I’m a bit of a Luddite. While I embrace the internet I have no real interest in the zeros and ones in the background – or the scary world of ‘big brother’ AIs.
While I understand computers have huge potential in gaming, I have little interest in exploring these avenues myself. So, will I be left behind? Or worse, has it already happened?
My last published game, Witless Wizards, has a great Tabletopia page done by Drawlabs. While my friend and co-designer David Thompson always creates versions of his prototypes on Tabletop Simulator. These are clearly brilliant for both prototyping pre-publication and publicising post-publication. I’m happy to play on them. But you won’t find me delving into the back-end of them myself.
AI and board game design
Where these platforms really come into their own is big data. I know, for example, CGE ran some serious algorithms to balance factions in its asymmetric abstract game Tash-Kalar. What better way to supplement more emotional human testing than via machine?
You can also see AI and board game design going hand-in-hand simply storing data on matches played. I’m sure Feuerland Spiel used the data from thousands of online plays of Terra Mystica to help them balance factions in expansions and in Gaia Project, for example. While data from the online implementation of CGE’s Through the Ages clearly influenced changes in second edition, A New Story of Civilisation.
I’m not alone…
In a recent survey, (which I spoke about recently on the topic of Kickstarter) 33% of ‘product professionals’ listed their biggest fear as new technology stifling creativity. Look at Tash-Kalar, for example. While I enjoyed the game for a while it was just too dry to fall in love with. Too precise. Might the game have been more popular if those rough edges hadn’t been smoothed away?
Also in the survey, ‘AI and predictive tech’ was listed as the second most desirable technological advancement for those same retail product professionals (40%). We’re clearly a divided market, with as many creatives fearing AI as wanting to embrace it. But I take solace in the fact it was beaten into second place by 3D printing (46%).
What are your thoughts on AI and board game design? I’d be fascinated to hear from those working on digital platforms, where many analogue games now appear in digital form. And where digital games that could’ve been analogue are constantly updated and amended, presumably via big data feedback.
Great article Chris! Definitely some thing to think about. Personally, I couldn’t see myself designing without Tabletop Simulator and Tabletopia as i would have too hard of a time getting my prototypes to the table. I agree that algorithms can be useful in balancing, but often times even though the numbers make mathematical sense, they still aren’t balanced for real world play, so that can be a tricky situation. Something to be aware of for sure.
Absolutely. It’s a case of where you draw the line in terms of accepting data as gospel.