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fdsaf3
08-05-2014, 01:33 PM
Hey y'all.

I'm nearly certain I haven't posted about it here before, but in my free time (ha ha) I'm into game design. I've designed probably 4-5 games, one of which actually has a prototype somewhere in my basement. Lately, I've been inspired to write my thoughts on game design in a series of blog posts tentatively called "all the fixin's". (yes, it's a stupid name, but I'm not terribly creative at naming things on the fly).

The point of the blog is to presuppose that people who like playing games would rather not play a given game because of some inherent flaw in some aspect of the rules, mechanics, or design. The classic example for me is a game like Monopoly. It seems that nearly everyone has had a bad experience playing Monopoly: the game which lasts 5+ hours, no one wins, and ultimately everyone gives up out of frustration.

It's games like that which I believe can be fixed (hence the working title "all the fixin's) by clarifying the rules or making slight modifications to the gameplay. These modifications would NOT alter the core game mechanics; the point is that games which people dislike can be salvaged. It kind of ruins the argument to say that Monopoly can be fixed by adding laser beams and UFO abductions to the mix.

I'm curious if there are any games or particular game mechanics that you feel are frustrating to the point of preventing you from playing a game. I have a few ideas for blog posts other than the classic Monopoly dissection, but if any of you has any suggestions I'm happy to have that conversation.

Thanks!

The Unreasoner
08-05-2014, 02:18 PM
Could you clarify what it is you're trying to fix in Monopoly? Do you want to make it shorter, simpler, more complex? I have a house rule that lets multiple people own and develop a color group. And quite a few others.

fdsaf3
08-05-2014, 06:46 PM
Sure!

Monopoly is a really divisive game for a lot of reasons. The rules are relatively simple, there's a high degree of luck involved (and some strategy), and there's a lot of fun involved in getting all the properties that form a monopoly. Unfortunately, those are also a lot of the reasons that older and more serious gamers don't like it. For whatever reason, Monopoly is a game which maybe more than any other has a culture of house rules. I can't think of another game which has more, to be honest with you. I'm not sure why it is, but I think it has something to do with the lack of comfort in children for paying money to the bank without getting something in return.

It's surprising to people who have only ever played with house rules how much differently the game works when you don't allow any to be used. Using standard rules, the game actually works pretty well. There's still a lot of chance involved, but you don't end up as often with the long, drawn out games that you see with house rules.

There are a few common types of house rules that people use:

* landing on Go gives extra money (I've seen anything from $300 to $500, depending on the house rule)

* fees paid to cards, income tax, and/or luxury tax get placed in the middle of the board. These fees are collected when someone lands on free parking.

* playing the game without auctioning property (i.e. if a player does not wish to purchase a property, they simply pass on to the next player's turn).

What most people don't realize is that by adding in these house rules, they are making the game drawn out and frustrating. Monopoly works to the degree which it does because resources are allowed to leave the system. When you add money back into the game, you are slowing down the mechanism which forces players to move to a conclusion. Trades are much more valuable when players have less incentives on hand (i.e. there's less cash in the game).

So, long story short: removing commonly used house rules from the game of Monopoly speeds up gameplay and creates a game which can be relatively brisk. The stigma of the never ending game is reduced significantly.

There are certainly other ideas for how to make Monopoly more interesting/compelling for gamers that we can talk about. But to make the game itself playable, it seems to me that people need to return to the core game mechanics. It still might not be your cup of tea, but it's a lot less frustrating to play a game of pure Monopoly than it is to play one with all the additional rules and variations.

Edit:

Just to clarify (sorry for rambling - I love talking about this topic), the issue I'm addressing is the perception that Monopoly is a tedious, never-ending game. When you hear people talk about why they don't like to play, it's because they say it takes forever and no one wins. My contention based on my experience is that much of that frustration lies in the fact that people used house rules which exacerbated their frustrations and extended the game significantly.

The Unreasoner
08-05-2014, 07:10 PM
Ah. It sounds like you think the house rules that make it harder to go bankrupt are the problem. But as you say, using the official rule set fixes that, hence my confusion.

But so does not playing with children. I enjoy drawn out games with my friends, some lasting days. But we put real money on the outcome usually, add drinking game rules, and a whole host of house rules that make the game a little more open ended. But we leave the victory conditions open ended too, iow, when someone clearly has an unassailable position, we call it a day, calculate net worth, and pay the winners.

Maybe you could post the general idea of some of your own creations? I'm interested in helping, but I understand that 'add beer and gambling' may not be the advice you are looking for.

