BrettSpiel is a blog about board game design, written by game designer Brett J. Gilbert.

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Game Review #008: Pickomino

Pickomino by Reiner Knizia, published in English by Rio Grande Games, is a simple and fast family dice game for 2–7 players, aged 8 and up. The players take turns to roll the dice to match the values on the 16 tiles and then stack the tiles they collect. Each tile is worth 1, 2, 3 or 4 worms, and the player with the most worms when all the available tiles have been taken is the winner!

Pickomino was one of the games I received at Christmas, and got by the far the most table-time with my family over the festive season. It’s fair to say it was a real hit with us, and although it is a game that seems at first glance to be as wholly random as the roll of a dice it does have a few hidden depths. The luckiest player will always win of course, but everyone has the ability to make a little of their own luck; and this is a game that is — as we often observed! — never over till its over.

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The game comprises 8 special dice and 16 well-made, heavy-duty tiles. The box is relatively compact, but this is a game crying out for the inclusion of a small drawstring bag that would make the game genuinely portable. Given its components and gameplay Pickomino really is a ‘play anywhere’ experience.

The conceit of the game is that the players are chickens (what else?) trying to get their hands (errr… feet?) on the tasty worms on the ‘grill’ (this is the what the layout of tiles is called). The play experience is greatly enhanced by the quirky illustrations by the well-known game illustrator Doris Matthäus; the little red worms on the dice and tiles are a lot of fun.

Bits & pieces

The wooden dice, which are regular six-sided dice but for the replacement of the ‘6’ with a worm, are perfectly serviceable, although even after just a few plays the white lacquer did start to get a little grubby. This means that the more fastidious gamer might prefer to use their favourite dice cup from another game to keep the dice pristine a little longer.

The tiles are made of a heavy bakelite-like material and have a great tactile quality, and the numerals and illustrations are engraved rather than simply printed onto a flat tile. Pickomino is a great example of how quality components can make all the difference to the ‘feel’ of a game. The publishers could have simply provided cardboard tiles here, but the game would have lost a great deal of its pleasure.

Playin’ chicken

Pickomino’s gameplay is straightforward. The 16 tiles are laid out in a line (the ‘grill’) at the beginning of the game; each has a value from 21–36 and is worth 1–4 worms (the higher value tiles have more worms, as you might expect).

In your turn you begin by rolling all 8 dice, and must then set aside all dice of one value (1, 2, 3, 4, 5 or ‘worm’). You then reroll your remaingin dice as many times as you choose or is possible, each time setting aside all dice of one value, although each time you do so you may only set aside dice of a value you have not previously chosen.

The aim is to achieve a total with your set aside dice that matches one of the available tiles. But there is a twist, since you must have set aside at least one worm to claim a tile at all (each worm fortunately adds a healthy 5 points to your total).

If you succeed, take the tile and place it in front of yourself. And if, in a later turn, you get another tile place that on top of your previously claimed tiles, making a little stack. Most often you will take new tiles from the grill, but if your roll exactly equals the value of the tile on top of an opponent’s stack you can grab it from them and put it on your own. Ouch!

But what happens when lady luck frowns rather than smiles? If after you roll you cannot set aside any more dice (since they all match values already set aside), or if you use up all 8 dice and do not make a total high enough to claim a tile, or if you end up with no worms (even if your total is high enough) you go ‘bust’ and must put the top tile from your stack back onto the grill and also turn over the highest value tile still there, which is then out of the game.

The game ends when there are no more face-up tiles on the grill, so going bust generally shortens the game. As the game goes on, and more of the low-value tiles are taken, the chance of going bust goes up and hence the end of the game can approach all-too quickly. And when it does, whoever has the most worms in their stack wins.

A worm in the hand…

You might think, at first glance, that there is not much ‘meat’ on Pickomino’s bones, and that a joyless exercise in dumb luck is all that it offers. However, there are enough choices and enough surprises to make the game an enjoyable, if unavoidably luck-driven, romp. It is inevitably true that some games will seem cruelly one-sided, but the same ‘dumb luck’ that allows this to happen can also allow for the most remarkable and stunning reversals of fortune.

There are enough tactical decisions to make each roll of the dice interesting — do I grab a worm early if I can, or take more points with other dice and hope to roll a worm later? — and the fact that the tile on the top of your own stack is vulnerable means that there is interest even when it is not your turn.

