Looney Labs Icehouse Mailing list Archive

Re: [Icehouse] Does the IGDC matter?

  • FromDoug Orleans <dougorleans@xxxxxxxxx>
  • DateFri, 22 Feb 2008 00:07:03 -0500
Jorge Arroyo writes:
 > I think this touches a problem that generic game systems such as Icehouse
 > and piecepack have. They're excellent tools for a game designer, but they
 > don't seem to have the same appeal to players. I'm thinking more and more
 > (and it's unrelated to the results of the competition) that once you set the
 > ideas for a game down, and find a set of core rules you're satisfied with,
 > then you're better off designing specific components and taking the design a
 > step further.

I think this is definitely true, and it applies to some of my favorite
Icehouse games: Gnostica, RAMbots, and Undercut could all benefit from
customized components (and I believe all three have been attempted).

But I also think there's another simple fact that somewhat limits the
expressibility of an Icehouse or piecepack game: most good games have
much more than 30 components (which is all you get with two stashes--
32 if you count the Treehouse dice).  (A piecepack has, what, 56
pieces?  I think that's still not enough.)  Aside from the
checkers/backgammon/Gipf families of games, it's hard to think of a
well-regarded game with fewer than, say, 80 pieces (5HOUSE).  Look at
the list of Spiel des Jahres winners: I think the only ones that meet
this criteria are Villa Paletti, Bluff, Top Secret Spies, and Focus.
(But now that I think of it, all of these could be adapted into
Icehouse games pretty easily, except maybe Bluff, though that would be
a fine piecepack game for 2-4 players.)

 > In fact, I've been toying with different ideas since I "finished"
 > VF to take the game to another level, with specific components.

I'd like to see that.  In fact, one of my suspicions about why some
people voted it so low is that it doesn't use much of the qualities of
a Treehouse set: no dice, and no stacking or pointing.  And it's only
2HOUSE if you play it with 2 players.  (Personally I didn't think any
of these affected its suitability for the design restriction, but I
could see how some could take that into account.)

 > When I play a game at home, I find myself going more for thematic
 > games... It's hard to do a thematic game with abstract components,
 > even though there are some in both game systems that more or less
 > manage to do it...

For me, the thematic/abstract distinction is irrelevant.  It's not
hard to attach a theme to any game-- I briefly thought about coming up
with a theme for Pylon, but I decided it wasn't worth it, simply
because it didn't make a difference to me.  But if it makes it easier
for someone to grasp, feel free.