games – Kyle R. Conway

Roll One – Version 0.0.2

I’ve added some complexities this time around. There’s a new shape (the triangle) and a strong implication that this is a multiplayer game. There’s also the concept of overshooting the target (i.e. the goal―square|box). This results in immediate loss for the player.

In the first version of the game the player was rewarded for rolling a 1, in this game, the player is rewarded for rolling a 2 (or two 1’s in a row). There is no concept of restarting the game by implication in the rules (i.e. roll until you roll a 1), so we’ve created a sense of failure that the other game didn’t have.

It’s still purely a game of chance (no skill), but the game has changed.

Sidenote: I find it odd that I’m most fascinated by the philosophical changes the game. The idea that the game went from one of self-determination and meaningful effort in the face of loss, to one where loss means losing decisively and failing forever. Not only that, undershooting has a penalty (i.e. skip one turn), while overshooting is an immediate loss. This game requires perfection via luck.

I hesitate to say this game is designed yet, but there are clearly elements emerging. The key being the most interesting. Also, the quick use of unicode for the shapes in the rulebook is quite lovely. I’ve added version numbering (per the first post) to keep track of progress as we move along. I also sort of like the void―the space outside the gameboard―that results in automatic death. Stripes, in this game, are evil. Players must stay inside the lines.

Perhaps in the next version they’ll find a way to break out…

Roll One

This is the start of a new game.

Applying game constraints in collaborative activities often generates more creative ideas―breaking people outside of the pre-confined boxes. This different context and ruleset allows for an exploration of why the walls of the box were there in the first place, whether or not they still serve a purpose, or even if a box is appropriate at all.

I’ve been growing in my certainty that games are an appropriate medium for telling certain types of narratives. I’ve been on-and-off working on a boardgame about the healthcare system for the past two years. Having never produced a boardgame before it’s a process of fits and starts, uncertainties, whiteboarding, planning, complexification, distraction, and not enough real-world testing. Who knew healthcare was so complicated?

Earlier this week my son showed me a mass-produced book that he was excited about. It contained a great number of very basic, simplistic, and heavily-branded single-page board games. None of these, it seemed to me, would win awards or capture attention for too long, but there was at least one virtue: they existed. Someone, somewhere, had played them.

Later I had a thought that stuck with me: what if I make a game out of creating games? What if I start by creating a very simple game and then add complexity and modify it in different ways until it grows to become something much more interesting than it started? Is that a good way to create good games?

Well, I don’t know if that’s a good way to create good games―but it is a good way to make creating games a game itself. I’ve gamified game creation for myself. I couldn’t be prouder of this theoretical process. The actual product may leave something to be desired though (feedback welcome).

I must admit that it gives me joy to allow the player to choose the di they use for the game. All sorts of fascinating thoughts arise from this one point of amusement:

  • What if the player piece is actually the di itself (and the value of the player’s di actually directly influences gameplay)?
  • What if the di is a choice on each turn (and increases or decreases the odds on each roll depending on desired outcome)?
  • What if chosen dice can be combined somehow to choose paths, or branches, or even directions?
  • Does the color of the di matter?
  • Would the game come with dice (if sold) or would users always supply their own?

These thoughts make me confident I can produce version 0.1.1 (or whatever odd version numbering I choose for tracking this odd journey). I kind of like the idea of the eventual game being called “Roll One” (as in Roll 1.0). That the version numbers (let’s pretend this is 0.0.1) increase over time, always moving toward 1.0.

One last thought: what if the actual 1.0 game doesn’t just allow for the selection of dice, but also for the selection of the version of the gameboard (or ruleset) you play upon/under? What if you roll dice to determine what version of the rulesets and gamebard you use?

Perhaps I’ve been overly influenced by Merce Cunningham. Perhaps it’s for the best that I stop blathering on about what I might do and start doing. Perhaps that’s the point of releasing something simple. Perhaps this really is the start of a fun game (for me, at least). Wanna play?