One possible strategy is to ‘go for broke’ at the beginning of the game when you have, quite literally, nothing to lose. The number of worms in the game is not huge, so grabbing one of the top-value tiles with 4 worms on it (and then keeping it!) can make all the difference, even if to do so means that you must delberately pass up the opportunity to take a lower value tile, push your luck, and run the risk of going bust. And if you can get one big tile then settling for a ‘cheap’ one next turn makes sense, since it protects the more valuable tile from being stolen and lost if you go bust in a later turn.

It is the balance of the game’s choices and probabilities that makes the game possible, and it is the detail of the design that make the consequence of them interesting. The need to get at least one worm, the fact that a worm is worth 5 points, the spread of values and the number of worms on the tiles, the ability to both steal from the other players and to 'protect’ your own stack; all these elements together make the game much more than it might otherwise appear to be.

It’s not a bug, it’s a feature

Something that interested me when I first read the rules was one rule that seemed, in game design terms at least, to be something of a hack. There is an exception to the instruction that tells the players to turn face-down the highest value tile on the grill when a player goes bust: If the tile you return to the grill itself becomes the highest value tile, it is not turned face-down and stays in play. This seemed a kludge; a hiccup in the game’s otherwise ‘glib mechanics’ (to borrow a phrase from a poet).

But it seemed I should not have doubted the wisdom of Dr Knizia, since this rule can make a huge difference in some games and can contribute to the possibility of those stunning reversals of fortune I mentioned. Later in the game, when fewer tiles remain on the grill and some have inevitably been turned over, the return to open play of a high-value tile can bolster the chances of any player returning from a poor run of luck. A high-value tile atop another player’s stack is at risk, but only with a direct strike. Once the tile is back on the grill then it can be claimed with a roll equal to or exceeding its total, and a shift in ownership of a tile with 3 or 4 worms can easily represent a game-winning swing in the players’ scores.

What’s not to like?

Pickomino delivers exactly what it promises. It’s fast, fun, family friendly and throws in some excellent design and satisfyingly well-made components for good measure. Oh yes, and worms. There really is something for everyone!

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The Beautiful Game #002

Never let it be said that Days of Wonder don’t put a lot of effort into the visual design and productions values of their games. This week details of their latest ‘big box’ game Mystery Express began to surface on the web, including this great image of the board and game components. There is more information about the game on Boardgame News and Days of Wonder has posted the first in an series of slideshows that will introduce the game and its mechanics. The company has not yet posted the rules, but so far the game looks like another impressive piece of design.

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The Beautiful Game #001

This stunning image was recently posted on BoardGameGeek by Kirk Jones. The game is Metis, an intriguing two-player strategy game designed by Benjamin Corliss which was originally playable online, although the web address is now dead. As noted on BGG, it is a dice game without luck; the dice are never thrown, which explains how it is possible to create this remarkable all-glass edition of the game.

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Game Designers Got Talent?

This week saw the formal commencement of two of Europe’s most prestigious game design contests for 2010: France’s Concours International de Créateurs de Jeux de Société and Italy’s Premio Archimede.

Both contests are open to game designers worldwide, and many games entered into the contests over the years have been successfully published. So if you have a finished game prototype, what have you got to lose?

Elsewhere in Europe, Germany’s equally well-regarded Hippodice contest got underway last October (as previously reported in these pages) with the 2010 winners expected to be announced in March. Fingers crossed!

29th Concours International de Créateurs de Jeux de Société

The name may be something of a mouthful, but the contest has a long if briefly interrupted history beginning way back in 1977. This year is the 29th time the contest has been run, and in 2011 the organization that runs the contest — Centre National du Jeu — is moving to new digs and the organizers are taking a break; however they promise to be back in 2012 for the 30th contest!

I first discovered the contest in 2007, but it was too late for me to enter. In 2008 I entered Terraform, and in 2009 Mosaic Romanum. The contest now typically receives around 150 preliminary entries from which 50 are selected for the secondary playtesting stage. Once that is complete the entries are scored by the team of playtesters and a final shortlist of around 12 games selected for judging by the contest jury. Both of my submitted games, Terraform and Mosaic Romanum, were selected for playtesting in their respective year, and although neither game found a place on the final shortlist, I do know that Terraform was ranked 17th overall in its year.

If you fancy your chances then have a look at rules for this year’s contest and download the registration form. The window for submissions is open now, but not for long. You only have until February 12th to post your entries!

