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Author Topic: Interview with Donald X.  (Read 725390 times)

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Donald X.

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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #300 on: December 14, 2012, 04:42:53 pm »
+7

If time and money were no concern, what would you most like to be doing right now?
Well they aren't really a concern, and here I am. Money hits these thresholds; if I had twice as much money I would get a nicer house but that might be the only change. I would like that nicer house, don't get me wrong, but you know. I don't like to travel, I don't want a boat. There aren't activities that are expensive that I want to do; there aren't material possessions I want that I can't have. At some level of wealth I might hire people; I dunno, that's a job, interacting with those people.

Did you ever imagine an alternative career for yourself, outside of ability?  Like becoming a rock star, or an astronaut, or football player?
As a kid I wanted to be a writer; then I wanted to be someone who worked on D&D products. Then I wanted to design computer games. I seriously pursued screenwriting at one point, if it counts as serious if you don't submit stuff anywhere, and I've written songs, although a whole rock star career, I dunno. Hunter / gatherer doesn't sound so bad; the hours are short, and you can pee almost anywhere.
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mith

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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #301 on: December 14, 2012, 04:54:26 pm »
+4

Wait, you mean Rock Star Game Designer DXV can't pee anywhere already?
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Donald X.

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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #302 on: December 14, 2012, 05:22:54 pm »
+10

Do you consider yourself as having a "game design philosophy"?
Well in general I aim for short games, with low downtime, minimized politics, variety, and interacting rules on cards.

An example of an overall philosophy would be, it has to be fun to lose.

Do you think of your games as related by some unifying theme?  Or are they just random areas of design that you wanted to explore?
There were two big areas I explored when I first started seriously designing games.

First there were, games where the rules change. This comes from Magic; I loved how the game could work so differently from game to game. I seriously mapped out this space. The rules can change once per game, once per turn, or somewhere in-between; they can be rules the players make up, or that the players build inside the game, or they can come pre-built. In the end it turns out the best approach is, they change once per game and are all pre-built. I made a lot of games coming to this conclusion though, and then more games just doing it.

The other area was game theory. I read about game theory in the William Poundstone book Prisoner's Dilemma, and thought, but wait, games don't do this stuff (yes some do). So I made games with simultaneous decisions that would often be dilemmas. You don't just automatically get a dilemma; you can aim for more or fewer dilemmas. Simultaneous decisions are great eight ways from Sunday and that was the biggest thing that came out of this. A typical game of mine has simultaneous decisions.

These days I am doing more turn-based games, and trying to do stuff with boards, but I haven't forgotten my roots.

A third area I've focused on is building stuff; especially, assembling combos.

How would you describe the process for you, from initial seed of an idea to final game?
I either randomly have an idea, or find it by working through possibilities looking for the good ones.

Then months or years go by, while I try to convince myself that the idea is actually worth making the game for. Maybe a particular flaw will be obvious and I won't want to make a prototype until I've fixed it. This stage is the biggest hurdle.

When I finally make a prototype, I play it with whoever will have me and then decide whether to work on it more based on how it goes. If it doesn't go well, probably I drop it immediately, and maybe come back to it months or years later.

If it goes well then it becomes a regular game that I play. I'll put a bunch of work into it and then it will coast along and I'll gradually tweak it.

Then I have to consider whether or not to submit it to a publisher, and who to send it to. This is another significant hurdle, unless a particular publisher wanted the game already, or wants games in general.

If I don't get anywhere with publishers then probably at some point I focus on the game a little more, improve it slightly. This could happen multiple times.

If I find a publisher then we interact over the contract, and then there's a delay in which they are committed to the game but nothing is happening. Maybe I work on it some more, although this work isn't as good because it's not automatically in - anything I change before a publisher sees it, that's all just up to me, but once the publisher has it, maybe they will disagree with my change. I might have to convince them of it or something. Or not, but you know. Get your changes in before the publisher has it, that's my advice.

The publisher may or may not work on the game, I mean probably they do but not always. If they do it probably involves me - they say, we don't like this, we want this change, and I fix it or replace it or argue about it or what have you. I will repeatedly try to make sure I will see the rulebook in time to proofread it. They might show me sketches or finished art or might not.

I write up an article to post when the game is in stores, and work on other things. If the game has expansions, or expansions are wanted, I work on those things as a new general project, but maybe there aren't any. When the game comes out, I read about it on the internet.
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Ozle

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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #303 on: December 14, 2012, 07:16:44 pm »
+9

Any one else think that this entire thread was cooked up by Donald and Theory just to get their Respect counts up into unreachable numbers?
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Captain_Frisk

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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #304 on: December 14, 2012, 07:26:32 pm »
+8

Any one else think that this entire thread was cooked up by Donald and Theory just to get their Respect counts up into unreachable numbers?

