This Christmas I was playing Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective with my family and was upset to find that the rules ended “and the game begins”, which seemed like such a wasted opportunity. Later I’m told that apparently the original rules read “the game is afoot”, but they were translated into French and back into English and the phrase fell out somewhere along the way. This post isn’t really about translation, I’m a terrible linguist, but if you are a games translator and fancy doing a guest post about it let me know, I find the field fascinating. Today’s post is actually about mystery games.
I was playtesting with a couple of other games designers last week, this is always a good experience since you tend to get a different kind of feedback from other designers compared to regular players. It’s not better or worse, but it’s another perspective and if you want a game to be as good as possible you can never have too many points of view. In keeping with the ancient traditions of gamers at some point we wound up talking about every other game and I was surprised by the depth of emotion one of the other designers had in response to Cards against Humanity. A designer against cards against humanity if you will.
I’ve always found that games that enable players to vote on giving each other victory points can run into a lot of problems. I think it often comes about when a game’s rules invoke the following conflict:
1) The rules say that I should vote for whoever I think is best.
2) The rules say that I will win if I vote for whoever has the least points.
I’ve been playing the new Hearthstone expansion recently and I’ve not had a particularly good time with it. I’ve noted before that I’d enjoy Hearthstone more if they deleted every card with the word “random” printed anywhere on it and this expansion seems to be pushing towards more cards of that nature (A brief aside: There is a difference between “I don’t like this” and “This is bad” – I think this is actually going to be a good direction for the game as a whole). The thing is that there are other games which involve more randomisers than the average game of Hearthstone, because what bothers me isn’t the presence of the random factor, but the timing surrounding it.
The interview on Funding the Dream I mentioned the other week is live. I need to learn to slow down when my voice is being recorded!
At present my computer game fix is Tales of Maj’Eyal, a delicious open source roguelike. It’s probably the board gamer in me that gets on so well with turn based board games that do their best to generate a fair portion of interesting decisions. I like Tales because of how well it leverages the advantages of being a computer game, for instance various achievements unlock races and classes for character building. In most roguelikes I find death a frustrating exercise in “go back to the beginning” but in Tales I’d find myself unlocking things that made me think “I can’t wait to die!”