Recommend
3 
 Thumb up
 Hide
34 Posts
1 , 2  Next »   | 

Shibumi» Forums » General

Subject: Shibumi as a game system. rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Corey Clark
Canada
flag msg tools
designer
mbmb
This is just some constructive criticism for Shibumi. Shibumi to me seems to have more limitations than possibilities. The culprits? Small board, limited amount of pieces and the actual physical structure of the Akron/Pylos/Shibumi set. In the spirit of being as honest as possible I will confess I have a bit of bias against Shibumi now. I had worked out a game for Shibumi but unfortunately I soon discovered a lack of balls rendered my efforts null and void which I will admit made me rather upset but this has also changed my orientation towards shibumi, hence this post. I cannot really blame the they are what make the concept unique and interesting so I'm not saying there is anything wrong with Shibumi on a conceptual level, it's a great idea marketing a fairly untapped concept such as this as a game system but one would think if this was the intent behind Shibumi there would be more flexibility with the Shibumi game system than say a Pylos set. Ideally Shibumi would be massive, like 8x8 with several colors of balls although I realize there is the matter of equitability in marketing something like this but I really have to ask if even a 5x5 pyramid would be pushing it? Especially if the whole set was scaled down or as I hinted at before, more balls. What we have is a pyramid consisting of 30 "cells" 5 of which are obscured at the end of the game, making them difficult to even score by certain methods. When the pyramid is full you can only manipulate 13 of these pieces and as you play a game any piece immediately supporting two or more pieces will be immobile regardless of the ruleset for your game. The device by its very nature puts a bunch of new impositions on a designer to work around, ones that he wouldn't even have to consider on a Goban but the small board and lack of balls only serves to further stifle the creative process. Some may be thinking that a 3 dimensional board should open up a wealth of new concepts but the balls are not suspended in mid air, they are stacked and in fact they become buried as a game progresses, essentially turning them into dead weight and possibly leading to some exceptions or inconsistencies in your ruleset such as "A piece is captured unless it is buried under 2 or more stones", hmm not very elegant. I am rather disappointed when I consider what Shibumi could have been and I feel it just isn't very practical as a game system for the above reasons.
2 
 Thumb up
0.25
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Cameron Browne
Australia
Brisbane
Queensland
flag msg tools
designer
Researcher in AI and automated game design.
mbmbmbmbmb
Hi Corey,

"Shibumi" is a term from Japanese aesthetics that basically means elegance with depth. A shibumi object will at first appear simple, but will reward the viewer with hidden depths the more time they spend with it. This was the motivation for the Shibumi project: to create the simplest game set that would still allow interesting games.

Nestor's Spline shows how simple a game can be on the Shibumi board while still being of interest. My Spargo shows how deep a game can be on the Shibumi board; not always, but if a game enters the cycle of capture and recapture then it can become ridiculously complex. Puzzle #1 demonstrates this: http://www.cameronius.com/games/spargo/

The idea is to take this very simple game system and see what surprising and interesting games we can devise for it. This is a difficult exercise because the domain is so constrained, but there are unusual mechanisms not found in many other games (cell playability dependent on stacking, ball drops, third colour, etc) which should allow some clever interplay of rules.

In the spirit of shibui, we are looking for the simplest of rules for this simplest of systems that give the deepest possible games. We hope that good people such as yourself will take up this challenge and give this problem some thought.

>more flexibility with the Shibumi game system than say a Pylos set.

There is! The third colour adds a whole new avenue to explore, even for two players (especially for two players?). The third colour actually had a computational motivation, as I wanted to devise the most interesting game system that could be described in a single integer. The Shibumi board has 30 cells (16 board holes plus 14 potential) each of which can be described by 2 bits (00=EMPTY/01=WHITE/10=BLACK/11=RED), hence the whole board state packs nicely into a single 64 bit long integer, with a few bits left over for other things.

Regards,
Cameron
5 
 Thumb up
1.00
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Russ Williams
Poland
Wrocław
Dolny Śląsk
flag msg tools
designer
mbmbmbmbmb
My take on it:

A game like Spline and other Shibumi games will of course not approach the strategic depth of Go or Chess or other games with a huge game state space.

But (to me) the goal of Shibumi is clearly not to make such strategically deep games, but rather to create smaller "lighter" yet still interesting games within a constrained small format. Most, perhaps all, of them will not be "lifestyle" games like Chess or Go that you play over and over and study for the rest of your life.

In the same way, a poem in some formally constrained small fixed size form (e.g. haiku or sonnet) will of course not have as much depth as a novel. But there's no point condemning such poems because of that. They simply have different goals. Some people like both constrained poems and huge sprawling novels; some people only like one type.
12 
 Thumb up
1.00
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Néstor Romeral Andrés
Spain
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
mbmbmbmbmb
Haiku! Let's use it, Cameron. I like it. Shibumi game = Haiku

Very clever observation, Russ!

5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Corey Clark
Canada
flag msg tools
designer
mbmb
camb wrote:
Hi Corey,

"Shibumi" is a term from Japanese aesthetics that basically means elegance with depth. A shibumi object will at first appear simple, but will reward the viewer with hidden depths the more time they spend with it. This was the motivation for the Shibumi project: to create the simplest game set that would still allow interesting games.


admirable, but my issue is with the accessibility of Shibumi. When I think of a game system, I think of the Goban which has had dozens of games designed for it and many more which can be played on it even if a Goban was not employed during their design. I also think that Piece Pack is a good example of a game system, there are many different types of pieces and a number of categorizations to derive all manner of games, from abstracts to war games. Icehouse has never done anything for me but designing a game for icehouse couldn't be that difficult on its own, the components have varying color, rank, size. They can be oriented in various ways to show direction and they are stackable. Even if none of the boards you own are big enough for icehouse pieces you can make a board with cells that are large enough on your own fairly easily. Now we come to Shibumi which upon reading the description seems highly restrictive, while designing a decent game for any of these other systems doesn't seem nearly as intimidating. It would make sense if you released Shibumi as 7 games in one and then had something called the "Shibumi Challenge" where people were tasked to design a game for Shibumi. Because that's what it is, a challenge and a rather daunting one at that. It's not like the Goban where you can pursue your own agenda using it as a medium during your design process, your design constraints are Shibumi Shibumi and Shibumi. But the question is just how essential is the design goal "design a game for shibumi"? Mind you I'll probably have another crack at it just to "Spight" you.

Quote:
but there are unusual mechanisms not found in many other games (cell playability dependent on stacking, ball drops, third colour, etc) which should allow some clever interplay of rules.


but the cascading mechanism and the cell playability dependent on stacking are actually restrictions one has to design their game around.

camb wrote:
Quote:
>more flexibility with the Shibumi game system than say a Pylos set.


There is! The third colour adds a whole new avenue to explore, even for two players (especially for two players?). The third colour actually had a computational motivation, as I wanted to devise the most interesting game system that could be described in a single integer. The Shibumi board has 30 cells (16 board holes plus 14 potential) each of which can be described by 2 bits (00=EMPTY/01=WHITE/10=BLACK/11=RED), hence the whole board state packs nicely into a single 64 bit long integer, with a few bits left over for other things.


Sorry, it seems I mistook a game called Upperhand for Pylos which have almost the same rules but Upperhand has a base 5 board. And while I don't understand this computer mojo, I think I would've preferred more of 2 colors than a third color or even 4 colors where players could own 2 colors each. The reason is that since the number of balls in any one color scarcely exceeds half the board size, any game in which there could be a significant difference in the number of pieces players have on the board is likely inviable for Shibumi. This rules out a plethora of game concepts for rather arbitrary reasons, most obviously it rules out the multiplicity objective. Some very notable games have Multiplicity as their objective, including Dots and Boxes, Othello and Attaxx. But other games like Ketchup, Oust Yodd and Go often have a very large divergence in the number of stones each player has on the board despite not having an explicit multiplicity objective. I realize Spargo has this feature but as you acknowledged it is only playable with Shibumi in a practical sense and maybe other games wont be so lucky. This brings us to my next point, what about architecture-centric design? It doesn't seem Shibumi lends itself to games with architecture. Games that are designed to be theoretically draw free and acyclic either theoretically or practically without use of the superko rule (soft finite as CF says). What about designing out turn order advantage? This is a rather small movement in the design world currently, some would say a phenomenon that begins and ends with Mark Steere but I see it growing with designers like Luis Bolanos Mures and Nick Bentley and despite a lull in design activity I have adopted the architecture approach myself because it is more scientific and more rewarding. I was using the architecture approach when I designed Slither and look what a remarkable game that turned out to be! See to me explicitly setting out to design a game that deftly conquers a longstanding design problem is more essential than designing a game for Shibumi. The disappointing thing is the problems are not mutually exclusive except for how the production of Shibumi was executed.
Well I say let the machines have at it.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Néstor Romeral Andrés
Spain
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
mbmbmbmbmb
CoreyClark wrote:
It would make sense if you released Shibumi as 7 games in one and then had something called the "Shibumi Challenge" where people were tasked to design a game for Shibumi.


You're starting to figure it out. We will go further. Just wait a bit.

1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Russ Williams
Poland
Wrocław
Dolny Śląsk
flag msg tools
designer
mbmbmbmbmb
(Tangential question...)
CoreyClark wrote:
what about architecture-centric design?

I have lately seen this expression more and more often (indeed typically in threads with MS) - is there a definition for it? I am not sure I understand concretely what it means.

You seem to mention as examples of it what are (to me) various independent/orthogonal issues (e.g. minimizing first player advantage, eliminating ties/draws, etc). But what is the theory or design philosophy that rationalizes throwing these various design goals into a single rubric of "architecture-centric"?

The term sounds to me simply like a focus on the structure or mechanism of a game, which I would suppose most abstract game designers do in any case, and it also doesn't seem to imply to me to necessarily require of eliminating ties/draws, etc. I.e. someone could very architecturally consciously design a game in which ties are possible, couldn't they?

So I feel I am missing something; evidently the term "architecture-centric" in this context has accumulated specific meaning and is not just the sum of its parts (in the same way that "abstract game", "wargame", "european game" etc have...), I suppose...?
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Corey Clark
Canada
flag msg tools
designer
mbmb
russ wrote:
(Tangential question...)
CoreyClark wrote:
what about architecture-centric design?

I have lately seen this expression more and more often (indeed typically in threads with MS) - is there a definition for it? I am not sure I understand concretely what it means.

You seem to mention as examples of it what are (to me) various independent/orthogonal issues (e.g. minimizing first player advantage, eliminating ties/draws, etc). But what is the theory or design philosophy that rationalizes throwing these various design goals into a single rubric of "architecture-centric"?

The term sounds to me simply like a focus on the structure or mechanism of a game, which I would suppose most abstract game designers do in any case, and it also doesn't seem to imply to me to necessarily require of eliminating ties/draws, etc. I.e. someone could very architecturally consciously design a game in which ties are possible, couldn't they?

