wrote you post. Are you a lawyer? It was well written and such, but just something in the way you wrote it, I had to ask. :)

Sorry I couldn't answer your questions. Good luck and welcome to BGDF.

Having fun!

-Vexx

zaiga
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
Re: Hippodice

I'm also planning on entering the contest and I might be able to answer some of your questions. However, I never entered before either, but this I was I was able to gather from various resources on the 'net.

1) Research shows me that virtually all the winners last year were entries from Germany. Do you think this says anything about the competition – as far as ‘foreign’ entries are concerned?

Yes, I think there are simply less competitors from other countries. I believe some people from the USA and France were able to place pretty high in previous contests. It doesn't say anything about quality, rather about quantity.

2) Has anybody seen or played any of the listed winners – in other words, does anybody know what sort of games they were?

I don't believe I have ever played a game of the listed winners, although I'm not sure. Often games get rethemed and renamed when published. I assume most games could be considered "German" games. This might be something simple such as a filler like Coloretto or something more complex like Amun-Re and everything in between. I don't think very simple children games or very complex simulations would do very well. But this is just my opinion, not something based on facts.

3) Has the competition real kudos? I mean, would the overall winner be able to get their game looked at by Hasbro, for example?

Oh yeah! If your game reaches the last round then it will get looked at by people from the industry. For example, Stefan Bruck, director of Alea was on the jury in past years as well as other directors and leaddevelopers from other publishers. There's a good chance your game will get published if it reaches the final round, that's the whole idea of the competition too. For me this is the biggest motivation to enter the competition.

4) Are there any previous winning games that are now successfully in production?

I know for certain that Kontor by Michael Schacht was published and other entries as well, although I don't know exactly which ones.

5) Will others submit by e-mail or hard copy?

I will submit by hard copy because I cannot compress the rules (lavishly illustrated) into a 1 MB attachment.

6) I wonder if the judges speak good English – I’m sure the subtleties of game rules can easily be lost in unsophisticated translation.

I don't know. I assume they do, but I can't be sure. It is just more motivation to make the rules as easy to understand as possible.

7) Has anybody any idea how many submissions they get? In other words, what percentage does the ‘final 50’ represent?

I believe in past years it was about 150. I wouldnt be surprised if there were more then 200 entries this year, as it seems to become more popular and well-known every year.

8) Is anybody aware of any obligations or restrictions imposed on designers regarding their submitted games?

They state this explicitly in their rules PDF (which I cannot seem to open here, so I can't copy paste it), but the document can be found on the Hippodice website.

9) What, if any, protection for your intellectual property will others be taking before submission?

I'll put a copyright symbol with my name next to it in the rules. Other than that, you just have to have some trust. This has been discussed before on this board. For designers it is not worth the time and money to patent a design and you just have to hope that it is not worth the time and effort of publishers to steal your idea.

- Rene Wiersma

robinventa
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
Hippodice

Hi

Thanks for the input. I think I will have a go at the competition – if nothing else it’s a chance to get games blind tested by an experienced, impartial group!

Jeff – the games you mention were not known to me, so I looked them up on BoardGameGeek. Very interesting. What I would submit would be nothing remotely like anything you mention so my submission will either win the competition or, more likely, be binned!

I wonder whether you are right with your guess on numbers. I was genuinely thinking that an international, free-entry competition like this would attract at least ten times that number of entries. If it was better known I’m sure it would – especially as rejection is no bar to resubmission, and all other routes for mere mortals to submit to publishers seem closed.

Vexx – I am not a lawyer - the reason my English is perhaps a little different is that I’m English. We use the language properly over here, don’t ya know :). That assertion, of course, could not be further from the truth. In fact, in all seriousness, the custodians of the English language for future generations will probably be the people of the Indian sub-continent.

Rene – yes, I had noticed earlier that you were one of those planning on having a go. Good luck with that, of course. Fortunately my game rules will be no more than 2 pages, so I will probably e-mail them. I agree with you and Jeff that a paranoia-free attitude supported by ‘copyright’ is the practical solution for IP protection in the circumstances.

Is that the date? Things to do - thanks again.

Robin

jwarrend
Offline
Joined: 08/03/2008
Hippodice

robinventa wrote:
Hi

Thanks for the input. I think I will have a go at the competition – if nothing else it’s a chance to get games blind tested by an experienced, impartial group!

