Problems with the game Risk

Risk is a game that I’ve only played once, but I found an online version to play for free (ad supported).

So, here are some of the things I think are wrong with the game.

1.   Rolling the dice. Risk is painted like a strategy game, but in many ways it is mostly about chance. Even a small army can defeat a big army with a lucky roll. If the opponent has one soldier against 20, he can still win if he keeps rolling a six. Which can be frustrating.

2. Balance of the game. The game gets bigger as the game progresses. So that means it starts off pretty slow and conservative (usually) and then it gets going. Maybe this isn’t a bad thing. Many games will do this and start off slow and then get more interesting. Some would argue it’s better to have more symmetric play. This is kind of like how it is in Monopoly. The game gets bigger as the game progresses which can make it frustrating for the player who has very little territory.

3. Reinforcement phase. The more territories you have the more chances for winning you have. Again because a player can win with just one army doesn’t mean it is very likely to happen. So the players who takes the advantage in the beginning will likely maintain the advantage and win the game.

4. Deployment phase. This is at the beginning of the game the player who places his armies first gets a slight advantage. Perhaps this should be randomized somehow. Or there could be rules where the territory you try to get must be adjacent to your other territories. Though that would seem kind of hard to do, and since you are going turn by turn there may be some unfairness if you are going for a higher number of territories to occupy which gives you a big advantage.

Other than that, i don’t see too much wrong with the game as it is a very simple game. The randomness I argue does balance out the leading player’s advantage. I really like risk, but I can see why it can be frustrating.

The Nine structures of game design: Game Design Class Homework

For the course I’m taking you have to build and design a commercial level hobby game. 

The instructor (Dr. Lewis Pulsipher)  doesn’t recommend starting out with a video game because it takes a while to learn how to program and it takes a lot more time than a table-top game.

I’ve had a little experience programming and building web based games. So I will build a game for tablets and personal computers. It will be turn based and feel like a table top game.

So here is a break down of my game idea considering the nine structures of game design:

1. Theme-Atmosphere/History/Story/Emotion/Image

The theme is set in the future when cats run the earth and develop laser beams that shoot out of their mouth. These cats are very good with technology too and can build towers and other military buildings.

The atmosphere is a little comical as well. It’s not a game that takes itself seriously.

2. Player Interaction Rules and Number of Players

Ideally this is a two player game. Single player would work, and multiplayer might get boring unless implemented as an online multiplayer game. The simplest and most fun for this game is a two player game.

There aren’t many two player games for tablets and sometimes when you have some downtime you just wanna grab your friend and play something other than chess on the tablet.

The players will interact by clicking or touching the screen and the characters and moving them around the map. Players can place units and towers in the game.

3. Objective/Victory Conditions

The objective of the game is to protect the shrine. If you capture the opponent’s shrine, you win!

4. Data Storage

The data storage will be in the computer. I want the user interface to be very simple. The map will also carry data, but not much.

5. Sequencing

It’s a turn based game. Player 1 makes choices, then Player 2 makes choices. And then the battle ensues. I have to be careful with this, as I don’t really want to give the first player the advantage. Lots of play testing will help me figure out how to balance the game.

6. Movement/Placement

Players can build one tower and put one unit on the map per turn. The towers and units must be placed within a range of the shrine/territory. Units and towers can not attack the first turn they are placed. However, they may defend.

Towers can not move or be sold. They can only be destroyed either by the controlling player or the opponent.

Units can move depending on what kind they are. They can move a fixed amount each turn on the map. The map will be a square grid based map to keep it simple. They can move in all directions.

7. Information Availability

Again, the information will be limited. Health bars will be on the units, and during the turns, some information on the amount of power, the cost of the unit and the hp of each unit/tower.

8. Conflict Resolution/Interaction of Game Entities

Conflicts are battles. Battles are resolved simply by power and hp. There will be very little chance in the game. This may change if I find the game to be too predictable or unbalanced.

You can build walls to gain more territory. You can only build on your own territory. The territories must connect back to the single shrine. In other words, you can’t have two separate slices of territory.

I’m going to have to test this territory thing out a lot too, as I’m sure there will be more problems and conflict working on the 2D map.

9 “Economy” and Resource Acquisition

The economy comes through the shrine. You can build clerics and towers to increase the production of energy with the shrine.

Again it’s going to be simple. You can’t steal anyone’s energy and looting energy from fallen units and towers.

 

 

The Monopoly Exercise: Part 1, What’s wrong with the game?

Intro

I’ve been making games recently for my English class with JavaScript and HTM 5/CSS3. The games have been going pretty well. They are mostly just modified ideas that I found on the inter-webs.

I really hate keeping track of the score and setting up the board for every new class. So, I decided to brush up on my JavaScript skills again and learn how to set up a simple word guessing game that could be used in class as a warm-up exercise.