So I feel I am missing something; evidently the term "architecture-centric" in this context has accumulated specific meaning and is not just the sum of its parts (in the same way that "abstract game", "wargame", "european game" etc have...), I suppose...?


before I get into this, I would like to point out that a game I designed, Canvas, is a gimmick that I regret making but I designed it before I developed such high regard for architecture, although I did adopt the approach when I designed Slither. With Canvas I tried to adopt a more lax approach due to a lack of ideas and I found it ultimately unrewarding. Also I think Canvas is a half decent game nonetheless.

Now Mark takes the concept of "architecture" too far, thinking every game should be draw free and theoretically finite to pass muster. To me the concept is simple, every rule and every mechanic needs to be integrated in an organic way and substantiated as a necessary part of a game which improves it in some tangible way either by adding depth, reducing turn order advantage, improving clarity etc... Architecture is about recognizing abstract game design as a science with concrete variables rather than an art form where we're all special snowflakes and no one can do any wrong. Dieter Stein is an example of a designer who doesn't do architecture as he's admitted himself in a thread about his game Volo that many of his decisions are made on a purely creative basis. I don't reproach Deiter for this as he has made many fascinating games, I'm just trying to give an example of a non-architecture-centric designer. Some of us see the merit in following a more disciplined approach to design. Narratives are Verboten; we're not designing the game that simulates air hockey or Pacman, we're not designing some game we played in a dream once, we are working with theoretical concepts that lead to deep and elegant games. I'll admit architecture can sometimes degenerate into this egocentric display of doing something nifty with the ruleset that doesn't necessarily improve how well a game plays and that is the dark side of architecture but I have to ask is that really any worse than Deiter's bird game (Volo)? Say what you will but Architecture has an impressive track record, when you look at games like Yodd, Slither, Amazons, Hex, Ketchup, Dots and Boxes and my personal number 1 game of all time Hex Oust.

3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Russ Williams
Poland
Wrocław
Dolny Śląsk
flag msg tools
designer
mbmbmbmbmb
Thanks for the explanation!
CoreyClark wrote:
To me the concept is simple, every rule and every mechanic needs to be integrated in an organic way and substantiated as a necessary part of a game which improves it in some tangible way either by adding depth, reducing turn order advantage, improving clarity etc... Architecture is about recognizing abstract game design as a science with concrete variables rather than an art form where we're all special snowflakes and no one can do any wrong.

Hmm, I guess it just sounds like a sort of obfuscating buzzword for a seemingly obvious concept, that ideally a game should really demonstrably work as a game, i.e. meet its gameplay goals (e.g. being tie-free, or whatever other goal(s) the creator has in mind) which, depending on the specific goal, can be objectively measured and tested to varying degrees.

And that this is better than just throwing together some fun-sounding slap-dash idea because it sounded clever or because you like the theme, but then you don't reason about it or test it.

---

A scientific approach can do mathematical proofs that (e.g.) ties are not possible, termination is guaranteed, etc.

As you remark, that doesn't guarantee that the game actually play well, i.e. is it interesting and fun? So playtesting (cf. experimenting) is also a crucial part of a "scientific approach", it seems to me - right?

I.e. both logical proofs and empirical testing are part of this approach/philosophy, right?

(I am reminded of software development, for what that's worth.)

---

That all seems like good practices (in any field, I suppose, not just game design) and don't seem new or revolutionary to me, so I'm still left wondering why the label emphasizes "architecture". I guess I'd expect something like "scientific" or "measurable" or "testing-oriented" or "proof-oriented" or something more than "architecture".

I don't know if it's just an arbitrary label that sounded "cool" and got stuck on it, or if there is some real point I am still not getting.

---

PS: What does "organic" mean in terms of combining mechanisms "in an organic way"? Isn't "organic" a quite subjective and non-scientific "touchy feely" kind of judgment call? Or is there some proposed objective / "scientific" / "architectural" way to determine if mechanisms are combined in an "organic" way?
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Corey Clark
Canada
flag msg tools
designer
mbmb
Quote:
but then you don't reason about it or test it.


I think a large majority of designers play-test their games but if you're reasoning about a slapdash gimmicky idea and testing it that is not good architecture.

Quote:
A scientific approach can do mathematical proofs that (e.g.) ties are not possible, termination is guaranteed, etc.

As you remark, that doesn't guarantee that the game actually play well, i.e. is it interesting and fun? So playtesting (cf. experimenting) is also a crucial part of a "scientific approach", it seems to me - right?


OF COURSE! Architecture is just a good starting point. In a lab experiment when a chemist formulates a hypothesis he uses knowledge in his field to solve an interesting and perhaps very crucial problem. of course abstract game design doesn't save lives, it doesn't wipe out deadly viruses, the problems aren't that crucial, it is an inherently frivolous activity but the same method applies.

Quote:
That all seems like good practices (in any field, I suppose, not just game design) and don't seem new or revolutionary to me, so I'm still left wondering why the label emphasizes "architecture". I guess I'd expect something like "scientific" or "measurable" or "testing-oriented" or "proof-oriented" or something more than "architecture".

I don't know if it's just an arbitrary label that sounded "cool" and got stuck on it, or if there is some real point I am still not getting.


you can call it whatever you want. I think it stuck mainly because Mark Steere started the whole craze and he referred to it as architecture but yes it is a bit of an odd term. Architecture really shouldn't be a revolutionary approach but it is because people keep thinking as long as it's fun why mess with success? That's fair but it isn't exactly a progressive attitude.

Quote:

PS: What does "organic" mean in terms of combining mechanisms "in an organic way"? Isn't "organic" a quite subjective and non-scientific "touchy feely" kind of judgment call? Or is there some proposed objective / "scientific" / "architectural" way to determine if mechanisms are combined in an "organic" way?


yes that is sort of a judgement call but it is also an inverse function of the number of rules a game has. Moreover all the rules should be playing an integral role in the game's overall functionality.



