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"Time Marches On" Winner

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  • jdroscha
    Greetings, First and foremost, I must thank each of the participants in the contest. Impressive lot, you bunch. I enjoyed testing the games, and I felt the
    Message 1 of 9 , Apr 1, 2002
      Greetings,

      First and foremost, I must thank each of the participants in the
      contest. Impressive lot, you bunch. I enjoyed testing the games,
      and I felt the group as a whole were a good show.

      Second, I'll not keep you waiting... I chose [trumpet
      fanfare] "Kidsprout Jumboree" as my favorite (and therefore the
      winner). Hale-Evans couple, if you would be so kind as to send your
      postal address to me by email (jdroscha @ att . net), I'll send your
      prize off straight away. Congratulations. Also, if you could email
      me your thoughts on the recent discussion of "next contest", it would
      be appreciated.

      Third, I'd like to share a few comments and suggestions regarding
      each of the entries (in alphabetical order). The suggestions would
      perhaps be more properly termed "expressed possibilities" as I've not
      taken the time to test any of them... they merely occurred to me and
      I thought I'd blurt them out on my keyboard.

      CONSPIRACY
      Comments: Conspiracy was the most complex entry and is the most
      complete piecepack ruleset I've seen, including inline examples,
      inline designer notes, additional pages of designer commentary, and a
      lengthy play example. I like the "conveyor-belt" tile movement. I
      also dig the "coins gang up by pointing" mechanic (which would seem
      useful in a piecepack wargame as well).
      Suggestions: This might sound goofy, but I'd like to see the board
      upside-down (i.e., take the current board and rotate the words 180
      degrees). Since we sat in a U-shape around the table when we played
      this, having the Present end of the board toward the players would
      give a better sense of the Future coming _toward_ the players. Small
      thing, but hey. Also, it might help alleviate the opacity of the
      rules if the theme were better integrated with the rules text. For
      example, instead of the "Place Coin" action, maybe call it "Concoct
      Scheme (place coin)" or something. Some of the possible changes
      mentioned in the designer commentary sound interesting, though it
      already feels to me like there's more minutiae than I could ever hold
      in my feeble brain, so perhaps some pruning could be considered first.

      COYOTE MOON
      Comments: Appealing theme. The "round" board with the clockwise and
      counterclockwise concentric tracks is groovy. The connection to the
      contest theme is perhaps a bit weak, but that doesn't detract from
      the game itself. (Future/past is a worthy thematic interpretation,
      but which evaporated quickly during play.)
      Suggestions: Not much... this is a decent, tight little game. A
      better way to randomize the initial coin layout would be nice; the
      person placing the coins is very likely to (unintentionally) note
      some of the coin values, which could provide a slight advantage. Any
      additional ties between mechanics and theme would be welcome (besides
      being hopped up on payote while playing).

      KIDSPROUT JUMBOREE
      Comments: This would be worth playing even without the Excuses, but
      they really do make the game. Fun theme, well intertwined with the
      mechanics. Quick to play, easy to remember, good dose of luck, fair
      helping of tactics.
      Suggestions: I would like to see more variety in the Activities. I
      suggest one of two methods... 1) one chart for each die color, vary
      the time needed for activities (rather than merely matching the die
      roll), and allow the Leaping Buck (or Rutting Buck, as I am wont to
      label) which color/chart to roll against; or 2) just keep the die
      roll for # of hours as it is now but skip the chart and let the Rutt,
      er, Leaping Buck "make up" the activity name. Why? Because I like
      to relate the Excuse directly to the Activity, and more variety would
      provide further meat for the grinder (or somesuch metaphor). Also,
      the rules could more clearly state that each round is not so much
      progressing through the day as it is progressing through the day
      planning. That is, the action takes place perhaps the night before
      (or the morning of), and the SproutMeisters are filling their
      dayrunners.

      ONE MAN: THRAG!
      Comments: Amusing solitaire diversion of the line-em-up and knock-em-
      down variety. I like to see solitaire games that are not sorting
      exercises. I like the healing mechanism.
      Suggestions: Name the special weapons, and maybe give them different
      powers. Also, if there could be a final round wherein you take down
      the evilnasty wizards, that would give the game a better sense of
      closure. A different turn timer (if you skipped the "home by
      breakfast" paragraph of the intro, further distancing it from the
      contest theme, but so?) might be in order... perhaps remove a tile
      from the Healing stack each time before shuffling them? That would
      be, uh, something like 15 turns (5 + 4 + 3 + 2 + 1) instead of 12,
      but if you added the finale of fighting the wizards (null tiles would
      be available for this), it should come out about right.