Once, on a long car ride to tahoe when my gameboy died, a friend and I made and played a pen and paper stratego type game, but with elements of advance wars (terrain, funds, artillery and air units), and had a blast, so I understand the appeal.

yks 6nnetu hing
08-06-2014, 05:11 AM
er... I've only ever played according to the regular rules and I very much disagree. The game is still frustrating, drawn out and insanely long. Basically all the fun ends after all the properties are bought and exchanged around so all players have the blocks. After that it's just a spiral of inevitability until one person owns everything and the rest are frustrated and upset.

GonzoTheGreat
08-06-2014, 05:28 AM
er... I've only ever played according to the regular rules and I very much disagree. The game is still frustrating, drawn out and insanely long. Basically all the fun ends after all the properties are bought and exchanged around so all players have the blocks. After that it's just a spiral of inevitability until one person owns everything and the rest are frustrated and upset.
A perfect training for life in a capitalist society, wouldn't you say?

Nazbaque
08-06-2014, 09:04 AM
Pretty much all last player standing type games suck unless they are very quick games. Basically the first player to fall will be bored out of their skull and has to figure out something else to do. If the game is heavily influenced by random luck rather than strategy, it's even worse as all the fun focuses on winning rather than playing.

With Monopoly you just roll the dice and do what you can. There is very little actual choosing of action and therefore little strategy or skill. Playing with house rules that allow alternatives for the standard rolling of dice are some of the most effective in introducing strategy but it's difficult to keep them balanced and they tend to lengthen the game. The best such rule I have played with was that instead of the standard roll a player could "call taxi" and then rolled to see how much it cost per tile. This was often a very expensive thing to do so it wouldn't be abused, but it allowed for some serious maneuvering. There were a lot of variations on extra rules to limit this too such as extra payments for landing on Go or other tiles you really wanted to get to or passing hazard tiles.

fdsaf3
08-06-2014, 11:06 AM
er... I've only ever played according to the regular rules and I very much disagree. The game is still frustrating, drawn out and insanely long. Basically all the fun ends after all the properties are bought and exchanged around so all players have the blocks. After that it's just a spiral of inevitability until one person owns everything and the rest are frustrated and upset.

Assuming you have players who are interested in finishing the game (meaning they are willing to make trades), games in my experience last 60-90 minutes. That's not terribly long compared to other board games. But whatever, I'm not going to compare my anecdotes with yours. Like I said before, there are some people for whom Monopoly is not their cup of tea. That's fine. I'm not trying to convince everyone in the world to go out and play. I'm trying to show people who would otherwise be interested in playing except for the fact that they thing the game is long and drawn-out that there are ways to address those issues.

With Monopoly you just roll the dice and do what you can. There is very little actual choosing of action and therefore little strategy or skill.

Well, I disagree with this. There's certainly strategy when you play the game. There's strategy in buying properties versus auctioning them, there's strategy in making trades, and there's strategy in when building houses/hotels. Sure, there's not as much strategy as in other board games, but it's disingenuous to criticize Monopoly because of that. You can't criticize a watermelon for not tasting like an apple even though they're both fruit.

Look, I really don't want this to devolve into a "I hate Monopoly" or "I hate board games" conversation. To reiterate: my purpose in starting this discussion is to identify what other games people would play except for some perceived critical flaw. As I said before (how many times am I going to say that?), Monopoly is a divisive game. I know that. So can we just move on?

yks 6nnetu hing
08-06-2014, 11:48 AM
why are you so defensive?

reminds me of a situation I had the other day:
other person: "so, you seem to have a chip on your shoulder"
me: "it may be just my perception but every time you talk to me it feels like I'm being attacked"
other person: "OF COURSE ITS YOUR PERCEPTION YOU NEED TO JUST..." *walks away still yelling*

anyways, on topic, board games with a flaw. in my experience the biggest flaw is usually the other people. I don't have a problem with assholes in games where this is clearly the aim (e.g. Munchkin) but where you're supposed to follow the same rules and then some people... Jenga for example: I HATE it when people purposefully make life difficult for the next person. Though some people say that that's the aim of the game.

Nazbaque
08-06-2014, 12:34 PM
Assuming you have players who are interested in finishing the game (meaning they are willing to make trades), games in my experience last 60-90 minutes. That's not terribly long compared to other board games. But whatever, I'm not going to compare my anecdotes with yours. Like I said before, there are some people for whom Monopoly is not their cup of tea. That's fine. I'm not trying to convince everyone in the world to go out and play. I'm trying to show people who would otherwise be interested in playing except for the fact that they thing the game is long and drawn-out that there are ways to address those issues.



Well, I disagree with this. There's certainly strategy when you play the game. There's strategy in buying properties versus auctioning them, there's strategy in making trades, and there's strategy in when building houses/hotels. Sure, there's not as much strategy as in other board games, but it's disingenuous to criticize Monopoly because of that. You can't criticize a watermelon for not tasting like an apple even though they're both fruit.

