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Author Topic: Interview with Donald X.  (Read 752981 times)

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Davio

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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #375 on: December 22, 2012, 01:33:43 pm »
0

Will you still play Dominion after playtesting (for everything: Goko, possible promos, possible future expansions) is finished?

If you do, will you just play with the released cards or will you still sometimes bring new ideas to the table?
The last new prototype images were from January 7th 2012. So it's been done! And I haven't played much non-Goko since then; maybe four or five nights I brought Dark Ages / Guilds to a game night, when I didn't have a new game to work on and it seemed like the previous new games were done. Online is different because you can play it alone, and not waste valuable playtesting time.

Anyway this is typical. Getting lots of playtesting done doesn't just mean I don't have much time for games that aren't mine; I don't have much time for finished games of mine either, unless I can play them alone.
Why not design a solitaire game then? There have been some popular ones lately: Friday, Robinson Crusoe (same theme surprisingly), Legendary (deck building game) among others. Well, this isn't a serious question, since you like games with interaction, but still. :)

Let me ask you this then: Which of your games has taken you most out of your comfort zone? Or do you tend to "stick to what you know"?
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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #376 on: December 22, 2012, 03:04:46 pm »
0

What's the coolest mechanic you've seen in other designer's board games? Why?
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Donald X.

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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #377 on: December 22, 2012, 03:22:57 pm »
0

Why not design a solitaire game then? There have been some popular ones lately: Friday, Robinson Crusoe (same theme surprisingly), Legendary (deck building game) among others. Well, this isn't a serious question, since you like games with interaction, but still. :)
I've made solitaire computer games. A solitaire card/board game isn't out of the question, although I'd be more likely to make one than to get one published.

Let me ask you this then: Which of your games has taken you most out of your comfort zone? Or do you tend to "stick to what you know"?
I wouldn't exactly say that I stick to what I know. Once you have a good solution to a problem it's hard not to use it when you need it, which makes future games more similar unless you desperately search for a different solution. And I like certain things and so do those things more often. But I've done pretty exotic premises, specifically to be doing something different; Dominion itself was an exotic premise.

I avoid making political games; I guess a political game would count as outside my comfort zone. It's not that I don't think I'd be up to the task though; I just wouldn't want to play it.

Of my published games, Kingdom Builder is the least typical for me, simply because it's a board game and I've done more card games. It is pretty recognizable as one of my games in other respects.
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Donald X.

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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #378 on: December 22, 2012, 03:32:40 pm »
+1

What's the coolest mechanic you've seen in other designer's board games? Why?
At one point "rules on cards that interact" was new to me, and if that counts then I have to pick that one. I was introduced to it in Magic, but Magic gets it from Cosmic Encounter expansions and Wiz-War.

"Rules for playing make-believe," from D&D, was pretty amazing in its day, again if that counts as a mechanic.

Dilemmas (simultaneous decisions where the pay-offs vary based on the combination of choices), well I got them from game theory rather than a board game, so I guess they don't count, but they're definitely a mechanic at least.

I'm not sure I can do a good job of answering "why" for those. They are good times. I value that.
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ipofanes

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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #379 on: December 22, 2012, 04:14:44 pm »
0

Do you feel your goal of "no politics" in your games is satisfied now that the most popular setting of Dominion is a 2-player game?  ::)
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Donald X.

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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #380 on: December 22, 2012, 05:21:08 pm »
+1

Do you feel your goal of "no politics" in your games is satisfied now that the most popular setting of Dominion is a 2-player game?  ::)
I don't know where you get your data. You mean most popular online?
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ehunt

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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #381 on: December 22, 2012, 05:26:36 pm »
0

Do you go through phases where you are sick of playing with certain cards?
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Donald X.

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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #382 on: December 22, 2012, 05:48:38 pm »
+1

Do you go through phases where you are sick of playing with certain cards?
I can only get so sick of a card while still keeping it in the set. So there's a limit to how bad anything could be for me. Odds are, whatever it is, I like it.

The worst cards for me are Spy variants. Some of them are slow, but all of them make it harder to get testing done. I buy the new card, you buy the Spy, you flip my card over a couple times, and that's that, I am learning nothing about the new card this game. Aside from the speed and testing issue they're fine though. I am happy to have made Rabble, it just messes up playtesting.

IRL I don't look at my hand in Minion games until it's my turn (barring Moat etc. obv.). Online that's not an option, I mean I am sure not closing my eyes when I click on what I'm buying. So Minion gets annoying online, as you look at your hand and wonder if it will vanish.

Some of the cards people cite as not liking are swingy cards and attacks. I like swingy cards; they take the pressure off, and you get fun swings. I like attacks in general, especially trying to beat them.