      ROCKIN' NEW YEARS
      Comments: Funny theme. Mechanically reminiscent of Dungeon Crawl
      (another piecepack game, for those of you who have not seen it).
      This game felt undertested, which Dave conceeded.
      Suggestions: Finding "hidden" stuff should be harder (ideally, it
      should start out difficult and get easier as the deadline looms
      closer). Stealing should be a little easier (and maybe less
      random... what about trading parts?) The problem with 2 players
      being able to block an opponent's exit might be fixed by giving
      players higher base movement, then penalizing that movement when
      burdened with Clarkdroid parts (which would also eliminate the need
      for capping the number of Clarkdroid parts carried).

      Piece,
      James
    • Ron Hale-Evans
      ... Woo-hoo! Thanks, James! I was in talk mode with Marty on our GNU/Linux box when the email came through. She is very psyched! I accept this award on
      Message 2 of 9 , Apr 1, 2002
        On Mon, Apr 01, 2002 at 07:31:41PM -0000, jdroscha wrote:
        > Greetings,
        >
        > First and foremost, I must thank each of the participants in the
        > contest. Impressive lot, you bunch. I enjoyed testing the games,
        > and I felt the group as a whole were a good show.
        >
        > Second, I'll not keep you waiting... I chose [trumpet
        > fanfare] "Kidsprout Jumboree" as my favorite (and therefore the
        > winner). Hale-Evans couple, if you would be so kind as to send your
        > postal address to me by email (jdroscha @ att . net), I'll send your
        > prize off straight away. Congratulations. Also, if you could email
        > me your thoughts on the recent discussion of "next contest", it would
        > be appreciated.
        >
        > Third, I'd like to share a few comments and suggestions regarding
        > each of the entries (in alphabetical order). The suggestions would
        > perhaps be more properly termed "expressed possibilities" as I've not
        > taken the time to test any of them... they merely occurred to me and
        > I thought I'd blurt them out on my keyboard.

        Woo-hoo! Thanks, James! I was in 'talk' mode with Marty on our
        GNU/Linux box when the email came through. She is very psyched!

        I accept this award on behalf of the Hale-Evans couple and all
        game-designing couples everywhere! Sniff, sniff -- Doris and Frank,
        you were our inspiration!

        James, I'll send out two more emails later today. One to the list,
        responding to your comments on KidSprout Jumboree (very interesting),
        and one to you personally with the info you requested.

        Ron

        --
        Ron Hale-Evans ... rwhe@... & rwhe@...
        Center for Ludic Synergy, Seattle Cosmic Game Night,
        Kennexions Glass Bead Game & Positive Revolution FAQ: http://www.ludism.org/
        Home page & Hexagram-8 I Ching Mailing List: http://www.apocalypse.org/~rwhe/
      • Jim/Diane Doherty
        ... Many congrats to Ron and Marty! Well done. Very nice of James to give such in-depth commentary. One response on behalf of One Man:Thrag... ... Believe it
        Message 3 of 9 , Apr 1, 2002
          >Second, I'll not keep you waiting... I chose [trumpet
          >fanfare] "Kidsprout Jumboree" as my favorite (and therefore the
          >winner).

          Many congrats to Ron and Marty! Well done.

          Very nice of James to give such in-depth commentary.

          One response on behalf of One Man:Thrag...

          >Also, if there could be a final round wherein you take down
          >the evilnasty wizards, that would give the game a better sense of
          >closure.

          Believe it or not, I was saving this for the sequel. :) I hope to
          turn Thrag into an ongoing concern.

          Best,
          Jim Doherty
          Eight Foot Llama
          www.eightfootllama.com
        • Ron Hale-Evans
          ... Thanks! The story behind these is that I already had the basic mechanics down for the game (playing Sprouts to the center of the table, scoring with the
          Message 4 of 9 , Apr 2, 2002
            On Mon, Apr 01, 2002 at 07:31:41PM -0000, jdroscha wrote:

            > I chose [trumpet
            > fanfare] "Kidsprout Jumboree" as my favorite (and therefore the
            > winner).
            > ...
            > KIDSPROUT JUMBOREE
            > Comments: This would be worth playing even without the Excuses, but
            > they really do make the game.

