Looney Labs Icehouse Mailing list Archive

Re: [Icehouse] What is 2HOUSE?

  • FromBrian Campbell <lambda@xxxxxxx>
  • DateMon, 12 Nov 2007 13:34:17 -0500
I agree with most of what you say, with one major difference of opinion and some caveats. This is a long post; sorry for making a long discussion longer, but I just want to make sure you understand where I'm coming from.

On Nov 12, 2007, at 10:45 AM, David Artman wrote:

"So the only games I'd reject are those which are mechanically
indistinguishable, identical-in-play games when converted to 1HOUSE; but
conversely, if they can scale up well (ex: Icecaster, Martian Chess)
then I say so much the better for sales promotion!"
""Will this game absolutely require a new Icehouse System adopter
with one set to buy his or her second set?" If the answer is no,
then the game doesn't qualify."

There are no games that *absolutely* require a second Icehouse set. All games could be played with, say, sets of playing cards with one corner marked for pointing, or something equally ridiculous. This is where I disagree with you; there are no absolutes here, and so I think that we should allow games with are *best* played with 2 Treehouse sets, not *absolutely required* to play with 2 treehouse sets.

The (repeated) reasons are also summarized:
"But relaxing to "1 or 2 sets": no, not now. The whole point is to
encourage new Icehouse System players to buy a second set in order to
gain the capability of playing several new games.

I agree wholeheartedly. We should not relax the requirement to a "1 or 2 set" restriction.

"While that may be true in some cases, in other cases it may lead to
that are "almost 1HOUSE" and that may even work better removing those artificial elements... but you're right: now it's not the time to change
rules... Let's hope that people do games that really need 2 sets, else
newcomers to the system that bought a second set to play more games may
a bit cheated :)"

Yep, I agree with you here. We'll hope that everyone on this list acts cool and makes a good faith effort to really work with the restriction. And if that doesn't happen, well, then the judges can rank those games that don't fit lower, and so people looking at the winners or top 3 games won't have to worry about those other games.

"What you fail to mention is that you would have invested time and
into reading a game that you would, in turn, then rate very lowly
because it basically spurned the requirement or tried to circumvent it
in a trivial manner.
Now recall how much trouble we had getting complete ranking from every
judge--why should we exacerbate that problem by admitting games which
spurn the requirement just to "get seen" or whatever (as we presume
winning would be neigh impossible)."

I don't believe that reading the rules to a game are a very big burden. I believe that part of what prevents people from voting on many games is that they don't have the time to *play* many games, not read them. If we make it absolutely clear that people may vote on a game that they have only read the rules of as long as they're pretty confident in a rating based only on that criterion, then just encourage people to vote a game lower that doesn't fit the rules or they would never play or could never get their friends to play.

To enumerate:
1) A game which doesn't promote sales of second sets to new adopters
doesn't qualify. ("Must Sell Some Plastic")


2) New adopters should not be put in the position where they might
realize they didn't actually need a second set. ("No Bait and Switch")

The interpretation of this depends on what you consider to be "needing." If you need that set to have the best experience playing the game, then I agree. If you only need that set in some absolute, metaphysical sense, where you could not possibly substitute it for another, then I think the rule is too strong. For instance, that rule would rule out Treehouse as a game meeting the 1HOUSE design criterion. Treehouse can be played perfectly well with a 6-sided die and a monochrome stash, so technically no on "needed" to get a Treehouse set if they already had at least one monochrome stash and a 6 sided die.

3) Several judges' time to read and reject is worth more than one
designer's time or submission. ("The Needs of the Many...")

I don't think this is significant. I like reading the rules of games; the time taken reading the rules is not that important. The amount of time to play games is significant. If people really don't like voting on games that they haven't played, then we'll have to do something about the number of games, because we do want a lot of them to be voted on and if playing the games is a barrier, we do need to limit the number of games.

Actually, I just had an idea for how to fix this (make sure there are few enough games that the judges can really concentrate on them); I think it's too late for this competition, but it might be something to try for the next. Instead of having people submit their own games, have people nominate games. We select an ideal number of games, say 5, or maybe 7, such that everyone thinks they can play all or most of the games. Everyone sends secret nominations into you. They can nominate as many games as they want. Nominations can be based on having played the game or just having read the rules and thought "yeah, that sounds interesting, and that fits the design criteria." Once the nomination period is over, you count up the nominations, and picke the top 5. Ask each of the designers if they accept the nomination (they may have just created a game and don't want to be part of the contest), and if they don't, then pick the next one on the nomination. Then have a voting period as normal on those 5 (or 7, or whatever) games.

Anyhow, this is just a though, and completely tangential to the topic at hand. Back to your everyday muddy philosophical discussion!

4) The judges should be focussed on what game is "best" without having
to adjust that due to an orthogonal element of judging: conformity to
the restriction. ("No Men in the Mrs. America Contest")

Sure, no Men in the Mrs. America Contest. But I wouldn't want the organizer of the contest to measure hip-to-waist ratio and disqualify people who didn't match some ideal ratio perfectly; let the judges decide that.

5) It has already been announced. ("Don't Change Horses in Midstream")

I agree. We should not change the rules as announced. I'm discussion how to interpret the restriction, and when and who should apply it, not what it should be.

As Coordinator--or should I say, if I am to remain the Coordinator--I
would be the "first gateway" for submission acceptance. If (*if*) I
reject a game because it's trivially 1HOUSE, then the designer may
appeal to the list and, if he or she gains a consensus in favor of
letting it be judged, I will list it among the games.

Sure. I agree that you should be able to gateway for the most obvious violations of the rule. I would prefer that you err on the side of leniency, but this sounds reasonable.

If that doesn't make my position clear, let me add to it one thing: I am running this competition for Looney Labs' benefit and for the expansion
of the Icehouse System market, NOT for the community on this list and
NOT for the designers to gain recognition. Should the latter two
benefits accrue, so much the better, but I will not place them at a
higher priority than promotion of sales and the System.

There is no way for Looney Labs to benefit if the community does not benefit. We want the best games you can play with two stashes. Enforcing restrictions that the game must *absolutely* require two Treehouse stashes may filter out the best game of the lot, that is best played with two stashes and so would encourage people to buy a second stash just to play such an awesome game.

Those of you who simply *must* make a 1HOUSE game--or make a game which is aesthetically more pleasing as 2HOUSE but which anyone could see can
easily be played with 1 set--are encouraged to do so and seek
playtesters. But I won't let such a game "pad" the list of submission or "water down" the requirement which other, conforming designers struggle
to meet.

You know, maybe I'm talking about something somewhat different than you. You seem to be talking about a 1HOUSE game that is dressed in 2HOUSE clothes, and I'm talking about a 2HOUSE game that can be forced into a 1HOUSE mould if you kind of tilt your head sideways and squint. I'm fine with you eliminating something that is clearly a 1HOUSE game that someone's trying to pass off as 2HOUSE. I just don't want you to squint sideways at a game, say "well, as long as you keep track of how many pieces each person has captured so you can give the pieces back to the player and they can re-introduce them in the next phase," and deem that it can be played with a single treehouse set plus 5 extra checkers.

If anyone has a logical argument to make which conforms to the above
enumerated priorities and justifications but reaches a different
conclusion than I have, feel free to present it and I will respond. If
someone has an opinion that "it's too arbitrary," then I welcome them to
further detail precise aspects of the requirement to remove the
(alleged) subjectivity and make it objective, NOT to remove the
requirement completely (we were doing a fine job of detailing such
nuances until the noise kicked in).

Well, I think I've made my opinion as clear as I can. Now, I want to make sure you understand; this is my opinion, and being offered as a suggestion for how to make the contest better, not a set of demands that I will refuse to take any part in the contest without. So, I leave it up to you to decide how to run the competition. I pretty much agree on most of the points, it's the matter of degree that I disagree on. All I really want is that you acknowledge our points, even if you continue to disagree with them.

So, run this contest as you see fit. If, after that, I really feel like I would like future contests to go differently, I will offer to run the next contest with a design restriction, the way I would like to. It will only be an offer, not a demand, but that will give you the choice of whether you want to deal with this sort of thing in the future.

God > Country > Looneys > Customers (Judges) > folks on a listserv > me.

Please recall that the people on the listserv are generally the judges, and are some of the core customers, who evangelize the product. Without everyone on this listserv, the Looneys would not have sold 1/10th the stashes they do. Without the designers on here, there wouldn't be 1/10th the games to play. The Looneys simply would not be making Icehouse pieces if it were not for all of the people on this list, or who at least have been on this list. So try to keep it polite and cordial with everyone, and don't drive people away.

Also, when you say things like this, you make it sound like everyone else is only fighting for themselves, and you are taking the high ground by considering other people over you, while really everyone here loves the Looney and is trying to help them succeed, is trying to pick the best games they can, and would love to promote Icehouse as far and wide as possible. In fact, I have never designed a single Icehouse game; my interest is only in picking out the best games to play, the ones that will get everyone playing Icehouse, the gamed that will make Icehouse stashes as common an item in convenience stores and checkout isles as playing cards. And there are plenty of other people on the list who are in it for the same or similar reasons; maybe they would like some recognition for their game, or would like other people to play it as well, but getting other people to play it also helps them get criticism, become better designers, and thus design better games that will bring more people into the fold.

I will sum this up to say that my philosophy is that of the original Icehouse game. Keep it Cool. There were lots of things that weren't explicitly forbidden in Icehouse, but were just considered un-Cool. Sure, you could do it, but then someone might say "hey, that wasn't very Cool" to let you know that you should do that. So submitting a game that's better played with 1HOUSe or other components than 2HOUSE? Un-Cool. Submitting a game that doesn't use the extra pieces at all? Against the rules. Submitting a game that uses all of the pieces in a 2HOUSE set, both dice, and all of the lovely attributes of the pieces (stacking, pointing, orientations, color, pip count)? Cooler than Ice. So maybe tell people "hey, that's not very Cool. You might want to hold off until next time", but if they really want to submit there game, well, sure, why not. Keep it Cool, in the discussions, the games, the contest, and everything, and it'll be a lot easier for everyone to get along.

P.S. Whew, this post is getting longer than I intended. Sorry about that; that's not very Cool, but in the words of someone famous, I did not have the time to make it shorter. P.P.S. And I'll admit that I've been un-Cool. It wasn't very Cool of me to try and use a rhetorical point that could easily be interpreted as an ad-hominem. I'll try and watch that in the future.
P.P.P.S. OK, you can stop reading now, I'm really out of things to sau.

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