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Subject: Which of these abstract games do you think is most publishable? Why? rss

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Pablo Schulman
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milomilo122 wrote:
russ wrote:
milomilo122 wrote:
I'm not sure, but is this thematically odd? It would be about formations of bugs attacking each other then?
Seems thematically wrong to me indeed. In the game, bugs grow and eat other bugs. So the groups of stones are each a single bug, not a group of single-stone bugs.
Not that the original theme makes much sense. Works better with some kind of cannibal theme. This is in sharp contrast to Carnivores, where the theme makes sense in a bunch of different ways.

The way I see this "retheme" is "colonies" or "swarms" of insects eating/fighting each other out.

A smaller colony can't destroy a bigger one, only when it's equal can it compete against another colony. When it manages to kill, it has the space and resources to grow again.

Same thing, really.
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My immediate reaction after reading the initial post was to order them Blooms > Catchup > Bug > Carnivores, but reading through the thread has changed my thinking a bit.

I still think Blooms has the best shot. A theme of flowers growing across the board could look great and have wide appeal. I also think marketing to the Go community itself has a shot. I attend a local Go club and Blooms is the first game out of many I've brought up that anyone has even raised an eyebrow at. That it got the players in that group to even consider something other than Go seems like it says something.

I've come around to Catchup maybe being the worst choice. As much as I love the game, it's hard to see how you make it much more than a hex board and two colors of stones, which is gonna be awfully hard to market.

I'm also a fan of the collection concept (Pyramid Arcade is probably my favorite box you can buy in a game store and the Blinks system is the only game I'm really looking forward to in 2019), so I'd personally love to have all 4 games in 1 box, or sold as a series similar to the Gipf project. I can see not selling all 4 together, but I wonder if Bug and Carnivores at least could be sold as 1 box. Surely whatever thematic pieces you come up with could work well for both games, and you could certainly come up with boards that would would work for both if you are thinking of doing modular boards.
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Blooms is your best game. Go with your best game. The others can follow in Blooms' wake.

Of course, I'm saying this because I want a beautifully made version of Blooms (far beyond my pitiful PNP skills).
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NJames wrote:
That said, some people might appreciate a physical set. I'd suggest looking at something that is made to order and on the expensive side, a deluxe version. I know you've worked at finding colors that are particularly suitable and have some other opinions on the details of the design. Assume the effort put into designing the physical version is a labor of love, but let the interested customer pay enough to make the sale of an individual set profitable. There's just no reason to make a $20 version to sell at Target. If someone wants to play with a cheap set, they can make one themselves.

This is true. I'd like a very nice version of Blooms and I'd be willing to pay for that.
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Russ Williams
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FWIW I don't really grok the arguments that the possibility of making pretty flower-looking pieces helps make Blooms the best contender. The theme seems paper-thin and arbitrary and changeable to me.

When I played Blooms, it simply felt like a hexgrid Go variant to me. It did not feel like flowers blooming and sometimes causing groups of adjacent flowers to suddenly all disappear.

A published edition of Blooms could have flower art, but it could just as well could have bugs as the pieces and a theme of bugs surrounding and killing other bug colonies. Or it could have a theme of "battle sheep" with cute sheep art, or penguins, or whatever the marketing department decides will sell...

And for that matter, Bug could be marketed with pretty flower pieces and a theme of gardens growing and sometimes causing adjacent gardens to disappear.
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russ wrote:
FWIW I don't really grok the arguments that the possibility of making pretty flower-looking pieces helps make Blooms the best contender. The theme seems paper-thin and arbitrary and changeable to me.

When I played Blooms, it simply felt like a hexgrid Go variant to me. It did not feel like flowers blooming and sometimes causing groups of adjacent flowers to suddenly all disappear.

A published edition of Blooms could have flower art, but it could just as well could have bugs as the pieces and a theme of bugs surrounding and killing other bug colonies. Or it could have a theme of "battle sheep" with cute sheep art, or penguins, or whatever the marketing department decides will sell...

And for that matter, Bug could be marketed with pretty flower pieces and a theme of gardens growing and sometimes causing adjacent gardens to disappear.
Very much all this.
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russ wrote:
FWIW I don't really grok the arguments that the possibility of making pretty flower-looking pieces helps make Blooms the best contender. The theme seems paper-thin and arbitrary and changeable to me.
The key word is "pretty" not "theme", I think.
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michamund wrote:
russ wrote:
FWIW I don't really grok the arguments that the possibility of making pretty flower-looking pieces helps make Blooms the best contender. The theme seems paper-thin and arbitrary and changeable to me.
The key word is "pretty" not "theme", I think.
OK, but why is it apparently believed that Blooms could obviously be made "prettier" than the other games?
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russ wrote:
michamund wrote:
russ wrote:
FWIW I don't really grok the arguments that the possibility of making pretty flower-looking pieces helps make Blooms the best contender. The theme seems paper-thin and arbitrary and changeable to me.
The key word is "pretty" not "theme", I think.
OK, but why is it apparently believed that Blooms could obviously be made "prettier" than the other games?
Way back in another milennium Mark Berger made 'Rosette', a Go variant played on the triple contacts of a hexhex board. I remember him saying in the article (Games & Puzzles or the Gamer, I can't recall) that a physical version could be made with flowery stones and the "The War of the Roses" could be a nice 'theme'.
It's a really good game, but it never happened.
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russ wrote:
OK, but why is it apparently believed that Blooms could obviously be made "prettier" than the other games?
Because colors.
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BozoDel wrote:
russ wrote:
OK, but why is it apparently believed that Blooms could obviously be made "prettier" than the other games?
Because colors.
And the other games couldn't use pretty colors?
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I find joy in a nice wooden board and heavy pieces - stones, glass, weighted chess pieces etc. Alternatively, heavy bakelite is ok. Thus, I like the ‘theme’ of a classical, ancient abstract. And some moder game (e.g. Tak) tap into this. However, the current mainstream market prefe a theme - Hive, Santorini, Hey, That's My Fish!, Azul, Sagrada, Patchwork, etc.
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russ wrote:
christianF wrote:
russ wrote:
milomilo122 wrote:
I'm not sure, but is this thematically odd? It would be about formations of bugs attacking each other then?
Seems thematically wrong to me indeed. In the game, bugs grow and eat other bugs. So the groups of stones are each a single bug, not a group of single-stone bugs.
Groups of ants tend to act like a single organism.
Perhaps, but I've never heard anyone call a group of ants a "bug".
It occured to me that the game could be called "Bugs" without altering any of the 'bare' rules. Bare in the sense that no theme is attached as yet. A 'bug' then is a single stone or a connected group as it is now, and calling it thus isn't totally weird (or maybe it is, I find it hard to think in terms of what 'people' would like to buy).
But I think I like "Bugs" more than "Bug" regardless.
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Luis Bolaños Mures
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These Kingo-like Blooms variants might be more conveniently themey than the standard game.
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russ wrote:
BozoDel wrote:
russ wrote:
OK, but why is it apparently believed that Blooms could obviously be made "prettier" than the other games?
Because colors.
And the other games couldn't use pretty colors?
I'm guessing Daniel has in mind the fact that Blooms uses twice the colors of the other games (i.e. 4 colors rather than just 2).
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The diversity of thoughtful opinion here is good food for thought for me. I'm grateful for this stuff.

Colors: I agree with Russ a good color designer could make something beautiful of just about anything, color-wise. Good color design is good color design.

That said, there are more degrees of obvious freedom to play with for Blooms.

Also, there's more thematic kismet in the use of color, because flowers are colorful. That gives a color designer more options as well.

I don't think an abstract game must be *actually* thematic for the theme to work as it should. Rather, the "theme" can be a pretense for making interesting production design choices that attract people.

[edit: but does it help even more if the game is actually thematic beyond that? that's an important question if I'm contrasting Blooms vs. Carnivores because Blooms is "pretense" thematic and Carnivores is more actually thematic]

I think both Hive and Azul are examples of "pretense" themes. Neither game makes much sense thematically, but the themes are pretenses for the production design, which is the real selling point. I actually think Blooms is more thematic than those games in terms of the marriage between theme and what you do in the game (meadow plant species actually do compete for space, various bug species don't team up to try to take down queen bees).

One important point here: the devil is very much in details.

But two thematic advantages for the production design of Blooms:

a) it's clear what the pieces are and how to orient them: they're flowers and because they're radially symmetric they can be oriented any old way. Contrast that with bug or carnivores, where the pieces would be body segments and there's no obvious approach to making them attractive or orientable.

b) people find flowers pretty inherently. It makes it easier to imagine there's some scheme for flower sculpts out there that would knock some socks off.

To that end, this thread has inspired me to start this pinterest board with ideas for flower sculpts. I'd love to know if there items on there you particularly love. Also, if you happen to see images that should be added to this board, let me know.

