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News Bits: October 27, 2014

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Welcome back for another week of news!  I’m going to try a slightly different format this week to help give you a better preview of my favorite articles.  Let me know what you think!

Articles From The Community

Dice in Design

As players, we sometimes feel like we’re at the mercy of the dice–but as designers, dice work for us. They make what’s going on under a game’s hood explicit, and in doing so enable us to see and work with the often-obscure probabilities underlying the game experience.

TomCommunity - Law of Game Design
Law of Game Design

Developing Character Without Narrative

You can still use characterization in non-narrative games, but it must then work on game mechanics rather than theme.

Filip WiltgrenCommunity (Icon) - Wiltgren Media
Wiltgren Design

Alan Moon is Great

Moon certainly isn’t an arrogant creative, and admits his ideas don’t normally come quite so easily. In fact, while he has prototyped dozens of ideas since Ticket to Ride’s 2004 debut, he claims to have taken just two to publishers in the past ten years

Will FreemanCommunity (Icon) - Eurogamer
Eurogamer

Educational Games Design

In its most basic form, a quality educational game should transform the learning of a complex, intimidating and detailed concept into something that is palatable, understandable and enjoyable.

John CoveyouCommunity (Icon) - Genius Games
Genius Games

Hidden Trackable Information

The bottom line is that [hidden trackable information] does two things:
It differentiates players based on memory, players with better memories will have a better understanding of the true game state and thus have an advantage.
It adds uncertainty to the game state.

GregCommunity (Icon) - 3D Total Games
3D Total Games

The Purpose of Expansions

From a designer’s perspective here are the three main reasons I think a game should receive an expansion :

  1. Increase Replayability and Variability
  2. Add something new
  3. Add depth

Ed MarriottCommunity (Icon) - Board and Barley
Boards & Barley

Eureka Moments

I asked a handful of designers about eureka moments they’ve experienced in designing a game.  Something that really opened their eyes to how things could work in their designs, or a way to solve their current problem in a magnificent fashion.

GrantCommunity (Icon) - Hyperbole
Hyperbole!

How to Build a Game 18, 19, 20, 21

There are various reasons why you might have in incomplete game that is still worthy of testing.”

“Designers should spend some time in between projects challenging themselves. One of those challenges should be to figure out multiple ways to accomplish the same result using completely different components and mechanics.

“If I feel really unproductive I will come up with a challenge for myself. I find that these little challenges are good for keeping my head in the game”

“I will give one ‘player’ a powerful position in the game and I will think about the ways other players can either bring them down from the position or build themselves up to match their position.”

Community (Icon) - TGIK Games
TGIK Games

Breaking Barriers in Netrunner

[Netrunner] is worth championing for other ideas that go beyond its smart design too. It’s also worth celebrating because Netrunner is one of the most progressive games in terms of gender and minority representation today.

Eric CaoiliCommunity (Icon) - Gamasutra
Gamasutra

 

Last Week on iSlayTheDragon

We had the first in a new series of articles highlighting some of our favorite artists, be on the lookout for more in the future.  There are plenty more great reviews and articles coming this week!

Reviews:

 

Games On Our Table

Portrait - Andrew Andrew’s Plays

Play 2014-Oct-27 - PanamaxPanamax – I’ve been hearing a lot of good things about Panamax and finally got a chance to try it out this weekend.  It’s a heavier euro that’s all about moving cargo along the Panama Canal.  We set aside a good chunk of time for this one since two of us were playing for the first time and needed a rules explanation beforehand.  The rules are quite lengthy and involved but I found that compared to other games of similar complexity that everything fit together really nicely.  I think the reason for this was things moved very natural around the very well designed board allowing you to easily visualize how things worked together.  There are lots of mechanics in play: dice action selection, loading and delivering cargo (also dice), stocks, as well as managing personal and company finances.  You only get 12 actions over the course of the game (plus some bonus actions) so you’re really trying to squeeze the most out of very limited actions.  In order to get ahead you can coperate with the other players by loading cargo onto the same ship or pushing other boats through the locks to move cargo quicker.  Of course everyone’s trying to come out ahead so it ends up being forced cooperation more than mutually helping each other.  I really really enjoyed Panamax and I barely felt like I even scratched the surface of the strategy!  Hopefully I’ll get to play this one again soon.

Play 2014-Oct-27 - ArtificiumArtificium – I’ve played Artificium with three different groups and had qite different experiences each time.  My most recent play was the most interactive and nastiest game so far.  I’ve felt like the Knight and action cards were intended as a catch-up mechanic and finally saw it in play as the leaders were reined in several times.  In the second last round I was out front and had two second tier goods stolen to prevent me from pulling off the chain that would let me hire two characters that turn.  But even more dramatic was watching the seemingly uncatchable leader get hit by three Knights in the final round to end up losing by one point.  I was glad to see that getting a lucky chain early in the game didn’t mean that you were guaranteed the win.

I love optimization and engine games with tableau builders and card driven ones being my favorite. This usually means medium-heavy euros and medium-light card games.

Discussion1 Comment

  1. Thanks for picking out my article 🙂 It was good to read some of the other’s too, I’d fallen behind on keeping up with other design blogs recently – I’m sure there’s some equivalence to that saying about authors who write more than they read if I’m not careful.

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