            Thanks! The story behind these is that I already had the basic
            mechanics down for the game (playing Sprouts to the center of the
            table, scoring with the Schedules, etc.), but it was too much a simple
            Hols der Geier/Beat the Buzzard type of game. I thought about what I
            could do to enliven the simple coin-contest with some strategy and/or
            tactics, considered what components I had left to work with (basically
            two spare tiles per player) and fairly quickly came up with the
            mechanic of playing Ace and 2 tiles on yourself and other players.
            Then I racked my brains for what must have been a couple of hours,
            trying to find a thematic rationale for this mechanic. I brought it
            to Marty and she said immediately, "Those have got to be excuses, and
            I think it would be really funny if you had to make up a real excuse
            every time you played one."

            > Fun theme, well intertwined with the mechanics. Quick to play, easy
            > to remember, good dose of luck, fair helping of tactics.

            Thanks!

            > Suggestions: I would like to see more variety in the Activities. I
            > suggest one of two methods... 1) one chart for each die color, vary
            > the time needed for activities (rather than merely matching the die
            > roll), and allow the Leaping Buck (or Rutting Buck, as I am wont to
            > label) which color/chart to roll against; or 2) just keep the die
            > roll for # of hours as it is now but skip the chart and let the Rutt,
            > er, Leaping Buck "make up" the activity name.

            Great idea. We are leaning toward having a list of suggested
            activities for each die roll, but allowing the Leaping Buck to make
            one up if they please, thereby having it both ways.

            > Why? Because I like to relate the Excuse directly to the Activity,
            > and more variety would provide further meat for the grinder (or
            > somesuch metaphor).

            Yeah, the idea of relating Excuses to Activities came as a surprise in
            playtesting, but too late for us to include it in the contest version.
            We'll add a hint to this effect in the next version.

            > Also, the rules could more clearly state that each round is not so
            > much progressing through the day as it is progressing through the
            > day planning. That is, the action takes place perhaps the night
            > before (or the morning of), and the SproutMeisters are filling their
            > dayrunners.

            Heartily agreed. We clarified this verbally to our playtesters but
            again did not have time to put it in the contest version.

            Another thing that needs to be clarified: some of our playtesters were
            confused and thought they were making Excuses for their Sprouts:
            "Little Johnnie has the Mesopotamian Flu", etc. You are really
            playing Excuses for yourself _on_ the Sprouts. Exactly why _your_
            having the Mesopotamian Flu should make your own Sprout look younger
            or someone else's look older needs to be carefully explained...

            Ron

            p.s. Marty just joined the list. Hi, Marty!

            --
            Ron Hale-Evans ... rwhe@... & rwhe@...
            Center for Ludic Synergy, Seattle Cosmic Game Night,
            Kennexions Glass Bead Game & Positive Revolution FAQ: http://www.ludism.org/
            Home page & Hexagram-8 I Ching Mailing List: http://www.apocalypse.org/~rwhe/
          • tempus42
            ... Congratulations to Ron! Then, like Ron, I d like to sincerely thank James for sponsoring this contest and for really trying the games and giving great
            Message 5 of 9 , Apr 2, 2002
              > Second, I'll not keep you waiting... I chose [trumpet
              > fanfare] "Kidsprout Jumboree" as my favorite (and therefore the
              > winner).

              Congratulations to Ron!

              Then, like Ron, I'd like to sincerely thank James for sponsoring this
              contest and for really trying the games and giving great feedback.
              I've entered other contests that died due to failed sponsorship, but
              James did a great job!!! Thank you!!!

              As you can probably tell, games and game design really energize me,
              but I so rarely find anyone who will listen to me ramble on about it,
              so I hope those here might be interested in my thoughts on James'
              comments:

              > CONSPIRACY
              > Comments: Conspiracy was the most complex entry and is the most
              > complete piecepack ruleset I've seen, including inline examples,
              > inline designer notes, additional pages of designer commentary, and
              a
              > lengthy play example.

