Saturday, September 03, 2011

Risk Legacy

Someone I was corresponding with mentioned Risk Legacy to me, and I found the rules online and read them.

The idea is that you a series of games (beginning as more or less standard Risk) are connected together, and as you play the board and other parts of the playing environment change, and rules change, from one game to the next. In the process you write on the board, destroy cards, stick stickers on the board in the cards, open sealed envelopes, write on stickers, and other things which render the game unplayable if you want to start from scratch. This is all in the name of personalization, that what the player does makes a difference to the environment in the long run.

Some people seem to think this is an innovative or cool idea. What’s cool about destroying your game? There’s nothing cool about destruction, period. Too many people look to express themselves, look for their reason (excuse) for existence, in destruction rather than in creation. Top that with what I can only describe as another of the destructive Triumphs of Capitalism, planned obsolescence: it’s not only built in obsolescence, it’s programmed destruction.

What’s innovative about rule changes? There lots of games where the rules change, though perhaps not very many where the play of one game changes rules in the next game. But so what? There are lots of games that have well tested variants and you can play the game with a variant whenever you want, hence changed rules. Here you have a more chaotic set of changes in rules. Yes, the choices you make in one game affect another. But does it really matter? And is it worth rendering the game useless?

There is no reason why this game could not have been designed so that it could be reusable. As it is you buy a game that you immediately start to destroy after you play it once. In fact there seems to be a celebration of destruction, disguised as personalization.

Moreover, it appears to be designed for a situation that will rarely occur, where you have the same 3 to 5 people playing a long series of the same game. But even if you do have that situation, at the end you need to buy another copy of the game to play again. Duh?! The cynic in me says that Hasbro may have hit on a real bonanza, a way to persuade people to buy the same game over and over if they really like it. I’d be ashamed to sell it. *Shakes head*.

Quite apart from that, do we have built-in design problems? As if leader bashing wasn’t a problem in some games, here we mark the leader off very clearly over a series of games.


Again I can only shake my head. My ego isn’t so weak that I need to personalize everything, including my games. Though I have nothing against personalization when it isn’t destructive. Perhaps it’s a generational thing, but to me this whole idea is destructively stupid as implemented.

Lew Pulsipher

11 comments:

pathunstrom said...

My first question when I heard about this is 'why don't they just use those static 'sticker?'' Seriously, the idea of reusable stickers have been around since I was young, at least, and I've even played games that used it (Likely games put out by Hasbro, even!). It doesn't make sense, except in the sense of 'Hey, repeat customers.'

It's interesting, but I doubt I'd play it.

Eric Hanuise said...

I had a similar kneejerk reaction at first : destroy the game ? stupid!
However, I then came to realise this ain't the right approach to it.
The first 15 games are used to 'customize' the game. Some components are permanently modified or destroyed during that phase.
Afterwards, the game is still playable and has a 'final' state.
Seen that way, it might actually be an interesting idea.

Don't forget that real innovation is often disruptive, and this looks disruptive to me so mabe it's a real innovation after all.

Lewis said...

Well, "customized" to be played that way henceforth is, to me, largely randomized. You could roll dice to see how to change it just as easily. Yes, then it loses the player "agency".

I still think it's a Triumph of Capitalism, because it could be customized multiple ways if it were designed for non-destructive modification.

Marc G said...

I haven't looked at the rules so I can't really say, but it reminds me of a kit I bought for my kids a while back that involves designing a game. It's "destructive" in that you do place stickers on the board to mark your ideas, etc. Then they have real "ownership" of the idea. If it were reusable, there would always be this temporary feel to the game and the seductive temptations to start over in the possibility that it could be made better. A game that makes you draw that line and actually commit to such a permanent decision, sure , why not?

Full disclosure: I have destroyed/modified/customized my child's Candyland game by adding two more shortcuts. I've also changed the rules by allowing the players to have three cards in their hand and the ability to play a card on an opponent ahead of you as well, so I may be biased.

After this post I will try to track down the rules to have a look at them and I may be back to post some more.

Lewis said...

Unfortunately, in game design it's much more important for people to realize that "everything is changeable". Nor is "ownership" necessarily a good idea, if that means someone will stick with a notion just because they are originators (owners) of it.

I still think that encouraging destruction to mark personalization is a very bad idea. Personalization should be creative, not destructive. Nor is personalization important, in the great scheme of things, though it do doubt appeals to the "Me generation".

Marc G said...

