Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

Symphonic

Background for Understanding the Nature of Games

Recommended Posts

Symphonic    313
I''m preparing to create a university level course on gaming theory. I''d like you guys to help me out a bit, I''m not referring to computer games in particular, but I think that there are many strong gaming elements to be referred to which computer games take advantage of. More importantly I''m sure that everyone here plays strategic board games on occasion, so I''d like you all to tell be what board games to look into as sources. I already have Go, Chess, and Monopoly. Please stick to strategy, and avoid simplistic strategy games, like the Command & Conquer series, and other RTS that lack depth. George D. Filiotis Are you in support of the ban of Dihydrogen Monoxide? You should be!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Diodor    517
Panzer General is a very close relative of war sim board games and a good TBS too. I didn''t play the board game tho.

RISK is quite a famous strategy board game, you should look into it. It has a myriad of rule variations and it''s concept is used in many PC games too (Z, Shogun Total War, Master of Orion)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Tacit    122
Mah Jongg might be worth looking into. For games, don''t ignore the classic text-based games like those from Infocom.

It would help if you identified a little bit more about what you want to cover in the class.

Where will you be teaching this??

John Namest at www.gamitopia.com writes some interesting game theory articles. He might be able to help you with some ideas.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
sunandshadow    7426
Tech trees, prerequisites - it all comes down to contingency theory. Unfortunately I have yet to find a good introductory contingency theory book, but then I haven''t looked that hard. Maybe someone else knows of one?

In terms of board games, I don''t usually play pure strategy games, but Settlers of Catan is cool and widely available and won lots of awards. It might be interesting to you because it has a randomly generated hex board.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Symphonic    313
Yeah, I''ve played Settlers of Catan, it''s cool.

I''m teaching creation of game structures (partially so that I can learn about it myself). I''m teaching at Tufts University.

The basic precept is that games can be used as metaphors for logical problems that have to be deconstructed by our minds before we can interpret them. Game Theory allows that we can create a ''game'' that reflects a real life situation, and subsequently use it to train ourselves to handle unforeseen elements.

So I''m going to start off with Go and Chess, where everything is available to the player, and move into games with more random numbers and so on. Then I''m going to take out random elements as an approximation of real life situations and finalise with a movement back to Go and Chess where players must attempt to hide their intent.

Note that the course assignments will involve creating games, not so much playing them, and then evaluating them for relevance to real-life situations and complexity of strategy.

excuse Typos etc. I''m in a rush right now.

George D. Filiotis
Are you in support of the ban of Dihydrogen Monoxide? You should be!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
krez    443
quote:
Original post by Symphonic
Are you in support of the ban of Dihydrogen Monoxide? You should be!

actually i am addicted to the stuff, although in my neck of the woods we call it hydrogen hydroxide

--- krez (krezisback@aol.com)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Lubb    122
- I have an interest in the structure of computer game design, myself. The reason is that I suspect most differences in computer games are only cosmetic. I have asked in more than a couple different places and nobody has been able to explain what the technical differences between FPS, a RTS and an RPG are.
All they say is "play some, and then you''ll know,,," (a variation of the old standby "I know one when I see it"),
-which implies to me that that they very much don''t know.
~
I was looking for an actual technical definition of the situations that games present (something similar to Von-Neuman games, but for leisure games), not an opinion of "how this-or-that looks". Some people go on about stories, but you do not play the story: checkers has no story, poker has no story, countless other pre-computer games never ever had any story, and didn''t need them. The issue of exactly "what is necessary to the game" is the point I am trying to understand.
I started on some definitive writing but never got really into it.
~
If anybody still thinks they know the difference between a FPS, RTS and RPG, feel free to explain.... - Lubb

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Anonymous Poster   
Guest Anonymous Poster
FPS only deals with one character, RTS deals with many simultaneously. One obvious difference...

Anyway, I would avoid talking about "Game Theory" because there is already a discipline called "Game Theory" that is somewhat different from what is being described here. Or maybe it isn''t that different from what is being described? Game theory is modelling situations as a game and solving them, but what you are describing doesn''t sound a lot like "Game Theory."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Mooglez    122
I'd be able to sleep through that course everyday and still get an A+ in the end; joking. I wish the school I went to offer these type of courses.

Monopoly shouldn't be used to represent the typical strategy model since a big part of it is the "random" dice rolls that player gets.

