Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Grid Game

Eric Martin at Boardgame News links to a flash game called "Grid Game" (located here).  It's a fairly hypnotic thing to try once or twice, and it's interesting how it creates order out of randomness based on only a few simple rules.  Very elegant.

I don't think it has a lot of game value, though.  Like Bejeweled and a variety of other recent games, you make a single play that triggers others, and your eventual score depends on how all the triggering events stack up.  I suppose if you were some kind of Rain Man you could look at the board and see how your move would cascade through the playfield, but I doubt most folks can do that.

In Bejeweled, a whole bunch of your score comes directly from the random number generator - what jewels get created and fall onto your board.  That's always frustrated me with Bejeweled and similar games. This Grid Game is more deterministic than that - you have all of the information you need to predict what will happen, but the complexity of how it plays out is beyond the scope of what people can reasonably imagine.  Your score just happens to you - you don't earn it.

Assuming I wanted to turn this into a game, rather than a toy, how would I improve it?  If you reduced the board to a much smaller size, say 5x5, then it would become more reasonably predictable, and there could be some skill to playing it.  Designing some pre-set scenarios with specified maximum scores would be fun, too - you'd need to puzzle out what move gives you the best score.

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