Good luck!

Quote:

Jeff – the games you mention were not known to me, so I looked them up on BoardGameGeek. Very interesting. What I would submit would be nothing remotely like anything you mention so my submission will either win the competition or, more likely, be binned!

My personal guess is that a good game will always do well in a competition like this one, so if you're confident in your game, go for it. If it's not what they're looking for, you won't win, but that shouldn't be a deterrent; your game might be the breath of fresh air that the game world needs!

Quote:

I wonder whether you are right with your guess on numbers. I was genuinely thinking that an international, free-entry competition like this would attract at least ten times that number of entries.

I'm fairly certain that I'm much closer in my guess than you are in yours.
It's certainly less than 200 entries that they typically get.

Quote:

If it was better known I’m sure it would – especially as rejection is no bar to resubmission, and all other routes for mere mortals to submit to publishers seem closed.

I suppose this is a possibility, although I would have to question how many good games are people really designing in a given year. For example, this group has 600 members, yet we've only heard 4 so far who will be submitting. I assume that many are like me; we have some games, but they are by no means ready for a formal competition. I view Hippodice not just as a contest, but as a possible route to publication. If a design is not ready for submission to a publisher, it's not ready for Hippodice, at least for me.

I would be careful about assuming that rejection is not a bar to resubmission. I think it's probably poor form to submit the same game year after year. I don't get the sense that this is something they encourage. Common sense would say that it's not fair to waste the judges' time with a rejected game. I suppose if one substantially altered the game, then it would be appropriate to send it off again, but then one would also have to ask why they submitted a game that was in such need of substantial alteration. Although I do have a game or two that I think are technically "ready", I haven't playtested them enough to optimize them, and I think it's better to wait and submit my best work, if a little more time is the only obstacle...

As for publishing routes being closed to mere mortals, I begin to think that perhaps we are talking about different kinds of games (I also have in mind your reference to wanting to publish through Hasbro). I think there's a thread somewhere on this board that lists companies who are actively seeking submissions; among these are Days of Wonder, Plenary Games, Fantasy Flight games, and probably a few others. I think that getting published by Hasbro is indeed impossible, but if you have a good game, I do believe there are enough companies out there that you can find one to publish it. Although, this is by no means easy; your game has to be solid, has to fit into their product line, etc. But if you do your homework and decide that your game would be a good thing for the company (and you have to be sincere about this -- I think a company will know if you are just interested in publishing for publishing's sake), I think many companies are willing to talk to you about your game.

Of course, there's the self-publication route, and there is plenty of expertise here for that as well. I don't personally have interest in that route at this time, so I haven't really investigated it, but it's always a possibility.

So yes, Hippodice is a great way to get a good game looked at by top execs of the big European game companies, but there are other ways to get published with those companies. I don't think it's all doom-and-gloom! But then, I haven't tried submitting my games yet...

-Jeff

FastLearner
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
Hippodice

jwarrend wrote:
Although I do have a game or two that I think are technically "ready", I haven't playtested them enough to optimize them, and I think it's better to wait and submit my best work, if a little more time is the only obstacle...

This is where I have a different philosophy, one based on watching my growth as a designer for the last 18 months.

The two games I'm submitting are good games. They're both light family games, somewhat strategic but mostly tactical. I've playtested both but not nearly to the point I'd like to, and not to the point where I'd submit them to a publisher -- they need another 20 playtests at least.

I'm submitting both, though, because I know that one year from now when the next contest comes around I'll be a very different designer. I'll have another 6 or so solid designs under my belt and the type of thing I'd submit to Hippodice will be very different. These are both "good enough" games imo, even though they're not fully optimized.

In addition I'm not willing to wait another year. A year from today I sincerely hope to be a published designer which will disqualify me from Hippodice, so here's my big chance. If I'm not published a year from now then I'll submit even better games to the contest.

I'm driven to be a published and regular designer. In addition I'm a perfectionist. The two don't mesh at all, frankly, so in this case I've got to quash my perfectionist tendencies and submit because if I insist on my games being as perfect as they can be then game design will be something I'll be looking back on 10 years from now, disappointed about how it never went anywhere.

jwarrend
Offline
Joined: 08/03/2008
Hippodice

Quote:

I'm submitting both, though, because I know that one year from now when the next contest comes around I'll be a very different designer. I'll have another 6 or so solid designs under my belt and the type of thing I'd submit to Hippodice will be very different. These are both "good enough" games imo, even though they're not fully optimized.

