The Crafty Podcast – Episode 05

The Crafty Podcast Episode 05 is now online!

Also available on iTunes & Stitcher! Be sure to rate and subscribe so you don’t miss an episode!

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DISCLAIMER: Apologies for the slightly echoey audio folks, we had some minor recording issues.

This month we play games involving a Mystery Bag! Ok well, just two of the games have mystery bags and the other has mechs.

We discuss unscrupulously trying to scam our friends out of legitimate business opportunities in Chinatown from Z-Man Games; taking a jaunt through the picturesque and deadly dungeons of Eora in Pillars of Eternity: Lord’s of the Eastern Reach from Zero Radius Games; and riding around in a not-as-fun-as-it-initially-sounded giant mech in Scythe from Stonemaier Games. We also chat about how certain games change completely when played with different people.

Our beer for the show is Einstök, and we also mentioned beers from O Brother Brewing, Third Circle, and Brú!

Intro and outro music courtesy of Kevin McLeod of incompetech.com/wordpress/

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4 thoughts on “The Crafty Podcast – Episode 05

  1. Stu says:

    I completely disagree with Paddy’s idea that a great game provides consistently good experiences to all players at all player numbers. I’ll tackle each of the clauses separately and in order.

    a) Consistently

    The idea of consistency here seems to imply in perpetuity as well. Let’s imagine two different game examples out if the many possible examples: Little Box, a small social game, light on mechanics and play pieces, very easy to pick up and play with little teaching; and Big Box, a big mechanically deep, complex game with many pieces that takes a lot of time and effort to get into.

    In the case if Little Box a group may play it again and again, bringing it to other groups or events and it’s a go-to game when they think “hmm, I don’t know what to play next”. Everyone loves it at the start, easy to pick up and quick, multiple rounds can be played in a single sitting. As time goes on however some players begin to withdraw from playing it, having noticed that it often falls into the same pattern of play, there has been a downward trend of enjoyment for them as they burn out on it. This is not a consistently good experience for these players, but it is for everyone else. Is this no longer a “great game”?

    In the case of Big Box, some players refuse to interact with it in the first instance, not wishing to put the time into it. However for those who do they find the first two or three sittings of the game to to arduous and not particularly enjoyable. These plays are more about learning the game for them and they feel there is something in these conceptually difficult mechanics that will lead to good experiences in the future. Sure enough for those who persist they begin to find these and as time goes on they find they are enjoying the game more and more, as positive trend in experience. This is not a consistently good experience for these players, but it becomes good over time. Is this a game that becomes a “great game”?

    b) All Players (Universality)

    All players seems to me to make the assumption that any player who takes the time to play the game should get a good experience out of it. Following from this is a game that has been played and enjoyed by any player so far a “great game”? If this is true, say a new player plays the game, the mechanics of the game are the opposite of what they enjoy and they really do not like the experience. Has this game suddenly stopped being a “great game”?

    c) All Numbers (Group Size)

    For this example I am going to make the assumption that a key part of play experience is the game providing meaningful choices to the player.

    A game is specifically designed to be played by 4 players. It is a perfect balance of tensions and choices for this many players, offering a number of meaningful choices each and every turn at this level. The designers realise that not all groups may be a consistently able to field 4 players, they design a 2 and 3 players version of the game. The vacuum left by few players creates some situations in which there is less choice for players, however all other aspects of the game remain equal to the 4 player game. The loss of meaningful choices leads to a dip in player experience at these numbers. Most players prefer to play at 4 players. Is this not a “great game” because the designers added a 2 and 3 player variant that in no way affected the 4 player game? Would it have been a great game if they had said 4 player only?

    Conclusion
    This is just taking each of these clauses in isolation, there are interactions between each that break your definition as well. For instance a group of 4 players enjoy playing a game in any combination of three of them, however their play styles are such that when all 4 play this game they find the experience is not particularly good. This has nothing to do with the design but simply their individual styles of play. Any other arbitrary group of players consistently enjoy the game. However our model group breaks consistency, universality, and group size. Is this the fault of the game or the players? Would this be a great game except for the problems of this one specific group?

    I feel that as a definition of a great game this simply doesn’t work. It is so broad as to basically have no function. I believe that all games now extant or in development will break at least one of these clauses, saying nothing of how these clauses interact with each other.

    Liked by 1 person

    • PatrickBrophy says:

      Hey man, thanks for your reply. Apologies for not getting back to you sooner.

      I appreciate the break down of my answer, that’s a hazard of recording something live with little post-production and editing: if you say something silly it’s still going to be there and now it’s out on the internet.

      Of course not all games are great for all people, all the time in all situations. There’s just too many variables involved. But it might be an interesting discussion for a future podcast about what does make a great game, and your answer could be a great launching point for that discussion.

      Like

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