What’s the Score?

November 7, 2009 - Leave a Response

This past Wednesday was a day full of sports for me. In the afternoon I had my first opportunity to learn and play the sport of curling. Then, later that evening at home, I caught the closing moments of Game 6 of the 2009 World Series. All of this exposure to sports got me thinking about scoring systems, something that underlies both sports and board games. Linked closely with this concept is that of two of the most important mechanics in any type of game: the ending condition and the winning condition.

To avoid confusion, let’s define those terms. (Sorry to any scholars who have already done so; I might not get these precisely correct, but they will be accurate in the ways that I use them in this discussion.) An ending condition is the set of criteria by which a game ceases to be played by its players and no further adjustment to scores may take place. A separate but related concept is that of something like the sports world’s overtime in which the ending condition is replaced by another so that further scoring my take place. A winning condition is the set of criteria by which the winning player of a game is identified. Again, there is a related concept, the tie-breaker, in which secondary scoring criteria are examined beyond the primary scoring criterion due to a tie in those primary scores.

Now, let’s take a survey of some games and these conditions:

Baseball

  • Ending: play of nine innings completed
  • Winning: more runs scored than the opposing team

Tennis

  • Ending: a player had satisfied the winning condition
  • Winning: take the majority of sets to be played (either 2 in best-of-3 or 3 in best-of-5)

Basketball

  • Ending: 60 minutes elapsed on the play clock
  • Winning: more points scored than the opposing team

Curling

  • Ending: play of eight ends completed
  • Winning: more points scored than the opposing team

Portal

  • Ending: play through all levels
  • Winning: satisfy the ending condition

Settlers of Catan

  • Ending: a player has satisfied the winning condition
  • Winning: accumulation of 10 victory points at one time

Power Grid

  • Ending: a player builds his/her (X)th city, where X varies by the number of players
  • Winning: ability to power the most cities

Imperial

  • Ending: a Great Power attains at least 25 Power Points, reaching the x5 region of the Power Track
  • Winning: highest sum of multiplied bond value and cash-on-hand

Puerto Rico

  • Ending: cannot refill the colonist ship OR run out of victory point chips OR build into 12th city space
  • Winning: highest total of victory points

Monopoly

  • Ending: a critical mass gets tired of playing
  • Winning: who knows?

Okay, so the last one isn’t quite right, but I’ve never played any other type of Monopoly game and I didn’t feel like sifting through the rules.

There’s many more I could name, probably some with interesting mechanics, but these will do for now. The first thing to note is that the ending condition and the winning condition are often closely linked. This has a number of advantages. Take tennis and baseball as the two opposites in this case. In tennis, the ending condition goes hand-in-hand with the winning conditions. This has the neat property that a player hasn’t won until he/she guarantees that his/her opponent cannot win. In other words, a US Open finalist engaged in the championship match can still hope to win even when he’s down two sets and trailing 5-0 in the third set. Don’t get me wrong, this kind of turnaround is highly unlikely, but there is still space for this player to outscore his opponent, and so the thinking goes that the game should continue until it is literally impossible to win. This is a nice property that doesn’t seem valuable at first glance, but you sorely miss when you’re playing a game without it.

This brings us to baseball, which is, in my opinion, a scoring mechanics disaster. (I pick on baseball, but most sports are guilty on this count: replace baseball and its terminology with the same pertaining to basketball, golf, football, soccer, and, yes, even curling.) The disaster comes from the frequency of the so-called “runaway leader problem” that you so often observe. This is when one player has acquired such a large leading score so as for it to be insurmountable by the opponents within the remainder of the game. Now, you complain (or should!) that many games have such a problem. The tennis example above comes into play again. While the described situation still allows for the trailing player to win, the actual possibility of this happening is about as close to zero as the baseball team facing an 18-0 run deficit in the first inning. Where tennis scores some brownie points, then, is from its ability to hasten the end of the game. The tennis match continues only as long as the losing player is able to mount some sort of comeback; meanwhile, the baseball spectators are stuck waiting around for eight more innings for whatever might happen. (I’ll admit that there is a re-ingnition of interest in these lop-sided scoring cases, a sort of “how high can it go?” interest.) But we see that if a game’s ending condition and winning condition are “in tune”, we can develop a better game-playing experience.

