With only 2 days left (at time of print) The Networks by Gil Hova is currently taking Kickstarter and the tabletop community by storm. I had the chance to talk to Gil about the game, you can check the Kickstarter out here.
We The Nerdy: Gill firstly thank you for agreeing to this interview with us.
You currently have a game out Kickstarter (The Networks), what can you tell us about the game that we won’t know from looking at the Kickstarter page?
Gil Hova: Honestly, the page tells you a lot!
The folks at Kickstarter will tell you that the role of the campaign page is to “tell the story of the game,” and that’s exactly what I tried to do.
WTN: Having watched the video, and read your Kickstarter page, this is a a game based around owning a TV Network.
Where does the inspiration for a theme like this come from, is it a love of TV or is it something else?
GH: Here comes my honest confession: I’m actually not much of a TV fan! About three or four years ago, I had an auction game that needed a theme, and this one was closest.
WTN: So how important is theme over mechanics for you?
WTN: The theme in this game seems incredibly strong, are there game play elements that get affected by trying to stay as true to the theme as possible?
GH: The theme/mechanism connection wasn’t very strong when I started work on the game, but as I kept working on it over the years, the theme and mechanisms tied into each other better with each play test. The game is extremely thematic now.
At the same time, there are some interesting calls I needed to make. For example, when people put on a TV show in real life, they don’t know how many viewers they’re going to get. They produce the best thing they can afford and hope for the best.
But the fun of the game here is to optimize your shows, stars, and ads. Once you’ve done all that, there shouldn’t be any more moving parts. If I had a die roll or a card draw after all that work to determine how many viewers you’d get, and you’d risk getting a small number of viewers for a great effort, that wouldn’t be so much fun.
This is a concept in game design called input randomness and output randomness. Input randomness is when the randomness happens before you make your decision. For example, when you draw a hand of cards to start your turn, that’s input randomness. Output randomness is when the randomness happens after you make your decision. For example, when you roll a die to see if you kill the dragon, that’s output randomness.
So thematically, output randomness would have been the accurate choice here, but it would have resulted in a game that wasn’t as much fun. What I was able to do is combine input randomness (from the selection of Shows, Stars, and Ads available each season) with variable output of your Shows, Stars, and Ads based on their configuration. Both of those provide enough variability that it masks the lack out output randomness. It still feels variable.
But the bonus here is that as a player, the variability feels under your control. It’s not a die roll telling you how well you’ll score, it’s the decisions you make. So when a player doesn’t score the optimal amount for their show, they’re okay with it, because it was their decision. And when your show scores a huge number of points, it’s great, because it’s your decision.