Dalius's blog

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Thinking About Games #1

So let’s stop for a moment and think what I have done with “Duke’s Dream”. Last weekend we have played this little game with my family (https://dukesdream.azurewebsites.net/ - it is here if you have not seen it yet) and I have tried to watch how people were playing it. We have played 3 matches and decided that it is enough. Something was missing and I have felt that as well. I knew that game was reasonably balanced and you never know which team is going to win until the end of the game.

In this regard this game was better than the first one that I don’t even want to show. That game had simple strategy you can follow and it guaranteed winning. In this game winning strategy is more nuanced and my family tried out different strategies when they began to understand what’s going on in the game. Still game has not attracted my family. Here are the things I (or other people) have noticed:

  • People had to watch into smartphone always. When you are playing board game information is scattered around. It is on the table, on multiple cards in the hands and etc. The area to get information and process is always available. Meanwhile in smartphone you have to scroll around to see all the information, think about it and interaction is lost. In addition that required a log of concentration and people get tired really fast.

  • You have to hide your smartphone from other players. That’s slightly annoying. When playing with cards usually you can hide your cards behind single card and you are good.

Having that in mind these ideas follows:

  • There could be more things about smartphone. It is personal device and there are social things that limits its usage in games.

  • I think we still have technological barriers as well. In the future when smartphone’s display area could be widened (e.g. through 3d projection or expandable screens) and OSes will support different modes than only private mode now we potentially could use them for game development.

  • It is quite interesting that I have managed to make quite balanced game with 10 roles. I even think that I have created game that is Pink noise by its nature (https://www.gdcvault.com/play/1024920/Board-Game-Design-Day-White) what is quite pleasant knowing that I did it intuitively. The bad side that introduces problem for players as they should be aware about all roles and what to defend from. And initially they don’t even know what others players are and potentially will not know.

  • It was quite expensive lesson as I have written quite a lot code thinking that I’m on something but finally I see that form factor is important. On positive I have improved my programming skills in some areas.

  • I still see that hybrid games can be created but they will require minimal interaction with smartphone (or at least not more than with other game components).

I have another idea for game but most probably I will make real board game with cards and whatever else will come to my mind. As I have subscribed to number of subreddits one has constantly people asking about game design and/or prototyping tools, e.g.:

Here software again, interest to look what people are doing and maybe write something of my own. That usually ends up in board game simulators (e.g. https://tabletopia.com) that completely misses the point of board games. They partially gives promise that they can be used for prototyping games, but IMHO that’s not the case as while you don’t play with real people eye to eye you will not know how game will fell actually. You can use that to balance out the game for simple scenarios but that’s it IMHO.

Other category of tools are tools to make game items, usually cards. Some of the recommended tools look quite outdated other meanwhile are programmatic (e.g. http://squib.rocks/) what is not user friendly again (unless you are programmer and usually programmer using specific language). No tool looks good enough for quick game prototyping in result.

As well I have decided to write not only about games here so if you are interested into game only then follow Games category.