Now that I’ve preached about how important it is to link the ending and winning conditions, I’m going to turn that on it’s head and claim that an even better game would de-couple them … to a point. Prime examples of this are some from the family of eurogames. Let’s take a 5-player Power Grid game for this analysis. The ending condition is the building of the 15th city, but the winner is the player who powers the most cities. In many games, these players might be one and the same, but the interesting part is that they need not be. This leads to all sorts of fun jockeying for position. Compare this with Settlers of Catan, which is an example of a game with closely linked ending and winning conditions. Yes, the game doesn’t drag on unnecessarily even in the runaway leader case, but its end is altogether less interesting.

So, what’s the secret recipe? As with a lot of things in life, the hybrid approach seems best: I would argue it’s having a correlation between the game ending condition and winning condition that gives us the best game experience.

World of Goo/Braid/N+: Independent Games and their Contributions to the Gaming Market

October 29, 2009 - One Response

With the advent of the newest generation of consoles, the Wii, PS3, and Xbox 360, the gamer population has grown to an unbelievable size. Naturally, the gaming market has grown indescribably as well. Back in the days, when it used to be the NES and Famicom, the gamer’s market was not a widely known or even widely appreciated one. Many remember playing The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past and admiring it’s beautiful graphics. Even I remember those days. The Wizard is still a classic movie (meaning horrible, horrible, horrible) for those of the time. Even Tron was a great breakthrough!

But now, Gaming has become a commodity. It’s not that such a state is bad. For the gamers out there who enjoy games, more games ultimately means more fun. The problem, then, lies in originality or the framework of these games.

Gaming is much a template nowadays. Most notably seen in Nintendo, there is a constant stream of utter garbage that floods the market, making that one gem even harder to find. In fact, for the once renown makers of Zelda and Mario, the reputation garnered by the sewage material spewing from this source is enough to send Miyamoto straight to Hell three times over while being tarred and feathered, in a chicken suit. Apart from that though, because gaming is now more capital focused than ever, the focus is on producing faster and making things look prettier. Quality is less of a factor, nor are aspects such as storyline, music, gameplay and the like. Of course, some games are still high quality masterpieces, balancing story, gameplay mechanics, control, music into blends of greatness. Some of the template games are still marvelous as well. In fact, some games are good enough to compensate for the incessant amounts of horsepiss that clogs the gaming market. The problem that many gamers face, obviously, is that these diamonds in the dust don’t appear as often as they should in comparison to the sheer number of games being produced.

Of course, it must be acknowledged that game developers, especially larger companies, are forced, by precedence, to release a certain type of game, to stay their course and creativity. As a result, many long term gamers find certain dullness, repetitiveness to these games. Examples, of course, include Zelda, Final Fantasy, and Tekken. The brand name, having been so popular, causes development of similar products following a format, a template, a frame. Because of such, innovation, though possible, is limited. Zelda may have cool new toys, but the old ones will always remain. Final Fantasy will still use the Fire, Fira, Firaga series of spells. Tekken will always be a normal 1v1 fighting game with complex combos. Development can happen, but the frame will not be altered. If it is altered, much like Mario and Sonic have been, the successes will generate another template and the failures will just cut the reputation. I’m not, in any way, bashing these titles. Personally, I love most of the games that I listed above. It’s just that now, after more than 20 years of gaming, brand names are beginning to be viewed as repetition.

