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Slowing Simultaneous Play

4 replies [Last post]
Joined: 07/26/2008

Hey Folks,
I've got this little problem that's been baffling me for a while and I thought I'd put it out there to see what fun/creative solutions you all can come up with. ... even though I'm going to be somewhat vague about the game itself.

I have the core mechanism for game worked out and have tested it in a simultaneous play context, where anyone can play at any point and can barter with players at any point etc. To help your thinking, imagine the trading game Pit, one significant difference being that during the game people gain points which they can also use to barter with the other players. The problem is, it's a little too fast/crazy, at least it's faster than I want it to be. (not to mention that I'm still not sure how to end it just yet, I've been testing with just a time limit, with the winner being the one with the most "points" at the end of the time limit)

How can I slow it down without losing the excitement? I thought about just adding turns, but I can only imagine that this would make the game painfully slow, again, imagine what pit would be like if there were turns... ugh.


Joined: 08/03/2008
Slowing Simultaneous Play


One minor point of terminology: I think I'd tend to call what you're describing "real-time" rather than "simultaneous". To me, "simultaneous" implies that actions are being taken by all players at the same time, but this doesn't necessarily mean they are being taken "on the fly" -- games like Wallenstein or Robo Rally, for example, have simultaneous selection of actions, but these are revealed and evaluated "slowly". A minor point.

As to your game itself, this might not be helpful, but perhaps you don't even have a problem? There's a great game called Chinatown in which players are wheeling and dealing, trying to negotiate real estate deals on the fly. The game can bog down when people try to spend too much time calculating their payout and making sure they're getting a "good" deal, and when this happens, the game loses a lot of its appeal. So, in a wheeling and dealing game, I think a lot of on-the-fly seat-of-your-pants chaos is highly desirable!

If you don't want that, though, you might try restricting the number of players who can negotiate at any one time; for example, in Bohnanza, anyone can trade, but all trades must involve the active player. Another option might be to impose a phased structure where dealmaking happens "on the fly" but the other actions must take place at certain times, or in certain rounds, or whatever. The other thing to think about is limiting the scope of what can happen in a round, so that someone who can take turns really fast doesn't run away with the VP accumulation, or, conversely, is subject to additional penalties as well; or, that someone who moves a little more methodically can get a better payout by waiting. For example, if the game was about "stock trading", the "day trader" approach can give big payouts but also big losses, whereas the "long term investment" gives slower, but steadier progress. Not sure if that kind of model would work here.

Speaking only for myself, I don't typically like "real time" games because I think I'm more of a "planner" than a "reacter". But, deal-making games like Chinatown, paradoxically, I do enjoy. I think it's because I find "who can negotiate a better deal quicker?" to test a more interesting skill than "who can size up the game state and react to it most quickly?", but that's probably highly subjective. So for myself, I would seek to beef up the realtime elements of trading, but diminish the runaway scoring potential of being able to take more turns than everyone else by virtue of being faster. But, it's highly likely I'm not your target audience, so take that with a grain of salt!

Sounds very interesting, though, and I hope to hear more about it (or playtest it!) at some point!

Good luck!


just a thought

Not sure about the context of your game but if each player had a timer of their own and you then had a rule of 2 deals per flip of your timer, or you have to make a deal before your timer runs out to flip it again this could make the pacing of the deals more strategic (btw, this is mostly coming from that Gipf project game Tamsk which I've never played, but uses timers).

Just a thought


jwarrend wrote:
One minor point of terminology: I think I'd tend to call what you're describing "real-time" rather than "simultaneous".

I aggree. To me simultaneous is something a little more organized. As in rounds composed of phases. Be that I mean, something like Diplomacy. All players can talk at the same time, the all can write the move down at the same time too... Heck all actions get resolved at the same time. But they happen in a set order. All the players perform this action. Then they can all perform that action.

One of the keys to making diplomacy not move so fast (aside from massive amoounts of player talking, and number of options for players to take) is that there isn't an advantage to moving faster. Just because Stan has decided his next move, doesn't mean that Sally has. untill all players have decided, the action pauses.

Just some thoughts.

Joined: 07/31/2008
Slowing Simultaneous Play


Have you considered a mechanic where you are only alllowed a specific number of trades in a 'round'. That way, as people use thier trades up, they might slow down, looking for the best use of their reminaing trades. Could be done by, say, allocating out tokens and askign people to pay a token each time they trade.

Mind you, this could also result in some people trading quicker if they are worried that they might get excluded from the trading becuase everybody else is 'all-traded out'.


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