I'll start an "Interview with Ozle" thread to see if we can match them.
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SirPeebles

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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #305 on: December 14, 2012, 07:27:05 pm »
+4

Any one else think that this entire thread was cooked up by Donald and Theory just to get their Respect counts up into unreachable numbers?

Together with their alt ()|(_)^/
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Ozle

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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #306 on: December 14, 2012, 07:27:34 pm »
+2

Any one else think that this entire thread was cooked up by Donald and Theory just to get their Respect counts up into unreachable numbers?

I'll start an "Interview with Ozle" thread to see if we can match them.

Argh....the pressure! You realise it will be extremely dull? Im a very boring person generally!
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jonts26

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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #307 on: December 14, 2012, 07:28:41 pm »
+3

Any one else think that this entire thread was cooked up by Donald and Theory just to get their Respect counts up into unreachable numbers?

I'll start an "Interview with Ozle" thread to see if we can match them.

Argh....the pressure! You realise it will be extremely dull? Im a very boring person generally!


This is the internet. Make up a fake, more exciting personality.
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Ozle

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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #308 on: December 14, 2012, 07:31:41 pm »
+1

Any one else think that this entire thread was cooked up by Donald and Theory just to get their Respect counts up into unreachable numbers?

I'll start an "Interview with Ozle" thread to see if we can match them.

Argh....the pressure! You realise it will be extremely dull? Im a very boring person generally!


This is the internet. Make up a fake, more exciting personality.


It's also gone midnight and I have to have enough sleep to manage to stay awake during the Hobbit tomorrow


-------> Thread back on track please!!


Donald X:
Was Rats always your favourite card?
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jonts26

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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #309 on: December 14, 2012, 07:44:22 pm »
+4

Donald X:
Was Rats always your favourite card?

Rats wasn't always a card so I'm guessing not.
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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #310 on: December 14, 2012, 07:53:12 pm »
+2

What goes in to writing those flavour paragraphs?

What gave you the idea for doing secret histories?

What are your thoughts, if any, about "classic" board games (chess, go, or even things like risk, stratego, monopoly)?

Polk5440

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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #311 on: December 14, 2012, 08:51:57 pm »
+2

Any one else think that this entire thread was cooked up by Donald and Theory just to get their Respect counts up into unreachable numbers?

That's what the meme thread is for some people.... I much prefer respect coming from a thread like this!

If time and money were no concern, what would you most like to be doing right now?
Well they aren't really a concern, and here I am. Money hits these thresholds; if I had twice as much money I would get a nicer house but that might be the only change. I would like that nicer house, don't get me wrong, but you know. I don't like to travel, I don't want a boat. There aren't activities that are expensive that I want to do; there aren't material possessions I want that I can't have. At some level of wealth I might hire people; I dunno, that's a job, interacting with those people.

Sort of a follow up: What is your favorite charity or cause that you like to (financially) support?

If there could be a Donald X Fund for X, what would the second X be and why?

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DG

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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #312 on: December 14, 2012, 09:43:08 pm »
+1

If a friend has a newly released game and puts it on the table, who's name as the game designer would get you most eager to play?
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werothegreat

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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #313 on: December 14, 2012, 10:30:36 pm »
+3

At the end of the Cornucopia Secret History, you talk about three cards that went to a "later set": a "popular" card, an Attack card, and one that was in both Intrigue and Alchemy.  What were these cards?
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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #314 on: December 14, 2012, 10:48:15 pm »
0

.
« Last Edit: July 19, 2013, 12:07:08 pm by () | (_) ^/ »
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ipofanes

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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #315 on: December 15, 2012, 11:32:45 am »
0

Quote
An example of an overall philosophy would be, it has to be fun to lose.

ok, I have to remember to enjoy myself next time I am on the receiving end of a Torturer pin. Don't want to hurt your philosophy, you know.

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Polk5440

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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #316 on: December 15, 2012, 12:22:41 pm »
+4

Quote
An example of an overall philosophy would be, it has to be fun to lose.

ok, I have to remember to enjoy myself next time I am on the receiving end of a Torturer pin. Don't want to hurt your philosophy, you know.

edge cased
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Donald X.

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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #317 on: December 15, 2012, 12:26:41 pm »
+1

Was Rats always your favourite card?
No, Rats does not even predate me showing the game to RGG.