This is where Independent developers must butt in. These games, such as World of Goo, Braid, N+, Portal and more, are creative masterpieces in the world of gaming. World of Goo is a structural design game where goo balls ARE your structure. They branch out forming trusses and beams to support themselves as you stack them higher and higher to reach pipes. The puzzle possibilities, alongside the hilarious script and obvious memetic references, increase as you progress the levels. This is the same for Braid, except with a different mechanic. N+ is a puzzle game based solely on skill and Portal, the most well known of them all, is the crowning achievement of the genre. Fathering a few very well known memes, alongside a great side market for popular culture, Portal is the game involving some hilarious dialogue, warp portals, and cake. These games of independent make are the jewels that litter the gaming world. The only unfortunate aspect, is that these jewels are located in a single genre. But, even by showing their amazing potential, these independent game developers are issuing a challenge to the big companies of gaming. They are challenging the innovative minds of these companies to bring out a product that will trump theirs in fame and fortune.

These are the independent games that will bring about a new generation of games. Hopefully anyways. More and more, new ideas are being brought onto the table and slowly, the gaming market is being redesigned. Games with new battles systems such as The World Ends With You or just an incredible mechanic period (Scribblenauts) are being released and are slowly find their way into the gamer market. As these games slowly proceed up the ladder, hopefully, the market will be more innovation oriented than now. This slump is but another step to overcome.

Kun Woo

The guy who played Braid too much.

A Salutation

October 29, 2009 - Leave a Response

Hopefully, the future contributors can keep this up and think of new titles as we grow in numbers.

Now let me introduce myself. I am Kun Woo, a student at Northwestern University, much like the two senior contributors to this blog. Unfortunately, I have not the experience of the years as our two computer scientists. Neither do I have the mathematical prowess as they do. I will try my best though, to provide interesting and notable pieces of information in the world of gaming.

I am a lover of gaming, of all its forms. I probably spend the most time on RPGs and MMORPGs but any and all games are welcome, as long as they are of quality. Hopefully though, I won’t be spending too much time on individual reviews. That all depends though, on my mood at the time. ^^

Yes. I did, in fact, just use an emote. Nonetheless, this is my introduction. Nice to meet you all!

Kun Woo Jun
Asian Extraordinaire?

European Vs. American Style Board Games

October 29, 2009 - 7 Responses

In a previous post I touched on some differences between so-called “European style” board games and “American style” board games. There are some fascinating differences between the two genres and although I will try to be as objective as possible in this analysis, I will tell you now that I find the European style to encompass much better design choices in almost every respect.

Let’s take a few games to exemplify the genres. We will pick what are probably the two most popular classic American board games to represent “American style”: Risk and Monopoly. For “European style” we will consider Settlers of Catan and Imperial (two games featured previously on this blog).

So let us begin. One of the most prominent mechanics inherent to European games is that players are never thrown out of the game before it ends. Anyone who has played Monopoly enough has experienced the irritation of being the first player to go bankrupt. It could be hours before the game is over and you can reunite with your friends, so your best bet is to go cry alone in the corner while you wait. The same argument can be made for Risk: someone is bound to be eliminated sooner or later and stuck twiddling their thumbs while the rest of the game grinds to an end. THIS IS BAD DESIGN. The point of a game is to have fun, not alienate your friends. If 30-40% of the man hours put into the game is spent doing nothing, then we have some serious design issues. Settlers of Catan and Imperial, on the other hand, have absolutely no mechanic for ejecting a player (in fact if a player leaves for any reason it will seriously upset the game balance). This guarantees that all of your buddies will be hanging in to the bitter end and will all, technically, have a chance at victory. Now doesn’t that sound like more fun?

Now it’s time for a crash course in feedback systems. A feedback system is any system that can influence itself. The classic example is a thermostat system. When a room gets too hot, the thermostat senses it and controls the flow of cold air into the room. When the room gets too cold, the thermostat sends a flow of hot air. The net result is a room that is always nice and comfortable. This particular system is a negative feedback system because when the system strays too far from one state (too hot or too cold) it is pushed back toward the other state. As you can see, negative feedback systems are inherently very stable. The room cannot get too hot or too cold. Imagine now the analogous positive feedback system: the hotter the room gets the more hot air is pumped in, and the colder it gets the more cold air is pumped in. Obviously this makes no sense. It’s an extremely unstable system that will have you spontaneously combusting or freezing to death in a matter of minutes. Positive feedback systems are always unstable. 