The rules perhaps make the submission process appear more onerous than it is, but you do need to be able to submit typed rules, a photograph of your prototype and a separate sheet detailing the game’s key attributes (name, number of players, game length, etc.) plus a description of the first three rounds of an example game.

P.S. How marvellous of the French to have a national centre for games!

Premio Archimede 2010

Italy’s Premio Archimede is now a biennial contest organized by Venice-based studiogiochi, a game and puzzle design house led by the well-known game designer Leo Colovini. The contest has been running since 1992 and now is dedicated to Alex Randolph, the American game designer who moved to Venice in 1968 and was the president of the first seven contests.

The last time the contest was held, in 2008, I submitted my card game Amongst Thieves, which performed far better than I could ever have expected. I have already related in these pages the thrilling tale of my trip to the Venice prize-giving in October 2008, and my eventual and very gratifying 9th place.

The contest is now accepting submissions, but in contrast to the Concours International de Créateurs de Jeux de Société (can I perhaps propose CICdJS as an abbreviation?) the window is larger: you have until June 30th. Entering is a little simpler than the CICdJS, but requires a full prototype to be sent by that date.

The contest organizers assess all the submitted prototypes before publishing a shortlist of around 50, with the 15 finalists only being revealed at the prize-giving, where the jury then vote live on the result — an experience, I can personally attest, that is far more nail-bitingly tense than it sounds!

Good luck one and all!

For me the experience of entering the CICdJS in 2008 and 2009, and the Premio Archimede contest in 2008 has been an entirely positive and rewarding one. The rigour and discipline of creating a prototype fit for submission and playtesting by unknown boardgamers in another country is, in and of itself, good for the game designer’s soul.

And who knows? Perhaps your game will be the next one to attract the attention of the contest organizers, playtesters and juries, and through them a publisher.


Game Design 101: What Are The Odds?

In which I do a little bit of maths to demonstrate the surprising, and to the game designer surprisingly useful, nature of probabilities. And pay attention! I shall be asking questions later!

One measure of the nature of any game is to ask: How random is it?

A game such as Chess, for example, is entirely devoid of chance. It is a game where the choices of the players, and their choices alone, determine the outcome. In this sense it can be called wholly deterministic.

A game such as Snakes and Ladders, on the other hand, is a game where the actions taken by the players are determined completely at random; the outcome is entirely dependent on the roll of a dice and the players make no choices during the game whatsoever. I’ve recently learnt that a good word to describe this state of affairs is stochastic.

Most games are, of course, a mix of these two, being neither wholly deterministic nor wholly stochastic. Most games strike a balance between how the players’ choices and the players’ chances combine to determine the eventual winner.

Choice vs. chance

All genuinely pure strategy games — such as Chess, Go, Reversi and Draughts to name just a few — are wholly deterministic. There are fewer obvious examples of games that are entirely stochastic although one I recall fondly from my own childhood is the curiously named Beat Your Neighbour Out of Doors played with a standard deck of 52 cards (Wikipedia lists the game’s other incarnations).

It’s pertinent to note that the random outcome of Snakes and Ladders is manifest during the game by successive dice rolls, whereas in Beat Your Neighbour the eventual outcome is ‘built in’ at the very beginning by the random order of the deck. When playing Beat Your Neighbour the players simply go through an entirely predetermined set of operations to discover who has won (cards are never shuffled during the game). The sequence of these operations is unknowable in advance by the players, but their order and eventual outcome is fixed by the state of the deck at the very beginning.

Each of these two games, then, can be interpreted as a random sequence of events that, taken to their conclusion, eventually reveals a winner. The players take part by initiating these events and responding to their outcome, but at no point in either game does any player make a choice.

There is, however, an important difference between the nature of the randomness in Snakes & Ladders and Beat Your Neighbour. Each dice throw is a separate, unconnected event; each turn of a card from a single 52-card deck is not. In the latter the events, though randomly ordered, have a known distribution: we know that there are exactly four Aces, four Kings, four Queens, four Jacks and 36 other cards (in Beat Your Neighbour, only the Aces and the face cards are important).

Each time you roll a dice you have exactly the same chance of rolling any particular result. And if you were to roll a dice 52 times, you would be no more equipped to predict the result of the 52nd roll than you were to predict the first.

In contrast, when you shuffle a 52-card deck and turn cards up one by one, the situation is very different. The result of turning up the first card is indeed genuinely random, since the card is just as likely to be, say, an Ace as any other. But when eventually you turn up the 52nd card, provided you have been keeping count, you would know absolutely what card it was before it was revealed.