There is also Battleship, Axis & Allies (this uses dice but the strategy is 10x more than Monoply), checkers, chinese chess, chinese checker, connect four, Go Shogi... heck, chess itself have multiply ways of playing it. Then there's the card strategy games like Magic and the different variations... I swear I can just walk in the classroom and preach non-stop without any preperation.

The most important key in strategy games is "Options". You don't really need the fancy graphic setup, the storylines, nor the rest of the stuffs so long as you got multiple options and something to show the player how they are progressing in the game.

quote:
Game Theory allows that we can create a 'game' that reflects a real life situation, and subsequently use it to train ourselves to handle unforeseen elements.


Still waiting for momment when the hours of time I spent on playing those dating simulations finally pay off. Think I drank one too many soft drinks today...

Edited by - mooglez on November 8, 2001 7:11:58 PM

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Anonymous Poster   
Guest Anonymous Poster
I don''t know if you''ve heard of it, but the boardgame classic Shogun is very closely related to Shogun: Total Wars, and not just by name. Another game worth considering is made by the same company as Shogun, and that is Axis and Allies, which tackles the difficulty of making all five sides (US+UK+RUSSIA v GERMANY+JAPAN) well balanced that any of them might become a key initiator in their alliances victory. It also ballances tactics with luck, which should not be avoided, in order to make the players develop contingency plans as well. Both games are not sold anymore (as far as I know) but if you can get copies of them, they will definately warrant consideration.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
RadGuy    122
Axis & Allies is a great game! I still play it every couple of weeks with my friend. It is still sold. Probobly the greatest board game I have played.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Tacit    122
Yeah, A&A rocks! They have all kinds of expansion games for it now, concentrating on particular theatres. Very cool game...and complex!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Lubb    122
- - - Regarding the OP, it''s my opinion that Monopoly is hardly a strategy game. All of the critical operations of the game but one (buying property) are based on outcome of dice or drawing unknown cards.
- I would suggest that the most important criteria for a strategy game is to have no random inputs: a game where the outcome is only influenced by player inputs. - Lubb

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
parnen    122
As for me there ar two types of goode games...

I strongly recomend Warhammer 40k as a good strategy boardgame, I have taken "riped off" some of these great ideas that Games Workshop has. Warhammer 40k is only a war strategy so it does not include much of the clasic source gathering.

I also recomend Vampire the masqurade by White-Wolf as a good strategy game... But mostly it''s a very good Role Playing Game... She strategy comes in when you whant to outmanouver your compeditors in your stagering steps in gaining status amongst other vampires while staying alive... Whell i thought that Vampire: Dark Ages or Vampire: The masqurade would make a great RPG... but then agian that was not what you wanted.

Som ideas might enlighten you !

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Diodor    517
quote:

Original post by Lubb

- I would suggest that the most important criteria for a strategy game is to have no random inputs: a game where the outcome is only influenced by player inputs. - Lubb




I disagree. By this criteria you could think Quake is more of a strategy game than CounterStrike, because the winner in Quake is determined by player input alone, whereas in CounterStrike it is possible to win any battle at any moment with a lucky headshot, even without a perfect aim. Likewise you could consider C&C more of a strategy game than Panzer General, since so much depends on random.

Random is acceptable in strategy games as long as the random component averages out over longer periods of time and the player''s decisions remain the decisive factor.

IMHO, a criteria for strategy games would be that the decisive ingredient for victory is thinking, as opposed to luck, click rate, hand eye coordination and so forth.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Anonymous Poster   
Guest Anonymous Poster
- Quake is not detirmined by single-player input alone. The computer operates automated opponents, and those opponents generally don''t behave in any well-coordinated way.
~
Including randomness in a strategy game does not bear extension: games that include no randomness (such as chess) are most definitely strategy games, while games based completely on randomness (such as craps) are not. You cannot mount any strategy against a completely random-acting opponent or objective; having a strategy implies that you can attempt to plan in advance what an opponent will do, and respond in order to increase your advantage. - Lubb

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Symphonic    313
What I''m going to put forward in lecture is that randomness can be used to simulate a certain level of abstraction. For example, you might say that in quake, a certain opponent has x skill points, and from what has been seen so far the player has y skill points, so a match can be simulated using a simple randomization to decide who gets to kill who. The average of many such simulated results may even be accurate.

Abstractions on such a basic level are clearly not influenced by some sort of input. However, if inputs such as put x points into speed, put y points into accuracy are allowed, then suddenly there may be a strategy for dealing with opponents who are better or worse in some way.