              Thanks -- I hope all the extraneous commentary didn't make it too
              hard to follow the rules, which is why I provided the commentary-free
              version as well. But that still wound up being something like 8
              pages which is more than I expected. My chicken-scratch notes that
              formed the original design only covered about a page and half of
              notebook paper, including a lot of scratched-out parts. I know I'm
              usually too verbose, and my heavy use of indentation doesn't help
              keep the document short.

              I'm pretty obsessive about game rules -- I approach them the same way
              I do software requirements and design documents: I personally prefer
              them to be in outline form, with rigorous use of consistent
              terminology, and complete logic (i.e. all possible cases explicitly
              covered), plus indexing. That's why my game rules tend to read like
              a technical spec. Reading game rules is almost more fun for me than
              playing the game is (depends on the game!), and I pride myself on
              being able to critique a game with some fluency just by reading the
              rules. On the other hand, I find most people are satisfied with
              natural-language English paragraph rules and find reading rules to be
              a pain. Then again, I also find most people learn how to play games
              from someone else who knows how to play and/or they play
              incorrectly. So is it a good thing or a bad thing to write rigorous
              rules?

              And regarding the inline commentary: Do people like to read this
              kind of stuff? I usually love to get some insight into the minds of
              the designers and developers of a game, but do other people feel the
              same way?

              > I like the "conveyor-belt" tile movement. I
              > also dig the "coins gang up by pointing" mechanic (which would seem
              > useful in a piecepack wargame as well).

              Thanks. The "conveyor-belt" mechanic was in my head before I ever
              saw the "Time Marches On" contest, and that was the first thing the
              theme reminded me of.

              > Suggestions: This might sound goofy, but I'd like to see the board
              > upside-down (i.e., take the current board and rotate the words 180
              > degrees). Since we sat in a U-shape around the table when we
              played
              > this, having the Present end of the board toward the players would
              > give a better sense of the Future coming _toward_ the players.
              Small
              > thing, but hey.

              Ok, I think I know what you're saying. Make it look like this:

              Future 4
              Future 3
              Future 2
              Future 1
              Present

              I agree it's a very easy change to make, but sometimes it's the small
              things that can mean the difference between players "getting" a game
              and "not getting it". These are also the sorts of feedback that you
              only get from letting someone else look at your game...

              > Also, it might help alleviate the opacity of the
              > rules if the theme were better integrated with the rules text. For
              > example, instead of the "Place Coin" action, maybe call it "Concoct
              > Scheme (place coin)" or something.

              You know, I thought of that when I was just about done writing up the
              rules. I had all of that "flavor text" in mind as I was writing it,
              but I worried that it would make the rules even *more* opaque and
              lengthy. I started out with a mix of flavor text and piecepack
              terminology, and I decided to standardize on piecepack terminology
              only. By the time I finished, I looked back and realized that a lot
              of the theme of the game might not be readily apparent, but it was
              too late to re-write the whole thing. I'll probably try to
              incorporate this kind of language more in the next version.

              For those who missed the point:
              Place Coin = Marshal Resources
              Reveal Coin = Put Plan in Place
              Reveal Tile = Enact Plan
              Attack Coin = Foil Opponent's Plan
              Advance Column = Hasten Fruition of Plans
              You know: All the sorts of things evil global conspiracies do. :)

              > Some of the possible changes
              > mentioned in the designer commentary sound interesting, though it
              > already feels to me like there's more minutiae than I could ever
              hold
              > in my feeble brain, so perhaps some pruning could be considered
              first.

              This is feedback that I really need to take to heart.

              I know there are two things I need to do: 1) Write rules more
              succinctly (see above), and 2) Avoid the temptation to keep adding
              chrome to a game.

              Based on your criteria for the contest, I expected I was really
              pushing the limit of what you would probably consider optimal for
              game complexity. But my background is in more hard core gaming, now
              shifted primarily into German style games because of time
              constraints, so I still personally consider Conspiracy to be pretty
              simple. I guess I'd rate it about a 3-4 for complexity on a scale
              from 1 to 10 where War is a 1 and Advanced Squad Leader is a 10.
              When this game finally came together, I figured it was about
              equivalent in complexity to most German games out there. The most
              complex German-style game I've personally seen is Die Macher, which I
              would rate a 7 or so. I'd rate most German-style games in the 3-5
              range, which is the nice thing about them, because I can typically
              read the rules in 15-30 minutes, and then teach others how to play in
              5-10 minutes. I believe I could teach Conspiracy as it's written in
              5-10 minutes as long as players have basic experience with board
              games.