Probable cause

It is this distinction, between the mathematical nature of the randomness of a single dice and that of a deck of cards, which can be a great help to the game designer. In both cases the outcome of an individual event (the roll of a dice, the turn of a card) may be considered unpredictable, but when we consider the distribution of the results of multiple outcomes the situations could not be more different.

To make the comparison even simpler, and the distinction even more distinct, let us imagine, alongside our standard 6-sided dice, a reduced deck of just six cards, comprising the Ace of spades, plus the 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6. We shuffle the cards and then play a very simple game. In each turn I will turn a card up from the deck and you will roll the dice. I won’t reshuffle the deck after each turn, so the game will only last six turns until my deck is exhausted.

  • What chance do I have of turning up an Ace before the end of the game?
  • What chance do you have of rolling a ‘1’ before the end of the game?

I’m not pretending these are difficult questions, and indeed the answer to the first question should be obvious: I can’t fail. By the end of the game I will have turned up all six cards, one of which must be the Ace. My chance of turning up the Ace is, mathematically speaking, 100%. It’s a sure thing.

Another way of stating the same result is to say that my chance of not turning up the Ace is 0%; that result can never happen. Always, the chance of a certain thing happening and the opposite chance of the very same thing not happening must add up to make a full 100%.

The answer to the second question is less obvious. You will roll the dice six times, and every time you roll you have a 1-in-6 chance of rolling a ‘1’, but you cannot simply add up these individual probabilities and say that after 6 rolls you have a 100% chance of having rolled a ‘1’. It’s not a certainty.

After all, you might have rolled a ‘6’ every time. Or you might have rolled a ‘1’ every time. Indeed, you might have rolled any possible sequence of the numbers from 1 to 6 in any order (each specific sequence is just as likely as any other). A good few of those sequences do not contain any ‘1’s at all, so your chances of rolling a ‘1’ cannot be a full 100%. But if not, what are they?

We know the chances of rolling a ‘1’ with a single dice roll is 1-in-6, or 1/6th, or 16.7%, so we can know immediately that our chances of rolling at least one ‘1’ with multiple dice rolls has to be higher than that. We also know that whatever the answer it can’t be 100%. Therefore the answer we are looking for has to be between these two limits. The exact probability is very close to one of the following simple fractions. Take your pick!

A: around 13 B: around 12 C: around 23 D: around 56

There are several ways to calculate the answer. It is relatively simple to work out, for example, that there are exactly 46,656 different sequences of six dice rolls: each successive roll has six possible results, so each additional roll multiplies the number of possible sequences by six. If we multiply six by itself six times we get this number: 6 × 6 × 6 × 6 × 6 × 6 = 46,656.

One way of calculating the chances of rolling at least one ‘1’ would be to count up all the possible sequences that contain one or more ‘1’s (how many contain precisely one ‘1’? how many contain precisely two ‘1’s? and so on) and then work out what proportion of the 46,656 possible combinations this total represents. That proportion, whatever it turned out to be, would be your chances of rolling at least one ‘1’. Sounds like a lot of counting up, doesn’t it?

Thankfully there is a simpler approach, which is to ask the opposite question: What are the chances of not rolling any ‘1’s at all? The chance of a single dice roll not being a ‘1’ is 5-in-6, or 5/6ths, or 83.3%. Indeed, the individual chance of each successive dice roll not being a ‘1’ is exactly the same, so to work out the overall chances of not rolling a ‘1’ six times in a row we can simply multiply these six similar probabilities together.

56 × 56 × 56 × 56 × 56 × 56 = 33.49%

Since the chances of not rolling a ‘1’ with six rolls is just slightly more than 1/3rd (1/3rd as a percentage is 33.33%), we know that the chances of rolling at least one ‘1’ must be the opposite of this, which is 66.51%, or just a little less than 2/3rds. Answer C was therefore the correct one. How did you do?

The weight of numbers

There are many ways in which the game designer can incorporate randomness into games, and it is up to the designer to decide whether and how to limit its scope or control its effects. When designing any game with a chance-driven mechanism it is important to consider just how likely or unlikely specific outcomes are. There is always a risk that the randomness can take over, swamping the influence of other more deliberate aspects of the game, and rendering the players’ strategic and tactical choices immaterial. Some games, of course, both rely on and revel in such chaos, but for others it can be slow poison.

