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[GDS] APRIL 2015 "Losers' Lounge" Comments and Questions

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richdurham
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Please use this thread for comments or questions about the April 2015 GDS, "Losers' Lounge" posted on the front page.

Good luck!

Zag24
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Not to take credit or blame

Just to clarify, it was a friend of mine in my gaming group who came up with this idea, not me. So I want neither credit nor blame. :) (I did think of offering the idea up to Rich as a monthly challenge.)

anthiasgames
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Well I think it's a great

Well I think it's a great challenge! It really changes the dynamic of a game if it can be entered or left at any time. It makes it something that could potentially run indefinitely, but may have no player in common now with what it had three hours ago. Like some of the old arcade games that had buy in features, like the old TMNT game. Boy did I waste some coins in that thing!

Great challenge, I think I will have to join in this month. I expect some awesome entires as usual :)

richdurham
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solo games

Just yesterday I was playing some games and found that there are already a number of games that essentially play solo, together. Resource gathering games for instance. Some have little if any player interaction, and dropping a player out takes no effort since you can play without really interacting with them anyway. Some of these games even go so far as to have arbitrary end points built in - stop at a certain score, stop after X rounds, etc.

The problem I personally had with these games (which will go nameless to avoid losing focus on the point), is that they were dull. Players could drop out because it didn't even matter that they were there, ever. The games didn't really evolve except for building our own engines, and adding players in meant they were "behind" on the engine build.

So for this challenge I suggest - although by no means a rule - avoiding a game concept that can plug players in and out because they never need to talk to each other or interact in any way. It's kind of boring.

Game that might already do this well:

Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective

Others?

DifferentName
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jk

richdurham wrote:
So for this challenge I suggest - although by no means a rule - avoiding a game concept that can plug players in and out because they never need to talk to each other or interact in any way. It's kind of boring.

There goes my simultaneous solitaire idea! ><

jk :p

richdurham
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BubbleChucks wrote this:

And it accidentally deleted when I removed a double-post. Here is the original text in full:

I think that the multiplayer solitaire dynamic is a good point to bring up in the design equation. A lot of games rely upon this, to the detriment of their overall enjoyment potential for the players. It’s certainly not a game design fault per se, since the games that employ it usually work very well, from a mechanical stand point, but its inclusion does sometimes make a mockery of the “group game” idea.

A step upwards from this is when such games employ a group resource generator. The games still revolve around the creation of independent engines, but the group engagement is increased when the resources each player receives are dependent on what a single player does on their turn.

In games like Machi Koro and Qwixx the players are primarily working independently. However, the interest in an individuals turn is shared by the group as a whole, because the actions taken by a single player have repercussions for the other players as well.

After looking at the challenge these thoughts occurred to me

One

The winning objective needs to be simple and the potential for completing it must be available to all the players at any time.

A simple win condition will ensure that everyone is actively engaged from the moment they sit down to play, because they have an equal chance of completing it.

If the game winning objective requires a significant time investment, like complex engine building or resource gathering, the players that enter at a later stage will be disadvantaged.

Of equal importance is the fact that working towards a developed win state, by collecting items of cumulative value, will provide an unfair advantage to those who have already accumulated a significant amount.

The win condition should therefore be simple and variable. This could also involve a changing state that is dependent on the cards (or whatever game pieces are being used) that are currently in play - or even the number of players in the game.

An example would be something like Fluxx and its changing game actions, but altered to reflect changing winning objectives.

The players would have to collect a pair of cards that match the current win condition, while playing other cards to change the current win condition. Win conditions could be to collect 2 blue cards with a total value of 7, or a red and yellow card of equal value, or a red and green card with a numerical difference of 5.

In this case it wouldn’t matter when a player joined the game, because the objective would be constantly changing.

Two

The components each player uses during the game should be few in number.

If the players need a lot of components to play this will stifle the game flow as new players take time to set up or leaving players take time to put back their components.

Three

It matters less if the game finished early than if it finishes late.