              As for "gold-plating" a game, this is where I always fall apart, and
              I'll admit it. Most of my game ideas die on the drawing board
              because I get myself all tangled up in inter-connecting bits of
              chrome that I convince myself are absolutely required for the game to
              be fit the image in my head. That's why entering contests like this
              one is a very good thing for me -- An external deadline forces me to
              say "good enough is good enough". I do think Conspiracy is one of my
              better attempts to date because I did cut out a bunch of potentially
              destructive chrome in order to get the basic framework working by the
              deadline.

              Several of the suggestions I mentioned in the design notes were the
              chrome that was giving me fits, but I do still want to go back on
              work on those things some more: 1) Giving the different suits some
              character by giving them each some different special abilities when
              placed on the board, and 2) making it really matter which tiles you
              have face up by having face-up tiles affect the parameters of the
              game somehow.

              There is also at least one change that I'm currently exploring that
              might address possible problems I'm seeing in further playtesting:
              Making it a little easier to Reveal Coins by letting you place
              support and reveal in the same action (similar to how you can place
              and attack in the same action). If anyone has feedback on this or
              similar problems in play, let me know!

              Thanks again,
              Brad/tempus42.
            • Ron Hale-Evans
              ... Thanks, Brad! ... Uh, I don t think I did that. Thanks, James! Ron -- Ron Hale-Evans ... rwhe@ludism.org & rwhe@apocalypse.org Center for Ludic Synergy,
              Message 6 of 9 , Apr 2, 2002
                On Tue, Apr 02, 2002 at 04:49:32PM -0000, tempus42 wrote:
                > > Second, I'll not keep you waiting... I chose [trumpet
                > > fanfare] "Kidsprout Jumboree" as my favorite (and therefore the
                > > winner).
                >
                > Congratulations to Ron!

                Thanks, Brad!

                > Then, like Ron, I'd like to sincerely thank James for sponsoring this
                > contest and for really trying the games and giving great feedback.
                > I've entered other contests that died due to failed sponsorship, but
                > James did a great job!!! Thank you!!!

                Uh, I don't think I did that. Thanks, James!

                Ron

                --
                Ron Hale-Evans ... rwhe@... & rwhe@...
                Center for Ludic Synergy, Seattle Cosmic Game Night,
                Kennexions Glass Bead Game & Positive Revolution FAQ: http://www.ludism.org/
                Home page & Hexagram-8 I Ching Mailing List: http://www.apocalypse.org/~rwhe/
              • rmundschau
                ... Congratulations! I agree that game is a lot of fun. ... I know, I know, the theme connection was horribly weak. It was so frustrating. I couldn t think
                Message 7 of 9 , Apr 2, 2002
                  > Second, I'll not keep you waiting... I chose [trumpet
                  > fanfare] "Kidsprout Jumboree" as my favorite (and therefore the
                  > winner).

                  Congratulations! I agree that game is a lot of fun.


                  > COYOTE MOON
                  > Comments: Appealing theme. The "round" board with the
                  >clockwise and counterclockwise concentric tracks is groovy.
                  >The connection to the contest theme is perhaps a bit weak, but
                  > that doesn't detract from the game itself. (Future/past is a
                  >worthy thematic interpretation, but which evaporated quickly
                  >during play.)

                  I know, I know, the theme connection was horribly weak. It was
                  so frustrating. I couldn't think of a better mechanic to incorporate
                  time into a game before the deadline. Note the board has 12
                  tiles. It started out as a clock with 1 tile per hour, but I just
                  couldn't make it into a fun game. Oh well.

                  > Suggestions: Not much... this is a decent, tight little game. A
                  > better way to randomize the initial coin layout would be nice;
                  > the person placing the coins is very likely to (unintentionally)
                  >note some of the coin values, which could provide a slight
                  >advantage.

