For a very long time I worked in multi-agent modelling. This is a field in which a large number of agents are given very simple instructions and the pattern that emerges from their individual behaviour does something that would be beyond the scope of any of the individuals in the pattern. This sort of model can explain a great many animal behaviours, which look intricate but can be modelled using simple rules.
The work on Space, Monkeys and Cannibalism (or Kill all Bananas or Monkeygame, let me know what you think of the titles that get thrown around for this thing or if you can think of an awesomer one) continues apace. The most recent change is to try to classify objectives by their difficulty. I’d previously calculated that drafting objectives would result in significantly more balanced hands than simply drawing three objectives at random. My assumption was that players end up with the easiest objective from their initial hand, the second easiest objective from their second hand and the third easiest objective (aka second hardest aka the one that will be a huge pain to complete) from their final hand. Of course, this isn’t what happened.
A “Two ships have been destroyed! Objective complete.”
B “No, two ships were just destroyed at once, but with the one that died earlier that makes three. Your objective says ‘two ships destroyed’ not ‘two or more ships destroyed’”C “While that’s true, the situation in which three ships have been destroyed does not preclude two ships also having been destroyed. ‘Three ships have been destroyed’ and ‘Two ship have been destroyed’ are both true statements in this situation.”
A “In that case it’s valid to say that two ships have been destroyed three times, 1&2, 2&3 and 1&3.”
B “So you win then, first to three objectives.”
C “Nah, the plural in ‘objectives’ means that you can’t just complete the same objective three times.”
A “But I can do this one twice and one of the others once and that’d be okay?”
B “Maybe, but you’ve not done this one twice, you’ve done it three times.”
I wrote a post this morning, but it ran to 1768 words and so took a little longer to get through the editing queue than normal. I should post it tomorrow morning (and the one after sometime tomorrow afternoon).
Hope you all had a good weekend and stuff is generally great
Moving the Game Forwards
The playtest and improvement cycle continues, this week focused on how the game plays with 5-6 players. Generally I’ve tested with “whoever shows up”, inviting not more than 6 but often less, as a consequence the game has received much more scrutiny with 2-4 players than with 5-6. The latter tests have revealed that on average players complete about half as many objectives in a 5-6 player game and much more frequently complain that they were unable to do anything for reasons outside of their control.
A lot of games are the domain of the careful thinker, there’s a lot of time to make decisions and watch a grand strategy unfold as your machinations come to fruition. Some games are not like this, instead limiting the time players have to make decisions. I was introduced to Brawl this weekend, a game in which you can take your turns as quickly as you’re physically able. It really reminded me of something.
Recently I threw a survey at the 3DTotal audience to find out what games they’ve been playing and how they rated them. This audience isn’t really a games audience and the majority of them probably aren’t buying games, but they will all see my project when it goes live so if I can make things exciting for a few of them it’d be a boon. I also think it’s interesting to see what games are being played by “artists” (or perhaps “art lovers”) rather than what psychologists laughably call “the normal population“.
One of my continual frustrations with the world is that people don’t know how to use experts. There are a great many people who are really really good at something who don’t get to use that something. Either they have laymen telling them how to do their job, are misunderstood by everyone or have their work deliberately subverted. I think it’s really important to listen to experts on subjects that they understand and to give them free reign as far as their expertise extends.
Today I wanted to write about a book I read a couple of years ago called “The Player of Games“. Spoiler warning: I’m going to spoil parts of this book. As usual a third or so of spoilers I throw out will just be things that I make up, so hopefully that’ll keep some of the mystery even for those who read on (In case anyone didn’t work it out from the title, the Battlestar Galactica spoiler in my Treachery post was misleading, if not outright fiction). Until I looked it up just now, I didn’t realise that The Player of Games was published back in 1988, I read a modern reprint and nothing in the book dated it, perhaps it’ll turn out to be one of those timeless books. I’m told it’s not Iain Bank’s best work, but I loved it and I look forward to reading some more.
Moving the Game Forwards
General responses to the game are good enough that I’m in a tweaking phase, most playtesing is finding relatively small bugs in the wording of individual cards. I’m keeping myself amused during the process by looking at expansions and alterations, I don’t imagine many of them will make it into the main game, but I guess some of them are getting good reactions and could be made if the game was doing well enough. I think that being able to throw in cool extra things will be one of the joys of running a kickstarter. I also need a new tiebreaker system, since we discovered that the existing one can fail if an event causes two players to simultaneously complete their final objective.