Podcast #1: Cooperative Games

The first Games with Garfield podcast is like your first glass of scotch; a little rough at first but then it smoothes out and eventually you just can’t get enough. A touch of tabletop industry news is followed by a rousing discussion of Dungeons & Dragons as a cooperative game. The conversation evolves into a detailed examination of cooperative games. Join game designers Tyler Bielman, Skaff Elias and Richard Garfield as they dig into concepts like time pressure, team dynamics and the always enigmatic “fuzz-o-rama” communication rules.

LINKS FROM THE NEWS: Yu-Gi-Oh | Huntik Tutorial | Battle Spirits | DuelMasters | Fight Klub

LINKS FROM THE SHOW: Dungeons & Dragons | Shadows over Camelot | Pandemic | Arkham Horror (referred to as Call of Cthulhu) | World of Warcraft | Schizoid | Break the Safe | Werewolf / Mafia | Battlestar Galactica

EMAIL: info@threedonkeys.com

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3 Comments so far. Leave a comment below.
  1. Chuck Kallenbach,

    Three Donkeys rule! Especially the theme music.

    Okay, let’s talk about this podcast thing. First of all, until recently
    anywho, I have hated podcasts. “You mean I can’t just skim this thing and read the parts I want? What is this, cassette tape technology?” Besides,
    it’s hard for me to find a good time to listen to them.

    But recently, I had a wire installed in my car so I can play my iPhone/iPod
    through the car speakers. So I rock out to KCLK (that’s my playlist) every
    day and it gets me going in the morning. But you know what? Turns out this
    is a dandy time to listen to a podcast. I’ve taken my first step into a
    larger world.

    So yeah, I listened, and I liked both installments so far. Is there a “subscribe” button on the website so I can grab this stuff automatically? I
    couldn’t find one.

    As it happens, we’ve been talking about cooperative games a little. I
    recently played Pandemic and Arkham Horror for the first time. My previous
    experience with cooperative boardgames (let’s exclude table RPGs for the moment) was with that LOTR game with the big black marching Sauron. We played it at Decipher, when we were still working on the LOTR TCG. Interest
    was high! We played devotedly for several consecutive days at lunch time… and suddenly, nobody wanted to have any part of the game. “Wanna play?” “Nope.” “Maybe tomorrow?” “Nah, no thanks.” How can something that was so
    cooperatively funly good suddently become an anathema (cool word, not sure what that means).

    So here’s my theory. Imagine, if you will, that Puerto Rico is a cooperative game. You, me, and two other mopes muddle through a game and we win and we say, “Hey, that’s fun!” We play again, with some real plans for how to do better. We develop a corn/captain/shipping lotsa goods strategy. It kicks ass. Maybe we play again, and we come just short of winning. We play once more, and win the game, and suddenly BAM nobody wants to play it any more. Why is that? Because we have developed one way to win, and we have executed that, and we’re bored and we’re done.

    Contrast this to the way PR really works as a multiplayer game. The four of us muddle through a game. Next time, you use the corn/ship strategy, but I find the factory and that’s awesome. One of the other guys goes heavy coffee and trader, and suddenly there are three viable strategies for winning the game. Will we play more? Hell yeah we will. Things are really cooking, and there are lots of strategies to pursue.

    Many cooperative games have ways to provide different challenges, but I think once a group finds a way to win a cooperative game… they’re done.
    They move on. Replay value is, for them, non-existent.

    As you can see, your podcast got me a-thinkin! And that’s a Good Thing(TM). Keep it up! I’m a fan.

  2. Those are fine observations about cooperative games. The arms race of players innovating and adapting is generally gone. Also, in a competitive game you may have the losers champing at the bit for a rematch, the ‘system’ in Arkham Horror, for example, doesn’t really care if you have a rematch.

    There are some techniques to give a bit of the arms race, however. Certainly difficulty levels has occasionally worked for me – we played through all the ones included in Shadows over Camelot then started adding our own. Large variation in the game play might help also, as it does in solitaire – where winning might just be getting lucky and players play for win percent.

  3. Scrabble brings back lots of memories of my child hood! I play on the computer every now and again, and I have the iPhone app. Bascially i’m just a scrabble addict! Nice post though thanks!

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