I guess there was a time period when I didn't like Pirate Ship because there would always be someone who thought it was broken, and while odds were I would beat them handily, it put pressure on the game, I had to make sure they were crushed so they didn't say, "see, see, you sure blew it on this card." And I mean Pirate Ship was trying not to just be awful 100% of the time, so maybe they had a shot. But these days that issue has been settled and I can relax as I beat Pirate Ship.
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joel88s

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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #383 on: December 22, 2012, 08:30:53 pm »
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I've learned to tolerate even online Minion games with a little mind trick of looking at my hand as little as possible, not planning my turn so as not to get invested in it, and just assuming it will be Minioned away.

Still not quite as thorough as your IRL solution to be sure. I guess if you were playing for blood you might want to know what your hand was to know which cards have gone by, depending on what's in your deck of course. But playing for fun I'd probably also trade any small strategic advantage for the major reduction in annoyance. Funny how the mind works.
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ipofanes

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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #384 on: December 23, 2012, 12:59:35 am »
0

Do you feel your goal of "no politics" in your games is satisfied now that the most popular setting of Dominion is a 2-player game?  ::)
I don't know where you get your data. You mean most popular online?
Certainly, though my experience with ftf is about in the same direction.
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Donald X.

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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #385 on: December 23, 2012, 01:13:46 am »
0

Do you feel your goal of "no politics" in your games is satisfied now that the most popular setting of Dominion is a 2-player game?  ::)
I don't know where you get your data. You mean most popular online?
Certainly, though my experience with ftf is about in the same direction.
Well I am here to tell you that in fact there is plenty of 3+ player Dominion getting played IRL.
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ipofanes

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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #386 on: December 23, 2012, 01:18:04 am »
0

I wouldn't ever argue with that.

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Davio

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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #387 on: December 23, 2012, 02:38:24 am »
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I've learned to tolerate even online Minion games with a little mind trick of looking at my hand as little as possible, not planning my turn so as not to get invested in it, and just assuming it will be Minioned away.

Still not quite as thorough as your IRL solution to be sure. I guess if you were playing for blood you might want to know what your hand was to know which cards have gone by, depending on what's in your deck of course. But playing for fun I'd probably also trade any small strategic advantage for the major reduction in annoyance. Funny how the mind works.
Well, I want to look to track where my cards are, even if the current hand goes away.  ???
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Donald X.

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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #388 on: December 23, 2012, 05:01:54 am »
+15

Quote from: nightwishpt
Well, the way he referred to Dominion-inspired games certainly made the respect I had for him take a big notch.
By Dominion-inspired games, do you mean Dominion clones, rather than say the actual Dominion-inspired games, a few of which I specifically cited, saying nothing negative about them at all, even picking a few I'd try? That would make no sense, so you mean the clones, right? Oops that makes no sense either.

Quote from: Sooty
Came here to say the same thing. It was just openly disrepectful to say so much crap about it after he admitted to not ever trying them before.
I openly disrespect Dominion clones. I'm with you there. "So much crap," man, I felt I kept it short and sweet, and was even generous, noting that some people would prefer them. I was answering a question, did you see the question? I didn't say, "World, listen up, I want to talk about Dominion clones."

This is an interesting thing that people do. Because I said that some games were Dominion clones that didn't add anything worthwhile, I must be the most egotistical person who ever lived. But anyone can tell which games are clones and just what they add. Was I supposed to lie and say, wow, Silver costs $4 and it's maids, you've really got something new there? [The game I must be referring to has other things it adds that I am not impressed by, but the sentence wouldn't read as well if I listed them, I am mentioning this so you don't have to.]

When someone interviews you, a lot of the questions will be about how great you are. This question was especially so. "If you wanted to brag" is how it starts. So, I was perhaps being given the option of politely not answering. It was an interview, and I had an answer; I answered. The humble thing is not to do interviews. I was up front about not having played the clones; that should clue you in that what follows is what I've heard about the games, not me fantasizing about how awful they must be because of my greatness.

One question I've gotten a bunch is, "how much do you play games that aren't yours?" At first I would say "basically never," then I worked out to say "basically never, I am too busy playtesting." Both responses would get people commenting, "wow, he's the most egotistical person who ever lived." As if my answer were somehow "all games I didn't make are awful." In one case I specifically cited games I wanted to try when I got the chance, but still got that comment. I further modified my answer to "basically never, I am too busy playtesting; I have time to play other games alone, and play video games, but I only get so much time with other people, and need all the playtesting I can get." This is all in a desperate attempt to reduce the number of people who will think my completely innocent and honest answer is the most egotistical thing ever. At this point my answer would be "Basically never, I only get so much time with other people to playtest, and need to use it all playtesting. In fact I don't get to play my own finished games either." I dunno, I bet someone will find record-setting egotism in there if they want to.