Those games which involve many random elements may still be dependent upon strategy, just not on an incident level. Many games played over a stretch of time will eventually show that one player seems to have a higher winning average. Good examples are Whist and Poker. Monopoly is also like this, because you (the player) are at the mercy of those random elements which are put before you, but your strategy for buying and trading is still a critical part of accomplishing the goals of the game.

George D. Filiotis
Are you in support of the ban of Dihydrogen Monoxide? You should be!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Mooglez    122
quote:
Those games which involve many random elements may still be dependent upon strategy, just not on an incident level. Many games played over a stretch of time will eventually show that one player seems to have a higher winning average. Good examples are Whist and Poker. Monopoly is also like this, because you (the player) are at the mercy of those random elements which are put before you, but your strategy for buying and trading is still a critical part of accomplishing the goals of the game.


While this statement is true, majority of the players do not sense the strategy in games that contain a huge degree of varying factors because they do not have the enormous amount of time required to experience the statistic numbers. (Hope this make sense.)

So, if you state that Monopoly is a strategy game, I can only semi-agree with you. However, if you state that Monopoly is a strategy game over time, this, I can say is true.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Crydee    122
Randomness effects strategy in real life. A general killed at the height of battle - Richard I outside Chaluz - for example. Thus if a strategy game aims to simulate real life warfare to an extent there has to be a random element in it.

Another way of looking at it is predictability. If you could predict with accuracy what your opponent or the AI was going to do would the game be worth playing? It is in trying to predict what will happen, and making contingency plans, that the game comes alive.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Blazeroni    122
One very good strategy board game is Stratego (notice the name even implies strategy =) ). It''s got very good strategy elements including hiding your intentions since the opposing side cannot see what your units are. There are also quite a few different strategies to play with from killing the enemy general (the #1), to flag hiding, to spy detecting.
There''s also Risk but that includes a lot of dice rolling but that averages out so you can basically tell who is going to win large battles. Main strategies for that are pretty much where you set up and what continents you try to get first (I like Australia personally).
Warhammer 40k is really good too, but probably not what you''re looking for since its not a set board and its a bit expansive for a classroom to study. Wish I could still play it, however time, money, and lack of interest from my friends all prevent me =(.

As for computer games, your best bet is to look at turn-based games like the Civilization series. Real time games probably don''t have the strategy element that you''re searching for.

That''s my two or three cents.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Lubb    122
-Othello is a great (non-electric) strategy board game; an ingenius ripoff of checkers. It takes about 30 seconds to learn how to play. The boards and pieces are so similar that you can play the game checkers using the pieces of an Othello game, yet the two games themselves play entirely differently. It displays forced progression (the game cannot under any circumstances idle or loop endlessly) and has a definite conclusion (when the board gets filled up completely, the game''s over and you count scores). The only way it could be improved would be to go from an 8x8 grid to a 9x9, thus making tie games impossible.
[my own terms]
- Lubb

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Zileas    122
Id recommend you used games iwth more contrast than go and chess, just in terms of being able to make interesting comparisons in lecture notes. Chess or go alone are pretty cool, especially to illustrate that a fairly simple rule set can make a very deep game, and that strategic depth != complexity.

I think monopoly is a nice game to contrast, because theres a lot of probabalistic analysis avaliable, and a good mix of opportunity realization and opportunity denial in other players -- plus cementing your position in various contingencies. It also has a number of "flaws" to pick apart, which again, makes for interesting discussion.

I Believe theres a good 300 page book specifically on it -- I forget the title.

Normal edition magic the gathering isnt a bad choice either, but you might have a familiarity problem with the players. Its pretty easy to dissect as well though.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Symphonic    313
Just a thankyou, keep the comments coming...

I''m going to devote class time to the games that are going to be played (I''ll have one three hour block per week).

George D. Filiotis
Are you in support of the ban of Dihydrogen Monoxide? You should be!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Kylotan    9980
Did anyone mention Magic: The Gathering? There''s a lot of theory there, especially regarding mana costs, proportion of mana-producing cards to mana-consuming cards, the size of the deck of cards, and so on. I suppose you could call it Poker with resource management. It is 80% strategy and 20% tactics in my opinion, and the only random element is the ordering of the cards, unlike dice games where you cannot guarantee a certain number of results over a given period. Well worth looking into.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites