T. Rosen
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The recent review of Settlers of Catan for the Xbox 360 written by GameSpot was somewhat eye opening. It was actually a pretty kind review that didn't criticize the game as much as I'd feared (based on the Google Current lampooning of Board Games with Scott (http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/143777) and the UK Tabloid making fun of Jon Power (http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/160944)), and the explanation of the rules in the review was pretty well done. However, I must say that the review reminded me how the "uninitiated" tend to view the idea of playing board games for fun. I can sometimes have a narrow view after spending a fair bit of time on this site, which makes me perceive fine differences between various strategy board games as wide gulfs, when they're all actually exceedingly indistinguishable from a laymen's perspective. It's odd to be reminded of that.

My favorite line was when GameSpot called Settlers a "slow-pouring strategy game" and said "it's a fairly esoteric turn-based strategy game with a dry sensibility." Compared to many of my favorite strategy games, I'd never in a million years have thought of Settlers as "slow-pouring" and certainly not as "esoteric ... with a dry sensibility." Sounds more like some of my other favorites like Java, Caylus, or Age of Steam, heh, but I guess even the game we all consider the classic gateway game is slow-pouring, esoteric, and dry to others.

Other lines from the article that were interesting:

"The rules of Catan are a bit confusing initially"

"It is a game of resource management and very careful planning that rewards players that think far ahead. While that might sound a bit dull and overly complex..."

"There are also game-speed options to play around with, though even on the highest speed, Catan is a fairly slow-moving game. Matches can take anywhere between 20 and 45 minutes, depending on how skilled the opposing players are. It's a time investment for sure, but a worthwhile one." -- It's strange to think of 20-45 minutes as a long "time investment" and the game described as "slow-moving" when it takes that much time on its highest speed. I don't even think of 120 minutes as a time investment, and while I do consider the 300 minutes for Die Macher, Antiquity, or Dune a "time investment," it's more than worth it, heh.

"All this might sound daunting if you're more into the Hungry Hungry Hippos brand of board games."

"If you're looking for something simple to supplant your current Uno addiction, Catan probably isn't going to do it for you." -- If you have an "Uno addiction" then you have bigger problems than Settlers not appealing to you...

"Settlers of Catan, a cult favorite among board game players." -- I never knew we were a cult laugh

-----

You can find the full review if you're interested at:
http://www.gamespot.com/xbox360/puzzle/catan/review.html?tag...
(http://tinyurl.com/ypf3b5)
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Paul DeStefano
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I agree with pretty much all of those quotes.
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I'm pretty impressed by how positive overall the review is.

It's funny though that the reviewer seems almost embarassed to admit that it's a decent game, or maybe that he's afraid that his readers will disagree with him.

For example, calling the game "oddly addictive" means "Well, you may think this is strange, but once I started playing I actually wanted to keep on playing!" And his repeated comments along the line of "If you're a normal person, you may find this game slow and dull. But it's a lot of fun!"

In fact, this almost seems to show that Catan is an excellent gateway game! The reviewer isn't a eurogamer, but he liked it a lot, now he's just puzzled by why he liked it (and he's not sure if his fellow video game players will agree with him or not).

The review probably won't sell the game to many non-eurogamers, but hey, it's a positive review and it indicates that if only non-eurogames would try it, a lot of them might really enjoy it.
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Myke Madsen
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some GameSpot clown wrote:

"All this might sound daunting if you're more into the Hungry Hungry Hippos brand of board games."


Now that he mentions it, it's funny how similar a lot of (poor) video games are to Hungry Hungry Hippos:

"So I just keep mashing these buttons as fast as I can?"

"Pretty much"

"Ok. Cool!"
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Scott Muldoon (silentdibs)
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Mmm mmm tribalism.
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Jorge Arroyo
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Thommy8 wrote:
It's strange to think of 20-45 minutes as a long "time investment" and the game described as "slow-moving" when it takes that much time on its highest speed. I don't even think of 120 minutes as a time investment, and while I do consider the 300 minutes for Die Macher, Antiquity, or Dune a "time investment," it's more than worth it, heh.


20-45 minutes might be long for an online game on a gaming console when most online games matches normally last 5 minutes

-Jorge
 
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Michael Berg
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I'm glad he's writing for today's key target market of XBox 360 owners: The Hungry Hippo Ehusiasts and Uno Addicts.
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The reviewers for Gamespot are all fairly intelligent people who write in a style that they think their target market will like. I wouldn't be surprised if they already played some boardgames. Alex Navaro (the reviewer) also has a darker more sarcastic sense of humor, so everything he talks about has that "but I'm going to find something bad to say to balance out the nice things because I'm a pessimist" vibe (which I like). The Hungry Hungry Hippo's comment is deffinitely a joke about simple minded kids liking button mashers.

