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Alright table top designers, let's all try to find each other on this by posting your favorite/obscure design tips. One that came up last week:

Your cards will be viewed from different sides around the table so someone will see it sideways or upside down unlike in digital so don't stress about the orientation too much if it's not perfect.

@tonytran each action a player can take should have a benefit (or potential later benefit) and a risk (or potential later risk), that way there are decisions to make every time. No Thanks is a beautifully simple illustration of this idea.

@jackson_pope @tonytran There's a basic progressive presumption there (the player need for "advancement" -- cf power creep, AKA things must always get better) that deserves to be challenged.

@tonytran the complexity of a game is often, but not always, in pretty direct relation to the amount of different types of pieces the game has. Each type of component means that you have to add rules for how they're used, stored, moved, and generally interacted with.

They also complicate production, storage, setup, teardown, and how much space it physically takes up on the table.

Adding a new component to a game is not something that should be done on a whim.

@MildaMatildaGames @tonytran I've heard this said about "currencies" that players mentally juggle; VPs, resources, workers, etc. Anything that you don't really have permanence with and demands attention. I wonder if there is a sweet spot (by gaming audience segment) where these two ideas overlap in harmony?

@jcl @tonytran Maybe. I guess if you take Miller's posit that working memory can involve bits and those bits shouldn't/can't exceed 7 +/-2 (or, for more complex stuff, the - of the +/-2), then how many currencies can intersect with said data bits to occupy space in our working attention before we have to stop, empty the mental process, & start fresh on new effort? Assuming each piece @MildaMatildaGames references is one of the 7 bits, then it seems large, but do systemic interactions lower that?

@gpage @tonytran @MildaMatildaGames My general observation is that 7 is manageable, but also that at 7 (or more) the cognitive space is dominated by permutations rather than implications, and rapidly becomes either capriciously forky or a brute parsing problem. (7! == 5040 -- almost certainly a parsing problem)

@gpage @tonytran @MildaMatildaGames This can be helped by having a small windowing/low early branching factor, eg "Pick any of these 3 paths, each of which gives in a space 4 factors" where that population draws from the 7 but are only considered in small populations. In this way you get the surface/seeming complexities of more currencies without (most of) the silliness (but run the risk of trivialising your gameplay into being a parsing problem ala tic-tac-toe rather than _moves as offers_).

@jcl @tonytran @MildaMatildaGames I think that's a decent response to my question, and something to think about. Thank you.

@MildaMatildaGames @tonytran My internal translation: Focus on verbs, not nouns. The goal is motion: verbs that interact in chunky uncomfortable ways, not more identities that merely exist and are counted.

@tonytran
Favourite / obscure tip for TTRPG design counts as well?!

@tonytran a related response to your Q; I've heard @jcl get after me about the various dominant models in game theory before;

1. Prisoner's Dilemma
2. Race to the Bottom
3. Free Rider Problem / Tragedy of the Commons / Collective Action
4. Zero Sum vs. Non-Zero Sum
5. Externalities / Principal Agent
6. Diminishing Returns
7. Evolutionarily Stable Strategy / Nash Equilibrium
8. ‎Pareto Efficiency

(List originally collected elsewhere & I've been saving it for reference for years now)

@gpage @tonytran Ha! Wasn't aware I'd enumerated them so (tho I recall or conversations on them). But sure, we hunt player's mental teddy bears.

@tonytran If you've been working on a game for a while, I recommend trying a major change that you think probably won't work.

Shake things up! Learn more about your game!

And there's always the outside possibility that it'll lead to something even greater 🙂

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