Look, I really don't want this to devolve into a "I hate Monopoly" or "I hate board games" conversation. To reiterate: my purpose in starting this discussion is to identify what other games people would play except for some perceived critical flaw. As I said before (how many times am I going to say that?), Monopoly is a divisive game. I know that. So can we just move on?

O.o Dude it's just a game. If you want ideas don't jump on people's throats just because they disagree with you.

The Unreasoner
08-06-2014, 12:40 PM
I like the cab rule, but I think that I'll do a flat fare for 7 spaces, with an additional fee for every space more or less than 7. That way people can't just call a cheap cab to move 2 spaces, which is normally very hard.

Playing with arson rules is fun. If you are on the developed property of another, you can pay a fee of 50 per house burned, then go to jail.

SauceyBlueConfetti
08-06-2014, 12:48 PM
Usually my issue with games is people don't read the rules if they are just a casual player.

I love Scrabble, but I remember playing with a friend whose idea of the "rules" were just way, way off. When I called her on it, and said something was incorrect she got pissed and won't play anymore.

I get accused of being tooooooo logical at work...yeah, that's a BAD thing???? But games have RULES.

So, to wind up a longwinded, roundabout post, I agree with Yks...tis usually the other players. That and rules are so poorly written, people don't read them.

The point of Monopoly is for one person to gain full control and bankrupt everyone else. It's called M O N O P O L Y.

rand
08-06-2014, 01:32 PM
Playing with arson rules is fun. If you are on the developed property of another, you can pay a fee of 50 per house burned, then go to jail.
Have to remember that, it sounds cool.




fdsaf, not sure if this is what you're looking for, but a few games that have always annoyed me:

Risk: I've only played it two or three times, and all a while ago, but from what I remember it takes forever (much longer than Monopoly, I think).

The worst one, IMO, is Life. It takes a while to set up all the stupid pieces and houses, and then the game is completely luck and no skill (which I guess represents real life pretty well, at least). So if there were different rules that somehow added skill to the game, that would make it more interesting.



Sort of unrelated, but I remember as a kid I had a Mouse Trap game. All ever did with it was set the contraption up and catch the mice. I don't think I even realized there was an actual multi-player game aspect of it until years after I'd thrown it away, lol.

The Unreasoner
08-06-2014, 03:51 PM
Goddamn it i got logged out while posting, and am on my phone so typing is a pain in the ass. So, cliff notes:

rand
Arson is great, frees up houses, ties up resources, and sometimes jail is a good place to be


fdsaf
Don't defend, hear them out. That's the point of this thread. Unless I'm missing something, which is possible. I'm still not 100% clear what you're after. Info on your prototype might help.

In the meantime, cyvasse or shah'rah or cheops might be cool to develop.

Nazbaque
08-06-2014, 07:21 PM
I get accused of being tooooooo logical at work...yeah, that's a BAD thing???? But games have RULES.
They just don't like it when you point out they are wrong. Most people just want to ignore being wrong instead of doing the logical thing of changing their mind.

fdsaf3
08-07-2014, 01:27 PM
It's bizarre. People here argue and justify their positions all the time without being called defensive. I do it to support my position and I'm called defensive.

This isn't meant to be whiny "everyone is out to get me". I'm simply trying to say that my intent was NOT to be defensive or argumentative. My apologies to those affected if that's how things came across.

Ok, got that out of the way. Let's get down to some specifics.

Risk - this is an interesting game for a lot of reasons. It's got a weird balance between luck and strategy which puts off a lot of more "hardcore" gamers. Not that every game has to cater to those who identify as hardcore, of course.

I haven't done any play testing of this whatsoever, but I think a big problem with the game is in the card "cash in" system. Something about it has always kind of irked me. I feel that it overly compensates who are lucky enough to act first: the first player to get a card is probably the first to cash in for a reward. In Risk, it's far better to be on offense than defense. I think there's a possible tweak to the card system, but I'm not entirely sure what it is at this point.

Another issue is the crazy disparities in difficulty of holding certain key areas of the board. Everyone knows the basic strategy of claiming Australia and then moving to the Americas. Getting involved in a land war in Africa, Europe, or Asia is almost certain death. Some of the issues here are alleviated in the Risk: 2210 version of the game. The map is expanded, there are new ways to get to each continent, and the game is put on a limited number of turns (5 in the rules, but my friends and I have expanded to 6 or 7 since we play fairly quickly). That game isn't perfect, either. Using currency to change turn order is a cluster-eff, and buying power cards doesn't work as well as it could either.

I like the idea of addressing some issues with Risk, but at the end of the day I don't know how to overcome the core problem of it posing as a strategy game which depends on the luck of the dice.

