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Author Topic: Interview with Donald X.  (Read 749457 times)

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Donald X.

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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #125 on: December 09, 2012, 02:58:25 am »
+2

Who was the hardest/most annoying playtester to work with?
Well John was a star playtester, but he was also the one who would bitch about playing games with Chapel and King's Court.
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Donald X.

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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #126 on: December 09, 2012, 03:13:22 am »
+2

If you could go back in time and redesign which cards were in which sets, and the order the sets came out (but not changing/adding/removing any cards), what would you move and why?
Obviously the move is to put all of the worst cards in the last set and then not release it. The sets aren't full of duds so it would be a small set. A few worthwhile cards would be left out but what can you do. This is still the move if it has to be published, I mean I am not here to make people buy awful stuff, and putting it all together is the best I can do to let you dodge it in this scenario. Then of course the main set, well it doesn't want all the best cards, but it wants the best simple cards. It matters more than any of the other sets and for sure could be better via swapping cards. I would replace Chancellor, Woodcutter, Feast, and Spy with more interesting cards, giving the main set more replayability. Lots of cards would be good enough.

For set order I like going Intrigue, Seaside, Prosperity - set trying to be a good first set, generally good set, set that adds Colonies. I would put Alchemy last, where it was; it was there because I knew some people wouldn't like potions, because somebody hadn't. You could swap Hinterlands with Seaside but I wouldn't. After Prosperity then there are Hinterlands and Dark Ages to order and well you have the question from before of whether or not Hinterlands is a standalone. I like having another standalone, and if it is one then I would put it ahead of Dark Ages. Possibly I would anyway. A question is, do you recombine Cornucopia and Alchemy. If people don't like Alchemy then it's nice that they get a tight package of just it, rather than buying it to get Cornucopia or passing on Cornucopia because of it. So possibly it's worth keeping them separate. Large sets are better though, so either expand Cornucopia and Guilds or combine them. That's another decision to make before knowing what order to put them in, but Guilds wants to be near the end due to complexity. If they're not one set then large Cornucopia could go between Prosperity and Hinterlands still, uh depending on how it turned out.
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Donald X.

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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #127 on: December 09, 2012, 04:42:22 am »
+6

How many Dominion cards do you think you have come up with, including different variations on the same card that were at least considered and maybe tested? Do you have a spreadsheet to keep track of them all, so you can record things like "reaction that hurts attacker | bad idea" and ideas for possible future promo cards, etc.?
There is an old ideas file, which has lists of ideas sorted by card type. I guess there's an even older file that I turned into this file. Ideas are sometimes marked with a rating, + for good, . for okay, - for bad; this doesn't reflect testing, just, how much do I like this idea. Some things have a comment in brackets after them, sometimes reflecting testing. Let's peek at the first five things on the discard-attacks list.

Code: [Select]
. att: each other player discards silver
. att: name treasure. each other player discards it [strong at 5]
. reveal top. if not silver, each other player ebbs. gain top silver. [multiplayer cumulativeness]
. if another pl. has < 5 cards, do x. otherwise, they discard.
  each pl. looks at left's hand if they have 5+ cards, chooses a discard

As you can see I tested one of those, although I don't think I printed out anything for it. "Ebb" means "put from hand onto deck" - after the Magic card Time Ebb. "Do X" is of course a placeholder to just show off the actual idea; similarly most cards would also make +$2 or something; that isn't the idea part.

There are just 21 things on that particular list, plus a list of general approaches at the top. The file is 58K and also includes lists of general mechanics. These lists have been combed over; there are probably a few things that would be okay in there, but you know, the discard-attacks list, those are the 21 variants I passed over in favor of better ideas.

Then each set has a file, with ideas specifically for that set, and a list of the set as it stands at the top, with some notes on what cards fill what roles. For example for Dark Ages, the original list of ruins ideas is:

Code: [Select]
junk possibilities
- +1 action / +1 buy / +1 card / +$1 (ruined village / market / library / abandoned mine)
- look at top 2, may discard them (survivors)
- pass this left
- gain a copper / gain a card costing up to $2 / gain a card costing up to $1
- blank / trash this
- draw up to 4
- +1 card, -1 card
- action cards cost $1 less this turn
- worth 1 vp per 5 ruins in your deck

In that list the minuses are just for indenting, not passing judgment. Later I considered a few other things, including "play up to two ruins cards" for Ruined Village, but they aren't on this list. The initial five worked out so there wasn't a lot more work there.

