Posts about Game Tangent (old posts, page 1)

Please sir, I'd rather not have another

Sometimes gaming bring unexpected rewards. Sometimes you really don’t want the rewards.

Wednesday of last week I went to play games up at Endgame in Oakland (map. While we were there there was [a riot a few blocks away around the Bart station). We were thankfully oblivious to this silliness as we played our games.

That video was shot all of about 3 blocks from the Endgame store.

Last Wednesday I went up to Endgame again and noticed that there was a lot of free parking. That was unusual as there’s a convention centre across the road from the store and the spill over parking swamps the street parking. Normally I have to hunt for a slot but this time where were rows of open slots on both roads by the store. Just as I drove by on 10th Street I saw a parking slot right in front of the door on the side street, Washington Street, but I had gone too far to turn back. There was also a slot open right beside the side door. For contrarian reasons I looped around the block and parked on the side street right beside the store door. It took a little longer but the ease of being right beside the store door appealed.

While we were playing (Confucius as happens) we heard yelling and loud booms from outside. A gang of yobos were running down 10th street smashing car windshields by jumping on them. Somewhere around twenty cars had their windshields smashed. The car in the slot right by the side door where I nearly parked lost its windshield. Four people that were playing games with us had their car windshields smashed. By simple foible of being on Washington Street rather than 10th Street my car was left untouched. I later saw the couple that owned the car that had parked where I’d nearly parked. They’d lost their windshield. They seemed bright, young, eager, potentially parents of small kids, and not at all keen on not having a windshield. I almost wanted to apologise for not taking the parking slot. It was so stupid.

One thing struck me as I walked back upstairs to our game: gamers wouldn’t have been so stupid. Not that gamers are so wonderful or smart or simply better, not at all, but gamers would have understood the incentive models that drive change and would thus have understood the rank stupidity of smashing windshields. That’s no way of effecting change, just of wasting your time and other’s, expensively.

Vanity Exposed

Motions are still (slowly) under way toward releasing/publishing my older Age of Steam maps. A skilled artist is working on rendering the maps in far slicker form than my Inkscape scribbles. We’ve also started toward determining the supply chain etc.

There are five maps in the pipeline, the first three of which are Wales, South-East Australia and Denmark. None of this so far should be huge news…except that I’m now also releasing the full text of the rules for each design.

Age of Steam: Wales


Age of Steam: Wales is geared for 3 or 4 players and introduces track gauges to Age of Steam. Players select either narrow or standard gauge track when building track and must also manage their Links between narrow and standard gauge for deliveries.

Age of Steam: South-East Australia


Age of Steam: South-East Australia was designed for 4 or 5 players and is the first map of a series which introduces a significantly new economic system to Age of Steam that makes for a simpler and yet deeper, nastier and more dramatic game pattern.

Age of Steam: Denmark


Age of Steam: Denmark was targeted for 3 or 4 players and is the next step with that new economic system and adds the notion of limited train availability (borrowed from the 18xx). Age of Steam: Denmark may also be the first Age of Steam map which actively encourages highly dramatic hail mary victories. Leaping come-from-behind victories in Age of Steam: Denmark are quite possible if well planned.

Nom De Clavier

I am haltingly, gingerly, considering the idea of setting up a small vanity press for my games. The initial target would be my Age of Steam expansions. Once past that only the gods know if it would fitfully stagger onward or die on the vine. But what to call such an ad-hoc publishing company? Suggestions for names are welcome.

Casual Nash

A good understanding of Nash equilibria is necessary for understanding the implicit auction theory behind most games. Presh Talwalkar has written a rather nice casual description of them in his Mind Your Decisions blog in the artcle, The Non-Mathematical Guide to Fixed Point Theorems and Proving Nash Equilibria Exist. He similarly casually and usefully discusses Arrow’s Impossibility Theorem (central to thoroughly understanding any auction or voting system) and Pareto Efficiency in another article, Arrow’s Impossibility Theorem and The Voting Paradox. Good stuff.

A few other interesting articles from a game-design perspective:

The Remainder Game -- a method for constant-time (pseudo-)random selection

I primarily use the Remainder Game for start player selection but there’s no inherent reason it has to be limited to that application. The pattern is simple:

  1. One player calls for the start player selection, Everybody stick out some fingers. 1, 2, 3!
  2. Take the modulus of the total number of fingers shown by the players by the number of player and starting at zero, count out that many players in rotation from the calling player.
  3. The indicated player is the start player.

The Remainder Game is efficient, deterministic results (no repeats, roll-offs or ties possible), actually random1, short constant execution time, works with any number of players in any situation, works with any game in any situation, clearly auditable by all concerned, and requires no equipment.

  1. Well, nearly and close enough in practice. Ideally the number of fingers shown by each player should be in the range of zero-#players-1 or else there’s a bias away from players to the right of the calling player. In practice however as player counts are usually in the 3-5 range and most people use the fingers of one hand, this really doesn’t matter much. throw in the odd player who sometimes uses fingers from both hands and you’re near golden for all games and player counts 

1 winner and the rest of you losers

Matthew Marquand has been following the boardgame T-shirt racket for a while, most recently with Uberbadger. I went so far as to propose a shirt:

I would like a shirt with a graphic something akin to a large digit ‘1’ above the word “winner”, and the words “and the rest of you losers” written in a circle about that.

A rapid exchange with Matthew lead to the following sequence of designs:


Plus an external suggestion from Chad Krizan of:


A quick conversation with Ariel Seoane (Seo) on BGDF’s chat then lead to these suggestions:


Variously capitalising on suggesting a poker chip or classical smilie face model. BTW: The typo is known – the image is a quick sketch, not a final product.

The question is now which image is more interesting to buyers?