Life: I like Life! It's really unfair in the sense that it's entirely chance-dependent. I honestly don't know how to address that. It seems that the more conservative you are in that game, the better off you will be. The risk/reward of doing things like gambling on the wheel seem out of whack. I would need to check the math to calculate the expected payouts to make sure, though. Maybe that's the point - maybe the game is trying to teach the life lesson that gambling isn't worth the risk. I'm not sure.

I think an important thing I've learned about my criteria for games to be "improved" is that they have to be games with meaningful player interactions. In Life, players don't make many important choices. Whatever you spin, the next square tells you what to do. Without player choice, the only other thing I can come up with to change in a game are its mechanics; I don't want to go down the road of fixing a game by fundamentally changing how it works.

Interesting ideas, though. I have a lot to think about.

The Unreasoner
08-07-2014, 04:07 PM
Now you will be labeled defensive about defensiveness. And I'm stkll waiting for the prototype.

Frenzy
08-08-2014, 12:50 AM
Ok, i play loooooots of nerdy board games. Off the top of my head, there are two that I have that have pretty big flaws.

King of Tokyo (http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/70323/king-tokyo)
The biggest problem I have with this game are the special powers cards. There are too many of them, they're expensive to purchase, and by the time you've amassed enough green energy cubes to buy one, your opponent has won using the dice alone. (my daughter consistently kicks my ass using this strategy.) The cards are there to make the game something more than yahtzee with movie monsters, but it really doesn't work.

Evil Baby Orphanage (http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/128565/evil-baby-orphanage)
This game has a very funny concept (two words: baby Hitler), but the game play just doesn't make any sense. The rules are vague, the cards try to explain what to do but fail, and you spend more time trying to figure out what the heck's going on than actually playing.

GonzoTheGreat
08-08-2014, 04:46 AM
The cards are there to make the game something more than yahtzee with movie monsters, but it really doesn't work.
That is where you are going wrong. Those cards are a red herring to distract players who over think things, so as to teach them that in some situations direct action is better than dithering. The players who do figure this out would have a better chance at victory, showing that the game does indeed depend on skill rather than on blind chance alone.

fdsaf3
08-08-2014, 12:43 PM
Now you will be labeled defensive about defensiveness. And I'm stkll waiting for the prototype.

Meh.

The gist of the game that my friend and I devised is that it's a role playing game where you start as fully-powered characters and expend resources rather than the conventional building up of experience and power.

The game is set in a city which is confronted by a bunch of problems. There's an army besieging the city, your city defenses are weak, and you have a water/food supply problem. Help is on the way, but your allies are delayed.

Players have to work together to address these issues. No player/character alone has the ability to stop the threat of the city being overrun, so cooperation is key. You also have to balance the cost of performing key actions to address these problems with their benefits. If you spend a lot of time and resources building up the city's defenses, citizens will starve. If the city is overrun or too many citizens die before help arrives, the city won't be saved.

There's a lot of game elements going on with this idea. We've discussed adding more focus to the building and maintenance of structures in the city, but that kind of takes the focus off player choice and the meta PVE interaction that we're striving for.

That's the game in a rather large nutshell. If you're interested in specifics, let me know. I wasn't sure how much you wanted to know, so I thought it was best to keep things high level at first.

fdsaf3
08-08-2014, 12:45 PM
Ok, i play loooooots of nerdy board games. Off the top of my head, there are two that I have that have pretty big flaws.

King of Tokyo (http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/70323/king-tokyo)
The biggest problem I have with this game are the special powers cards. There are too many of them, they're expensive to purchase, and by the time you've amassed enough green energy cubes to buy one, your opponent has won using the dice alone. (my daughter consistently kicks my ass using this strategy.) The cards are there to make the game something more than yahtzee with movie monsters, but it really doesn't work.

Evil Baby Orphanage (http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/128565/evil-baby-orphanage)
This game has a very funny concept (two words: baby Hitler), but the game play just doesn't make any sense. The rules are vague, the cards try to explain what to do but fail, and you spend more time trying to figure out what the heck's going on than actually playing.

Thanks!!!! I've not played either of those games, but I will certainly look into them. Thanks for the suggestions.

Figbiscuit
08-14-2014, 09:01 AM
The point of Monopoly is for one person to gain full control and bankrupt everyone else. It's called M O N O P O L Y.

Hahahaaaaa

I love Risk. Yes it takes ages, but that's what beer and pot were invented for. The only thing I don't like about Risk is playing against my OH, as he ALWAYS wins. (Although in fairness the same can be said about all games. I won against him playing Thud a couple of months ago and actually took photographic evidence of the score sheet).

I don't know whether you get the Discworld board games in the US, I suspect not, but the Ankh-Morpork game is brilliant, kind of like a cross between Risk and Monopoly and it works extremely well. You need an initial play through to learn the rules and although it seems complicated it's not that bad, once you've played it once you'll be away.

And there's my relatively unhelpful contribution to the thread.