Low and behold it worked phenomenally. I got to the kids to think and participate and use that right side of the brain. I later made another game based on letters and sentences.

It’s all very good, and I can say I got better at programming things in JavaScript. Although I do need to work on program design.

Now, I’ve decided to take a class in game design from Udemy. The class creator is really cool and he knows his stuff. Here’s the class: https://www.udemy.com/learning-game-design/

This is an assignment for the class. He asks us to break down monopoly and improve upon it. So here is my attempt.

Monopoly Troll

 Part 1: Write down what you think is wrong with the game.

A.K.A. What is wrong with my beloved Monopoly?

1. Speed or Pace of the game.

Each player’s turn takes a long time. This is not because it’s overly complicated, but because the player has hard choices to make. Usually the game is played without perfect knowledge about how best to play the game, so a lot of people just mull over if they should buy everything they land on, or if they should save their money for that prized Boardwalk and Park Place.

At the beginning of the game the turns seem shorter because everything is new and until the properties are bought up, there isn’t that much that happens in the game. The players turns are quick. You may hear things like:

“Is it my turn yet?! Go Go roll the dice! What’s taking you so long! Are you going to buy it or not?!”

Toward the end of the game the turns get more complex. “Oops, I landed on your Pacific Avenue with 3 houses. How much do I owe?… And I rolled doubles so I get to go again…”

Players generally don’t like waiting and if it’s a big game, this can be a while. And because many people who play are usually new or haven’t played in a while there is a lot of re-learning. The game can sometimes last all night long.

2. Unbalanced Resources!

I guess this is the game mechanic though right? I mean the object of the game is to bankrupt everybody else.

And when a player gets a lot of properties and shifts the balance of resources, then that player is more likely to win. It’s much harder to turn the tables, and strategy becomes less of an issue than chance if you are on the losing end.

I guess there’s nothing wrong with this since it’s what the game is about. But at the same time, it can get really depressing when you’re just barely holding on.

In this case some people are more optimistic when they’ve mortgaged all of their properties, but honestly, I’d rather be the winner or not play at all. It’s really not much fun even if I can collect $200 by passing Go if my opponent has 90% of the properties.

3. Tone

Okay, so maybe it’s the tone of the game that I don’t really like. Not the basic mechanic that is the unbalancing of the resources.

Let’s look at what the game is saying with its tone:

It’s basically about buying up properties and beating the snot out of the poorer players with less resources. Yes, let’s pick on the poor people and take all of their money! And when they can’t give me money, they are kicked out of the game!

Also, the money makes people crazy. I know it’s  just Monopoly money, but people can get really mad and emotional about this game.  It’s just mean and nasty. It has probably ruined many relationships.

4. Kicking players out early.

Yeah, that kind of sucks. I mean I understand that’s the object of the game and there must be one person with the Monopoly over the whole board. But still, it’s really no fun if someone gets eliminated early. Not sure how this could be changed since the game is called “Monopoly.”

Maybe the other players could buy the kicked-out player to perform another task.

5. Strategy vs Chance.

There are a few different strategies in Monopoly that a player can do.  However, these strategies are not perfect and more heuristic because a lot of people are new to the game or are re-learning how to play it. I don’t think many players are hard core strategists with this game as it is mostly a casual family game.

Some negotiation can happen, but it’s usually pretty predictable. However, some players can be stubborn and not negotiate much at all.

Even so, the dice determines the winners and losers. I know when I’m playing, I’m always focused on that perfect roll and buying as much as I can.

6. Players can’t bounce back easily.

Even though the chance is a heavy part of the game, players who start off slow in the game usually end up gone. It’s the first few turns around the board that really make up 80% of how the game will end. The players who do the best in the first few turns will almost always win. Even with all of the event cards and other chance based opportunities for the tides to turn.

This can make it boring for players who don’t do well. They may have some hope in the roll of the dice in later turns, but odds are the game is won early on and then dragged out for another 40 times around the board.

7. Messy money and property management.

There are a lot of game pieces and paper in the game. The board is very delicate and sometimes the roll will mess up the board. This makes things messy and also complicated. Counting money can be fun, but it doesn’t really add to the game. Some people just use a balance sheet or score sheet which makes it easier.

8. Rules.

Although it’s a simple game, I remember times where we would play by different rules.

Not everyone reads through all of the rules. Most people think they know how to play.

For example, we used to buy hotels when you could afford them and as many as you wanted. This is not how it goes. You must buy all the houses first, and then the next step is to replace that with one big hotel. You can’t have more than one hotel on a single property.

Thoughts

Okay, so maybe some of these aren’t very objective statements of what’s wrong with the game. Some of these are my personal feelings towards the game. I’m sure there are more problems with the game.

And I also forgot to talk about team strategy. I guess the player negotiation can have a big impact on the game if some players form an alliance or gang up on one player. Is this good or bad? It’s mostly just interesting.