The comments of "I'm surprised I liked it" read to me like the witter is encouraging the average gamer to try it because they might also be surprised. They've said similar things about the Nintendo wii. They make fun of the wii's name, and explain that the goofy games on it are actually fun even though they have subjects like surgery, or little cute animals.

Gamespot also has really harsh ratings. A 7.9 is really good. They hand out 6's because the game is average. It's actually rated very high on the Gamespot scale. Here's a few relevant stats:

Highest Rated XBox Live Games:
Alien Hominid HD 8.5 (was a full game on the xbox)
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night 8.5 (was a full game on the playstation)
Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 8.2 (the best puzzle game in a while)
UNO 8.1 (the first card game on xbox live)
Catan 7.9 (#5 ain't bad)
Smash TV 7.9
Heavy Weapon: Atomic Tank 7.9
Assault Heroes

It's beaten out by 2 full sized games, an excellent puzzle game, and UNO (which shows promise for future tabletop games)

It is also the 53rd top rated game out of 176, so it's better than about 70% of the games on the 360.

Hopefully Carcassone becomes huge, so I'll be able to get a game at 2 in the morninglaugh
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Hmmm... boardgames on an XBox. I wonder when Microsoft will start the "re-imagining" process with Catan? How soon before we get the RTS (real time strategy) spinoffs of Catan, like...

Age of Catan II: The Settlers
Catan & Conquer
Lord of the Bricks Online: Settlers of Rohan

Or they could immerse the players in a series of first person multiplayer shooters...

Clay of Duty
Battlefield Catan
Harbor Wars


 
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Michael R
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The review was excellent but the "cult favorite" made me laugh. Settlers of Catan has sold more copies than any Xbox or Xbox360 game. I guess that must be because they are cult games systems.

And Uno better than Catan. zombie
 
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Thommy8 wrote:
Compared to many of my favorite strategy games, I'd never in a million years have thought of Settlers as "slow-pouring" and certainly not as "esoteric ... with a dry sensibility."


I once spent about ten turns without taking any game action other than rolling the dice. "Dry sensibility" is on the money.

If Settlers is a gateway game, then it shows German games often have all sorts of problems, and that when confronted with something outside their experience the average doctor/lawyer/software engineer is unable to spot this sort of thing. Unless they read Mike Siggins' demolition first, still the finest piece of game writing I know:-

http://www.gamecabinet.com/sumo/Issue23/node3.html
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Scott Muldoon (silentdibs)
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Citadel wrote:
Settlers of Catan has sold more copies than any Xbox or Xbox360 game.


Numbers?
And please take into account that the XBox and 360 have not been around for as long as SoC.
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Michael R
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sdiberar wrote:
Numbers?
And please take into account that the XBox and 360 have not been around for as long as SoC.


Settlers of Catan = 11 million (http://www.mayfairgames.com/shop/brand_catan.htm)
Halo 2 = 8 million (http://money.cnn.com/2006/05/09/technology/e3_microsoft/inde...)
Halo = 5 million
Gears of War = 3 million (http://www.gamasutra.com/php-bin/news_index.php?story=12460)
 
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Jeff
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maka wrote:
Thommy8 wrote:
It's strange to think of 20-45 minutes as a long "time investment" and the game described as "slow-moving" when it takes that much time on its highest speed. I don't even think of 120 minutes as a time investment, and while I do consider the 300 minutes for Die Macher, Antiquity, or Dune a "time investment," it's more than worth it, heh.


20-45 minutes might be long for an online game on a gaming console when most online games matches normally last 5 minutes

-Jorge


Huh? Most first person shooters take 20-60 minutes for a match and most real-time-strategy games take 30-120 minutes. I was actually thrown off by the reviewer's quote about game length when many video games take a lot longer.
 
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J. Random Human
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Pinto wrote:

Huh? Most first person shooters take 20-60 minutes for a match and most real-time-strategy games take 30-120 minutes. I was actually thrown off by the reviewer's quote about game length when many video games take a lot longer.


Yes, but in first-person shooters and real-time strategy games, you're doing something for those 20-120 minutes, even if it's just wandering around the map looking for someone to shoot. Whereas in Settlers, one often finds himself doing nothing for extended periods of time, except for periodically rolling the dice and getting no resources. Then 45 minutes can seem like a very, very long time.
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Matthew Hurst
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Citadel wrote:
sdiberar wrote:
Numbers?
And please take into account that the XBox and 360 have not been around for as long as SoC.


Settlers of Catan = 11 million (http://www.mayfairgames.com/shop/brand_catan.htm)
Halo 2 = 8 million (http://money.cnn.com/2006/05/09/technology/e3_microsoft/inde...)
Halo = 5 million
Gears of War = 3 million (http://www.gamasutra.com/php-bin/news_index.php?story=12460)


From the Mayfair Games website:

"The Catan series is one of the best-selling and most widely played game lines ever developed. Over 11 million Catan games have been sold since the brand’s debut in 1995."

