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[GDS] January 2011 "Remember the Time" - Critiques

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sedjtroll
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Use this thread to post constructive critiques of the entries to the January 2011 Game Design Showdown entitled "Remember the Time".

JustPlainChips
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any critiques? anyone?

As Seth said, this certainly was a disappointing contest.

I designed the solo "castlevania-ish" game in this month's contest.

I can't be too thrilled with my "victory" where I'm guessing it was me an the other designer giving two votes to each others' designs. On the other hand it keeps my streak alive of coming in dead last or tied for last in each of the contests I've entered! Perseverance is important, right?

The restriction of the game having a memory and a save state immediately made me think of computer gaming and the RPS requirement made me think of Yomi and it's fighting method and then something unknown connected that to Castlevania which then lent itself to be solo. Though I'm pretty sure it could be easily adapted for VS play.

There were a few ideas that I didn't incorporate into the design as entered including different special weapons (eg knife, boomerang, holy water, axe, etc) and an increasing difficulty as one progressed through the castle. My entry was too wordy as it was and I cut all of that out. Maybe I'll play around with them in the future.

Anyway, just like the last GDS I entered I'd love to hear some critiques/criticisms of my game if anyone has any. I guess I'm just entering in the wrong months.

As for my competitor's design. I loved the over all theme and how the week kept filling in as the week was repeated. I docked 1 vote because the RPS element didn't stand out to me. I'm guessing that the three customer types matching better or worse with the certain trips was how it was implemented? It didn't feel RPS-ish enough to me.

One thought that I had was maybe the player, as a salesperson would use the time machines themselves to have a better week. So you aren't playing weeks 1 through 5, but playing through week 1 five times, tweaking it to make it better. Almost like the movie Groundhog's Day.

Anyway, that's my 2 cents.

sedjtroll
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Loop Inc - my comments upon first readthrough

I happen to really enjoy the idea of time travel, and therefore games with time travel in them interest me. I am working on a few time travel ideas myself in fact.

My readtrough of the Loop Inc. entry really got my creative juices flowing, I could just see how this game (or a similar one based on the same ideas perhaps) might play out. Almost like a Rondel game, where the Rondel changes over time as action tiles are added to the board.

I like the Age of Steam turn order auction (maybe the Railways of Europe on is a little nicer), which is similar to what you're using here. In addition to the last player starting the next auction, I might go as far as to say you should bid in reverse turn order. Also interesting in those other games is that the first player to drop pays nothing, the last player (2 players?) pay their whole bid, and everyone else pays 1/2 their bid. But maybe simpler is your rule where everyone pays their full bid, and if you want to pay 0 then you should drop the first chance you get.

Question - is it better to bid in REVERSE turn order, or regular turn order? If everyone simply passed right away, should turn order stay the same, or reverse?

I hope you work on this further, I'd like to see it in the forums soon!

rcjames14
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My Votes

I gave Transylvania Castle two votes because it fulfilled both of the mechanics criteria.

During the design period, I struggled over how to make a game without path dependency interesting. It is one thing for the game to remember what happened earlier and make that a component of the game dynamic (like Loop, Inc.) and another thing all together to return to a previous state. The former is a property of all games where items accumulate on the table (even blackjack could be construed as such when card counting is included), the latter exists in almost no tabletop game because it represents a do-over. So, I could not figure out how that would at all be interesting or desirable. But that's precisely what Transylvania Castle does.

The reason that Transylvania Castle didn't get all three votes is because it seemed rather unnecessary considering that Castlevania already exists. It would have been nice for more than one player to have been incorporated into the game... Otherwise it seems like it is a little anachronistic and tedious in the age of digital games.

sedjtroll
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Transylvania Castle

While reading the Transylvania Castle entry, I got to the part about the castle cards on the save board, and it occurred to me that you had the same idea I did for a GDS back in Feb 2009! I didn't enter that GDS, but the idea I had was this (from this blog post):

Like so many science experiments, this one went horribly wrong. In a bid for the Nobel Prize, a brilliant but eccentric physicist got a bit overzealous with a new discovery, and inadvertently created a tear in the space-time continuum. This tear is unstable, and in time would grow and eventually unravel space-time altogether - and that would be bad for everyone.