Ok let’s apply the concept of feedback to our games. Monopoly is a great example of positive feedback (as is capitalism in general). The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. The problem with this in Monopoly is whoever gets an early lead is more likely to have more money to weather disaster and invest more. This leads to more money from more investments, which leads to more money, etc. If you fall behind early on, you’re pretty much screwed by the opposite reasoning. Again, the same model applies to Risk. If you get an early lead on owning a whole continent or two, you will have more units than your opponents which you can use to capture even more territory and get even more units. THIS IS BAD DESIGN. Basically, this mechanic imposes winners and losers on the game right from the very beginning. The winners are usually going to be someone who has been winning the whole time. Hopelessness is not enjoyable.

European games, on the other hand, tend to impose negative feedback. That is, the further ahead a player gets the harder it is for them to stay ahead. In Settlers, not only does the winning player face discrimination and even trade embargoes from other players, but they will also likely be the one consistenly dealing with the robber, and losing cards when 7’s are rolled. In Imperial, the better your country is the more attractive it will be for other players to steal it from you. In fact, the winning player is going to be the one in constant fear of losing his winning status. Negative feedback is extremely important in any game system because it keeps outcomes upredictable and keeps all players engaged in the game.

There are many other factors at work here, but these two are the big ones. complete participation and negative feedback are the biggest identifiers of a European game over an American game. They are two obvious choices for a better design and ultimately produce better games. It’s a shame that most americans have grown up knowing little more than Risk and Monopoly, and tend to write off board games as a feasible form of entertainment as they get older. I can’t say I blame them, I mean after all, these are goddamned terrible games.

When to Buy: the Math in Imperial

October 27, 2009 - Leave a Response

Imperial is a 2006 game from Mac Gerdts that rethinks the classic Diplomacy. A layman—in this case, a true board game geek—would have difficulty not mistaking the maps incorporated in both games. What I like about Imperial is that it takes the too-interactive, too-chesslike Diplomacy, adds a realism-contributing economic aspect, and comes out with something that requires even more social and mental depth.

A critical component of the Imperial economy are “bonds”. Players seek to acquire bonds because they grant both points and influence within the game. For each of the six powers in the game, eight distinct bonds are available. Bonds feature a face value and interest value. For instance, the lowest-valued bond is the 1-bond, so called because its interest value is $1million. What this means is that for an initial investment (i.e. buying the bond) for $2m, you receive $1m payments each time a payout is to be had. This occurs indefinitely, so you have the possibility for making back your initial investment and more as the game goes on. When you’re rich enough, you might be able to afford the highest-priced bond, the 8-bond. As you could assume, its interest payment is $8m on a face value of $25m. Notice that the one-time interest payments as a fraction of the initial investment become smaller, the higher the bond’s face value. Viz. $1m/$2m = 50% while $8m/$25 = 32%.

Bond interest payouts not only provide the income stream described above, but also the points needed to win the game. At the game’s end, you can multiply the interest value of a bond by its power multiplier, a multiplier determined by how well a nation did in the game. Thus, you would like to be holding all of your high-valued bonds in the nations that did well and low-valued or, better, no bonds in the nations that did poorly.

However, the opportunities you have to buy bonds are limited and the cash available at that instant limited even more, so the question of what the “right” bond to buy is one that will cross your mind several times throughout a game. In particular, because the power multipliers will not be resolved until the game is already over, it’s important to forecast a nation’s finishing position to decide how much to invest. Just as investing too little is problematic because you miss out on multiplying more of your investment by those power multipliers, investing too much is problematic as it will stunt your ability to “grow” your money as the game goes on; in other words, what you spend this turn isn’t available next turn.