The Dark Ages cards file is 59K (distinct from the file with the secret history and such). It is just an endless sprawl of card ideas, with some to-do list items like "fit in a 3rd spoils card."

Finally there are the image files. Dark Ages has 30 pages of card images to test (9 cards per page), plus full versions of the sets that sometimes include cards not on the other pages, especially the older ones when I wasn't saving everything yet. It is hard to meaningfully count those pages; it's 36 pages, not counting the original 3 page version or the brief 2 page version, but most of that stuff is redundant. And of course most of the images are things in the Dark Ages text file.

I am looking at the 4th page of Cornucopia images, which was the first page without a version of a card from Guilds. It has:
- Three versions of Horn of Plenty, two of them actions.
- Two version of Wandering Minstrel that may appear unrelated to it (it started out +$2, name a type, dig for one and leave it on top).
- Two random cards that didn't make it - "gain 5 silvers minus a silver per card in hand" and a thing that made other players ebb a card if they had any duplicates in hand.
- A precursor of Harvest that drew the non-duplicates in your top 5.
- Horse Traders but called Foreign Traders.

I flirted with posting the image, but man let's save that stuff for after Guilds is out, not have any slip-ups.

Not every version of every card makes it anywhere though. I say, "this game, this card will be different," and explain what I want to test and we test it. Maybe it works out and gets an image and more testing; maybe I'm immediately done with it. Maybe it seems promising and I change the cost and we try that, but the original cost is never in a file. You know.

I do not know how many cards ideas I've had, but there's some of the data I'd be looking at to guess that number. For a normal game I make maybe twice as many cards as end up in the game (distinct cards, rather than slight variations or wordings fixes or what have you). Like, for Nefarious, there were about twice as many twists tested as were used. I pared it down a couple times. There would also be a list of twist ideas I didn't try, however many, I'm not checking. For Dominion the numbers are higher; some cards just have one version, but some have 10 versions, and for any idea there are probably lots of ways you could do it that would be fine, and you can list them and consider them, but once you commit to one then the others aren't so interesting anymore.
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Donald X.

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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #128 on: December 09, 2012, 04:48:18 am »
+2

In the spirit of this being for a "holiday season" interview, what is your favorite holiday tradition?
I am going to tentatively go with trick-or-treating.
« Last Edit: December 09, 2012, 05:00:58 am by Donald X. »
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Donald X.

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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #129 on: December 09, 2012, 05:00:48 am »
+1

Of all the cards you come up with an idea for, what percentage eventually get tweaked into a printed card?
You will have to try to work out something more precise from that other answer. It's changed over time too. A typical idea is just something stupid on a list, like "Each other player discards a silver." That's obvious from Cutpurse and not interesting but who knows it could work out well, why not list it. The best things on the list get tried and some get an image and some of those work out and are published in some form.

I feel like this is all springing from "no I don't look at fan cards." Man, ideas are easy, that's not the hard part.
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Donald X.

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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #130 on: December 09, 2012, 05:01:41 am »
+1

Do you have a dog? If so, is it blue, or at least named blue?
No. Boom swish.
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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #131 on: December 09, 2012, 05:17:56 am »
0

What are the three most important events to happen in your life? Is getting Dominion published one of them?
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Donald X.

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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #132 on: December 09, 2012, 07:44:26 am »
+1

What are the three most important events to happen in your life? Is getting Dominion published one of them?
I'm not sure I want to tell my life story, either the boring parts or the interesting parts. There was a time that I asked for band recommendations at Mod Lang that domino'd into significance (they recommended Game Theory / Loud Family, see if it works for you). Buying that issue of Games Magazine with the article on Magic was pretty good. Aside from that issue of Games, I'm not sure what to point to for Dominion; we could start with, I made some games that my friends didn't like and wanted a surefire hit (which was Spirit Warriors; Dominion was a solution to a problem in Spirit Warriors II). There's no great one moment to point at though. I can't see a good domino-starter for the exciting events of my youth.

Dominion has loomed large in the part of my life that postdates it. Here I am getting asked this question for example.
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Donald X.

