Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Miscellany

Periodic notes not individually demanding a separate post:

I gave four one-hour talks about game design at Origins this past summer.  MP3s of the talks, and some wordy slides, are posted on my Web site, along with other MP3s and slides from older presentations.

I have two Risk variants that need playtesting (variants of traditional non-mission Risk, not of the 2008 revision).  One is "Zombie Risk", where for every two armies the zombies kill, one becomes a zombie, and the other is Barbarian Risk, where a new map is used, and players represent barbarians fighting over the end of the Roman Empire.

If you're interested in playtesting either or both of these, let me know and I'll send you the rules/map electronically.

When I can do no more with them (I can't spend much time developing them, of course, since they're not commercially viable), I'll post them on my Web site and on the Risk section of BGG.

While dropping off a prescription recently I overheard two senior citizen ladies talking about Farmville and other games.  They both averred that if Farmville started to charge a fee, they would no longer play.  Although a third person who came by said that in order to finish something, if she had to spend up to $20 she might do it.  One of them specifically said you have to be careful not to play such games too much or you might miss out on enjoying a beautiful day like today (which it certainly was).

I found it interesting that these people played, although they were not likely much older than I am (60).  It did make me wonder how games like Farmville make money, but I keep in mind that what people say they'll do, and what they actually do, are often two different things.  It's also true that only around two percent of players of "social network" games actually spend money doing it.

Eleanor Roosevelt is quoted as saying "Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people."  I'm trying to adapt this to other situations.

This may be harsh, but it started me thinking about ways to adapt this statement to game design and game players.  How about:

Great game designers think it's about playtesting and modification, average game designers think it's about planning, weak game designers think it's about ideas.

Great Britannia players think it's about understanding what opponents are trying to do, average Britannia players think it's about measured use of resources, weak Britannia players think it's all about conquering as much as possible.

Great game players think about strategies, average game players think about think about puzzle solutions, weak game players think about being lucky.

IGDA's Facebook page asked what is the most important characteristic for game developers.  My reply was:  For game designers, ability to think critically about their own efforts.  For programmers, problem-solving.  For artists, ability to understand what others (designers) have imagined, but to improve it if possible.  And for all, a productive orientation.

Game titles are sometimes changed by the publisher.  My title for Britannia was "The Invasions of Britain".  I like the publisher's title better.  On the other hand, "Dragon Rage" is my title.

I read that Robert Louis Stevenson called his book that we know as Treasure Island "The Sea Cook", title changed editorially.  Another example of a good change.

I called my game design book Learning Game Design.  The published title will be  “Game Design: How to Create Video and Tabletop Games, Start to Finish".  Works for me.

But I'm sure it goes the other way as well, the publisher choosing a less suitable title.  I don't know of an example, though.  (Magazine article titles are often changed.)

Dragon Rage was originally published in 1982.  Much later, 3DOpublished a video game of the same name for the Playstation 2, though there is nothing in common between the games in actual play.  For the Sony game see

Many Euro games seem to be treated, by the players themselves, like puzzles to be solved.  It's not unusual to see "opponents" suggesting (in a helpful way) what moves a player might make.  No wonder Pandemic proved to be so popular.

I discovered on Dec 13th that somehow some comments on my blogspot blog were waiting for moderation that I missed.  Though at least one of them had in fact already been moderated and posted.  Now taken care of.

 I get a lot more SPAM comments than I get real ones, these days, including an ad for a program that will enable you to SPAM blogs by beating the captcha.  Which I suppose is where many of them come from.  Sigh, what a waste of time.

No comments: