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Sports games

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RoBarto
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Joined: 12/31/1969

I'm quite a newbie to game design (designing my first one) and I have a question:

Why are there so few sports games ?

I'm quite a soccer fan myself and the game I am currently designing is a soccer game. The reason why I started designing it is because I can't find one decent soccer game out there. The only thing that comes close is StreetSoccer but even that is a very simple abstraction of the actual game. Also, when I look at other sports, there seem to be very little (good) games that have them as a theme. I've seen games like Strand Cup, Blood Bowl and Dodge Ball that seem to be good, but I think that is pretty meagre if you see the attention sports get in real life (news papers, TV...) and in computer games.

Is it the fact that the mechanics are hard to put into a game ? I must admit I had some issues myself when designing a soccer game, but I think I have come up with some decent mechanics.

Or don't game designers love sports ? Maybe I am the exception ?

RoBarto

Krakit
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Joined: 11/26/2011
Sports games
Ota
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Sports games

What should be role of each player in your soccer board game? Only coaches or also little bit managers? Would be possible to improve teams by purchase of better players?

When I was 14 years old, I tried to design board game, where each player was manager of football team (for people from USA - I mean soccer). Each player was able to buy players (goalkeepers, defenders etc.) and coaches. Players could set tactics of team in next matches, increase capacity of stadiums etc.

When I looked back to this game, I see a lot of failures. Maybe, that I will try to take this theme again and make it better.

To RoBarto: I think you can be absolutely serene, I believe, that a lot of "board game designers" like sport. Or we are two exceptions?

Regards
Ota

RoBarto
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Soccer games do exist !

Krakit,

indeed in the mean time I found the list also and you are right (I was even impressed by the number of soccer games listed). So let me rephrase my question: why are there so little successful sports games. It looks to me like a theme that could interest the masses. But apparently it doesn't or haven't game designers cracked it yet ? A lot of these games also don't depict a soccer game very well (a lot of luck and dice throwing).

Ota,

indeed my first ambition was exactly the same (I like playing Championship Manager / Football Manager on the PC), but after a few weeks of designing I decided to focus on the actual match and keep most of the management aspects for advanced rules. I think I have made a lot of progress in this area lately (it currently looks a bit like a crossing between DodgeBall (Goodman games) and Soccer Challenge (International Playthings, discontinued). The unique bit about it is that I found a way of playing it with multiple (>2) players at the same time (each with their own team).
I'll work a bit more on it and when I feel confident I will post the rules (and maybe all the rest too).

RoBarto

jwarrend
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Joined: 08/03/2008
Re: Soccer games do exist !

RoBarto wrote:
why are there so little successful sports games.

I haven't played enough sports games to know whether this is accurate or not, (although I think there are some pretty good baseball games out there), but I'll assume for the sake of argument that it is. I see two difficulties in translating a sport to a table.

The first is pacing. Sports are, for the most part, very fast-paced, with lots of running, passing, shooting, and other actions that occur very quickly. The problem is coming up with a representation of this rapid action that doesn't get bogged down in the details of moving your pieces around, rolling dice to check whether your pass connects, etc, checking a table to find out what happens when a 5 is rolled for an attacker of skill 4 vs a defender of skill 3, etc. The more realistic a game becomes, the more likely it is to use statistics to model reality, but this also probably means that the game will be more cumbersome to play.

The second reason is that a board game and a sport test fundamentally different things. Sports test athletic skills -- who can run faster? Who can control the ball more effectively? Who can shoot more precisely? A board game tests a very different set of skills -- who can make the best decisions? Who can manage resources more effectively? In most board game realizations of sports, you're generally going to have to assume the skill levels of your players as a given, and then allow randomization to decide whether their various attempts to do things (shoot, run, pass) actually succeed or not. So your decisions become more about how you deploy your players, etc, rather than what a sports match really is, a comparitive test of the athletic skills of the participants.

I did a little work on an ice hockey game a while back, but got distracted and started working on other things. I would definitely be interested in hearing more about what kind of mechanics you've come up with to simulate a soccer match.

Good luck with your design,

Jeff

RoBarto
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Sports games

Dear Jeff,

I think you may have hit the nail on the head. If I look at computer sports games there are actually two kinds: either you play from a player's perspective or you play from a manager's perspective (ok, there are some who try to sit in the middle, but they still have these two components). Following your reasoning, it would be very hard to successfully simulate the first kind in a board game (whereas in computer games, you can) since this is all about athletic skill. The second kind however would be playable as a board game, but it would be rather abstract if you don't include some elements of the first kind (ie actually playing matches).

This indeed could explain why it is hard to make a good sports game, however I am not convinced it isn't possible. E.g Strand Cup does a very nice job in 'simulating' a beach volley game. So I guess I'll keep on working on mine some more (it's also a bit more from the manager's perspective) and share it for feedback once I'm confident enough. And even if it's not a commercial success (highly likely, considering statistics), it can still be fun playing it with my sons.

RoBarto

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