I was on the Ludology Podcast

Discussion in 'Game Design' started by keithburgun, Mar 23, 2014.

  1. keithburgun

    keithburgun Administrator, Lead Designer Staff Member

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  2. Nachtfischer

    Nachtfischer Well-Known Member

    Awesome show! It's good to hear some "Game Design Theory Podcast" vibe again.

    It's amazing how well most of your ideas go down when presented to (primary) board gamers. I guess if you said the exact same stuff on a video game podcast, there would've been some severe objections and disagreements of the kind "well, to each his own". Probably the fact that both of the hosts are into design helped, too (Engelstein obviously made several board games, and Sturm is at least thinking about design constantly and has his own podcast about explaining rule systems).
     
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  3. Kdansky

    Kdansky Well-Known Member

    That was great!
     
  4. Erenan

    Erenan Well-Known Member

    I like troodon myself.
     
  5. keithburgun

    keithburgun Administrator, Lead Designer Staff Member

    Troodon?
     
  6. Erenan

    Erenan Well-Known Member

  7. keithburgun

    keithburgun Administrator, Lead Designer Staff Member

    Huh, had no idea. Ya he seems pretty solid.
     
  8. Erenan

    Erenan Well-Known Member

    When I listened to the podcast, I had no idea what you meant by "solid" when referring to different species of dinosaur. What is a solid dinosaur exactly?
     
  9. keithburgun

    keithburgun Administrator, Lead Designer Staff Member

    Heheh. I guess I just mean the Triceratops seems like it has no major obvious weaknesses. It's like a good size, got the horns, doesnt have some huuuuge long exploitable neck, stuff like that.

    But yeah I should probably have said something like "all-around". Really though it didn't mean anything, was kinda a joke.
     
  10. Nachtfischer

    Nachtfischer Well-Known Member

    The main question should be: Is the Triceratops elegant? No, wait... I'm in too deep.
     
  11. Erenan

    Erenan Well-Known Member

    Or not deep enough... Is the elegance of the triceratops objective or subjective?
     
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  12. Leartes

    Leartes Well-Known Member

    Imo triceratops is not elegant. Troodon looks much more elegant. Triceratops is far too heavy and looks clumsy. Bit like a rhinoceros which is also not elegant - in contrast to a gazelle.

    Am I mixing things up?
     
  13. Kdansky

    Kdansky Well-Known Member

    I always liked the Stegosaurus. Hitting people with your spiky tail is awesome. Or the Iguanodon: Sticking your oversized spiky thumb into their eyes. Yeah.
     
  14. keithburgun

    keithburgun Administrator, Lead Designer Staff Member

    Stegosaurus was a high level contender candidate for favorite dinosaur of mine for a long time. Ultimately his head is just too small for me.

    BTW: My criteria for dinosaurs is HIGHLY under-developed.
     
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  15. Erenan

    Erenan Well-Known Member

    I am wondering about one point that came up in this podcast:

    You stated that you believe a game should have a binary goal, and something about how there is no such thing as 2nd place, 3rd place, etc. Effectively, you are saying, as far as I understand, that there cannot be a hierarchy of valued game-end outcomes, but rather only a win outcome and a lose outcome.

    I am wondering if you wouldn't mind first clarifying your stance on this, but also whether or not you had an argument for why this is the case. If you have an argument, I would love to hear it.

    As for clarification, what I want to know is this: Are you actually saying that there literally cannot be such a game-end value hierarchy? Or are you saying something weaker, such as that such a hierarchy, while possible, is simply counterproductive with respect to the value derived from games? Or something else?

    EDIT: Alternatively, if you have an article about this that I'm just not aware of, you could probably just point me in that direction.

    P.S. Also, I imagine you're mostly talking about individual instances of playing a game. I would think that 2nd place, 3rd place, etc. would actually be completely meaningful and useful in a tournament context, and that that is a different sort of thing. But please feel free to talk about that if you have an opinion about that too.
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2014
  16. keithburgun

    keithburgun Administrator, Lead Designer Staff Member

    Yes, I am really saying that. My argument for why is that "a distinct goal" is the only thing that's enforceable or clear or meaningful. If you say "Just get the highest place you can!", then even if you get 3rd place, well fuck, I guess that was the highest place you could get... so you win! Even if you got last place, you still win because last place was the highest position you could get.

