The Year in Review: 2006

Another year has slipped through our fingers, and as 2006 comes to a close I’ve decided to write up another year in review, much as I did for 2005.

I wrote in 2005 that I thought the biggest change of that year was the growing bifurcation of the gaming industry, with older manufacturers starting to back off of the gamer’s market while newer manufacturers were going for the more complex side of things.

I’m happy to say that, if 2006 is any judge, that was a short-term trend. Hans im Gluck, Alea, Kosmos, and others all put out more serious games this year, suggesting that either 2005 was an anomoly or else a misstep; though mainstream German publishers will probably never again publish games like those seen at the height of 2000 or so, they’ve definitely returned to a level that will make many of us happy if Blue Moon CityAugsburg 1520On the Underground, and others are any predictor of the future.

And for 2006, if I noted any general trend, it would be the growing importance of the American side of the gaming industry. Days of Wonder and Fantasy Flight Games together embody that strength and seem to both have done quite well, as I’ll discuss more later. However we also saw smaller publishers like Atlas Games put out some very German games, and even Mattel gave it a shot. Only the bankruptcy of Eagle Games suggested any downward trend in the American rise of designer games, and I suspect that was an anomoly itself, the result of Eagle’s investments in Poker, not board games.

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Mathematics & Game Design, Part Two

In October I published an article called Mathematics & Game Design, Part One. Therein I wrote about some of the problems that appear when games make their math too obvious. But in closing I stated, “Though I think math should largely be hidden from players, designers absolutely need to think about it.”

In this article I want to look at the other side of that coin by examining two games that had potential, but where I was let down by the lack of mathematical analysis applied to the games — which ultimately resulted in them not standing up to, at least, my play (though in both cases they would have stood up to more casual play, if players did not think about the math).
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