With that groundwork laid, it’s time to get to some pictures. First, a chart to capture what I have been discussing and provide some math that we’ll need.

ImperialPoints

Net payoff of bond purchase for varying multipliers.

This chart shows the net payoff from investing in varying bonds (the vertical axis). Of course, the net payoff is conditional on the power multiplier at game end (the horizontal axis). The net payoff is defined as the multiplier points less the original bond cost (face value). Thus, we see that the 8-bond paying off with the x5 multiplier yields 8×5=40 gross points. From this, we subtract the initial amount paid to buy the bond, 25, to get a net payoff of 15, the highest offered in the game.

What should also grab your attention, though, is that you can accomplish the same thing with the 7-bond (7×5–20=15). This begs the question: why buy the 8-bond. The answer is invariably “because the 7 has already been bought”.* As mentioned previously, it’s better to hold on to your money if you can. (You can keep it to add to your score at game’s end, so it never goes to waste.) Thus, in the perfect world, we absolutely make sure we have our hands on the 7-bond in x5 countries, the 5-bond in x4 nations, the 3-bond in x3 nations, and no higher than a 3-bond in any nations that fall short of x3. Anything else is gravy as long as you’re not taking a loss (red boxes).

Of course, the world’s not perfect and you’re never going to have your money in all the right places. There’s too many other players interested in seeing that you don’t. But it can pay to come close and know what you’re shooting for, although this will require taking some probabilities into account.

During a game in progress, you’ll only be able to discern game-end multipliers to a statistical certainty. The relative probabilities of each outcome dictate which bonds to shoot for. If you think x4 is likely with an outside shot of x3, then it pays most to aim for the 5-bond or the 4-bond.

Payoff graph

The progression of net payoffs for each bond

Since the probabilities will always be changing and the math is complicated to do in-game in the first place, it helps to generalize which bonds provide the best bang for the buck. The chart above attempts to capture this. At the start of the game, it assumes the following probabilties of a nation finishing in a given multiplier:

x0   0.00%
x1   5.00%
x2  25.00%
x3  33.33%
x4  20.00%
x5  16.66%

This suffices for the beginning of the game, but as the game progresses, nations will reach higher multipliers thereby nullifying the probability that they will reach a previous level—they’ve already reached it! For this, we make a simplifying assumption that the probabilities of reaching higher levels redistribute proportionally among the remaining possible outcomes. An example will help illustrate this. Once we reach x2, the chance of being at x1 is now 0. Thus, we redistribute the original 5% chance of being at x1 among the remaining outcomes in proportion to their original probabilities. Thus, the x2 outcome gains an extra (25%/95%)*5% chance, x3 adds (33.33%/95%)*5%, x4 goes up (20%/95%)*5%, and x5 increases (16.66%/95%)*5%. For each bond, we multiply the payoff at each level by the probability of realizing that payoff, and we generate the expected payoff for each bond.

As you would expect, as we can become more certain of reaching a given level, the expected net payoff increases. Thus, in the chart above, the right edge of each color band show the expected payoff assuming a given multiplier position. The dark blue is the result at the start of the game. Here we find that the 5-bond provides the best value for money as its blue bar reaches furthest right. The 5-bond falls about even with the 6-bond once we’ve reached the green region and sit in the x3 multiplier. Once we’re at x4, the 7-bond becomes the best and it maintains this positions even as the 8-bond evens up with it at the x5 region. This was precisely what we had found earlier.

Thus, we can see that the 5-bond is a very safe early bond to own in any country. It provides an optimal value at the x3 region, the optimum at x4, and a good return even at x5. However, once a country has attained x3. It’s best to focus on the 7-bond if possible. We also see the losses that can be sustained by investing in the 8-bond when it falls short of the x5 multiplier.

__________

* There are other gameplay factors at work here such as trying to take control of a nation. These effects are ignored in this analysis.

Greetings!