In putting together the board, I've learned silicone flower molds are common (for making soaps and stuff). I could buy some different molds and use clay, soap, or quick-curing silicone to experiment with different forms.
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christianF wrote:
russ wrote:
christianF wrote:
russ wrote:
milomilo122 wrote:
I'm not sure, but is this thematically odd? It would be about formations of bugs attacking each other then?
Seems thematically wrong to me indeed. In the game, bugs grow and eat other bugs. So the groups of stones are each a single bug, not a group of single-stone bugs.
Groups of ants tend to act like a single organism.
Perhaps, but I've never heard anyone call a group of ants a "bug".
It occured to me that the game could be called "Bugs" without altering any of the 'bare' rules. Bare in the sense that no theme is attached as yet. A 'bug' then is a single stone or a connected group as it is now, and calling it thus isn't totally weird (or maybe it is, I find it hard to think in terms of what 'people' would like to buy).
But I think I like "Bugs" more than "Bug" regardless.

One potential difficulty: could kill, to one extent or another, the perceptual binding that helps make this game easier to approach.
 
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Blooms is too strategically dense. I've always found a significant proportion of people just can't get Go and I think the same would be true of Blooms.

Catchup is almost too essential, but perhaps marketing as a "true" abstract game wouldn't be as bad as you think.

Bug would be my suggestion since I think it's unusual, interesting and the strategy seems obvious at first though later turns out to be a little more subtle. That way you get a first wow moment and then allow people to get into strategy long term.

Carnivores is my least favourite so it's probably the most likely to sell well like Hive or Onitama.
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Jugular wrote:
Blooms is too strategically dense. I've always found a significant proportion of people just can't get Go and I think the same would be true of Blooms.
My playtests with new players so far suggest non-abstract games players find Blooms significantly more approachable than Go, especially since the new rules were implemented. Three reasons:

1. you can play shorter games on a smaller board
2. hexagonal topology is more intuitive for seeing connections
3. more straightforward, intuitive rules.

Quote:
Catchup is almost too essential, but perhaps marketing as a "true" abstract game wouldn't be as bad as you think.
Open question. I don't know. At the moment, Catchup is last in my ranking for publishability. Not sure what would change my mind. Carnivores' advantage in split-tests was soooo decisive. And given how much easier Carnivores is to theme, and that it can probably scale to more players, and I have a great art direction idea for it, it's no contest.

Quote:
Bug would be my suggestion since I think it's unusual, interesting and the strategy seems obvious at first though later turns out to be a little more subtle. That way you get a first wow moment and then allow people to get into strategy long term.
Noted. Several people have expressed this.

Quote:
Carnivores is my least favourite so it's probably the most likely to sell well like Hive or Onitama.
Ha. There's some truth in this, I think, even if it was said in jest.
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I think Blooms is the best of the choices, but admittedly I haven't played the others. I agree with other posters about the aesthetic being a "foot in the door" so I was thinking of ways allow a unique look while being cheap to produce and tactily satisfying. What if you used plastic/bakelite tiles with printed images similar to Seikatsu? They would be satisfying to place on the board and feel nice to hold. Another example game is the tiles in Jarl: The Vikings Tile-Laying Game.

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Cortez527 wrote:
I think Blooms is the best of the choices, but admittedly I haven't played the others. I agree with other posters about the aesthetic being a "foot in the door" so I was thinking of ways allow a unique look while being cheap to produce and tactily satisfying. What if you used plastic/bakelite tiles with printed images similar to Seikatsu? They would be satisfying to place on the board and feel nice to hold. Another example game is the tiles in Jarl: The Vikings Tile-Laying Game.

I like the color design, though I think 3D aspects are important. At the moment I'm considering more sculptural solutions.
 
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milomilo122 wrote:
The diversity of thoughtful opinion here is good food for thought for me. I'm grateful for this stuff.

Colors: I agree with Russ a good color designer could make something beautiful of just about anything, color-wise. Good color design is good color design.

That said, there are more degrees of obvious freedom to play with for Blooms.

Also, there's more thematic kismet in the use of color, because flowers are colorful. That gives a color designer more options as well.

I don't think an abstract game must be *actually* thematic for the theme to work as it should. Rather, the "theme" can be a pretense for making interesting production design choices that attract people.

[edit: but does it help even more if the game is actually thematic beyond that? that's an important question if I'm contrasting Blooms vs. Carnivores because Blooms is "pretense" thematic and Carnivores is more actually thematic]

I think both Hive and Azul are examples of "pretense" themes. Neither game makes much sense thematically, but the themes are pretenses for the production design, which is the real selling point. I actually think Blooms is more thematic than those games in terms of the marriage between theme and what you do in the game (meadow plant species actually do compete for space, various bug species don't team up to try to take down queen bees).