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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #133 on: December 09, 2012, 07:59:48 am »
+4

What game do you consider a guilty pleasure? That is, you think it's poorly designed or has serious flaws in some way, but you enjoy it anyways.
I am not sure I have one. If I thought the game could be fixed and that I would like that version, I would fix it and play my fixed version. If I'm enjoying it it could still be flawed, but it's all about enjoyment, so hey, it made it.
If we open this up to video games then there have been video games I played that weren't so good, not so much as a guilty pleasure as because I wanted to play something and that's what I had that was new. And of course I can't just fix the problems those games have, I am stuck with them.

I am going to cite Skyrim. I enjoyed walking around and to a lesser degree picking flowers. The interface had huge problems, man, like they hated their players. The rest of it was not so compelling, especially when compared to say Fallout 3, their previous game. And I mean, I would play for an hour and then stop because it crashed. I think they could make a good game by sticking to their core strengths - walking and flower-picking - and scrapping the rest of it.
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Powerman

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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #134 on: December 09, 2012, 11:55:12 am »
+1

Of all the cards you come up with an idea for, what percentage eventually get tweaked into a printed card?
You will have to try to work out something more precise from that other answer. It's changed over time too. A typical idea is just something stupid on a list, like "Each other player discards a silver." That's obvious from Cutpurse and not interesting but who knows it could work out well, why not list it. The best things on the list get tried and some get an image and some of those work out and are published in some form.

I feel like this is all springing from "no I don't look at fan cards." Man, ideas are easy, that's not the hard part.

No, it's not from that at all.  I just want to see how much "failure" goes into creating such a great game!
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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #135 on: December 09, 2012, 12:20:46 pm »
+1

Of the great multitude of questions you have answered throughout the wonderful Adventure Dominion has Tunnel 'd you through, which was your favorite question about Dominion?
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Donald X.

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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #136 on: December 09, 2012, 12:31:26 pm »
+19

Of the great multitude of questions you have answered throughout the wonderful Adventure Dominion has Tunnel 'd you through, which was your favorite question about Dominion?
Well, the first question in my first interview was "what question do you get asked the most often in interviews."
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SirPeebles

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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #137 on: December 09, 2012, 01:26:13 pm »
0

When you were arranging the cards into the various expansions, what other themes or sub-themes did you consider but ultimately scrap?  Aside from Dark Ages being named War, were there other substantially different expansion names that you considered?
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SirPeebles

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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #138 on: December 09, 2012, 01:35:16 pm »
0

I believe you once mentioned that in the early days of Dominion you had considered having multiple resources, but ultimately opted for only coin, reserving the alternate resource idea for the final expansion.  If this is true, did you always intend on having a single primary resource such as coin, with other resources playing only a secondary role like Potion?  Or did you consider having more than one resource in your starting hand, or perhaps a secondary resource which was necessary for purchasing victory cards?

Edit:  It was in the Secret History of Alchemy

Quote
When I came up with Dominion, I figured it would have multiple resources. When I actually made it, I went with one resource, because it was simpler. I could always add another resource in an expansion. With Alchemy I finally got around to doing that. Originally I was thinking it would be Reagents or Mandrake or something. I didn't find a good enough picture to use for such a card, so I went with Potions. That's how these decisions get made.
« Last Edit: December 09, 2012, 01:38:09 pm by SirPeebles »
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Watno

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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #139 on: December 09, 2012, 02:01:06 pm »
+1

What question do you get aked most often in interviews?
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Donald X.

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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #140 on: December 09, 2012, 02:42:56 pm »
+1

When you were arranging the cards into the various expansions, what other themes or sub-themes did you consider but ultimately scrap?  Aside from Dark Ages being named War, were there other substantially different expansion names that you considered?
I dunno, if there's somehow a 9th expansion, I'll need one of those themes, right? Most of the sets only ever had one theme. I considered coming up with a different theme for Hinterlands, maybe a particular far-off place, but more or less stuck with the original theme, just making the travel go further abroad. I considered a few different themes for Cornucopia and Guilds.

Seaside plus Hinterlands was originally called Abroad; when I split it I temporarily called Seaside "Tomorrow." Cornucopia was originally called Harvest Festival; Jay wanted a different name. Dominion was originally called Castle Builder. Guilds had a placeholder name I cannot reveal at this time.
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Donald X.