It's up to a team of scientists to find a way to fix space-time before the instability grows too much and the world turns inside out. The only problem is, the tear in space-time has begun to cause 'Rewinds' - instances in which time literally rewinds and the scientists are pushed back to a previous point in their endeavor.

Players work together to navigate a tree of decisions, each leading to 1 of 2 paths. At the end of each branch of the tree is a Result card, some with a favorable result - the scientists fix space-time and save the day... and some less favorable - game over! with each turn there's a chance that the instability of space-time triggers a Rewind, pushing players back some number of decision points. The worse the tear gets, the bigger the Rewind. If time rewinds past the beginning of the game, then that's all she wrote!

The main mechanism of this game was to be that players must make choices with little or no information at first, then as they move on more information becomes available. Then when a Rewind occurs, players can use the newer information in order to re-do a prior choice they made. On a players turn they first roll some dice, and then they can do one of several things - each option might be restricted in some way by the die roll. In addition, whenever the roll totals 7 (or perhaps is over some threshold), a Rewind occurs and players are pushed back along the decision tree some number of spaces. An Instability track indicates how far back the Rewind takes the team, and after the Rewind, the Instability increases (the next Rewind will be bigger).

Only before I envisioned it as a decision TREE, I just envisioned it as a deck of event cards which you would flip up, deal with, then place in the discard. When a "rewind" occurred, some number of cards would go back from the discard pile onto the top of the deck (maintaining order) - giving the players another chance to successfully navigate them, now that they have seen what's coming up.

Your save mechanism is very similar to this! In yours the cards are shuffled and then returned (much like the Infection cards in Pandemic), which has some merit - you know what's coming up, but you don't know for sure the order.

The rest of your game sounded like porting a video game into a board game format, and I don't know how well that would work in general. Part of the fun of side scrollers has to do with timing and time pressure, you can't stop and think about what card you're going to play. However, your game doesn't encourage stopping and thinking about which card to play either, because it seems like any time you're playing a card, the outcome is random. I realize that the RPS restriction of the challenge led to this, but that being the reason or not, I don't see where there would be any interesting decisions to make.

I think there are opportunities for it though - I think deciding which RPS card to play could become interesting if you either have unequal consequences of the comparisons, or if you have some information about the opponent's attack card (which maybe you do after a save). I think there's an opportunity for an interesting decision whether to save or not as well. It could be the case that you've made progress, but you are not well off, and you have to choose to save now, or risk losing the progress. I think that would be a more interesting choice if there were some sort of "time limit" (turn limit perhaps?) to the game.

I think I'd streamline a little bit too, if really attempting to port a video game into a board game - I think I'd want a game that FELT like the video game and was evocative of the video game, but really streamlined such that the bookkeeping didn't detract from that feeling. I think that is probably the largest challenge to porting a video game into a board game format.

On a related note, I think I have an idea for next month's GDS! :)

scottbalmes
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Correction/Critique

Quote:
One thought that I had was maybe the player, as a salesperson would use the time machines themselves to have a better week. So you aren't playing weeks 1 through 5, but playing through week 1 five times, tweaking it to make it better. Almost like the movie Groundhog's Day.

Correction: This is how the game is played. The salesman are playing the same week over five times. (as you said, week 1 five times, instead of weeks 1 thru 5) The rulebook was longer, and I had to shorten a lot in order to meet the word limit, so maybe I lost that point during edits, but that is how its played. Many of the playtesters have said that it feels like Groundhog's Day.

As for my competitor's design, I like the idea of trying to give a board game a video game feel. I've tried to incorporate "sidescroller" or "run and gun" feels to board games, although very unsuccessfully.

I'd be curious to see what all is included within the event deck, as it seems to be the heart of the game. The Idea of "saving" your game works PERFECTLY for a game in this style, especially as a solo. I'm not much of a solo player, but a game with features like this would certainly entice me to give it a try.

I'd love to see more of this as the game gets fleshed out.

JustPlainChips
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Thanks for the comments

Thanks for the comments Richard, Seth, and Scott

sedjtroll wrote:
While reading the Transylvania Castle entry, I got to the part about the castle cards on the save board, and it occurred to me that you had the same idea I did for a GDS back in Feb 2009! I didn't enter that GDS, but the idea I had was this (from this blog post):

Very interesting. That is funny how similar ideas come out in different ways.
sedjtroll wrote:
I think there are opportunities for it though - I think deciding which RPS card to play could become interesting if you either have unequal consequences of the comparisons, or if you have some information about the opponent's attack card (which maybe you do after a save).

