Good news everyone, I didn’t die. Thinking no longer feels impeded by a cloud of cotton wool, so I’m in a good state to go through last week’s post and see which of my fever induced notions has any value from a design point of view. As a whole excercise hopefully it’ll do something in terms of giving some insight into how I develop concepts and can offer some hope to people labouring with difficult ideas that even bizaare fever dreams can give rise to something interesting. Let’s begin.
Sad news everyone, I’m dying. Or I have a cold and will get better in a few days. One of those. Probably the second one. I guess I’m still not immortal though, so the first statement is technically true. My point is that today is going to be a little more disjointed than usual, because I feel like I’m thinking through some sort of cloud of cotton wool which is making me somewhat inconsistent. I just saw this art for one of the Artiste cards, isn’t it cute:
Sometimes you’ve got a game that’s a fair way through testing and further refinements aren’t bringing any significant improvement. At this point you may be approaching the best game possible within the limitations set by the major decisions that you’ve made. This is a good place to be, but that doesn’t mean that it’s okay to rest on your laurels – it’s time to slash and burn.
Around mid July I wrote about the Artiste project that I’m undertaking with The People’s Orchestra. It’s been a month and a half so it feels like a good time to offer another update and perhaps tie some of the previous blog posts to their actual impact on game development.
This article is about Kickstarter, but I’d like to open by talking about the role of luck in games – trust me, it’ll all make sense in the end. Suppose you’re in a game with two strategies, one will give 2 points, the other gives a 50/50 chance of getting 3 points or nothing. Which is the best option? Clearly the reliable strategy averages two points and the unreliable strategy averages one and a half, so the reliable strategy is the one to play. Nobody likes random numbers.
Now that I’m a fair way in to developing a social deduction game I find myself trying to work out how to analyse social deduction game states. A competitive game should be winnable by either side, depending on their skilful choices and decision making, I want to get more into how social deduction games achieve this goal as a means to working out what to include in the people’s orchestra game.
I’m aware that the information that I’ve put out about the artiste game has been somewhat disjointed, so this week’s people’s project post will bring everything that’s happened over the past month and a half together to give a coherent account of what the game is, where it’s at and where it’s going. If you’ve been following the project closely then skip the second paragraph after the second image to get into things that are not being discussed for a second time.
After another couple of playtesting it’s become apparent that the artiste game is the strongest by an order of magnitude. Whether I’m testing with gamers, musicians or just people who want an excuse to do something other than continue with their regular work for twenty minutes it’s consistently come out on top. We’re going to commit to making that game, so now I’m tasked with developing and balancing it as well as looking at ways to expand it, so I’d like to spend this weeks post talking about expansions.
My parents were both gamers, pretty much as soon as we were able to handle it me and my sister were stripped of our copy of Monopoly (which I guess must still be gathering dust somewhere) and put on to gamers games. I remember getting blacklisted by a childminder’s service because we asked the minder if she wanted to play a game and devastated her with some 80s bookcase game with a million components, a 6 hour playtime and a rulebook sufficient to club a rhinoceros to death with.
After the first week of playtesting it appears that the social deduction game is the runaway success. Every playtest group that’s played the three games has preferred it by a wide margin and it’s produced by far the most visceral results in terms of players laughing, joking and generally having a good time.