One important point here: the devil is very much in details.

But two thematic advantages for the production design of Blooms:

a) it's clear what the pieces are and how to orient them: they're flowers and because they're radially symmetric they can be oriented any old way. Contrast that with bug or carnivores, where the pieces would be body segments and there's no obvious approach to making them attractive or orientable.

b) people find flowers pretty inherently. It makes it easier to imagine there's some scheme for flower sculpts out there that would knock some socks off.

To that end, this thread has inspired me to start this pinterest board with ideas for flower sculpts. I'd love to know if there items on there you particularly love. Also, if you happen to see images that should be added to this board, let me know.

In putting together the board, I've learned silicone flower molds are common (for making soaps and stuff). I could buy some different molds and use clay, soap, or quick-curing silicone to experiment with different forms.

At one point I had regular access to a laser cutter and had put together some pieces I wanted to make. I ended up liking two designs, one with a flower in the middle and leaves coming out to the center of each side. Seemed like it would make a really nice connection between pieces. The other way I went was sort of a top down meadow approach. Lots of little flowers, and as they filled up the board it would look like a meadow growing filled with lots of flowers, To your point above, the theme here is just an excuse for something aesthetically beautiful. I don't in any sense feel the game is about flowers growing, but a field of flowers on the board is a nice effect I think.

I do think I'd be just as happy with a very classic version inspired by Go. Four colors of really nice stones and a high quality board would be excellent. I do think the flower theme will potentially market better, as it will sort of make sense on the shelf next to Azul and some of other very popular abstracts
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milomilo122 wrote:
Cortez527 wrote:
I think Blooms is the best of the choices, but admittedly I haven't played the others. I agree with other posters about the aesthetic being a "foot in the door" so I was thinking of ways allow a unique look while being cheap to produce and tactily satisfying. What if you used plastic/bakelite tiles with printed images similar to Seikatsu? They would be satisfying to place on the board and feel nice to hold. Another example game is the tiles in Jarl: The Vikings Tile-Laying Game.

I like the color design, though I think 3D aspects are important. At the moment I'm considering more sculptural solutions.

I'd be interested to see, but I don't love the sculptural idea. Easier to break, harder to keep organized, and I like the feel of a smooth or etched piece much more than something like a chess piece. I don't think I'd persinally want a pile of resin flowers personally, some mix between Hive's engraved pieces and the Seikatsu pieces seems better to me.
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milomilo122 wrote:
I think both Hive and Azul are examples of "pretense" themes. Neither game makes much sense thematically, but the themes are pretenses for the production design, which is the real selling point.

This strikes me as the heart of it and why I suspect Blooms is more competitive than the other options. Hive and Azul are almost a pretense for selling these clacky, tactile bakelite pieces. They're indestructible and fun to grab and place. Azul as a game isn't very popular here, but everyone I've shown it to loves those little bakelite azulejos.

The 3D flower design would be quite clever, but it may be kind of pokey and odd to pick up. That could be where creating models and trying them out could help to see what feels right. My idea for a nice Blooms set[1] would be to get bakelite hexagon pieces with a laser-cut, laminated wooden board. The laser-cutting would make it easy to create inset hexagon-shaped holes to place each hexagon piece into (e.g., 1 layer with holes, 3 solid layers). That way the pieces would have gaps between them, making them easy to pick up and also fall into place when dropped. A wooden laser cutter is easier and cheaper to use than a 3D printer, any "makerspace" will have one.

Actually manufacturing bakelite pieces appears to be rather non-trivial and expensive, but smooth hexagons of different colored resins would look and feel nice. Then for theming you could have flowers in relief rather than positive sculpture, which will also make them easier to cast out of a mold. For added flare you could paint the reliefs, and the negative space will help protect the paint from getting chipped. Even with multiple colors of paint, the color of the resin around the flower should make it easy to identify which pieces are which.

[1] Right now I use a paper print out and plastic colored cubes, not great, but it works.
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milomilo122 wrote:
To that end, this thread has inspired me to start this pinterest board with ideas for flower sculpts. I'd love to know if there items on there you particularly love. Also, if you happen to see images that should be added to this board, let me know.

I was wondering if there could be a middle groud between flat ceramic discs and a 3D approach that might appease both abstract strategy lovers and casual gamers.

Looking at the internet I saw this:



This seems to be a sculpt out of the kikumon, japanese imperial seal. Highly simetrical, not too 3D but still with enough depth.
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