Thursday, April 29, 2010

Role of randomness

Greg Costikyan has posted a slide show on the role of chance in games which is a pretty exhaustive analysis of the topic. I've always enjoyed some randomness in games (probably why I've never gotten as deep into chess as many of my friends have). I think it's because, as Greg points out, it's an easy way to ensure variety in how a game plays out, which, to me, very much increases the replay value of a game.

My recent designs, which rely heavily on cards, have by nature a fair amount of luck. One of the early bits of feedback from a playtester is that they felt that getting a big-value score card fall early (the score cards range from 1-6 points) makes the rest of the game seem less meaningful, since the winner may already be determined. Some of my family felt this to be true, too. In my playing of the game, that hasn't seemed like a common problem - it's usually possible to catch up, and having the high value score cards adds a bit of a thrill to the game, even requiring some strategy as players decide how to use their resources and how their plays can distribute score to other players. But I have to be careful not to let my preference for a little more luck blind me to what others might want out of the game.

In each case, the people who mentioned this hadn't played very many times, but that may not matter, because you only get a few plays to fix people's opinion of a game, and if one of them is determined largely luck, you may not get another chance.

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