If you're going to add all of the Catan games together, then you can add the two Halo games together as well. That makes 13 million. Of course that's dwarfed by the Grand Theft Auto games.

From the Money/CNN article: "The Grand Theft Auto franchise has sold roughly 40 million copies since its inception."

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A bit OT but this article reminded me very much of one I read once upon a time in a PC-Games magazine in germany.
The article was about the PC-Version of Advance Civilization.
Reviewer complained about the "backstep" from (Sid Meier's) Civilization and wondered why it was called "Advanced", why it featured a much shorter time period, only a fixed board and was all in all nothing alike Civ I...
He never realized he was reviewing a BOARDGAME which (afaik) INSPIRED Sid Meier to create his PC-Game Civilisation.

As for the considered playing Time of settlers: If I take a look at the attention span of (most) "modern" kids - I don't wonder about considering 40 minutes as "long"...
 
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Thank you for the numbers.

I would also point out that the number of households with an XBox/360 probably dwarfs the number of households with active non-mainstream boardgamers.

I just thing this kind of tribalist poo-slinging is counterproductive and would only intensify the marginal status of boardgaming culture.
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Ken B.
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sdiberar wrote:
Thank you for the numbers.

I would also point out that the number of households with an XBox/360 probably dwarfs the number of households with active non-mainstream boardgamers.

I just thing this kind of tribalist poo-slinging is counterproductive and would only intensify the marginal status of boardgaming culture.



Especially when the "boardgaming culture" is fond of doing a little internal poo-slinging as well.

Personally, I think it's cool to see Catan on XBox Live. The chance to play the game with people online while sitting on your couch instead of hunched over a computer, with built-in voice chat. Who knows? Maybe a video gamer out there will look for more boardgames after this--Catan has had that effect on people throughout the years.
 
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Thommy8 wrote:
I never knew we were a cult laugh


Didn't you get the memo about the regulation haircut and Nike tennis shoes Aldie sent out last week?

And when have you EVER seen a game of settlers last only twenty minutes? Maybe if everyone starts with eight victory points. And enough wheat and ore in their hand to build a city at the start of the game.
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tritone wrote:
Hmmm... boardgames on an XBox. I wonder when Microsoft will start the "re-imagining" process with Catan?


I can see them putting out a "Theif: the Dark Project" rip-off now. "Robber: The Resource Project."
 
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As both a serious board gamer and computer gamer I largely agree with the points made in the review.

If the medium is the message then converting board games to computer is an iffy idea.

What I like most about board games is the tactile feel of the pieces, the joking around with friends, the seeing the expression of my opponents face: it is a very social activity and very good at providing such.

Computer games have their own advantages:

-Instant set-up and put away.
-Ability to save a game in progress that can be instantly picked-up later.
-Usually many players ready to play 7/24 with no driving or arranging games.
-Nice graphics.
-Automation of fiddly or boring processes.

Good computer games play into the strengths of what computers can do, and good board games play into their own medium's strengths also.

You simply could not do Civ4 as a board game... no way, not even close. It is far too complex a simulation and it uses the computer very well to provide all the detail and complexity possible.

On the other hand, trying to convert, say, Antiquity to computer would be, IMO, a total waste of time. The game was created for a specific medium, and that is where is fits best.

Another good example is the Close Combat series that intentionally did not clone Squad Leader but changed it to produce a similar result while taking advantage of the computer medium. A direct conversion of Squad Leader would have, IMO, sucked.

So it is with Settlers in my book. I have no desire to play it on computer, the negotiation and trading alone is something that will never translate well: it just isn't made for that.

So, don't expect board game conversions to get great reviews as computer games unless they are heavily converted to take advantage of those things that computers do well: even then, those games that are created from the start for computers will usually still be better.

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Jeremy Bradford
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laugh You leave Marshall McLuhan out of this dammit!!

Let's talk about how the medium is the metaphor.

 
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Doug Buel
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Thommy8 wrote:
"Settlers of Catan, a cult favorite among board game players." -- I never knew we were a cult laugh


Uh, we definitely are. I suppose that posting here on BGG and quickly getting responses to posts, and so on and so forth, deludes people here into thinking that they're part of a community that somehow rivals the number of people who, say, play Halo. It doesn't.
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Doug Buel
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Citadel wrote:
The review was excellent but the "cult favorite" made me laugh. Settlers of Catan has sold more copies than any Xbox or Xbox360 game.


That's probably true, but Settlers hasn't outsold the Halo franchise combined.

More than 500 million games of Halo 2 were played online in the first year and a half of the game's release. And that's just online.
 
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