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Critique the May 2009 GDS Challenge etries

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doho123's picture
Joined: 07/21/2008

Use this thread to post your comments and constructive critiques for each of the May 2009 Game Design Showdown entries. (If possible, wait for voting to be over).

doho123's picture
Joined: 07/21/2008

It turns out only four people voted, 3 of which weren't even people who submitted games. In the past we have disqualified players who have submitted game, but haven't voted (this may not be explicitly stated anywhere). Thankfully Mitchell was kind enough to solve that problem by both voting and winning.

Granted, this was sort of a botched enterprise; I quickly agreed to do this as a last minute "Hey, we need a May GDS started quickly!" kind of thing; and (as quoted below), some personal things got in the way of the standard timetable. And it's not like my previous GDS runs have resulted in large acceptance before.

And now, a word about the first entry:

Normally, the first entry would've been disqualified, or otherwise the "challenge administrator" running the contest (me) would have sent a message to the creator with a simple reminder that there is generally a three image max on entries, and a definitive 800 word maximum amount. Unfortunately, when I agreed to do this, I completely forgot about a bunch of personal commitments, and I didn't get around to reviewing entries until I had time to post them, and personally felt that it would've been unfair to disqualify without enough notice to update the entry.

For the record, the 800 word maximum and three image limit is detailed in the GDS wiki page:

And For the final record, it took me almost an hour of uploading, and embedding, the images in the correct place (and I think I'm missing a few places!) for "The Infected." It was not a process I'd pass on to any other Challenge Administrator.

SiddGames's picture
Joined: 08/02/2008

Dammit, I meant to vote and just totally spaced it out - I apologize to my fellow entrants on that.

I didn't read the first entry because it was so dang long - 2400 words? I was amused to see that it was based on the same story as my entry, although it has more gameplay, obviously. Perhaps we both thought "Siftables = hidden information handling" when thinking of game ideas.

I liked EmpKing's entry. I thought it was elegantly simple, and again used the Siftables to track hidden information. I like that the game ends when someone claims the Heart, so there is the uncertainty of when it is ending, and trying to end it when you think you are ahead.

I'm disappointed all I could come up with for the contest was basically a solitaire puzzle game, but that being said, I think it could be a pretty interesting solitaire. I didn't do any testing, but I hope there are enough constraints (forced group sizes and forced shuffling) to make it suitably challenging for someone to first figure out who is infected and then kill it off without letting it infect someone else. I do have a concern that once the infected reach critical mass, you'll basically be playing out several turns of a hopeless game without even knowing it; if that is the case, though, I suppose you could program the Siftables to detect when that threshold occurs and notify you of your loss. If I had more time, I wouldn't mind mocking this up on the computer to see if it actually played like I think/hope.

I like Mitchell's use of the Siftables in his game, particularly getting more mileage out of them for use as different kinds of components (different functions), although I wonder if setup might be a little excessive. Also interesting that he went real-time on the gameplay, something else that computers are good at.

McWookie's entry reminds me of a beefier cousin to my entry, with the hidden spread of infection, but the research mechanic added on top. I like how the sides and victory conditions can change depending on who gets infected over the course of the game; the zombies have a dilemma because the more players they infect, the stronger they become, but they all lose if they infect everyone.

If I had voted, I would have done 3 votes each to Pandora's Mountain, Ze Vorst Game, and Dark Hollow, as I liked all of them (on a tough challenge topic), would have ruled out Infected simply based on the size of the entry, and cannot vote for myself.

Jpwoo's picture
Joined: 03/26/2009
my crits

I'm sorry that there weren't more entries in this month GDS, I didn't get time to make one this month, but on the bright side, writing up the critiques was much quicker! This is a neat tech and i'm sure that someone will come up with a cool use for it, even if just as a toy. I have seen some virtual pet/dollhouse toys that do it a little but not to the extreme that siftables do. Price point is probably pretty rough on them given how much goes into each one.

The infected: wayyyyy too long. I didn't really read it yet, I may go back to it.

Ze Vorld’s Vorst Game

A very short game. It is interesting that the game is blind. You really have no idea what the other players are doing, beyond what siftables they pick. I like the idea of taking cities one block at a time and the different abilities.
I think there could be more variety in the role selections, and somehow it would be nice to give the players some information so they can interact a little more.

Who Goes There?

Solitaire games are good, but I think this could could be played in a small group as well, with players cooperating in trying to figure things out. This is cool game kind of a solitaire warewolf. The 'thing' seems like a pretty popular theme this time around. It strikes me that the game would end early fairly often with any infected in the 3-4 groups being eliminated in the first round which is 14 of the 20 characters, and they only infect those in the 2 group. Which is only 3 possible pure. This is an easy fix with tweaking the starting numbers of infected though. Nicely executed use of the tech to deal with hidden information that isn't possible in a normal board game without a moderator.