I think this is a good point, although it's clear we're working on different timetables; I'm sure I come up with 6-10 ideas a year, but there's no way I can make 6 solid games in a year. The main obstacle for me is playtesting; I just don't playtest regularly enough to take games from prototypes to being "finished" games. I do find that my recent designs seem to be more "solid" than my earlier ones, and that it takes me much less time to come up with a working game engine, but even so, getting that many games done a year is just not what I'm capable of...

Quote:

In addition I'm not willing to wait another year. A year from today I sincerely hope to be a published designer which will disqualify me from Hippodice, so here's my big chance.

That's one way to look at it, I guess...I think game design contest accolades pale in comparison to actually having your games published, so I look at Hippodice more as a route to publication than as an end of itself. If it's an award I'm looking for, I'd prefer the Spiele des Jahres or the Deutsche SpielPries, although I'm sure I'd be happy with placing in the Hippodice as well! But having a Hippodice winner that didn't get published, and didn't improve my chances of getting published, wouldn't seem that great. Conversely, being published and being "disqualified" from entering Hippodice would be just fine...

Quote:

I'm driven to be a published and regular designer.

Here's another point where we are different (and that is ok, I'm just pointing out the difference). I would be happy to be published, but to me, I want to make great games, and I want that more than I want to get published. Or in other words, I'd only submit something to a publisher that I thought was so special that I'd have to buy it had someone else made it. I am not saying my standards are higher than yours, so much as I care less at this point about being the next Knizia or Kramer. Knizia designs games as a more-than-full-time job, and I don't have the desire to make that level of commitment to what I consider a fun hobby. I'd love to come up with some games that are good enough to publish, maybe even several designs. But I'm not at all interested in making this a profession, or making myself a "brand name". I don't think there's anything wrong with someone who is interested in that, I'm just saying that it's not where I'm at. I think the one thing that I would say for my approach is that there's no great level of emotional investment on my end. If I get published, cool, if not, fine. It isn't my life's dream to be a designer. This is a two-edged sword, of course; to really succeed, you have to put your all into something, yet putting your all into a very difficult business like this can still fail to produce a result, potentially leaving you disappointed. To me, I put my all into the game itself, and the publication would be the icing on the cake that was an external confirmation that the game was "good". But for me, the game is the thing.

Quote:

In addition I'm a perfectionist. The two don't mesh at all, frankly, so in this case I've got to quash my perfectionist tendencies and submit because if I insist on my games being as perfect as they can be then game design will be something I'll be looking back on 10 years from now, disappointed about how it never went anywhere.

I don't see it this way at all. First, part of the challenge of being an artist is to know when no further brush strokes are needed. To me, I find that I have a tendency to play "what if" with working games, when I should just leave well enough alone. But I would like my games to be more than playable, more than good; I want them to be superlative. For example, I don't want to just design another "Civ game" like History of the World or Mare Nostrum; I want to design the crowning achievement in playable Civ games. That's not to say I'll succeed, but that it's worth trying, and that this is more important to me than getting a "pretty good" Civ game published. Yet, I think for the subject at hand, taking one's time doesn't necessarily imply permanent stagnation. If I wait a year to submit a Hippodice game, maybe I'll have a whole set of different games by next year that I'll like better, but maybe I'll have a better version of that original game that I can submit. Taking your time, as long as you're consistently making forward progress, need not result in the "regrets" scenario you describe...

But I also look at things not just as a designer, but as a game player. There are a lot of games I can play; what am I adding to that field as a designer? Why would someone want to buy one of my games? What is different or special about it? This is a foundational question; to cross the line from doing this as a fun hobby, to doing this as a published designer, one needs to set aside one's own impulse for self-aggrandizement and look at the situation more from the other end. So it can't be just "I want to be a published designer", but, "I believe the games I'm creating/capable of creating are games that will enhance and improve people's collections and people's gaming experiences." It HAS to be that way, if you want to achieve the goal of being a "name brand" designer.

Just my thoughts...certainly we've strayed from Robin's initial subject, but hopefully in an interesting direction...