October 26, 2009 - Leave a Response

My name is Rudy and I’ll also be contributing to this blog in conjunction with Dan. Like him, I graduated from Northwestern University in 2009 with a B.S. in computer engineering. My interests in gaming lie very much in the board game realm. The reason for this are two characteristics common to board games:

  • Direct, face-to-face social interaction; and
  • Varied, player-generated story development

What I most appreciate is that, like a good novel, movie, or other form of passive entertainment, a board game has a plot that places you at the center of the action. Now, this is not to say that I don’t enjoy other forms of gaming; I also have some favorite console and computer games, but in those media I find that the games I like most are, when you boil them down, an electronic implementation of something you could play at your kitchen table.

I’m excited to see where Dan and I (along with future contributors) can take this discussion on gaming. I expect my initial contributions to be very board game–focused and analytical, perhaps drawing on my background in economics to model game mechanics.

Settlers of Catan And Its Growing Popularity

October 26, 2009 - 2 Responses

Perhaps it’s just me, but it seems as though the board game Settlers of Catan has reached new heights of popularity with the masses in the last couple years. I certainly agree that Settlers has merit and is worthy of its status as an increasingly popular and well known family game. However, I can’t help but wonder why it has won out over many other similar European-style games to become the american household favorite.

Before I go any further, let me clarify what I mean by a “European-style” boardgame. For some reason, the boardgaming tradition seems to be much more alive in Europe than in America. In fact, Germany (where Settlers was designed and initially produced) produces more boardgames per capita than any other country. Typically these games adhere to some fundamentally different design choices than the common American-style boardgame (such as Risk or Monopoly). European-style boardgames normally do not eliminate players mid-game, they usually incorporate some form of negative feedback, and it usually very difficult to predict exactly who will win, whereas American-style games often lack these traits. (I will cut this discussion short for now as it probably merits its own post)

In college I was exposed to many of these European-style boardgames in addition to Settlers, including Imperial, Power Grid, and Puerto Rico (I guarantee the average American has not heard of these games). Out of these four, Settlers is certainly the worst in my humble opinion. So why has it become the “popular” European game here in the states? I suppose marketing could be at least partially to blame, but if we consider only the game design in our argument what can we come up with?

Randomness. If you’ve played Settlers you are definitely guilty of praying for that 4 to come up just when you need it. And if it does, then awesome! you just garnered yourself 3 more victory points for the win. Settlers is by far the most chance oriented game on our sample list of European boardgames (in fact you might be able to argue that the other 3 have no chance elements at all). Consider our sample hit American Boardgames: Risk and Monopoly. These games are almost all chance. Do Americans gravitate toward games that are more random? I suppose it’s possible. American culture is much less steeped in boardgaming and it’s much more likely that you’re opponents will range greatly in skill from the completely hapless to the uber-leet. This large chance element is the great equalizer in any game. Perhaps our culture puts some special value in allowing anyone to conceivably win.

Simple rules. This is probably the real kicker. I must be a real exception to the population in that I actually enjoy learning new games. Most people seem to think of it as a chore. Consequently, simple games get a much better reception. “It’s easy grandma, you just roll the dice and then you collect your cards. Oh, and you can trade cards too.” Not that I’m an advocate for needlessly complicated mechanics, I’m a firm believer in the KISS principle, but sometimes a little complexity can be a good thing.

These two aspects of Settlers make it ideal for the newbie boardgame enthusiast to break into European-style boardgaming, but it causes the game to seriously lack in content. When I win this game, I don’t feel like it was because I made great decisions, but rather because we rolled 9 threes in a row.

WoW: Why Do We Play?

October 22, 2009 - 2 Responses

Hi all, Dan here.

I feel it would be fitting for my first discussion to focus on a game that has captured an enormous amount of my time over the last five years or so, and one that continues to occasionally suck me in despite repeated attempts to give it up. I am of course speaking of Blizzard’s World of Warcraft. Is this game fun? Why do I keep playing it? Why does anyone play it? I suppose it must be “fun” in some definition of the word… but when I’m playing that’s not usually my choice descriptor.