1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Russ Williams
Poland
Wrocław
Dolny Śląsk
flag msg tools
designer
mbmbmbmbmb
CoreyClark wrote:
yes that is sort of a judgement call but it is also an inverse function of the number of rules a game has. Moreover all the rules should be playing an integral role in the game's overall functionality.

Indeed the complexity (of strategy) arising from simplicity (of rules) is one of the cool things that we ("we" being fans of abstract strategy games!) love, and yeah, not all game design approaches seem to value it. (E.g. stereotypical sprawling ameritrash or complex detailed wargames.)

There was a recent (ultimately not very usefully conclusive) thread about attempts to define some pseudo-objective measure of the complexity of rules:
A measure of complexity

It's an intriguing (but probably chimerical) idea, that there might be some objective measure of rule complexity. In practice now we see hand-waving arguments about "rule X in game Y is a simpler way of handling blah-blah than rule A in game B!" with no real way other than personal taste to decide such debates.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Stephen Tavener
United Kingdom
London
England
flag msg tools
designer
The overtext below is true.
badge
The overtext above is false.
mbmbmbmbmb
Interesting discussion.

Corey, it sounds like your architecture-centric design has the following axioms:

(1) Draws are bad.
(2) Any obvious advantage for one player bad.*
(3) Guaranteed termination (without superko) good.

... have I missed any?

I'd be very interested if you have any firm evidence that draws are bad - it's a very commonly held belief, but hasn't stopped chess from being one of the most popular combinatorial games.

* Carefully worded, since any finite combinatorial game without draws is a guarateed win for either the first or second player
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Stephen Tavener
United Kingdom
London
England
flag msg tools
designer
The overtext below is true.
badge
The overtext above is false.
mbmbmbmbmb
russ wrote:
It's an intriguing (but probably chimerical) idea, that there might be some objective measure of rule complexity. In practice now we see hand-waving arguments about "rule X in game Y is a simpler way of handling blah-blah than rule A in game B!" with no real way other than personal taste to decide such debates.

I think it's difficult to measure because we are used to thinking verbally. Words like "connect" and "group", for example, bundle up complex concepts into a single word; but speaking as a computer programmer, the code required to support them is much more complicated - and less efficient - than, "4 in a row", for example.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Benedikt Rosenau
Germany
Göttingen
flag msg tools
designer
mbmbmbmbmb
This is one of the interesting threads. It reminds me of how Piet Hein approached game design. According to Thomas Maarup, he established that a game must be
1.Fair
2.Progressive
3.Finite
4.Clear
5.Strategic
6.Decisive


And then he came up with Hex, the outstanding game design of the 20th century.

So, far everything sounds good. But the story has a wart. Hein forgot his point 1, fairness, and his game, namely Hex without the pie rule, stinks. Let me repeat, the game Hein came up with stinks. Board size is an overlooked part of game design, and on the 11x11 and the 12x12 Hein used having an unlimited free first move is a decisive advantage. In the subsequent plagiarism reinvention by John Nash, the board size was enlarged to 14x14, but the main bug, no fairness, remained. Only after the pie rule and fairness had been introduced, it was possible to see how good Hex really is. Reasons why Hex is so good include the massive interaction between stones all over the board and the whole board effect. Arguably, Hein could not predict that when he invented Hex, and he has hardly seen it in action in his original version.

Now, compare Hex to The Game of Y. Many people say the latter is more elegant because the rules are somewhat simpler. Yet, the Y-board has more edge area than a Hex board with a comparable number of cells and more symmetry axes than that, too. This makes the game more shallow. Not that Y is a bad game, but it does not compare favorably to Hex.

I needed to play Y in order to see why the Hex board with its obtuse and acute corners and the somewhat more complex rules make it the great game it is.

All in all, what i want to say is that "architectural design" may become akin to judging a book by its cover. Gameplay must be understood in order to tell how good a game is. Usually, this is not possible before the arrival of strong players and maybe the comparison to other games.

Applied to Slither, this means: I think we may not yet have seen the real Slither. It might even be better than what we see now.

5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls

Eugene
Oregon
msg tools
mb
camb wrote:
"Shibumi" is a term from Japanese aesthetics that basically means elegance with depth.

Shibumi/shibusa/shibui is distressingly difficult to give an English equivalent. Some insight into its meaning might come from telling what it isn't: The antonym is amai, "sweet". Putting aside abstracts for the moment, a sweet game would be something like Small World. A shibui game would be one of many from Winsome Games. An even more shibui game would be one of my homemade versions of a Winsome game, preferably one of the more miserable executions of handicraft. Saying that, though, isn't very shibui of me.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Corey Clark
Canada
flag msg tools
designer
mbmb
Zickzack wrote:

So, far everything sounds good. But the story has a wart. Hein forgot his point 1, fairness, and his game, namely Hex without the pie rule, stinks.


A lot of games stink and the fact that his version of Hex stunk that doesn't mean anything was wrong with his approach.

Zickzack wrote:
Let me repeat, the game Hein came up with stinks. Board size is an overlooked part of game design, and on the 11x11 and the 12x12 Hein used having an unlimited free first move is a decisive advantage. In the subsequent plagiarism reinvention by John Nash, the board size was enlarged to 14x14, but the main bug, no fairness, remained. Only after the pie rule and fairness had been introduced, it was possible to see how good Hex really is


Indeed but the pie rule is a metarule that has a definite purpose of giving a game balance.