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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #141 on: December 09, 2012, 02:50:40 pm »
0

I believe you once mentioned that in the early days of Dominion you had considered having multiple resources, but ultimately opted for only coin, reserving the alternate resource idea for the final expansion.  If this is true, did you always intend on having a single primary resource such as coin, with other resources playing only a secondary role like Potion?  Or did you consider having more than one resource in your starting hand, or perhaps a secondary resource which was necessary for purchasing victory cards?

Edit:  It was in the Secret History of Alchemy

Quote
When I came up with Dominion, I figured it would have multiple resources. When I actually made it, I went with one resource, because it was simpler. I could always add another resource in an expansion. With Alchemy I finally got around to doing that. Originally I was thinking it would be Reagents or Mandrake or something. I didn't find a good enough picture to use for such a card, so I went with Potions. That's how these decisions get made.
These early days you speak of are just when I typed up the original notes. When I actually made the game I went with just coins. When I typed up the notes I was thinking it would be three things or something, and cards would cost combinations of them, and your deck would start with all of them. But I mean, you are talking about, what did I think one afternoon about something I hadn't thought through.
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LastFootnote

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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #142 on: December 09, 2012, 02:51:08 pm »
+1

Guilds had a placeholder name I cannot reveal at this time.

Dominion: Complexity?
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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #143 on: December 09, 2012, 02:51:42 pm »
+1

What a terrible experiment. What about this one?: Look at these cards (rinkworks's mini-set design contest winners).
Sorry to disappoint you! My experiment had the feature of only making one guy who isn't here feel bad. Probably you guys can do better, but, well.

Please make us feel bad. Please!
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Donald X.

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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #144 on: December 09, 2012, 02:52:21 pm »
+3

What question do you get aked most often in interviews?
This question stopped being good as of the 2nd interview. Early on I got asked a lot "did you expect Dominion to be so successful" and gradually worked out how to say "yes" properly.
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GendoIkari

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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #145 on: December 09, 2012, 03:54:00 pm »
+1

There has been to date exactly one card I saw where I thought, hey, cool idea. It was something like, "when you gain this put it in the discard pile of the player to your left; at end of game worth 2 VP for the player to your right." I have done hot-potato cards that did not work out and probably this would fail for the same reasons, but still, neat idea.

This seems almost identical to a double-curse, that works on-gain, so basically like a way more powerful IGG, with political issues because it only hurts one player.
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SirPeebles

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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #146 on: December 09, 2012, 03:58:14 pm »
0

There has been to date exactly one card I saw where I thought, hey, cool idea. It was something like, "when you gain this put it in the discard pile of the player to your left; at end of game worth 2 VP for the player to your right." I have done hot-potato cards that did not work out and probably this would fail for the same reasons, but still, neat idea.

This seems almost identical to a double-curse, that works on-gain, so basically like a way more powerful IGG, with political issues because it only hurts one player.

In a 2 player game it is essentially a double curse.  It's interesting to me that you can't so effectively Ambassador it in a 2 player game.
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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #147 on: December 09, 2012, 04:03:52 pm »
0

I think the versions of it I've seen allow you to spend an action to pass it left.
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aaron0013

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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #148 on: December 09, 2012, 04:08:39 pm »
0

When you were arranging the cards into the various expansions, what other themes or sub-themes did you consider but ultimately scrap?  Aside from Dark Ages being named War, were there other substantially different expansion names that you considered?
I dunno, if there's somehow a 9th expansion, I'll need one of those themes, right? Most of the sets only ever had one theme. I considered coming up with a different theme for Hinterlands, maybe a particular far-off place, but more or less stuck with the original theme, just making the travel go further abroad. I considered a few different themes for Cornucopia and Guilds.

Seaside plus Hinterlands was originally called Abroad; when I split it I temporarily called Seaside "Tomorrow." Cornucopia was originally called Harvest Festival; Jay wanted a different name. Dominion was originally called Castle Builder. Guilds had a placeholder name I cannot reveal at this time.
You should consider making an arctic exploration theme....with PENGUINS!  Blue ones.
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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #149 on: December 09, 2012, 05:50:01 pm »
+5

Actually, I believe he's posted in this very thread.
Sorry buggy. My other example was Richard Garfield, so you're in good company.

I'm right here!  And I don't feel bad.  It is kinda funny that the very next message in the thread after he talked about my cards was him answering my questions...
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