I got a lot of compliments on Friday's post, so I guess that was a good decision to go with games. Because everybody loves games, even if they don't know it yet! It got me thinking, maybe I should design a game. Game design is something I've always been interested in, even if I've never actually successfully designed a game before. I've started on a couple projects, but never saw them to the finish. But, what's stopping me from making my own baseball game? Maybe this site is going to have to get a shop section.
Before I get further into my game design ideas, let me make a completely unsolicited post to bring your attention to the Eephus League. I found out about it while it was still a school project. UniWatch posted reader Bethany Heck's senior project while she was at Auburn, and it got such a tremendous response that she decided to make it real. She posted her funding plea on Kickstarter and got double what she was asking for. Almost triple, in fact. Any project that tries to get more people interested in score-keeping is good with me. The only nitpick I would have is she didn't include a place for the count, but as I said, it's a nitpick. I didn't donate to her Kickstarter, but I do plan on buying a score book pretty soon. It's just too awesome a project not to support.
Now, back from that aside. The reason I mention all that is I thought about maybe using Kickstarter to get my hypothetical game off the ground. Of course, I'd have to design it first. Before I even get started though, I have to wonder if it's worth doing. One of the great things about APBA, Strat-O-Matic, and Showdown is that they use real MLB players. That's a huge part of the appeal. For one of my classic Showdown teams* I had Derek Jeter as my lead-off hitter. This was not done by trial and error, that was done because I already knew first hand that Jeter was a great lead-off hitter, and if they'd done their balancing at all, I knew he would be great in this game. I also had a Jason Kendall card (back when we all thought Jason Kendall was good), so he hit second. I built my whole line-up because I knew the players in reality. Obviously, that's not going to work if you've got a bunch of made up players.
*I really wish I knew what happened to our old cards.
I hear a few concerns. We played games like Little League Baseball and Bases Loaded as youths, and those didn't have real players. That's true, but a lot of us didn't know better. And those games definitely had suggested line ups. Although some of them definitely needed some tweaking and you could learn some little secrets with enough time. I digress. The point is, you don't get that with a card and dice game. You've got your player cards and their numbers in the game, and possibly their previous year's stats. And that's it. The rest is in your hands. And that can be intimidating, and possibly time consuming. Except in a few odd cases, you really don't want set up to be the biggest part of your game. Even a game like Settlers of Catan only takes maybe five minutes to get set up once you shuffle the board pieces and put it together. And that's pretty intensive for a board game (though it is pretty easily my favorite game). But, I'm guessing an MLBPA license is pretty steep, so I don't think that's really an option unless I were to raise some pretty serious money. So, how to make the preliminary set up go quick for my hypothetical game?
The best option I can think of, beyond just totally making up everything and most likely messing up game balance, is to, um, "borrow" stats. I would guess borrowing MLB players stats has a really good chance of landing me in hot water, or at least getting a cease and desist letter. I would like to avoid that. I could borrow minor league stats, but that seems like it could also get dicey. The best bet seems to be borrowing stats from an independent league or college players.* They're not unionized, and I don't think anybody has any copyright over a collection of statistics. I might even be able to take the players names in that case, but I wouldn't want to do that. I'd have to run that by one of my lawyer friends, but I would make up some fictitious names.
*I'd probably want to take them from a summer league, like the one the Danville Dans play in. I think I might write about why college baseball kind of sucks, and it's not the players fault in the least.
Okay, so we might have somewhat tackled the problem of familiarity. If we give people an idea of what these players "did" over however many games, that should really help people set a line up. I'd be really curious to see what players would do with the information, although that's veering into a psychology experiment instead of a game. The only problem (as far as my end is concerned) is what to do with cards. APBA came with two teams, Showdown came with a "starter pack" of cards. I haven't owned Strat-O-Matic Baseball, but Hockey came with 15 cards per team, I'm told. Not quite a full team, but it's pretty close to a full set. I can't really talk much about APBA and Strat-O-Matic, but one of the big things with Showdown was buying a pack of cards and seeing who you got, and hope you didn't get yet another Neifi Perez card, much like buying actual baseball cards. That seemed to be a pretty good marketing strategy, but that's only going to work with real players. I, as discussed earlier, wouldn't have that luxury. So, I'm afraid I would have to sell the full set with the game, though that would theoretically allow me to package the cards in a suggested line up. Would I do it that way? Probably not. I may not even package them into teams so as not to limit players. But, I think I would and give them some generic names. Dragons, Wildcats, Bears, etc. Or maybe put them in blank envelopes with a line so players can name their own teams. I like encouraging creativity.
What would this game cost? I have no idea. Haven't gotten that far into it. I just wanted to look at some of the challenges I'd be facing to see if it's worth my while to give it a shot. Of course, your comments would be very helpful as well. And thanks, Jayne, for being my first real commenter. I think mother-in-laws count for that, anyway.