Podcast #3: Translation into Digital

The third installment of Games with Garfield opens with humorous stories from GDC, extolling the virtues of analog presentations and <Start Riot>. But after the giggling subsides, game designers Tyler Bielman, Skaff Elias and Richard Garfield get into the topic of tabletop games being converted into digital environments.  Why are there so many people online and yet nobody to play with? Why would someone want to add walking around to a perfectly good tabletop game?  And what classic game trains kids around the world to cheat?  Tune in and find out.

LINKS: Settlers of Catan | Dominion | Dungeons and Dragons | Magic: The Gathering | Spectromancer | Game Developers Conference | Zork | Pitch | Carcassonne | Lost Cities | Acquire | Call of Duty: World at War | Brettspielwelt | Archon | Knightmare Chess | Kung Fu Chess | Blitzkrieg (kriegspiel) Chess | Quadradius | Starcraft | Electronic Battleship | Guts

EMAIL: info@threedonkeys.com



8 Comments so far. Leave a comment below.
  1. Mellowcow,

    Hello, I’m so psyched to make a comment! :D
    This is actually a response to Mike Elliot’s article above, the comment system there seems to be locked. :S It’s funny, a few months ago I tried to create an online board/card game with the help of a friend who’s got a degree in computer science. Now he got bored real quick so the whole thing was discontinued in a matter of days. Anyway the basic idea was that two people play against each other. Each player has six stacks of cards in front in him or her and the top card of each stack remains revealed to that player only and may be played by him or her during that player’s turn. The number of cards in each stack is visible to all players at any time as it’s essential to the game state. In the middle is a 6 by 6 field, similar to a chess board. So this is a turn-based game where each turn consists of six action points that can be used to play cards or move units (creatures). Of course there would be also other cards than units, similar to sorceries or artifacts in the Magic world. One loses if there are no units on the board or three stacks are depleted. Whenever a unit is killed, the owner gets “milled” a certain number of cards depending on the unit, the opponent chooses from which stack. Units not only have their own movement patterns but also certain abilities to make for much more unique “chess” pieces. Of course cards which get killed or otherwise used land in the bin, so games don’t take a year to play out. I called it “Hex” but oh well, maybe I’ll try again in 10 years. Anyway, this was just a concept which I wanted to mention while I read through the article. I started Magic with Ice Age when I was eleven and just wanted to say: Thank you, you’re my personal heroes.
    Sorry if some sentences seem awkward, greetings from Germany.

  2. tgva,

    One comment:
    You mentioned a game of Stratego where you could move your piece onto an enemy and lose but not know what piece beat you. This game actually already exists; it is the originator of Stratego, a game called the Game of Generals, which is very similar in terms of rules to Stratego except that there is a third player, the Arbiter, who tells the others which piece is removed from play, rather than having the players reveal the identity of the piece that they removed.

    I’m very interested in these podcasts, I’ve been keeping track of them. Thanks for doing this work, I’ll try to test out some of the games you mention.

  3. Thanks for the history lesson with Stratego, I am usually pretty good with game history and make an effort to respect it.

    It might be worth noting that I explored another “stratego-like” mechanic in my game Pecking Order. In Pecking order the attacker acted as the arbiter and said which card won, so, if the defender lost the defender was still in the dark about what beat them. I intend to publish a version of this game you can play with a deck of cards on this site fairly soon.

  4. Mellowcow,

    This is a repost of the comment I made about this episode on MTGCast: I don’t know if there’s someone who actually reads these comments, but I wondered if the hosts think there’s any possibility to translate the roleplaying experience over to the PC or any gaming consoles. I’ve played D&D in the past and am currently trapped in a mine (in-game, not a metaphor) with my World of Darkness group. ^^
    I’ve played a lot of virtual RPGs from Bioware or Square Enix and it is indeed my favorite genre but multiple choice dialogues are about as far as it gets in that regard. It’s not the lack of story but more about the finished and passive nature of it, similar to Magic, where there is flavor and background to each set but only a few people actually read the novels and it is pretty irrelevant to gameplay. In the end it is all about winning, not playing out the standpoint of your character. You mentioned WoW on your podcast, so it’s not just a matter of people playing together either. I know there are tool programs that help you run pen&paper roleplaying sessions over the internet, but there’s nothing in the line of an actual multiplayer game which provides the setting and progression for you like a virtual DM. Please respond (or make it). :)

  5. Hi Mellow –

    We don’t have anything to do with MTGCast, so we won’t be responding to anything there. There is no guarantee of response HERE either but there is a guarantee of no response there!

    You don’t have many options with regard to computer roleplaying where the story really matters – Square Enix is about as good as it gets and it is far short of paper gaming. The best I can recommend is the tool programs you already mention. There is some possibility some of the story arcs in some of the MMORPGs might satisfy also, they sometimes have game masters involved in deciding where the play goes allowing for some interesting play evolution. I am not certain where to find that since I haven’t experienced it myself, but Eve online would be my first guess and you would have to play a long time before you got to the “story”. There is just nothing that can compete with a gamemaster for storytelling aspects of RPGs.

    good luck

  6. Mellowcow,

    Thank you for the kind response and wow, a sentence with four “some”s, awesome. I guess nothing beats the weekly round of dice rolling. You also mentioned downtime on some of your episodes and MTGO multiplayer absolutely proves the point that on the PC it can be fatal because the whole social aspect is missing. I just played a round of Commander (that is EDH for all offline magic players) and it became so frustratingly stagnant that I dropped off.

  7. tucsonmm,

    Just discovered these archived podcasts. Once I heard “She-males” about 30 seconds into the podcast,I knew that this one was gonna be different. Very funny and entertaining while also some great discussion on GDC, poker and chess variants, brettspielwelt, and Quadradius. Very helpful to an aspiring designer.
    Thank you.

  8. Chris,

    I recently became aware of these podcasts and am really enjoying them. Thanks!

    The idea of being able to search a bunch of different games on Xbox Live (or any other platform) for open sessions is great idea. Hopefully it will be implemented someday. And if you three are looking for an Xbox Live player who plays many of the board game adaptations there, feel free to send a friend request to Chroso. :)

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