One method of control, as already illustrated, is to create a known distribution of possible results, and then allow the order in which the results are revealed to be randomly determined. In our example of the six-card deck, the distribution of those results is flat: each of the possible results (the numbers 1 to 6) is represented the same number of times (that is, once) within the deck.

A distribution within which the results are not represented in equal number is called a weighted distribution; indeed, any distribution that isn’t perfectly flat is, by definition, a weighted one. The probabilities involved, and hence the level of control the designer can exercise over the likelihood of specific outcomes, can now be very different indeed.

To put flesh on the bones of this notion, let me explain a very real game design issue that recently came up as part of my reworking an old tile-laying prototype. In its existing incarnation the game continued until a very clear and very predictable point was reached: specifically until the tiles ran out. In this sense the end-game generated neither tension nor surprise, and so as part of a more wide-ranging reengineering of the game I began to think about ways of injecting a little unpredictability into the timing of the end-game.

My idea was to add into the tile mix four new tiles that had an additional feature on them and to additionally structure the game as a series of rounds. At the beginning of each round a fixed number of the randomly selected tiles would be turned face-up, and the game would finish at the end of the round in which the last of the four special tiles appeared.

Now, this seemed a perfectly viable solution which held the prospect of manufacturing likely game lengths that felt ‘about right’ — but the very real risk was that my intuition was simply unreliable. The possibility existed that this change would create games that were, too often, far too short; or would conversely, because of overwhelming probabilities, make little difference to the length of a majority of games and hence not generate the tension I was looking for. In this case it wasn’t enough simply to guess, and even repeated play-testing could easily be misleading; I had to know.

Good idea? You do the math

To make things simple let’s use a regular pack of cards to model my proposed tile-game. Let’s imagine shuffling a standard 52-card pack and then playing a game in which, in each successive round, we turn up 4 cards from the deck. What happens to those cards during the game is immaterial; what matters is that the game ends in the round in which the fourth Ace is revealed.

An important thing to appreciate is that the deck can now be seen as representing a simple but significantly weighted distribution. We are only concerned with whether each card is an Ace or a ‘Not-Ace’ (that is, any other card). Within the deck there are 4 Aces and 48 ‘Not-Aces’, so the likely result of an individual card turn is heavily weighted towards the result being a ‘Not-Ace’.

Since there are a total of 52 cards, and exactly 4 cards are turned up in each round, any game will last somewhere between and including 1 to 13 rounds. But what are the odds?

What, for example, are the odds of the game ending in the first round? In other words: what are the chances that the four Aces are the first four cards drawn from a shuffled deck? Most people would intuitively put this possibility in the ‘very unlikely’ category but just how unlikely is it?

Fortunately the maths in this first example is straightforward. We know that we have 4 chances in 52 of the first card being an Ace (there are only 4 Aces in a regular deck of 52 cards). Assuming the first card is an Ace, we know we would then have 3 chances in 51 of the second card being an Ace (now only 3 Aces in a deck of 51 cards remain). In the same way, assuming each time that we do indeed draw an Ace, there are 2 chances in 50 of the third card being one, and just 1 chance in 49 of the fourth. Since these four probabilities represent the successive and cumulative chances of drawing four aces from a freshly shuffled deck we can calculate the overall likelihood by simply multiplying them together:

452 × 351 × 250 × 149 = 1270,725

So that’s 1 in 270,725, which is, I think you’ll agree, pretty unlikely. It is, for example, very roughly equivalent to the chance of flipping a coin 18 times in a row and it coming up ‘heads’ every time.

This means that we can, for all practical purposes, discount the possibility of the game ending in the first round. We know it’s feasible, but the odds are vanishingly small. As I said, you might have guessed that the game ending in the first round would be highly unlikely, but here are a few far-less obvious questions to test your powers of probabilistic intuition (or, if you want to give them a spin, your maths skills). In each I have indicated four possible percentage ranges within which the answer may lie.

  1. What proportion of games are likely to end in the 13th round?
    In other words: what are the chances that the game will last the maximum number of rounds and that therefore at least one Ace will be amongst the final four cards drawn from the deck?

A: less than 5% B: 5% to 15% C: 15% to 25% D: more than 25%

  1. What proportion of games are likely to end after 6 rounds or less?
    In other words: what is the cumulative probability that any game will end in one of the first 6 rounds?