Zickzack wrote:
Now, compare Hex to The Game of Y. Many people say the latter is more elegant because the rules are somewhat simpler. Yet, the Y-board has more edge area than a Hex board with a comparable number of cells and more symmetry axes than that, too. This makes the game more shallow. Not that Y is a bad game, but it does not compare favorably to Hex.


Minimal and elegant are not the same thing which is one of the major reasons why I'm not buying into the hype around Shibumi. Cameron Browne can tell me how elegant it is, comparing it to origami or Haiku or the Iching but I'm going to need empirical proof. Having now played a couple of the games, Spight and Sphex at iggc I can tell it has some serious problems. Spight has the depth of tic-tac-toe, move to the center and you've effectively won. Nestor told me a particular response the second player has but it is still easily foiled. on the other hand the game of Sphex I played ended in a draw and it wasn't a particularly clever forced draw either. In fact I think Architecture may be the only type of design that works with Shibumi.

Zickzack wrote:
somewhat more complex rules make it the great game it is.


The degree to which the rules of Hex are more complex than those of Y is insignificant. The rules of Hex have cohesion and they are still concise. There aren't special cases such as En-Passant or Castling or rules that are hard to decode.

Zickzack wrote:
All in all, what i want to say is that "architectural design" may become akin to judging a book by its cover. Gameplay must be understood in order to tell how good a game is.


Like I said Architecture isn't perfect, it's just sensible. We understand gameplay is the result of incentives, disincentives, positional mechanisms, logical relationships etc... The reason our understanding of architecture is so poor is because the movement is utterly microscopic at this point but even the few of us who understand the importance of architecture have a good concept of how to apply it. There are ways to explicitly modify gameplay through the use of certain rules. For instance rules that restrict your options based on your opponents position add an element of coldness to a game giving it both depth and balance. Take for instance Hex Oust where you may only grow a group when making a capture. Also consider the dots and boxes parity mechanic in Hex Oust. These create a disincentive to grow in a clear way. Nick Bentley calls these cold rules "negative feedback mechanisms" and this concept was the basis for his game Ketchup.
So apart from draws and cycles, architecture can be applied to more subtle aspects of a game. As I say, our understanding of architecture is poor but if the movement were to grow, abstract game design would advance just like any other science. The question is simple, is it better to come up with a list of features you want your game to have and just guess at which rules will yield the best result or is it better to reason it out? I'm convinced following this approach will lead to more interesting and subtle mechanics and therefore games that better resemble the ideals we start the design process with.

And can I just comment on the oddity that the only man with a degree in game theory (Cameron Browne) who I'd expect to be at the vanguard of this movement isn't even taking part in the conversation? All I have is a high school diploma and I'm the one talking about the science of abstract game design. Oh the irony.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Benedikt Rosenau
Germany
Göttingen
flag msg tools
designer
mbmbmbmbmb
CoreyClark wrote:
For instance rules that restrict your options based on your opponents position add an element of coldness to a game giving it both depth and balance.
I do not understand this, and yet it is supposed to be science. Please explain it using the example that being in check makes Chess a colder game. Or provide a better definition.

Quote:
All I have is a high school diploma and I'm the one talking about the science of abstract game design. Oh the irony.
For most people, the quality of a game is decided by gameplay, and that is an aesthetic category. There are some scientific aspects in Art, but as a whole Art is not a Science. Hence, game design is an art form, not a science.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Corey Clark
Canada
flag msg tools
designer
mbmb
Zickzack wrote:
I do not understand this, and yet it is supposed to be science. Please explain it using the example that being in check makes Chess a colder game. Or provide a better definition.


overall chess is not cold and my understanding of the game is rather poor although to the best of my understanding the only time zugzwang comes up in chess is when you have to move your own piece in front of your checked king. It's not enough to make chess cold but it is the only instance where there's a cold position in chess.

Quote:
For most people, the quality of a game is decided by gameplay, and that is an aesthetic category


Let's think about this rationally for a second, gameplay should ideally be a function of the competitiveness of a game, which in turn is decided by a number of variables, how often player 1 wins or player 2 wins, how large the draw margin is and other more subtle variables. About the only one of these variables that's dependent of human perception is clarity. I know there are some of you who say that draws are a welcome change of pace. Now that's a matter of opinion is it not? How the draw margin effects the competitive aspect of a game is a reality. If the draw margin in your game is too large then your game fails to be competitive, the smaller the draw margin is the more competitive the game is overall. Surely you aren't going to say next that we don't play games for the competitive element! Although I'm not advocating a moratorium on draws, cycles and ties. What's unacceptable is apathy above all. Draws are perfectly acceptable in the context of an otherwise essential and robust concept, maybe even necessary but more often than not a mediocre game happens to end up having draws and the designer thinks of this as a feature of the game. If you like draws, well what do you want me to say? Bully for you! From an objective, rational standpoint draws have a direct negative impact on "gameplay". Not to mention from a utilitarian standpoint draws are senseless, somebody's ego should be validated, especially at the end of a long arduous play session.
Just to drive the point home, imagine you've studied a game all your life, you've learned all the ins and outs, you patiently worked your way up the ranks and finally the big day, you will be confronting the worlds best player in a championship match! You cut him off from the center, he captures, you threaten him in the corner, other vague gameplay stuff and then... draw. I would consider that the most anticlimactic moment of my entire life, essentially turning it into one big disappointing shaggy dog story. I'd rather be the guy playing the game with a 3% draw margin or better yet no draw margin at all.

Quote:
There are some scientific aspects in Art, but as a whole Art is not a Science. Hence, game design is an art form, not a science.