Escape from Pandora's Mountain

I like escape/adventure games. So this theme is neat, tourists on a haunted mountain running downhill hoping not to die, but probably dieing by dehydration or being eaten by monsters. While I like the 3d stacking aspect I'm not really sure that it is needed. But it is cool. Some more variety in terrain might be nice other than, rock, rock and rock. I like the idea of spending resources to get down, but the limiting to one flashlight could be rough, maybe being able to bid on several pieces of gear, flashlight gps, gun, tourist map, etc might make the bidding more involved.

Plague at Dark Hollow

Pandemic with combat and zombies. I like the idea of wandering around a village interviewing people and fighting off zeds. I'm not quite sure what information the interrogation gives you. Forcing players to interact with the village beyond testing potions would seem to be pretty important. I like the use of siftie for the potion creation. I also would like to see the animations of the village burning in a player loss.

mcwookie's picture
Joined: 08/10/2008
doho123 wrote:In the past we

doho123 wrote:
In the past we have disqualified players who have submitted game, but haven't voted (this may not be explicitly stated anywhere).

I haven't heard of that rule before, and if it is a rule, it should be added to the GDS wiki.

The GDS wiki only states: "VOTING: Each forum user who wishes to (whether or not he/she has submited an entry to the challenge) may vote by responding to a poll posted by the challenge administrator to the BGDF website's front page. Those participating in the challenge are encouraged not to vote for their own entries."

I read that as the exact opposite; if i submitted an entry I can vote if i wish.

Jpwoo's picture
Joined: 03/26/2009
I think the point of

I think the point of contestants being forced to vote is for fairness, I'm not sure it was ever a requirement but we talked about it.

This month is a prime example. Only 4 people voted, If I had a game in the GDS, and I vote too, the votes that I give others significantly lower my chances of winning.

SiddGames's picture
Joined: 08/02/2008
/shill on

That's another plus for a ranked pair or preference voting scheme - I think you can rank the other entries and omit yours, and then it doesn't skew the final tally for or against you. For example, if the entries are ABCD and mine is C, my ranked entries might look like:

A > B = D

I like A better than B or D, which I find equal, and express no opinion for or against my own entry C.

/shill off

Mitchell Allen
Mitchell Allen's picture
Joined: 08/09/2008
Sifting through the Siftables

1. The Infected
Well, if we could have unlimited text and images, The Infected would surely garner points for completeness!
I like the description of the siftable playing pieces. The only quibble I have about the game is the possibility of overdosing on the serum. It just seems to be an arbitrarily event that gives the player one more thing to worry about.

2. Ze Vorld’s Vorst Game (1 pt)
This game has potential. The mechanic of secretly savaging towns negates the best part of the siftables: visuals.
It is not clear from the description whether the other two players should also avert their eyes while a player touches a town.
In addition, unless there is some way of revealing the towns (presumably, while the other players' eyes are averted), I would have a bit of trouble remembering which towns I'd already savaged.

Why is the scoring siftable used to determine if a town can be savaged?
Are the abilities single-use? If not, "Easy Kills" seems like it would always assure its possessor of an "Easy Victory.

3. Who Goes There? (4 pts)
This concept is fascinating. I tried it as a mind experiment, using a spreadsheet. It's boggling, to me!
The key ingredient is the fact that your Pure can only kill Known Infected. It appears that the Hidden Infected can wreak a lot of havoc before you can locate one.

The replay value of this game depends on some clarifications:
How are the group numbers assigned? 1,2,3,4,1,2,3,4 or 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8?
When each new round begins, 50% shuffling must occur. What is the proper way to apply this rule if ABCD and EFGH are the two groups of four?
*"Same Group" means group of 4
*"Same Group" means any group of two or more
*"2 characters" means AB, AC, AD, BC, BD, CD, EF, EG, EH, FG, FH and GH
*"2 characters" means any combination, such as AE or CF
Finally, does the regrouping restriction extend for only the next turn?

I imagine that the main strategy will be to "quarantine" the Infected as often as possible. If I can freely pair AE and CF without running afoul of the rules, I'll have a better shot at ridding the population of Infected. (The reason is that, if I know 8 pures, I can shuffle them around in groups of three's and fours all day long. :)

4. Escape From Pandora's Mountain
My entry. I think the mountain needs to be wider, so that siftables can easily touch the sides in the "crevices".

5. Plague at Dark Hollow (5 pts)
Of the three infection entries, this one has the most well-rounded game play.

There appears to be a typo or a paradox in this rule:


If a zombie is defeated, it is removed. If a player is defeated, his infection level increases (or decreases if the player is a zombie).

Does this mean that Player-Zombies do NOT die when defeated, like the non-playing zombies do?

The only rule I don't like is the way a Zombie disrupts research. It breaks the theme of mindless horrors rampaging.
Perhaps the rule could be modified so that, instead of providing incorrect info, the lab suffers damage and can't be used for a number of turns.



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