It was a while before I felt like I had to consider what might be my favorite card, and your tastes change over time. In the early days I was especially fond of Pawn and Upgrade.
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eHalcyon

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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #318 on: December 15, 2012, 12:53:16 pm »
+1

Quote
An example of an overall philosophy would be, it has to be fun to lose.

ok, I have to remember to enjoy myself next time I am on the receiving end of a Torturer pin. Don't want to hurt your philosophy, you know.

Torturer can't really pin. You can just take the Curse.
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Captain_Frisk

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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #319 on: December 15, 2012, 12:58:22 pm »
+1

Quote
An example of an overall philosophy would be, it has to be fun to lose.

ok, I have to remember to enjoy myself next time I am on the receiving end of a Torturer pin. Don't want to hurt your philosophy, you know.

Torturer can't really pin. You can just take the Curse.

Its not just 1 curse, but usually if you're in a position where you are taking the curse, you're probably taking 2.

The problem with torturer, is that its a card drawer... so in addition to you hurting your deck or your buying power, your opponent has accelerated through theres - making the next torturer coming faster.

There are lots of situations this game can get into that are no fun.  Being on the receiving end of torturer abuse.  Being on the losing end of ambassador tennis.  Being prize swept.  Being on the receiving end of a scrying pool rampage.

The first time it happened, it's an eye opening experience.... wow you can do that??? 

The second time, it's still interesting.

The 10th time that it happens when you knew about it and were trying to do the same thing, and your opponent did it first can be no fun for some players.
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Donald X.

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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #320 on: December 15, 2012, 12:58:51 pm »
+9

What goes in to writing those flavour paragraphs?
For the main set, they had an awful "impress the king" thing they put in as a placeholder. Man. Impress the king. You don't need to acquire land to impress anyone - it's its own reward. So I wrote up a replacement intro, which then got hacked up to be less conversational and therefore slightly less funny. It was still better than what they'd had so okay (the later ones mostly escaped editing).

For Intrigue I thought, oops, now I have to write another funny intro. I wrote it very quickly though, it was effortless.

For Seaside I sat down to work on a list of jokes to turn into a paragraph. You can see that in detail at http://forum.dominionstrategy.com/index.php?topic=124.0.

For Alchemy I again worked on a list of jokes. It didn't turn out as well as I'd hoped, but people seemed to like the main jokes, phew. For Prosperity, another list, this one turned out well. The baklava statue was originally a piece of pumice that looked like the pope, but not enough people got that joke. For Cornucopia I didn't do as well and then Jay cut the jesters fighting to the death, which was one of the main jokes. The roast hay doesn't carry the paragraph but well it turns out these things don't loom large in my life afterwards, hooray.

For Hinterlands I wrote down, "The world is big and your kingdom small," fitting the faraway lands theme, and then immediately thought of a joke from one of my screenplays, that started, "It's a big city out there, and we're little people. I mean little when compared to the city..." So I just copied that with the words changed, and the rest was easy except for what concept exactly for them not even to have a word for, which I picked a day or two later, although I think mamihlapinatapai was immediately in the running.

For Dark Ages I wrote one paragraph the usual way. It wasn't as good as I wanted and I wrote a completely new one, then merged them.

What gave you the idea for doing secret histories?
There was a BoardGameNews preview of Dominion. I was asked a bunch of questions, but whereas most people would just post my answers, W. Eric Martin kind of hacked it up. There would be one sentence quoting me, and then two sentences describing what I said. This made it a little less accurate, but I corrected the thing I cared most about in a comment on it, and hey W. Eric has to have fun too. Anyway that article was about the game and he also asked about the outtakes (which I barely said anything about), but it didn't cover the cards in the set. And there was stuff to say there. So I wrote up an article and posted it on BGG, which didn't have an article.

These days BGN is no more, and BGG has "designer diaries." I stuck with the Secret Histories though. I feel like they're plenty visible to the people that want to see them, and I don't want to be too in-your-face with them.

What are your thoughts, if any, about "classic" board games (chess, go, or even things like risk, stratego, monopoly)?
I will just cover those five.

Chess: Chess has two huge flaws. First, for new players, it's hard to even see what the pieces can do. You have to remember how all the pieces move and then consider how they would all interact with any potential move. Second, you can potentially see many moves in advance, perfectly. Only, you personally, you cannot do that, because it's too hard. You aren't looking ten moves ahead and therefore you're playing suboptimally. I guess you're just stupid, Chess tells you. Chess magnifies this due to the way the game works; it's not just perfect information, it's perfect information and small differences can get blown up. At one point I made a game in the Chess family. People would ask me about Magic, and I would say, well suppose we were going to play Chess, only we each brought half of the board and pieces. You've got knights and pawns and so forth, but I've got archers and pikemen, and half of my board is under water. After using this analogy a few times, I thought, I should make that game. And I made a game and well, it was way too hard to even see what the pieces could do.