I must say this claim is in striking contrast to the fact that all the games on your list of abstract games of the last decade share a common thread of architecture. Can you substantiate this claim other than by saying gameplay value is purely based on human perception which in itself is kind of begging the question? Sure it's based on human perception but only to the extent that we are trying to facilitate a competition.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Russ Williams
Poland
Wrocław
Dolny Śląsk
flag msg tools
designer
mbmbmbmbmb
CoreyClark wrote:
Quote:
For most people, the quality of a game is decided by gameplay, and that is an aesthetic category


Let's think about this rationally for a second, gameplay should ideally be a function of the competitiveness of a game, which in turn is decided by a number of variables, how often player 1 wins or player 2 wins, how large the draw margin is and other more subtle variables. About the only one of these variables that's dependent of human perception is clarity.

You're forgetting very elusive not scientifically measurable but crucial variables like "fun" and "interesting"!

Quote:
From an objective, rational standpoint draws have a direct negative impact on "gameplay". Not to mention from a utilitarian standpoint draws are senseless, somebody's ego should be validated, especially at the end of a long arduous play session.

Those seem subjective things - I'm not sure how you can so casually assert that they are objective.

E.g. if someone likes occasional draws (as you seem to agree some people do) then clearly they don't have a "direct negative impact" for those people.

Quote:
Just to drive the point home, imagine you've studied a game all your life, you've learned all the ins and outs, you patiently worked your way up the ranks and finally the big day, you will be confronting the worlds best player in a championship match! You cut him off from the center, he captures, you threaten him in the corner, other vague gameplay stuff and then... draw. I would consider that the most anticlimactic moment of my entire life, essentially turning it into one big disappointing shaggy dog story.

Yet plenty of other people would consider it one of the most exciting dramatic meaningful peak moments of their lives. Getting to play the world's best player! Interesting game developments, and I turn out to play exactly as well as the world's best player! Disappointing and anticlimatic? Not to me!

It is perhaps worth mentioning there are various dramatic examples from literature and film of this kind of thing happening. E.g. in a broader sense, lots of "good guy / bad guy" ongoing series are based on this idea of the 2 adversaries meeting and having an exciting but ultimately inconclusive duel.

I don't see how you can be presenting these kinds of examples as "objective".
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Corey Clark
Canada
flag msg tools
designer
mbmb
russ wrote:

You're forgetting very elusive not scientifically measurable but crucial variables like "fun" and "interesting"!


You can't just gainsay every argument I put forward. The concepts of "fun" and "interesting" are so tied to a game's competitiveness that distinguishing them to the extent you are is absurd.

Quote:
E.g. if someone likes occasional draws (as you seem to agree some people do) then clearly they don't have a "direct negative impact" for those people.


Who is to decide that these drawophiles deserve more of a voice than the drawophobes? I'd say there are just as many in the community that hate draws as there are those that like them.

I kind of ignored Taverner's argument about how draws didn't prevent chess from becoming one of the most popular games of all time. The one game that has proven to be more popular than Chess is tic-tac-toe! Popularity is one of the least reliable measures of quality I can think of. Look at movies like Michael Bay's Transformers and music like Maroon 5. Meanwhile genuine musical geniuses like Debussy have fallen way out of favor. My point is pretty simple. People are idiots, the universe is perfect so listen to the universe not people. And this is not to say "fun" is something you should just ignore completely but maximizing the competitive potential of a game takes priority over making it fun.

Quote:
Yet plenty of other people would consider it one of the most exciting dramatic meaningful peak moments of their lives. Getting to play the world's best player! Interesting game developments, and I turn out to play exactly as well as the world's best player! Disappointing and anticlimatic? Not to me!


a draw does not necessarily indicate that players are evenly matched. You might be able to play game X (not the same game as in the above) terribly and force a draw at the end. Player 2 might have the superior strategy and still be foiled by a forced draw. Another game might have a similar problem with the exception that instead of forcing a draw you can play most of the game terribly and still win. The distinction to make is somebody has to win a game eventually, a draw on the other hand is unnecessary and in this case it's a liability. When I say draws are undesirable I'm speaking purely from the production side of things. What I'm saying is draws negatively impact the competitiveness of a game. If a game has draws and the players like that aspect of the game there's nothing wrong with that. This doesn't mean any designer should feel compelled to pander to an audience. Imagine that the popularity of draws became so great that draw free games were generally ignored outright. Now wouldn't it demonstrate a clear lack of integrity on the designer's part to design draws into a fundamentally decisive game just to get the attention of an audience?

Quote:
It is perhaps worth mentioning there are various dramatic examples from literature and film of this kind of thing happening. E.g. in a broader sense, lots of "good guy / bad guy" ongoing series are based on this idea of the 2 adversaries meeting and having an exciting but ultimately inconclusive duel.


It's not worth mentioning at all. Literature and Film are artistic disciplines. Abstract games are complex mathematical models just like spaceships in Conway's Life or Fractals. There's certainly more room for creative input in designing an abstract than designing a Fractal, that doesn't mean abstract game design is a pure art. You may be able to draw a fractal by hand but it wont be as intricate as the Fractals generated by computer programs. And designing a spaceship in Life without a rigorous scientific process seems inconceivable to me. Computers can play games, they can't compose reflective analysis of literary works (not yet anyway *shudders at the thought*) and if they could our understanding of artistic works will have reached the point where their objective value may not be such an ineffable concept.

 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Russ Williams
Poland
Wrocław
Dolny Śląsk
flag msg tools
designer
mbmbmbmbmb
CoreyClark wrote:
russ wrote:

You're forgetting very elusive not scientifically measurable but crucial variables like "fun" and "interesting"!