I thought of Dominion. I don't brag about that, like I'm the only one who could have thought of it. Two guys thought of calculus; Knizia had Qwirkle just a few years too late. And so on. Someone else would have thought of Dominion, sooner or later. And the way intellectual property works is awful; awful from the perspective of humanity that is, rather than say rights holders. And if there's say a vegetable-themed Dominion clone, and you prefer that theme, then it's better for you the consumer that that exists than that it doesn't. It's worse for me, but whatever; there are a lot of consumers and only one me. [And one RGG and so on, person who was going to think I was the most egotistical person ever if I didn't mention the obvious fact that I am not the only one cashing checks for Dominion.]

But despite all these things, a Dominion clone is still a Dominion clone. No amount of humility or egotism on my part will make those games stop being clones. And the only clones worthy of respect are actual clones, like that sheep.
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Donald X.

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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #389 on: December 26, 2012, 04:01:36 pm »
+1

Quote from: Jesse Fuchs
I thought it was pretty funny, though a telling contrast with Richard Garfield’s own “Let a thousand flowers bloom” vibe. Especially since Vaccarino has always studiously denied that Magic was an influence on Dominion, despite it being his favorite game and Garfield being the game designer he’d been actively trying to impress in his salad days.
I think it's great that people get to make Dominion-inspired games, and sad what many of them have chosen to do with that power.

Some people get the idea that I must have thought, hey can you take Magic's deck-building and turn it into a game. That isn't how I thought of Dominion; it was a solution to a complexity problem in a card game where you built up fantasy heroes. I'm a game designer because of Magic, but I can't change the actual events of how I thought of Dominion.
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rrenaud

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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #390 on: December 26, 2012, 04:36:06 pm »
+2

I think the reason many people find your response to "do you play other games" egotistical is the implicit assumption that your own game designs would get basically no benefit from having played other best in breed games from other top designers.  It gives the impression that you know how to solve all design problems that you'll ever face and that you'll never get any insight from thinking about other well made but new games.
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Donald X.

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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #391 on: December 26, 2012, 06:01:15 pm »
+4

I think the reason many people find your response to "do you play other games" egotistical is the implicit assumption that your own game designs would get basically no benefit from having played other best in breed games from other top designers.  It gives the impression that you know how to solve all design problems that you'll ever face and that you'll never get any insight from thinking about other well made but new games.
I don't know why people think the things they do, so let's just look at, if they do think that, how accurate do I think that is.

I have played lots of games. And I can read about new games all I want. And I play computer games, although they generally aren't computer versions of board games. So, it's like, just how many advances are being made that are confined to new board games and only visible if you play them? Like, Space Alert had a cool premise; I would have a much better idea of how it played if I played it, but I know what the idea was.

Then, the flip side: if there's a solution to a problem and someone's already figured it out, shouldn't I be looking for a new solution? Space Alert already did Space Alert; I have no interest in making Space Alert II. When I read about Space Alert, it's more likely to stop me from making a particular game than it is to improve a game I make. Even if it's a broad idea, worthy of a genre, I can stick to my own broad ideas, or rather, the broad ideas that I have had that other people have had too, but which I nevertheless feel connected to due to me thinking of them. For example I have not made a worker placement game and it doesn't sound especially attractive. I have made a bunch of games where you pick an action each turn though. Other people have made those too, but I was doing them before I knew that, and they feel better to me for future projects than worker placement does.

I have certainly gotten plenty from other games, and here is a good example. After playing Evo, I spent a while thinking about bidding, trying to figure out how best to do it. [There are two basic problems: 1) it shouldn't be possible to know just what something is worth, but you have to be able to have a good idea as to what it's worth; and 2) if players are taken out of the bidding by say winning an auction, they will get screwed over by the other players turning out to undervalue things; ideally good players can stay in the auction as long as possible.] When I made Gauntlet of Fools, I went with something very similar to Evo's (the only difference, well besides the fact that you are bidding with penalty rules rather than money/vp, is that you keep going around in Gauntlet of Fools, but jump to the outbid player in Evo; I think my way is a slight improvement). I felt like I had done my work on bidding and that I wasn't going to do better. But I can't run the experiment the other way; I don't know what I would have come up with if I didn't have that good answer sitting in front of me already. I don't know if it would have been the same or better or worse or just different.

I don't think you should avoiding hearing any Bach if you want to write music, like in Unaccompanied Sonata, but I don't think you have to hear Bach if you want your music to have any merit, either. I'm already standing on the shoulders of giants; I'm not sure why I should be trying to get up higher. The view is fine.