                  Yeah, I don't like the current method either. I think a possible
                  solution is:

                  - Another player rearranges the moon tiles as they see fit after
                  all the coins have been placed, but before the players roll to
                  select a starting space.

                  > Any additional ties between mechanics and theme would be
                  >welcome (besides being hopped up on payote while playing).

                  Yeah, that would be nice, but I don't see it happening. I really
                  forced the theme onto the game as it is. The annoying thing is
                  that 3 days before the deadline for the contest I conceived of a
                  completely different game that did use the theme better, but I
                  didn't have time to fully develop and test it. The new idea had the
                  players trying to avoid getting laid off from work by staying busy
                  all time. A game very dear to my heart these days :) I'm still
                  working with the idea, so hopefully it will become a full fledged
                  game in the future.

                  Thanks for the feedback.
                  Rob M.
                • Ron Hale-Evans
                  ... Thanks, Rob! ... I m grinning like a demon as I write this. One of the games Marty and I tossed around had the working title Slacker . It was the exact
                  Message 8 of 9 , Apr 2, 2002
                    On Wed, Apr 03, 2002 at 03:32:49AM -0000, rmundschau wrote:
                    > > Second, I'll not keep you waiting... I chose [trumpet
                    > > fanfare] "Kidsprout Jumboree" as my favorite (and therefore the
                    > > winner).
                    >
                    > Congratulations! I agree that game is a lot of fun.

                    Thanks, Rob!

                    > > Any additional ties between mechanics and theme would be
                    > > welcome (besides being hopped up on payote while playing).
                    >
                    > Yeah, that would be nice, but I don't see it happening. I really
                    > forced the theme onto the game as it is. The annoying thing is
                    > that 3 days before the deadline for the contest I conceived of a
                    > completely different game that did use the theme better, but I
                    > didn't have time to fully develop and test it. The new idea had the
                    > players trying to avoid getting laid off from work by staying busy
                    > all time.

                    I'm grinning like a demon as I write this. One of the games Marty and
                    I tossed around had the working title "Slacker". It was the exact
                    opposite of your game! You were supposed to do as much websurfing,
                    doodling, paperclip sculpture, and designing piecepack games (!) as
                    you could to fill out a 40-hour week without actually (a) doing any
                    "real" work, or (b) getting caught by your boss. Cross-correlate that
                    with KidSprout Jumboree, which is also about shirking
                    responsibilities, and you see where our priorities lie... (Actually,
                    Marty is a conscientious worker, but I'm (self-/un)employed at the
                    moment and enjoying it.)

                    > A game very dear to my heart these days :) I'm still
                    > working with the idea, so hopefully it will become a full fledged
                    > game in the future.

                    I'm looking forward to playing it. I hope you choose to finish it.

                    Ron H-E

                    --
                    Ron Hale-Evans ... rwhe@... & rwhe@...
                    Center for Ludic Synergy, Seattle Cosmic Game Night,
                    Kennexions Glass Bead Game & Positive Revolution FAQ: http://www.ludism.org/
                    Home page & Hexagram-8 I Ching Mailing List: http://www.apocalypse.org/~rwhe/
                  • M. Hale-Evans
                    ... ...or at least a less blatant and foolhardy slacker than you are... ... ...which means *somebody* around here has to be clever enough to bring in a
                    Message 9 of 9 , Apr 3, 2002
                      > Cross-correlate that with KidSprout Jumboree, which is also about
                      > shirking responsibilities, and you see where our priorities lie...
                      > (Actually, Marty is a conscientious worker,

                      ...or at least a less blatant and foolhardy slacker than you
                      are...

                      > but I'm (self-/un)employed at the moment and enjoying it.)

                      ...which means *somebody* around here has to be clever enough to bring
                      in a paycheck regularly without getting fired. ;-> I don't think I can
                      look to our dogs for that either, so it's down to me.

                      Hi, y'all. I'm the Marty of Ron and Marty. I enjoyed participating
                      in the contest, and thanks to everyone for the congrats.


                      Marty

                      *%*%*%*%*%*%*%*%*%*%*%*%*%*%*%*%*%*%*%*%*%*%*%*%*%*%*%*%*%*%*%*
                      Marty Hale-Evans marty@... Seattle, WA USA
                      Dig me further at: http://www.martynet.org

                      "Look, it's people like you what cause unrest."
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