You can't just gainsay every argument I put forward.

I'm not sure I understand what you mean by "gainsay" in this context. It sounds like you mean I can't just disagree with or oppose every argument you put forward...? Even if I find it unconvincing or believe I have a counterexample or counterargument?

Quote:
The concepts of "fun" and "interesting" are so tied to a game's competitiveness that distinguishing them to the extent you are is absurd.

I agree for the sake of argument that a game's competitiveness is necessary for it to be "fun" and "interesting" (I think all of us are on the same page about enjoying competition, so we can safely set aside the concept of social gamers who "just play for fun", etc).

But surely you agree that a game being competitiveness does not imply it is "fun" or "interesting". Something additional is necessary in the game; something harder to define objectively and pin down. We can make up arbitrary rules all day for games which are difficult to play well and beat a more experienced player, but that doesn't mean those games will strike a resonant chord with people and make them say "Yes! This game is cool! I want to keep playing it, I want to explore it, I want to become better at it, I want to teach my friends to play!"

Quote:
Quote:
E.g. if someone likes occasional draws (as you seem to agree some people do) then clearly they don't have a "direct negative impact" for those people.


Who is to decide that these drawophiles deserve more of a voice than the drawophobes?


But I never said that the voice of the drawophiles is more important than the voice of the drawophobes.

I simply said that your statement that "From an objective, rational standpoint draws have a direct negative impact on "gameplay"" is claiming objectivity without basis. It's a subjective preference whether one enjoys draws, abhors draws, or doesn't give a damn one way or the other.

Or do you claim to have some mathematically objective proof that "good" games cannot have draws?

Quote:
I kind of ignored Taverner's argument about how draws didn't prevent chess from becoming one of the most popular games of all time. The one game that has proven to be more popular than Chess is tic-tac-toe! Popularity is one of the least reliable measures of quality I can think of.

Dismissing something as crap because it's popular is also an unreliable method. Just as some "popular" things are stupid Transformers films, some other "popular" things are Beethoven's symphonies. "Standing the test of time" is often associated with popularity.

Quote:
Quote:
Yet plenty of other people would consider it one of the most exciting dramatic meaningful peak moments of their lives. Getting to play the world's best player! Interesting game developments, and I turn out to play exactly as well as the world's best player! Disappointing and anticlimatic? Not to me!


a draw does not necessarily indicate that players are evenly matched. You might be able to play game X (not the same game as in the above) terribly and force a draw at the end. Player 2 might have the superior strategy and still be foiled by a forced draw.

Agreed, but the same is true in a game guaranteed to terminate with a winner: there is no guarantee that the winner played better overall. The loser might have the superior strategy and still be foiled by a swindle or a temporary lapse of attention or whatever at the end.

As Mark Steere pointed out in some thread a couple years ago, a newbie could play a game of chess (or for that matter a game with guaranteed termination with a winner) against the strongest player in the world and win, if the newbie, by pure dumb luck, happened to make the strongest move each turn.

So in this example of defeating or tying with the world's champion, we were both speaking informally/colloquially when we talked about the result showing that we played "better than" or "worse than" or "equally as well as" the champion.

Quote:
Quote:
It is perhaps worth mentioning there are various dramatic examples from literature and film of this kind of thing happening. E.g. in a broader sense, lots of "good guy / bad guy" ongoing series are based on this idea of the 2 adversaries meeting and having an exciting but ultimately inconclusive duel.


It's not worth mentioning at all. Literature and Film are artistic disciplines. Abstract games are complex mathematical models just like spaceships in Conway's Life or Fractals.

And every mathematician I've known talks about the aesthetic component of math as well. Why are some theorems and algorithms "beautiful" and "elegant"? Math is not a purely cold mechanical process devoid of aesthetics and taste and decisions about how best to present, prove, explore, create something, not to mention the meta-decision about what is worth presenting, proving, exploring, creating. (Of course I agree it is also radically different from literature and film, e.g. there are some clear rules that are necessarily followed.)

But if you don't like the literary analogy, then simply note that in the realm of mathematics itself, equality and equivalence are ubiquitous essential concepts, so what's inherently mathematically wrong or inconvenient or inferior with the playing strength of 2 players, or results of 2 players in a specific game, being equal/equivalent?

===

Quote:
Computers can play games, they can't compose reflective analysis of literary works (not yet anyway *shudders at the thought*) and if they could our understanding of artistic works will have reached the point where their objective value may not be such an ineffable concept.

Agreed computers can play games, often well, but lack any deep understanding of literary works, to say nothing of the ability to create literary works.

Would you say that computers can design games well yet? (E.g. Yavalath, Pentalath?) Or are such games inherently less interesting/worthy than games designed by humans?

(This last bit is purely a tangent, not meant to "prove" or "argue" anything.)
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Benedikt Rosenau
Germany
Göttingen
flag msg tools
designer
mbmbmbmbmb
CoreyClark wrote:
overall chess is not cold and my understanding of the game is rather poor although to the best of my understanding the only time zugzwang comes up in chess is when you have to move your own piece in front of your checked king. It's not enough to make chess cold but it is the only instance where there's a cold position in chess.

You said: "For instance rules that restrict your options based on your opponents position add an element of coldness to a game giving it both depth and balance."

In Chess, being in check restricts the opponent's option. So, according to you, being in check adds an element of coldness to the game. I asked you to explain that. Or to provide a better definition.

You have stated now that it does not make the game colder... So, what you said is wrong. And pointing to the existence of cold situations in Chess is just a Red Herring.