Actually, both of these things (unequal consequences and some info) are actually there, but not very clear in my description (which I was worried about).
On each enemy's card are one or more of the possible actions with one or more of the 4 colors. And the 4 colors in the enemy action deck are distributed in an unequal fashion - 1 to 2 to 3 to 4: 10% of the enemy action deck is red, 20% yellow, 30% green, 40% blue

This could have been explained with a few examples, which I didn't have the time or words to include.

Zombie
red, yellow, green, blue - move

That tells you that there is a 100% chance that the zombie will move towards you. Just like in the game all you need to do is attack and it will die.

Bat
red , yellow - high attack
blue, green - move

That tells you that there is a 30% it will attack and you need to duck, or 70% chance you just need to attack.

Axe knight
red, yellow - high attack (30%)
blue - low attack (30%)
green - move (40%)

Make sense?

That also leads into my idea for 2 player, which could possibly address one of the problems Richard had, though I don't know how interesting it would be. The game would play similarly, but the antagonistic player would play with a hand of enemy action cards (which would still be unbalanced in their numbers). There would probably have to be a little something more in there, but it is only the nugget of an idea in my mind so far.

sedjtroll wrote:
I think there's an opportunity for an interesting decision whether to save or not as well. It could be the case that you've made progress, but you are not well off, and you have to choose to save now, or risk losing the progress. I think that would be a more interesting choice if there were some sort of "time limit" (turn limit perhaps?) to the game.

Any save points that you come across in the Castle/Event deck are optional for just the reason you say. Though it may be a less interesting choice because it is random and you get free health and a save at the boss fights.

A time keeping element is a very interesting idea. My first thought is to make the player deck limited and if it runs out then the player dies and maybe it refreshes at a save or something. But that would certainly necessitate balancing size of the two decks against each other.

sedjtroll wrote:
I think I'd streamline a little bit too, if really attempting to port a video game into a board game - I think I'd want a game that FELT like the video game and was evocative of the video game, but really streamlined such that the bookkeeping didn't detract from that feeling. I think that is probably the largest challenge to porting a video game into a board game format.

I hear that. The flow is something that will have to be tinkered with, if not pounded on. That is a problem of any video game board game, huh?

sedjtroll wrote:
On a related note, I think I have an idea for next month's GDS! :)

Glad I could help?

scottbalmes wrote:
Quote:
One thought that I had was maybe the player, as a salesperson would use the time machines themselves to have a better week. So you aren't playing weeks 1 through 5, but playing through week 1 five times, tweaking it to make it better. Almost like the movie Groundhog's Day.

Correction: This is how the game is played. The salesman are playing the same week over five times. (as you said, week 1 five times, instead of weeks 1 thru 5) The rulebook was longer, and I had to shorten a lot in order to meet the word limit, so maybe I lost that point during edits, but that is how its played. Many of the playtesters have said that it feels like Groundhog's Day.


Good! That makes a lot more sense. I'm glad I was reading correctly into the design. Like I said, I love the idea, the RPS just felt a little weak as far as this contest goes.
scottbalmes wrote:
As for my competitor's design, I like the idea of trying to give a board game a video game feel. I've tried to incorporate "sidescroller" or "run and gun" feels to board games, although very unsuccessfully.

We shall see if I'm successful or not in the future.

scottbalmes wrote:
I'd be curious to see what all is included within the event deck, as it seems to be the heart of the game.

For sure. Getting the mix of enemies and other items and their strengths right will obviously be one of the bigger challenges in getting this game to actually work well.

scottbalmes wrote:
The Idea of "saving" your game works PERFECTLY for a game in this style, especially as a solo. I'm not much of a solo player, but a game with features like this would certainly entice me to give it a try.

I'd love to see more of this as the game gets fleshed out.


Thanks for your kind words, I sure appreciate it. I'll certainly try to keep fleshing this game out and share it with everyone here. Hopefully we'll all get to play it one day! :)

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