Looney Labs Icehouse Mailing list Archive

RE: [Icehouse] What is 2HOUSE?

  • FromDavid Artman <david@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • DateMon, 12 Nov 2007 12:59:45 -0700
I appreciate all of your points, and I believe we are in agreement,
actually. Where we differ is the same locus as where I have removed
myself: if I'm unsure, the list can vet (I'll reject, the designer
appeals to the list, the list wants it, I accept).

> From: Brian Campbell <lambda@xxxxxxx>
> 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.

I still think it's some kind of fallacy (can't figure out which) to say
piece-substitution is possible so therefore no games require pyramids.
That's not the spirit of my vetting process at all. (You get to that in
a moment, though, so maybe you realize on some level?)

> 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.

I suppose read-only ranking would help bolster full ballot numbers....
but is that a good thing, given our CRP method doesn't penalize an
unranked game? A game might get beaten down without even being tried
(maybe it plays much better than it reads--do we want rules presentation
to carry that much weight?). Further, (believe it or not) I prefer to
let the judges rank or not rank, by read or play or both, or whatever
criterion.... *except* 2HOUSEness.

I have already posted (moments ago) how I believe the functional agenda
of the restriction is "served" or "moot" or "fulfilled" once the games
are designed: we have 2HOUSE games to put on "What Can I Play?". I maybe
should have been clearer on that sooner: I don't want 2HOUSEness to be a
factor in judging; I want that to be a *given* for all games listed for

> 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,  

That's the gist of what I mean, too. Where I am wrong, the list will
correct me.

> 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.

Very true. Would it be admitted in a 1HOUSE comp? Well, let's put it to
the acid test:

"Will an owner of a single set (in this case, a single mono stash--a
rare owner, I expect) want to go out to get another set (nowadays, a TH
set) to play this game?"

Probably not; the pieces never get in a position where ownership could
become confused, so this hypothetical buyer would not need a TH set. No
sale (#1 of my list goes poof) so no admission. Petition the list.

Odd, huh? 

> 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.

OK, done. Could you note this on the IGDC Talk page, so that I remember
to shift it to that method for Summer 2008 and beyond. That works fine
for both restricted and unrestricted competitions, though the nomination
process could take longer than is desirable, and we might lose designers
because folks might not want to make a game just to not get nominated.
Hmmm.... and unlimited nominations could be a problem....

Tell you what; instead of going wiki yet, maybe make another thread
about this notion, to work out details (or, I guess, we can do it on the
wiki, but folks seem to be more involved on list discussion rather than
wiki ones).

> > 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.

Uh... stretching that metaphor a bit. ;)

I am no longer anything but a primary gateway: it will be the public
consensus which determines the 2HOUSEness of a game, prior to its
admission, so that judges need not consider that as an element.

> how to interpret the restriction, and when and who should apply it,  
> not what it should be.

There's really only a handful of cases where the list will be engaged.
It is my hope that folks really tackle the challenge and make solid
games which are indubitably 2HOUSE--which sell mids--so that FLGS owners
can honestly say, "And when you get just one more set, you can play FOO
all-new games... and one more after that, and you get FOO+60 total

> 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.

Guaranteed admission if a game requires at least... but not more than...
16 pieces... 30 pieces
13 transparent pieces... 24 transparent pieces
six same-size pieces... ten same-sized pieces
six "color powers"... ten color powers
two same-size, necessarily-opaque pieces... ditto
two TH dice used in a persistent manner (e.g. pieces on board)... ditto
additive properties of colors available only if one has both Xeno and
Rainbow... (null)
[Help me out--any others? This is *good* because it makes my vetting

Appeal to list:
All others.

> 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  

There are, however, degrees of "squinting"; we spent a lot of earlier
energy talking about how much one must squint on certain cases, and the
range goes from "anyone can see the colors are arbitrarily forced to use
two sets" to "if you replace every pyramid with a paper chit, you need
no sets at all."

More what I am watching out for (#2 on my list) is a game which could
offend a new adopter by making the buyer feel "conned" into a second set
they don't need. Those I reject--I even thought of a way to acid test
that: If you were in a race with another player to setup the game the
fastest, would you open two sets to do so, knowing it's the same game
with one set?"

The list may decide to be more lenient (fine with me) but I hope
everyone really keeps the new buyer in mind, and the potential for
feeling gyped. (I imagine that many of the "incremental buyers" we are
trying to attract are very tight on budget--students, kids with
allowances, underfunded educators, etc--and we *really* don't want such
folks feeling shafted.)

> 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.

I hear you; and I agree with 90%. Where we differ, democracy will

> 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.

I try... and, yeah, after repeating myself, I get testy. I'll watch

> 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  

I know this; "the list" is no enemy of mine, nor do I assume any agendas
beyond those above. Which is why I have stood my ground on the "requires
2 sets" point, in spite of the objections of one or two folks: it's best
for sales, it "fills out" the game progression. If "just more games" was
the goal, there would be no restriction: the restriction serves a
functional agenda, and that agenda is not served by the "dressed up
1HOUSE" games nor by games which might leave a customer feeling "gyped."

> 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.

Hopefully, the list is listening. My vetting role just does the counting
of pieces/components.

> 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.

If they really want to submit a game which could leave a buyer feeling
gyped, it will be up to the list.

Look at it this way: the list is a limited set of experienced folks,
whereas (if fully promoted) the judging community should be all sorts:
new buyers, con-goers, whatever. I think letting the list approve or
deny borderline cases (be they "dressed up to 2HOUSE" or "easily reduced
to 1HOUSE" or "forced down to 2 player" or "playable in one mode with
1HOUSE") is really the best course.

Thanks for your time and thoughts. I hope we get so many Cool 2HOUSE
games that this all becomes moot....