Hollandazed: Thoughts, Ideas, and Miscellany — game design

LAZINESS AS MOTIVATOR

LAZINESS AS MOTIVATOR

The Shot & Shell Battle Series originated because I had designed three previous games that had somewhat similar rulesets but at different scales, with different combat procedures and different ZOC rules and different activation mechanisms (an I-go-U-go for this one, chit pull for that one, activation roll for this guy over here). I couldn't really call those three previous games a "series", because for me as a gamer the appeal of a series is that you only need to learn the rules once, then you're off to the races. Having to learn each game separately, and if you happen to...


THE SOO LINE (by Tom Russell)

Mary Russell

Tags game design, The Soo Line, train games

THE SOO LINE (by Tom Russell)

The Soo Line is my sixth train game design. In some ways, it's similar to the others - for example, it's the fourth in a row to use some variation of the "track leasing" mechanism I introduced in Trans-Siberian. But it's also the most aggressively weird of my choo-choo games, which is the primary reason why I didn't offer it  to Winsome and we decided to go the Hollandspiele route instead.  The core bit of weirdness is that there are only three railroads to invest in, and the majority shareholder makes all decisions for the railroad. The game seats three...


GIMMICKS (by Tom Russell)

Mary Russell

Tags game design, scenario design

GIMMICKS (by Tom Russell)

 One of the maxims that I would repeat to myself back when I was a tyro designer was this: There is no such thing as a normal scenario. The idea being that when you’re designing a scenario-based game, every scenario should have some kind of gimmick: this is the one where one of the commanders might defect, this is the one with the convoy passing through the gauntlet, this is the one with the exploding wagon. You would think it would be easier to come up with these when you're doing a fictional or hypothetical game, but for me...


SLUGFESTS

Mary Russell

Tags game design, Table Battles

SLUGFESTS

One problem that became apparent after the release of Table Battles is that when players made poor decisions or did not properly work toward force preservation, the game would degenerate into an exhausted slugfest, a bunch of piddling little one- or two-stick formations limping along as the morale cubes passed back and forth, neither side achieving a definitive advantage. Over the course of the two expansions, I made the morale splits much more asymmetric and fragile as a way to "protect" the game against bad play. If losing just one formation would lose you the game, you'd be less likely...


FORGOTTEN RULES (by Tom Russell)

Mary Russell

Tags game design, game development, This Guilty Land

FORGOTTEN RULES (by Tom Russell)

I remember listening to a commentary track that the director Paul Thomas Anderson did about his film Boogie Nights, in which he explained why a scene was cut from the final film. He was watching a cut of the film, and as one scene was wrapping up, he was giddily anticipating the next scene, which was one of his favorites. But when that first scene had ended, it wasn't followed by the scene he was anticipating - it was followed by another scene that he had seemingly forgot was in the film. And I'm paraphrasing here - it's been maybe...