    ... unless of course we mean "the highest position ANYONE COULD POSSIBLY GET" (also known as First Place), in which, okay, we're back to a decent goal.

    Games need a goal that is clear, enforceable and can give the game state meaning. "Get the highest place you can" is like "get the highest score you can" score attack shit. There needs to be a distinct "DO THIS VERY SPECIFIC THING, AND YOU WIN. IF YOU DO NOT DO THIS, YOU LOSE."

    I don't have an article about this, but it's a good idea for one. And yeah in a tournament 2nd place is less offensive but probably only because the "tournament meta-game" is less of a thing to damage in the first place.
     
  17. EnDevero

    EnDevero Well-Known Member

    In a tournament it's not offensive because the whole point of a tournament is to rank people.
     
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  18. keithburgun

    keithburgun Administrator, Lead Designer Staff Member

    Right, true. And a tournament is not an interactive system anyway, it's just the act of tallying results. Perhaps in the strictest, technical sense the phrase "I won the tournament" is kind of wrong (although it's fine, as a shorthand for, I won the most games in the tournament).
     
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  19. Erenan

    Erenan Well-Known Member

    That was kind of an unclear and informal argument, or at the very least I don't completely comprehend your reasoning or how it establishes what you're saying, so I can't really comfortably respond to your points. Instead, here's my case for game-end value hierarchies:

    In a game where the goal is to have more points than any and all opponents at the time the game ends, there is a distinct goal that clearly establishes a single winner. But at the same time, it is a simple indisputable fact that after the game ends you can create a list of the players sorted by number of points at the end of the game. Because this is so, "2nd place," "3rd place," etc., can at the very least be understood as merely descriptive terms for the players' positions in this list, and in this case these terms would undoubtedly be meaningful, because each term describes a specific situation that is distinct from what each other term describes. And it would seem that how you place at the end of the game is also useful feedback. Over the course of many games, if you place last every time, your strategy is probably not very good. But if you see yourself begin to place higher and higher as you develop your strategy, this can be seen as a sign that you are learning the game better. In some sense it seems arguable that this feedback might implicitly arrange "2nd place," "3rd place," etc. in a meaningful value hierarchy. But even if it doesn't, I still don't see any special reason why the game designer or even the game players cannot simply declare that such a hierarchy exists. It does not seem incoherent to say, "a player losing with 149 points to the winner's 150 points did not lose as badly as the player who had 0 points." It is easy to see a qualitative difference between 2nd place and last place, so even if both must be understood as losing, this does not imply that they necessarily must be identical in value.
     
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  20. keithburgun

    keithburgun Administrator, Lead Designer Staff Member

    Erenan, I understand the reasoning for why "2nd place" was invented. It's a kind of natural assumption, and it's intuitive. However, it causes problems, and we as game designers have the ability to prescribe our own rules for our games.

    If you achieve 3rd or 4th place in a game that's actually not any more useful than if you were just declared a loser. This is because the only useful feedback a game end condition can give you is "you achieved the goal" or "you failed to achieve the goal". "You achieved 2nd place" doesn't mean anything more. The objective was to get 1st place. You didn't do that. That's what matters.

    If you want to change your objective and become good at getting 2nd place, then OK, with that house rule "getting 2nd place" means something.

    This is a critical thing that most people make a mistake with: If the goal was "get 1st place", getting 2nd place is not actually better than getting 3rd place. It's exactly like saying something like "well, sure he came in last, but if you add up the amount of seconds that he took to do his turns, he definitely played the fastest, so..." It's adding some new house rule onto the clear goal.

    The objective was to get 1st place, so you can't really judge whether 2nd or 3rd place was "better". Let's see if I can find an analogy to illustrate why that's the case:

    Maybe Starcraft... like a 4 player FFA? Let's say I go for a rushdown strategy and try to kill off my neighbor right at the start to gain an advantage, or something like that. But it goes sour, and I get eliminated first actually. I assume the goal in SC FFA is "be the last man standing" - so if this is true does this necessarily mean I "did worse" than the guy who survived another 7 minutes before being wiped out? I would say no, not at all. We can't make a judgment like that based on how long they were alive really.

    The objective of the game is to get 1st place. What other "value" is there? You can't glean understanding about your play other than "I did not achieve 1st place".
     

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