Go: Go is also perfect information but somehow does not seem as flawed in that way as chess, in addition of course to not making you remember how the pieces work and stuff. I've barely gotten to play it. It was interesting. I guess I'm more interested in it in terms of implications than as a game to play. It's cool that like a piece in the middle of nowhere is doing good work for you.

Risk: Risk (the old version, not whatever goes by that name today) is perhaps the game I most often use as a bad example. In Risk, the better you're doing, the more fun you get to have; the worse you're doing, the less you get to do. It's like if in Scrabble, the player in last place only got 3 letters to work with. In Risk all losers look identical - they all have nothing. No-one has any interest in seeing that position but the winner. Risk eliminates players with hours left in the game. It's heavily political. Having a map of the world with armies in the countries is great, but that's all it's got.

Stratego: The premise is cute. I've played but don't really remember it.

Monopoly: I think people take the wrong lesson away from Monopoly. Monopoly is a bad game, because it gives you pointless decisions and lasts a random huge amount of time and eliminates players with hours left in the game and is political. But Monopoly is also a successful game, perhaps because it's filled with fun things - you roll dice and draw cards and see what you get, you get stuff that's yours that goes in front of you, you build up your stuff. On anyone else's turn you might get paid. People focused on cashing in on Monopoly by making more roll-and-move games (yes they predate Monopoly but don't you think?), so that roll-and-move (a completely reasonable mechanic) has all these negative connotations now, when the real direction to go in was more games of building up your stuff. Settlers is more or less a fixed Monopoly - you roll dice and draw cards, you get stuff that's yours, both on the board and in your hand, you build up your stuff, you trade, you get paid when it's not your turn. But it's fast and doesn't eliminate players and isn't full of pointless decisions. It's still political of course.
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Donald X.

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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #321 on: December 15, 2012, 01:24:31 pm »
+4

Sort of a follow up: What is your favorite charity or cause that you like to (financially) support?

If there could be a Donald X Fund for X, what would the second X be and why?
We donate some tiny amount to utterly conventional charities. My interaction with it is just recycling the junk mail they then send you. If one of them doesn't mock your contribution by spending some of it on junk mail, I pick that one.

This isn't the forum for political talk, so take it there if you must, but one cause I especially care about is uh well it might be called "voting reform," although if you're doing it right it's not really "voting." Voting is a poor way to get from "what people want" to "what they get." "Choosing" is much better. [Consider 10 friends who get together once a month and eat out; how should they determine the restaurant?] Voting reform is top-level for me because so much other stuff that you might try to accomplish goes through governments. So I want to fix that system first.
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Donald X.

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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #322 on: December 15, 2012, 01:28:45 pm »
0

If a friend has a newly released game and puts it on the table, who's name as the game designer would get you most eager to play?
In the 90s, Reiner Knizia and Richard Garfield were the two I was most likely to buy new games from. These days I might pick Vlaada Chvatil; I do not have much experience with his games, so this isn't due to that; but from reading the descriptions, they are the ones I am most interested in.
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Donald X.

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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #323 on: December 15, 2012, 01:33:44 pm »
0

At the end of the Cornucopia Secret History, you talk about three cards that went to a "later set": a "popular" card, an Attack card, and one that was in both Intrigue and Alchemy.  What were these cards?
The popular card is Jack of All Trades. The attack is in Guilds. The card from Intrigue/Alchemy is Madman.
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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #324 on: December 15, 2012, 05:32:07 pm »
0

At the end of the Cornucopia Secret History, you talk about three cards that went to a "later set": a "popular" card, an Attack card, and one that was in both Intrigue and Alchemy.  What were these cards?
The popular card is Jack of All Trades. The attack is in Guilds. The card from Intrigue/Alchemy is Madman.


Jack was popular? Bwuh?

If a friend has a newly released game and puts it on the table, who's name as the game designer would get you most eager to play?
In the 90s, Reiner Knizia and Richard Garfield were the two I was most likely to buy new games from. These days I might pick Vlaada Chvatil; I do not have much experience with his games, so this isn't due to that; but from reading the descriptions, they are the ones I am most interested in.

Come play one of our Through the Ages PBFs! Or try and run a Galaxy Trucker PBF, what could possibly go wrong?
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...spin-offs are still better for all of the previously cited reasons.
But not strictly better, because the spinoff can have a different cost than the expansion.
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