Quote:
Let's think about this rationally for a second, gameplay should ideally be a function of the competitiveness of a game, which in turn is decided by a number of variables, how often player 1 wins or player 2 wins, how large the draw margin is and other more subtle variables.

Handwaving and obfuscation. It is not even clear whether gameplay should ideally be a function of the competitiveness of a game" is just whimsical or devoid of meaning in the first place.

Quote:
I'd rather be the guy playing the game with a 3% draw margin or better yet no draw margin at all.

That is arbitrary, but not science.

Quote:
I must say this claim is in striking contrast to the fact that all the games on your list of abstract games of the last decade share a common thread of architecture.

Since you failed to provide a definition of what this architecture thing is to mean, your science died before it took a single breath.
 
 Thumb up
0.00
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Benedikt Rosenau
Germany
Göttingen
flag msg tools
designer
mbmbmbmbmb
CoreyClark wrote:
The one game that has proven to be more popular than Chess is tic-tac-toe!

I doubt that. Tic Tac Toe is not any way as well known as some Anglo-Americans believe. I think it was even mentioned in commentaries to the movie "Wargames" that the entire (and stupid) point is lost on people from other cultures. Even if we ignore this, I doubt it that TTT is played by, say, even Anglo-Americans as often, as long, or as intensely as Chess is.

Another attempt at an argument debunked, but I thought it was an attempt at least. Then, I remembered that it all came up before and somebody (Patrick or Michael) pointed out to you that it takes the mind of a child to enjoy Tic Tac Toe. He could imagine Einstein and Oppenheimer (?) having a blast playing Tic Tac Toe at a dinner party. In your mouth, it becomes "people are stupid". Oh, well.
 
 Thumb up
0.00
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Néstor Romeral Andrés
Spain
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
mbmbmbmbmb
n_r_a wrote:
CoreyClark wrote:
It would make sense if you released Shibumi as 7 games in one and then had something called the "Shibumi Challenge" where people were tasked to design a game for Shibumi.


You're starting to figure it out. We will go further. Just wait a bit.



As promised:

The Shibumi Challenge

3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Corey Clark
Canada
flag msg tools
designer
mbmb
Zickzack wrote:
In Chess, being in check restricts the opponent's option. So, according to you, being in check adds an element of coldness to the game. I asked you to explain that. Or to provide a better definition.

You have stated now that it does not make the game colder... So, what you said is wrong. And pointing to the existence of cold situations in Chess is just a Red Herring.


I should've clarified, such rules CAN add an element of coldness, such is the case with Othello and Hex Oust. Obviously not every rule that restricts your options based on your opponents position will make a game cold, even in hex you can't occupy the same cell as your opponent. I think you're being just a tad disingenuous here. How relevant is your argument regarding chess? Talk about a big red herring. And does it really seem like I'm arguing something when I bring up an example of how to utilize negative feedback while designing a game? No it's just to make the concept of architecture more accessible to people reading this.

Quote:

Handwaving and obfuscation. It is not even clear whether gameplay should ideally be a function of the competitiveness of a game" is just whimsical or devoid of meaning in the first place.


I do not design games to create a social experience, I design them to be challenging and competitive and even FUN. I imagine this does not put me on the fringes of the design community. Designing games to be competitive is a market with enough demand to justify its existence. I don't care if Oppenheimer and Albert Einstein would have fun playing tic-tac-toe (and I guess reflecting on the postmodern futility of playing a trivial game?) as a designer I want to create games that go beyond being conversation pieces. Another massive red herring. Now let's move onto your next red herring.

Quote:
That is arbitrary, but not science.


Sure that particular statement is arbitrary, it's my personal opinion. What's relevant is the situation itself. I was trying to provoke people to reflect on a scenario where indecisiveness of a game would be significant and you wouldn't be able to just shrug the draw off like its no big deal.

Quote:
Since you failed to provide a definition of what this architecture thing is to mean, your science died before it took a single breath.


I want to be clear, this isn't "my" science, it is a result of abstract games being intrinsically subject to mathematical laws. Each game you mentioned in that post on RGC addresses a specific game design issue intended to enhance play. Slither and Yodd address the issue of draws, the latter also has a unique objective. Unlur has a balancing phase. Symple creates a tradeoff between growing and establishing new groups. Ketchup uses a simple negative feedback mechanism which obscures turn order advantage. Chain Lightning blends the issue of preventing draws and creating balance by making the game asymmetric. There's an obvious trend in the design community, I'm just interested in formalizing it. I truly don't understand why you are opposing this... What is your point? Why do you want us to continue to squander this remarkable science and let abstract game design continue to be a process of stumbling around in the dark? I can't seriously believe you of all people are actually advocating this! So I posit that you are the one with a personal agenda here, probably because games you like, such as chess lack clear design imperatives. From your first post you have taken this word "fun" and you've turned it into the Russel's Teapot of your "arguments". Apparently you are just going to continue to define "fun" as a concept I can't argue against which proves abstract game design is primarily an art form.
Honestly...

Zickzack wrote:
He could imagine Einstein and Oppenheimer (?) having a blast playing Tic Tac Toe at a dinner party.


How about Oppenheimer, Einstein and Richard Feinman floating around saturn tie-dying small rodents? That could be a real blast too. Okay that one was a little much. How about Oppenheimer, Einstein and Feinman playing russian roulette? Oh what a "blast" that would be! Or how about Einstein and Oppenheimer doing a New York times crossword puzzle together? All these things could provide a social experience abstract games are supposed to be competitive, so cut the disingenuous nonsense out.
 
 Thumb up
0.00
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
1 , 2  Next »   | 
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.