-Jeff

FastLearner
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
Hippodice

jwarrend wrote:
I do find that my recent designs seem to be more "solid" than my earlier ones, and that it takes me much less time to come up with a working game engine, but even so, getting that many games done a year is just not what I'm capable of...

That's certainly what I was referring to when I mentioned the last 18 months: more solid ideas are coming much more regularly and I'm making the time to flesh them out. I'm fortunate to have enlisted several local gaming groups so that I have a number of playtesting opportunities.

Quote:
I think game design contest accolades pale in comparison to actually having your games published, so I look at Hippodice more as a route to publication than as an end of itself.

Oh absolutely, me too. It's just that it's an opportunity to put your game before a specific group of publishers that only comes around once a year. It's not winning the contest that's particularly important (though it would be nice).

Quote:
If it's an award I'm looking for, I'd prefer the Spiele des Jahres or the Deutsche SpielPries, although I'm sure I'd be happy with placing in the Hippodice as well! But having a Hippodice winner that didn't get published, and didn't improve my chances of getting published, wouldn't seem that great. Conversely, being published and being "disqualified" from entering Hippodice would be just fine...

Those are certainly much nicer wins. :)

As I noted, I too see this an a publishing opportunity, just one that's unique.

Quote:
Quote:

I'm driven to be a published and regular designer.
Here's another point where we are different (and that is ok, I'm just pointing out the difference). I would be happy to be published, but to me, I want to make great games, and I want that more than I want to get published. Or in other words, I'd only submit something to a publisher that I thought was so special that I'd have to buy it had someone else made it. I am not saying my standards are higher than yours, so much as I care less at this point about being the next Knizia or Kramer.

Let me clarify here that I'm not at all interested in fame (even gaming community fame). When I say I want to be a "published and regular designer" I mean that I want to make game design a big part of my living. It's nice to create art but -- for me -- if I'm not sharing it with people then it's somewhat masturbatory. There's nothing wrong with feeling good about something you did, mind you, but I much prefer other people feeling good as a result of it, too.

Quote:
But I'm not at all interested in making this a profession, or making myself a "brand name". I don't think there's anything wrong with someone who is interested in that, I'm just saying that it's not where I'm at.

As noted above I, too, have no interest in becoming a "brand name," but I do want to share my art. I love to produce this art and would love to do so on a very regular part-time basis, and the only way I can accomplish the sharing and the time commitment is to be published, and published regularly.

Quote:
I think the one thing that I would say for my approach is that there's no great level of emotional investment on my end. If I get published, cool, if not, fine. It isn't my life's dream to be a designer.

This is a place where we differ, and is undoubtedly a core part of the difference in our philosophies. I am emotionally invested. While it's not my "life's dream" to be a designer, it is certainly one of my core current dreams. I've been in enough professions now to know that I don't have a life's dream, but I do have dreams that die on the vine due to a lack of plan and insufficient emotional investment. This is one where I'm not willing to let that happen.

Quote:
This is a two-edged sword, of course; to really succeed, you have to put your all into something, yet putting your all into a very difficult business like this can still fail to produce a result, potentially leaving you disappointed.

I'm ok with disappointment: I've experienced enough of it to call it an old friend. I know now that for me in my life's experience putting my all into it is reward enough in itself. That is success for me, now. If I'm never published I'll know -- for a change -- that it's not because I didn't do everything in my power first.

Quote:
To me, I put my all into the game itself, and the publication would be the icing on the cake that was an external confirmation that the game was "good". But for me, the game is the thing.

I can appreciate that. I insist on putting my all into each game, except where time constraints make it impractical. Each piece of my art is a good as I can do within a reasonable time period. I know from my past "failures" that if I don't set that limitation then I'll spend the rest of my days working to make every design better, with never a finished piece. But that's my burden and certainly need not be a model for anyone else.

Quote:
Quote:

In addition I'm a perfectionist. The two don't mesh at all, frankly, so in this case I've got to quash my perfectionist tendencies and submit because if I insist on my games being as perfect as they can be then game design will be something I'll be looking back on 10 years from now, disappointed about how it never went anywhere.

I don't see it this way at all. First, part of the challenge of being an artist is to know when no further brush strokes are needed. To me, I find that I have a tendency to play "what if" with working games, when I should just leave well enough alone. But I would like my games to be more than playable, more than good; I want them to be superlative. For example, I don't want to just design another "Civ game" like History of the World or Mare Nostrum; I want to design the crowning achievement in playable Civ games. That's not to say I'll succeed, but that it's worth trying, and that this is more important to me than getting a "pretty good" Civ game published.

