Tuesday, March 22, 2011

March 2011 Ruminations


Those who dislike kingmaking, who feel people shouldn't talk about what others are doing in the game while playing, who want to turn it into individual manipulation of the system, really want puzzles (multiplayer solitaire) rather than games.


What I haven't seen discussed much about wargames is the number of players in a typical wargame. Traditionally, it is two. In Euros, it is about four.

Can wargame "grognards" conceive of a game for at least three separate sides--not two sides with more than one player per side--as a "wargame"? Necessarily, multi-player games with separate sides are going to be grand strategic, so that the details so loved in two-player battle games simply cannot be there.

Moreover, most of the games I'm working on have turns at least 10 years long, up to 200 years long. Can that be a "wargame" to the grognards?

Fortunately, when you combine trends toward simplicity, efforts to shorten games, multi-player situations, grand strategic level, and "sweep of history", it all works together. Whether it is acceptable to "grognards" is another matter.

Another consideration is the old notion that "you are there", "you are in command". You can't feel this at a grand strategic level, certainly not in a sweep of history game. That never made a difference to me, I'm playing a game, not living a role, but it seems to make a lot of difference to many wargamers.

If I want to play a role, I'll play a role-playing game (RPG). I think some wargamers are suspicious of RPGs, the rules aren't highly defined, they're too "loosy-goosy". So they find their role-playing in their wargames.


You can design video games that encourage regular, simple activity. And that might keep a person playing the game. But is that what you, as a designer, want, to make a game that becomes a mechanical exercise, a very simple puzzle? Or a form of chemical addiction? Not me.

Ian Schreiber calls it "sticky" games. I call it minor league addiction. And that's not what I want to design. I hope online "social netowrking" games can rise above it.


One of the reasons many people like Britannia-like games is that they are highly asymmetric, yet because you have multiple nations you're not trapped in a particular role that asymmetry might otherwise dictate (such as defend and preserve, or attack and conquer) for the entire game.

Heard at PrezCon: Is it true that Britannia waives the rules?

1 comment:

David Gay said...

You bring up an interesting point about finding role-playing in wargames. I've found that in a lot of cases, players get more into character when they're not actually required to.

The guys who treat D&D like a hack-and-slash dungeon crawl sometimes develop in-game personalities when playing card games and board games. One of my players developed quite an interesting personality during a game of Triopoly...