A: less than 5% B: 5% to 15% C: 15% to 25% D: more than 25%

  1. What proportion of games are likely to end after 10 rounds or more?
    In other words: what is the cumulative probability that any game will end in round 10, 11, 12 or 13?

A: less than 25% B: 25% to 50% C: 50% to 75% D: more than 75%

Before I tell you the answers I urge you to think about what you might naturally expect the probabilities in such a relatively simple scenario to be, and to make your own choices. Almost everyone has some experience of playing games with a regular deck of cards, and all of those games depend to some degree on the innate probabilities of a freshly shuffled deck. Hence we all have a ‘feel’ for those probabilities, even if we have never taken any time to think about them.

Regardless of how you answer the questions — be it guesswork, preternatural intuition or more formal mathematical analysis — I’m sure you’ll agree that the probabilities involved are anything but simple or obvious; which is, of course, precisely why they are so useful to the game designer.

The amount of control the designer can exercise here is immense. And this example is just one possible application (4 cards drawn in each round, for a total possible game length of 13 rounds) of just one possible distribution (a mix of 4 Aces and 48 ‘Not-Aces’). Change any of those numbers, even a little, and you will shift the probabilities, possibly dramatically.

So what are the odds?

Here are the answers. If you find them surprising then I can only agree with you. Certainly, they were not the numbers I was expecting when I set about calculating them, so if you got any of these right: well done!

  1. What proportion of games are likely to end in the 13th round?
    D: more than 25% (the exact proportion is 28.13%)
  2. What proportion of games are likely to end after 6 rounds or less?
    A: less than 5% (the exact proportion is 3.93%)
  3. What proportion of games are likely to end after 10 rounds or more?
    D: more than 75% (the exact proportion is 78.24%)

Do these probabilities represent a viable way to reengineer the timing of my tile game? I would say yes, even though the possibility of a frustratingly short game must of course remain.

After all, almost 4 out of 5 of all games would last 10 rounds or more, with more than 1 in 4 of all games lasting the maximum 13 rounds. Conversely, in only around 1 in 20 games would less than half the tiles come into play (which happens if the game ends in round 6 or earlier). Additionally, my calculations tell me that only about 1 game in 150 would last 4 rounds or less, and that fewer than 1 in 550 would last 3 rounds or less.

Possible vs. probable

It is certainly true that in the case of my tile prototype, games lasting only 3 or 4 rounds would indeed be annoyingly short; far too short for the game to be satisfying. As a designer I have to weigh that risk against the reward of being able to define a game length that is — at least most of the time! — both long enough to be interesting, and unpredictable enough to be surprising.

To properly balance the risk and reward of leaving any part of a game’s engine to chance the designer must first establish the exact nature of its consequences, and must understand the possible, the probable — and the difference between the two!

Chance, too, which seems to rush along with slack reins, is bridled and governed by law.

Boethius, from ‘The Consolation of Philosophy’

Developing a heightened, more informed and more reliable sense of intuition is something all game designers will find invaluable, but this can only come with experience. Most of us, lacking as we do the prescience and insight of true genius, will have to settle for something a little more mundane: doing the math.

This article is part of a series examining various aspects of board game design. The story so far can be found at the following locations:

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New Year, New Games, New Rules?

In which I belatedly bid farewell to 2009, BrettSpiel’s inaugural year, and (equally belatedly) say hello to 2010. Here’s to another year of gaming!

Image: All I want for Christmas is… new games (obviously). Pickomino has been a particular success.

Next Monday, January 11th, will mark this blog’s one year anniversary, and after 90 — how shall I put it? — eclectic posts what have I learnt? The most valuable lesson is probably that perserverance can and does pay off, and that the only way to tell if you’re any good at something is to just get on with it and give it a try.

I’ve had a lot of fun writing the blog and it has inspired me to think more deeply and more meaningfully about why I enjoy games and what it is about designing them is I find so intellectually rewarding. And if, in doing so, I have written anything that can likewise inspire others then that’s a bonus. If you’re reading this and thinking “I could do that!” then my response is “Absolutely! So get on with it!”

And what of 2010? More blogging (hopefully), more gaming (of course), more game designing (most assuredly!) and maybe, just maybe, if I can take my own advice about just getting on with it, a little bit of game publishing too, just to show the world what I can do. (Feel free to speculate on whether the world has actually been waiting to find out!)

And it occurs to me that gamers — and game designers in particular — shouldn’t make New Year resolutions for themselves; they should instead make new rules.

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