We are in complete agreement here, and I certainly will never try to publish anything that's less than excellent. I also know, though, that my design skills are growing. I can't produce a Puerto Rico today -- I simply don't have the skills and experience. That doesn't mean, though, that I can't produce a fun an enjoyable resource management game that people will have a good time playing. I'm simply of the philosophy that I don't have to produce a Puerto Rico now in order to make the games I can create worthy of publishing. I suspect we differ here.

Quote:
Yet, I think for the subject at hand, taking one's time doesn't necessarily imply permanent stagnation. If I wait a year to submit a Hippodice game, maybe I'll have a whole set of different games by next year that I'll like better, but maybe I'll have a better version of that original game that I can submit. Taking your time, as long as you're consistently making forward progress, need not result in the "regrets" scenario you describe...

This is where we simply have different personalities. If I wait to try to publish until I've completed a Puerto Rico then I will never be able to share my art. I have to share some of my early pieces first or I simply won't be able to share it at all. But again, that's my thing and needn't be yours or anyone else's.

Quote:
But I also look at things not just as a designer, but as a game player. There are a lot of games I can play; what am I adding to that field as a designer? Why would someone want to buy one of my games? What is different or special about it? This is a foundational question; to cross the line from doing this as a fun hobby, to doing this as a published designer, one needs to set aside one's own impulse for self-aggrandizement and look at the situation more from the other end. So it can't be just "I want to be a published designer", but, "I believe the games I'm creating/capable of creating are games that will enhance and improve people's collections and people's gaming experiences." It HAS to be that way, if you want to achieve the goal of being a "name brand" designer.

No question. And I'm certain that the two games I'm submitting are fun to play and are break some kind of new ground in the field. I didn't submit last year because that wasn't true then. (And again, though obviously this wasn't clear from my earlier post, I have no interest in the "name brand" part other than its ability to get publishers' attention when I'm looking to publish another game.)

I understand the self-aggrandizement thing -- I've seen tons of self-published material that fits that to a T, and I've seen tons of failed artists of all kinds who have had that as their working motto. I've seen it very clearly in the pained expressions of the publishers I talked to at GAMA earlier this year, as I know they get tons of submissions from people who are in it for the "fame".

For me there's simply a desire to share my art that can't come about if I don't publish, and a there's a pride in the art that I've created so far that is essential to success, whether it's labeled as self-aggrandizing or not.

Quote:
Just my thoughts...certainly we've strayed from Robin's initial subject, but hopefully in an interesting direction...

Same here. I think it's a topic that we've tried to discuss here before but that we haven't before really got into the meat of. I've very glad for this discussion.

I want to clarify that I don't think someone who waits until they have a perfect and superlative design is destined for failure. That's just what has happened to me in life, with my personality and skills. And therefore why I have to let things be "good enough" -- if not then they'll never be allowed to leave the nest. I can absolutely understand it if you feel differently or have the self-control to decide when the last brush stroke has been laid down. I just have a different personality and have to stop painting by saying "good enough" -- I've learned that nearly every time I do so I discover that other people think it's wonderful and are thrilled with it, and so I learn that it was the right thing to do... for me.

--Matthew

Scurra
Scurra's picture
Offline
Joined: 09/11/2008
Hippodice

A fascinating conversation, albeit badly off-topic... Many of the points raised I can agree with - progression in design, confidence in yourself, aspirations and so on. (For the record, I'm with Matthew on this one: if I don't have to enter Hippodice next year, it's because I'll be published, not because I won't have a game to enter :))

jwarrend wrote:
But I would like my games to be more than playable, more than good; I want them to be superlative. For example, I don't want to just design another "Civ game" like History of the World or Mare Nostrum; I want to design the crowning achievement in playable Civ games. That's not to say I'll succeed, but that it's worth trying, and that this is more important to me than getting a "pretty good" Civ game published.

I don't think anyone merely wants a " pretty good" game to be published - they all want the best they can do (even James Ernest subscribes to that philosophy, albeit in a slightly skewed fashion!) But everyone also draws their lines in different places. I mean, Seyforth had to stop tweaking Puerto Rico at some point - which is why there are still on-going debates about the costs of some of the buildings :)

At the moment I'm having a good time, designing games, playtesting them and changing or abandoning as required. As a hobby I couldn't really ask for anything more. If I was trying to make a living at it, then the criteria would doubtless be very different.

jwarrend
Offline
Joined: 08/03/2008
Hippodice

Scurra wrote:
A fascinating conversation, albeit badly off-topic...

Such a stickler for propriety! Is it better to have a conversation in the same place, but have it go slightly off topic, or to take it to a different place, which is much less convenient?

I'm a veteran of usenet debating, where discussions meander off topic with almost every post, so to me, changing the subject midstream is no big deal. If Fast would like to relocate to a new thread, though, that's fine...

Quote:

jwarrend wrote:
But I would like my games to be more than playable, more than good; I want them to be superlative. For example, I don't want to just design another "Civ game" like History of the World or Mare Nostrum; I want to design the crowning achievement in playable Civ games. That's not to say I'll succeed, but that it's worth trying, and that this is more important to me than getting a "pretty good" Civ game published.

I don't think anyone merely wants a " pretty good" game to be published - they all want the best they can do (even James Ernest subscribes to that philosophy, albeit in a slightly skewed fashion!) But everyone also draws their lines in different places. I mean, Seyforth had to stop tweaking Puerto Rico at some point - which is why there are still on-going debates about the costs of some of the buildings :)

To a certain extent, I agree. My point is more that I don't just strive for a game that works, I strive for the optimum game that works. So sometimes, I'll play "what if" and hack entire systems, some of which worked ok, replacing them with completely different systems. In some cases, the change turns out not to be one for the better, but I think you need to be willing to make sweeping changes in order to iterate towards the best possible design.

It's obvious that Puerto Rico was meticulously tested, yet I agree, clearly he stopped at some point. It's interesting, PR sort of has the convenient position of not needing to defend the relative value of buildings, since one can also say "that building's worth is situational". It's true that in some cases, the Office or Large Market are worth 5, but in general, I think they probably cost too much for what they're worth, and the Hospice probably costs too little for what it's worth. But I agree, it would have been a shame if Seyfearth tweaked forever and never released the game. Were I the designer of Settlers, I probably wouldn't have released it as is, and that would have been a shame, since it's done so much for the hobby.

I'm not necessarily just talking about tweaking here, so much as figuring out the optimum set of mechanics and systems for the game. For tweaking, cf the recent discussion about the Game of Thrones boardgame; despite a lot of playtesting, there's a bug that they didn't catch: Greyjoy can devastate Lannister in the first turn if he plays super-warlike. Apparently, no one tried that in test games. You have to anticipate that little balance issues will be discovered by people who play the game a lot, and so I agree, test it as much as you can, but you can't tweak forever. Yet, in that case, the fix was simple because the mechanics fit together so well that it was easy to come up with a kludge to address that one balance issue. There are some games that have badly conceived mechanics; witness, for example, the current discussion about Age of Mythology's combat system. That one will NOT be able to be fixed with a simple kludge, because the whole combat system has been built around a mechanical approach that is flawed (according to some).

So, I agree, infinite tweaking is pointless, but I'm talking more about the high level of design. I never allow myself to believe a game is done until I've tried to think of a lot of other possible ways that I could have made it work. I find that this is essential to determining what mechanics are really contributing to the game, and which are vestiges of "simulation" that I thought I needed to make the game evoke its theme (and there are usually a lot of these!)

Quote:

At the moment I'm having a good time, designing games, playtesting them and changing or abandoning as required. As a hobby I couldn't really ask for anything more. If I was trying to make a living at it, then the criteria would doubtless be very different.

Quite so, and as evidence, we need only look at the remarks made by XXOCC, who has said on several occasions "this game is better than the ones we publish". When you're trying to make money, there is such a thing as a bottom line, but when you're doing it for a hobby, QC can be a lot tighter, I think. It really should be the opposite, but the number of bad games that get published seems to give the lie to the idealistic view...

-Jeff

jwarrend
Offline
Joined: 08/03/2008
Hippodice

Arghh! I hate this stupid editor! I just selected my text and meant to hit ctrl-c to copy it, but instead just hit c, and since there's no undo, I lost everything!

Anyway, Matthew, I can't recreate my full reply, but my bottom line was that we seem to agree in our QC standards, but our underlying approach is different. I see games more as a craft than an art, in the same way chair-making is a craft while painting is an art. There is an additional level of functionality inherent to a craft, and so they are different.

But more to the point, I think you see yourself as an artist and see games as a vehicle for you to share some part of yourself with the world. I see a bigger divorce between myself and my games; I think the game, in some sense, takes on a life of its own, and if I have developed a good game, I'll try to publish it. But I couldn't say in advance "I want to be a regularly published designer", since I evaluate my games one at a time, and only would send those off that seemed to belong in the market anyway. Maybe I would say "I want to be good enough at designing that all of my games are worth publishing", and maybe that's sort of what you're saying as well. But I do think we're looking at it differently, though it isn't a bad thing.

I don't think I'll try to recreate the rest of my post. My apologies. But anyway, thanks again for an interesting conversation!

-Jeff

prophx
Offline
Joined: 08/13/2008
An Undo FYI...

To undo deletes/modifications in any entry field in Windows, press Ctrl-Z. This will take you back a step each time you press Ctrl-Z. Just thought you might be interested...

jwarrend
Offline
Joined: 08/03/2008
Re: An Undo FYI...

Prophx wrote:
To undo deletes/modifications in any entry field in Windows, press Ctrl-Z. This will take you back a step each time you press Ctrl-Z. Just thought you might be interested...

Weird...it works now, but it didn't when I was composing my last message. I tried, and nothing came back. Oh well, thanks for the info!

Scurra
Scurra's picture
Offline
Joined: 09/11/2008
Hippodice

jwarrend wrote:

So, I agree, infinite tweaking is pointless, but I'm talking more about the high level of design. I never allow myself to believe a game is done until I've tried to think of a lot of other possible ways that I could have made it work.

And I think we would have to agree to differ here, because IMO "that way madness lies..." :) In general I find that if I take that sort of view of a design, I end up with a different game, which somewhat undermines the exercise (and by "different" I mean radically different, not just a tweaked variant.)

I must confess that I tend to judge the "finished status" of my designs by how often the test group are willing to play slightly tweaked versions of it without excessive complaints ("Oh no, not that again...!") ;)

jwarrend
Offline
Joined: 08/03/2008
Hippodice

Scurra wrote:
jwarrend wrote:

So, I agree, infinite tweaking is pointless, but I'm talking more about the high level of design. I never allow myself to believe a game is done until I've tried to think of a lot of other possible ways that I could have made it work.

And I think we would have to agree to differ here, because IMO "that way madness lies..." :) In general I find that if I take that sort of view of a design, I end up with a different game, which somewhat undermines the exercise (and by "different" I mean radically different, not just a tweaked variant.)

But it depends on what your goals are for the game. First, let me again emphasize my use of the word "think" above -- I don't necessarily try to playtest 50 different versions of a game, but I certainly do try to think how the game might go with a totally different system here or there.

That said, it depends on the scope of the game. Take, for example, my Civ game. I don't anticipate making too many Civ games during my life; this might be the only one. So I want it to be "perfect". In the previous iteration, I had a combat system that worked ok, but it needed some spicing up. It was too rock-paper-scissors, and too dependent on luck of the draw with respect to what cards you drew. The new system I've described and worked through here is a much better fit, and also served as a springboard for me to overhaul a few other systems as well. So, I think it was worth going through the mental excercise of overhauling that system, even though none of the playtesters ever particularly complained about the old system.

I've thought of other, more sweeping changes to that game, as well; I can't really say where the game will end up, although I convinced myself that the current game is good enough to playtest (happening this evening!) rather than trying another major overhaul. But I'm never afraid to overhaul a game, as long as I can convince myself that a change will move the game forward towards whatever design goals I've set out to achieve...

FastLearner
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
Hippodice

I certanly agree that if you don't have a goal of eventually publishing your games -- that rather you'd be happy to submit something for publication when you've created as a hobby something that is publishable -- then different criteria and different approaches make sense, absolutely.

I have enough hobbies (BGDF is one of them); this one I'm working to turn into a part-time profession. Just different takes.