"Everything is changeable"
Hmm, I wonder how many game players have actually modified their games (other than house rules).
After playing through the design part of this game, you can then bring out this version at a friends house (as opposed to their version) and play it.
There's no brokering of house rule acceptance, it's just there.
There's no "alternate setup," it's just there.
Maybe their implementation isn't perfect, but to me, there is something to be said for the thought behind it.
It's like car customization that necessarily involves some level of destruction, and the outcome may be amazing or amazingly horrible, but that's what personal expression is all about.
So I read the rules and think that if it said "Put an X through it" instead of "rip it up and throw it in the trash" that it might be more palatable.
Otherwise I don't have a problem with it.

I will say that it will probably make money because a lot of people will feel the need to have a played version and also an "unplayed" version, purely for collectability.
Whether that was a conscious marketing decision or not is best left up to someone's own personal level of cynicism.

=+=SuperflyTNT=+= said...

Lewis, you're out of your mind. Destruction for destruction's sake is bad, I'll grant you that.

But this isn't distruction. This is discarding trash. It's the same as discarding a carton of milk once you've used it up. Or, really, the analogy is discarding the milk because it's gone bad, never to be used.

It's not about personalization, and for you to have read the rules and not seen that, it shows you're just caught up in the knee jerk commentary that you espoused. It's about EVOLUTION. The game evolves permanently as you play it. You are playing and building a persistent universe to play in.

Sure, writing the name on the board when you win is gimmicky. But NAMING the world, or the cities, that's not. That's evolution.

The factions evolve and get stronger as the game progresses. The board gets more interesting and varied as the game progresses. It's not destruction. It's evolution. Anyone not seeing that this is not a disposable Small World knockoff is not seeing the forest for the trees.

=+=SuperflyTNT=+= said...

Lewis, you're out of your mind. Destruction for destruction's sake is bad, I'll grant you that.

But this isn't distruction. This is discarding trash. It's the same as discarding a carton of milk once you've used it up. Or, really, the analogy is discarding the milk because it's gone bad, never to be used.

It's not about personalization, and for you to have read the rules and not seen that, it shows you're just caught up in the knee jerk commentary that you espoused. It's about EVOLUTION. The game evolves permanently as you play it. You are playing and building a persistent universe to play in.

Sure, writing the name on the board when you win is gimmicky. But NAMING the world, or the cities, that's not. That's evolution.

The factions evolve and get stronger as the game progresses. The board gets more interesting and varied as the game progresses. It's not destruction. It's evolution. Anyone not seeing that this is not a disposable Small World knockoff is not seeing the forest for the trees.

Lewis said...

"Evolution"?

I had some students designing a game once, and to place special locations on the board they dropped a handful of pieces onto it. I said, players want the benefit of your skill and analysis as a designer, they don't want something random, they want something that's a good setup.

This "evolution" strikes me as mostly-random, especially as players aren't necessarily trying to make the game better when they make changes, they're trying to give themselves an advantage.

It's like aleatoric music. (Wiki: music in which some element of the composition is left to chance, and/or some primary element of a composed work's realization is left to the determination of its performer(s)). My recollection is that it's more often chance than performers. What you get is generally junk. Though where the performers determine the music, it might stroke the performers' ego.

(No, I'm not a fan of jazz, either.)

So you can say I'm out of my mind, I still call it junk.

Lewis said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lewis said...

Consumerism


While I have no objection to modifying a game (Risk Legacy), this is something we have done for generations, I find the idea of destroying a game to be so consumerist and anti-planet that I'm disgusted by the entire thing.

This is the age of instant gratification and convenience and especially consumerism, but I'm old enough to remember when those things were not important and other things were. I don't know that it will affect me, though there's a good chance that it will, but already we are at a point where consumerism is destroying resources faster than we can possibly keep up, and the world is on a downward trend to collapse. I hate the idea of throwing things away when they break, because we used to fix them but now we don't. The very idea of destroying a game so that after you play X number of times (given the difficulties of getting the same group to play many times I suspect X= five not X= 15) offends my sense of what is right. The game could have been arranged so that you modified it in exactly the same way functionally but you could choose to reset it to the default and go again. It is not the least surprising that a large corporation has come up with this idea because it is clearly designed to persuade people to buy the game more than once. It is an extreme version of "planned obsolescence". And again it was not necessary. You can get all of the interest, such as there is, in modifying the game as you go along between plays without destroying the game.

I wonder if a reason (not the major one) for designing a game like this is that so many players are now incapable or uninterested in devising variants themselves. Now "it's in the rules" so it's OK, and the players don't actually have to figure out the variations themselves. Judging from BGG comments and rating it is very popular with Risk fans.

Nonetheless, "Risk Legacy" is an abomination of consumerism because it is destructive.