Hypothetically, if I max my level and collect every item the game has to offer (which of course entails doing everything that can be done in the game) will I still have the impetus to continue playing? I think most of us can agree that it would be much harder to maintain an interest. Fortunately for Blizzard, they simply need to keep creating content in order to keep us happy.

So it seems that the “fun” part of the game lies in the discovery of the new. New places give us new things to explore, new items to drool over, and new levels/abilities for us to unlock. Surely the climax of each pre-80 level is in the attainment of the next level, yet inevitably we are presented with the task of reaching yet another level. Can anyone else identify with the following statement as it relates to WoW: “I am constantly excited to be doing whatever it is I’m not doing right now?”  Think about it.

Granted, the endgame material and PvP systems help to add some variety. I can honestly say that an arena match is a fun and exciting end to itself. If the game was more PvP-centric then perhaps the fun would revolve more around the journey and less around the destination. Unfortunately, in order to get to the interesting PvP you need to grind your way up to 80 (or 85 in the near future, or 105 in the further future, etc.) But don’t get too comfortable with your PvP-fun-times because sooner or later Blizzard is going to raise the level cap, and you’re back to the ol’ grind.

Ah, there’s the rub: Endgame material is fun. Getting shiny new weapons is fun. But in order to keep giving you new experiences, Blizzard has to keep raising the level cap and thereby keep depriving you of the endgame. It’s a vicious circle of content obsoletion. Whenever I inevitably quit the game after a few months of playing, it’s because I re-realize this paradigm. No matter how hard I work toward that staff-of-ultimate-awesomeness, I know that a year from now there’s going to be the staff-of-even-more-ultimate-awesomeness thats makes mine look like a glittery Q-tip. So why do I even put in the effort? I Don’t.

So what are some remedies to this systemic problem? Well what if there were only a fixed number of some items in the world and they had to be forcibly taken from players? That would make things more interesting… guilds would need to really start working together in PvP and loot would take on much greater values. Or what if the game actually ended at some point in time (ridiculous I know)? This would necessitate some end condition, say either the Horde or Alliance destroying either each other or some mutually hated boss. At this point the game could be declared “over” and one side would win. The game could then begin again fresh. Now clearly these examples are major design overhauls that Blizzard does not plan on implementing, but I hope they make you think about what the game might be like with a redesign of purpose.

As it stands, I simply can’t get into the game for any long stretch of time. The whole process just seems so futile. I’m sure there are those that disagree with me, and I welcome your counterpoints.

Introduction

October 21, 2009 - Leave a Response

Hello, world! I’m Dan and this is my new weblog. This blog will, hopefully, be dedicated to all things game-related. Now before you all start hurling bricks through your monitors in protest of “yet another gaming blog,” let me explain. I am by no means restricting the content to electronic entertainment. I would love to see articles exploring board games, card counting, game theory, et cetera. Hopefully this will be a place where the curious mind can explore some of the more esoteric aspects of gaming in addition to the usual ranting review.

I feel like it would be useful to start with a quick introduction of myself, so here goes: I’ve recently graduated from Northwestern University with my BS in Computer Engineering and Animate Arts, and I currently reside in Chicago and work for a proprietary trading firm. I’ve always been a gamer, but my years in school cultivated more of an appreciation for the underlying concepts and theory behind the design of games. I’m an on-again-off-again WoW player, a boardgame junkie, a mathematics enthusiast, a programmer, and of course a fan of just about every video game genre (I could do without sports games).

While I feel I have plenty of material just bursting out of my brain and ready to explode onto the page (that’s kinda gross now that I think about it), I hope to recruit other contributors to provide insights and perspectives that alas I cannot. If anyone out there is ever interested in becoming a contributor, just let me know and we can arrange it!

See ya’ll down the dusty trail,

Dan