Looney Labs Icehouse Mailing list Archive

RE: [Icehouse] IGDC Summer 2007 Rankings

  • FromDoug Orleans <dougorleans@xxxxxxxxx>
  • DateWed, 26 Sep 2007 13:51:47 -0400
David Artman writes:
 > > From: Dale Sheldon <dales@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
 > > On Mon, 24 Sep 2007, David Artman wrote:
 > > >> pylo > subd > zamb > geom > peng > moon > mart > trip
 > > 
 > > In that case, congratulations to Pylon and its designer!
 > Oh, right! HOORAY for Doug Orleans!

Thanks.  To be honest I'm still in a bit of shock-- after the votes
were posted I was pretty sure I hadn't won.  Zamboni Wars and Geomancy
both received 8 first-place votes, and Penguin Soccer received 9 (not
counting the ballot where it was the only vote), whereas Pylon only
received 4 and Subdivision only 3.  Just goes to show you how
unintuitive this preference voting thing can be, but it also shows how
much better it is at expressing the will of the voters than simple
plurality voting.

Anyway, it's clear to me that this was a very close vote, and all of
the top five games had strong support.  (In fact, I did a quick pass
through a bunch of other ranking algorithms and found several that
gave the win to Penguin Soccer or Zamboni Wars.  But I don't entirely
trust the software-- VoteEngine from http://vote.sf.net/ --and I'm far
from sure that the other algorithms properly handle partial ballots.)
Thanks, David, for running the competition, and especially thanks for
posting all the ballots, so we can see exactly how close it was.  I'm
looking forward to playing around with the numbers for some "what if"
scenarios, like what if Ryan's class hadn't voted, or what if Andy
had left his two unplayed games off the ballot instead of ranking them

I plan to post my thoughts about the other games at some point, but
I'll start with some thoughts about my own game, Pylon.  First off,
yes, David, you are correct about the rules: you can only move stacks
onto other stacks, i.e. non-empty squares.  I'll add that
clarification to the rules on the Wiki.  This mechanism, of steadily
clearing off the board into clumps that score, comes from both Dvonn
and Clans, the two games that directly inspired Pylon.  I didn't think
to credit IceTowers for the size-based stacking restriction; I just
chose that because I find it clunky to have "hidden" pyramids in the
middle of a stack when larger pyramids cover smaller ones.  (The
scoring based on the owner of the top piece comes straight from
Dvonn-- note that the score is one per pyramid rather than one per pip
like in IceTowers.)

My main worry about Pylon is the occurrence of tie scores.  In the
dozen or so games I played or watched, only one resulted in a tie, but
I wonder if more experienced players would be more likely to play to a
tie.  I had some ideas for tie-breaker rules, but they're inelegant,
and might just lead to a strong first or second player advantage.  Of
course, Subdivision also has the same possibility of ties, but the
scoring there is more granular (you can win by one point, whereas in
Pylon you can only win by an even number of points) so that might
reduce the chance of ties.  On the other hand, Subdivision has more
clarity, so it might be easier to see how to force a tie; in fact, if
you start with symmetrical park placement, the second player can
always force a tie with a mirroring strategy.  (Fortunately, the
online implementation at http://superdupergames.org/ has an option for
random park placement, which I recommend.)

About theme: obviously theme is not important to me in a simple game
like Pylon, and I didn't even bother trying to come up with one
(again, Dvonn was the primary inspiration, and the Gipf series is
proudly themeless).  But if someone can come up with a good idea for a
theme, I'd be happy to tack it on.

I tend not to like multi-player games with no luck, because they can
break down into kingmaking or petty diplomacy.  But I actually thought
Subdivision played reasonably well as a multi-player game, and I don't
see any obvious problems with extending Pylon to three or four
players.  Did anyone happen to try this?

I should say that I'm actually pretty bad at Pylon (and Dvonn).  Game
playing and game design involve totally different skills!  In
particular, I have no clue what a good strategy is during the
placement phase, and I just treat it as a way to generate a more or
less random setup.  I would love to hear if anyone has come up with
some strategies (or tactics) to use during the placement phase.
Alternately, I'd like to find a good fixed setup so that beginners can
skip the placement phase, which can be pretty bewildering.  (Same goes
for Dvonn.)

I'm looking forward to seeing the games in the next competition.
Designers, get to work!