If the game has the potential to finish in a short amount of time it makes very little difference, because the current players can immediately start a new game. However, if the game has the potential to last a long time it will conflict with the ebb and flow of old and new players.

Four

The game could simulate the presence of other players in its solitaire mode.

If cards are dealt to fake hands, which are visible to everyone, a game could revolve around acquiring the cards an individual player needs from these fake hands.

If the fake hands are obscured a single player will still need to collect cards from “other hands” but they will also need to determine what is in those hands. The process of determining the cards in a hidden hand should require some form of sacrifice that decreases the chance of success. For example, cards being removed from the game.

In this case a person could play against the game, attempting to win before their sacrifices make loosing inevitable. However, the arrival of new players would restore cards to the game, prolonging its length and restoring the possibility of winning for all the players.

Employing fake hands would also make it easier for new players to enter, because they would simply pick up a hand that wasn't actively being used by another player.

mindspike
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Puzzles and cooperative games

A number of cooperative games and activities work well in this regard. The two that spring immediately to mind are traditional puzzles and construction games.

Putting a 5000-piece puzzle together is an activity that can be joined in or departed from at any time without affecting the other participants. While traditional puzzles aren't really games, some gaming conventions do set aside space for puzzle construction and many games (eg, Pandemic) are essentially dynamic puzzles. The "winning condition" may not be achieved in any given sitting, but if the puzzle is completed by the end of the day all participants will have (hopefully) contributed meaningfully.

Construction games with a focus on teamwork also allow participants to contribute as much or as little as they desire. Shifting the goal of Jenga from "don't be the one to knock it down" to "how high can we build it" makes for simple and challenging game play with very little commitment. A leader board that tracks height and participants allows achievements to be tracked throughout the game day.

anthiasgames
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Dang it, you got me

Dang it, you got me interested with this one! Frantically protoyping my entry, and I know I have a heap of changes already, but it can ride as it sits for the moment.

Thanks for giving me a fun project, I haven't had the time for this stuff in recent months.

richdurham
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Will you rise to the challenge?

A couple entries are in now, with only a few more days to go! This challenge is a thought provoker, but lends itself to short, easy game descriptions.

I'm really curious how people propose to solve the "drop in, drop out" problem.

werhner
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I'm really curious about that

I'm really curious about that as well.

I guess I've always assumed that a win condition requires that you have people to win against. In a game where people can drop in and out, how can I say if I have won against a person who isn't actively playing the game anymore? Is dropping out of the game the same as losing? I guess it can be up to the player who is dropping out on how he/she wants to define it.

I've had a hard time balancing two things: first, I want time spent playing the game to result in a better chance of winning the game. Second, I want players who just dropped in to have the feeling that they have a reasonable chance to win. The two seem to be pretty at odds with each other. Can't wait to see what people come up with.

phonyamerican
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So are we assuming the game

So are we assuming the game can be won/resolved solo in case no one else decides to join?

mindspike
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A solo resolution seems

A solo resolution seems reasonable, and is a way to reward time spent playing the game.

kungfugeek
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Some other things that I think are implied by "come and go"

The only thing a player can take with him when he leaves the game is his score, in his memory (or sheet of paper). If he takes any components, he might not return to the game later on to return them.

On any turn, there has to be some way for a player's score to go up as well as down. If it just goes up, the player who plays more turns will have an advantage.

The game's end will have to be largely in the group's control, and probably based on some outside-the-game situation like, "Game ends when everyone goes home for the night." Otherwise, it's almost impossible to get it to end when it's supposed to.

Just my thoughts. It's an interesting challenge.

richdurham
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Last day!

Get your entry in today (since we generally go by east coast US time)! If you're already on the 10th of April like I am, you probably already submitted your entry. That goes for all our Aussie BGDF'ers.

anthiasgames
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I was hoping to go back and

I was hoping to go back and make some edits, but won't have a chance :) I wish everybody the best of luck! I can't wait to see what comes out of this one, as the concept is really interesting.

richdurham
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Last day for votes!

Get your votes in by the end of the 19th! Remember, you can vote even if you didn't send in an entry!

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