Anyway I am sure there is stuff to learn from games I haven't played; I get in a game or two a year, and otherwise am trying to coast along on reading about them and what I've already got. I have games to be playtested. They always benefit from more playtesting, you just hit diminishing returns on them, and then move on to the next one. If I'm just trying to maximize respect (in the non-forum sense), which of course I'm not, then improving my games via playtesting totally seems like it beats out improving them by looking for ideas to copy from other games.

Lastly, re-reading your post, I can tell you that I abandon games all the time due to problems I couldn't solve. Sometimes I go back to them months or years later, sometimes multiple times, and sometimes they just die. I don't ever feel like, I just need to find the answer in some other game. It seems to me that the less unique the problem is, the more likely I can find the answer in another game, but then too the less essential it is to get that answer from another game; and the more unique the problem is, the more likely that I'll just abandon my game if someone else has done the solution.
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cherdano

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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #392 on: December 27, 2012, 09:13:02 am »
+3


If you don't like "politics" in games, why did you call the strongest $3 card "ambassador"?
(To be fair, you also called the weakest one "chancellor".)

You say it should be fun to lose. Do I need to say "torturer"?

Bishop is usually not a great opening buy, but chapel obviously is. So I am confused - are you for or
against child baptism?

Ok, now you can all get back to serious questions and arguing :P
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Donald X.

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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #393 on: December 27, 2012, 02:34:16 pm »
+3

Bishop is usually not a great opening buy, but chapel obviously is. So I am confused - are you for or
against child baptism?
Baptism - Action, $2
Name a card. If a card with that name would be trashed this game, instead, it goes to heaven.
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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #394 on: December 28, 2012, 03:05:23 am »
0

Bishop is usually not a great opening buy, but chapel obviously is. So I am confused - are you for or
against child baptism?
Baptism - Action, $2
Name a card. If a card with that name would be trashed this game, instead, it goes to heaven.

Shouldn't this be "this turn", or is this in line with the permanent cards to be introduced in Guilds?  ::)
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ednever

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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #395 on: December 28, 2012, 04:01:01 pm »
0

You've spoken about doing Dominion Spin Offs.

Any reason why you haven't started on these already?
Historically RGG has released ~2 Dominion expansions per year. And it seems from the outside at least to be commercially viable.

Next year there will only be one. And given the lead times I expect it will be a long while before we see a Dominion spin-off - unless something is already in the works?

Ed
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Donald X.

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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #396 on: December 28, 2012, 04:35:04 pm »
+4

You've spoken about doing Dominion Spin Offs.

Any reason why you haven't started on these already?
Historically RGG has released ~2 Dominion expansions per year. And it seems from the outside at least to be commercially viable.

Next year there will only be one. And given the lead times I expect it will be a long while before we see a Dominion spin-off - unless something is already in the works?
I have started on spin-offs. The first one, I ended up taking out the deckbuilding, and it's Kingdom Builder. The second one, I ended up taking out the deckbuilding, and it's a game I'm still working on but which is looking good.

Probably the latest in the year that a spin-off would come out would be at Essen. To have one at Essen it needs to be done by ~July. With say flavor commitments before that so that art can be started in June.

RGG would very much like a spin-off, the sooner the better, and I'd like to do one or more, so it's still on the agenda. It will be a bit though before I know whether or not I'll have one for 2013.
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Tables

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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #397 on: December 31, 2012, 01:12:16 pm »
+1

Now I might have counted wrong, but assuming I haven't... was it intentional to have exactly 200 kingdom cards after Guilds is out, excluding promos?
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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.
I hereby declare myself the best dominion player in the world. Obviously.

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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #398 on: December 31, 2012, 01:55:27 pm »
+4

You say it should be fun to lose. Do I need to say "torturer"?

I still don't get why people hate Torturer so much. I hear all this talk about being "Torturer-pinned". How does this happen?

Torturer isn't a super-Militia. It's a Witch with a bane of "Two cards you don't want". Really, I think it's closer to Mountebank than anything else, but no one ever talks about being "Mountebank-pinned". (And yeah, I know they're easier to chain because of the draw, but mostly I think people discard to Torturer way more than they should.)
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Donald X.

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Re: Interview with Donald X.
« Reply #399 on: December 31, 2012, 03:42:37 pm »
0

Now I might have counted wrong, but assuming I haven't... was it intentional to have exactly 200 kingdom cards after Guilds is out, excluding promos?
You have counted correctly. It was not intentional. The large sets are 25 cards so if there were eight it would naturally be 200 for all of them and not seem special. Instead one was split into 12/13, and then there is no 12 to go with Guilds' 13, but Dark Ages has an extra 10 and as it happens two of the 25-card sets actually got 26.

If the "no-one possibly needs a placeholder card for Copper" technology had been around earlier, there would be 1-2 more cards, and Dark Ages might have had a few more or less depending on what happened with the cards that eat up the extra space.
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