And all of my comments were (and are) intended as a reflection of my procrastination and project completion issues. Witness the design contest here for a perfect example: two days before the (extended) contest deadline I come to the conclusion that my game isn't tweaked enough, even though I had months to do so. It wasn't until the last few weeks of the contest that I really worked on it to speak of (other than in generalities), so when the deadline was upon me had nothing to enter. I had been tweaking and tweaking some of ths game's core concepts.

Yet I would have considered myself to have simply failed if I didn't enter anything, so I didn't let myself fail and worked up a game in time to enter the contest. Even if it loses badly I suceeded handily. :)

It's my own quirk, though one I've seen in others and so made the observation publically. Praise Teuber that it's not your quirk, too. :D

robinventa
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
Hippodice

For me this has been an entertaining and informative thread. Off topic? Who cares!

Quote: For me there's simply a desire to share my art that can't come about if I don't publish, and a there's a pride in the art that I've created

Matthew – when you talk of ‘art’ and ‘artists’ are you referring to the ‘art’ of game design - or is your ‘art’ the graphic design associated with the game?

Robin

FastLearner
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
Hippodice

The art of game design. I enjoy the graphic design part, too, but it's the game design art (that is also a craft) that I love. Not unlike the art of programming (that sense of the word "art").

benedict
Offline
Joined: 08/16/2009
Hippodice

Getting back to the Hippodice contest itself, I have a couple of quetions for anyone who has been involved in this process in the past:

1) Does Hippodice acknowledge receipt of entries?

and

2) If a design entry is one of the 50 selected to be tested, when does Hippodice let the designer know?

Thanks
Benedict

FastLearner
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
Hippodice

benedict wrote:
Getting back to the Hippodice contest itself, I have a couple of quetions for anyone who has been involved in this process in the past:

I haven't been, but I did want to comment...

Quote:
1) Does Hippodice acknowledge receipt of entries?

I really want to know that, too. My email entry didn't get kicked back or anything but I still have this core freaky concern that they didn't get it.

Quote:
2) If a design entry is one of the 50 selected to be tested, when does Hippodice let the designer know?

I have heard that you hear within two weeks (which is important because December 1st is the deadline for them receiving your prototype), but I'd love to have that confirmed.

-- Matthew

nickdanger
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
Hippodice

Quote:
I really want to know that, too. My email entry didn't get kicked back or anything but I still have this core freaky concern that they didn't get it.

While I sure don't have the definitive answer for you I did get an e-mail reply for each of the two games I entered. I didn't wait till the last day or anything though to submit them. The first was sent in early October and the second a couple weeks later. If you were close to the deadline perhaps they were/are a bit too swamped with entries which they are currently weeding through to respond.

Then again, I don't see the harm in sending a followup note requesting confirmation that they did indeed receive your submission.

- Nick

FastLearner
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
Hippodice

nickdanger wrote:
Then again, I don't see the harm in sending a followup note requesting confirmation that they did indeed receive your submission.

Great point. Knowing now that a response is apparently normal I'll followup. Thanks for the info!

-- Matthew

prophx
Offline
Joined: 08/13/2008
Hippodice

I emailed them yesterday and received a message back stating that, "No, we are not sending confirmation of incoming submissions on a regular
basis, only on request. We prefer to do not though we do understand your
motion to get one."

They then proceeded to graciously say that my submission had arrived.

FastLearner
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
Hippodice

Same here.

benedict
Offline
Joined: 08/16/2009
Hippodice

I did receive a reply about my entry - but only because the pdf I sent turned out to be unreadable... annoying!

I can understand if they have 150-200 entries that they don't reply to everyone.

Good luck to everyone at BGDF who submitted a game!

Benedict

FastLearner
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
Hippodice

Indeed, good luck to everyone! Break a board, as they (should) say!

-- Matthew

Scurra
Scurra's picture
Offline
Joined: 09/11/2008
Hippodice

Well I'm feeling happy as both of my entries are through to the last 50.

Not that that means anything (beyond a slight panic as I realise that I have to get a proper prototype finished!) but making it that far is good enough for me...

FastLearner
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
Hippodice

Did you receive your info by mail or by email? Your entries were by mail, right?

-- Matthew

hpox
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
Hippodice

Cool, good luck to you all!

FastLearner
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
Hippodice

Oh, and super heavy-duty congrats, David! Very cool! Best of luck!

Syndicate content


forum | by Dr. Radut