Game-in-a-post: Rolling Market

Here it is! Game-in-a-post of ‘Rolling Market’, which I’m still pretty happy with, truth be told. Rules are here. This JS implementation has one bug I’m still aware of which lets you cheat during the endgame, so just… don’t do that until I fix it.

A few additional tips/thoughts on the game:

 Buy Sell
 Buy Sell
 Buy Sell
 Buy Sell
Volatility: (Market Closed)
Cash: $
Turns remaining: (Click )

Rolling Market introduction & rules

I’ve been testing out a little solo game design lately that’s somewhat inspired by Sackson’s Solitaire Dice. Inspired in the sense that I was looking to come up with something that has that same lack of Yahtzee-esque luck mitigation, instead relying on intuition, probabilities, and risk management. Much like Sackson’s game, this can backfire, and the dice can utterly screw you. But even when that happens, there’s enough going on to where the game is still enjoyable (in my humble opinion).

Full rules are listed after the jump, and will repeat some of this brief overview, but here’s the idea: players have four companies they can buy and sell stock shares from. On every turn, the player rolls dice which influence the current value of a given company’s shares. Buying and selling also affects values. On some turns, the market is closed, but when it is open the player can buy shares of one company and/or sell shares of a different company. The player goes through 12 of these buying/selling turns, and scores based on their final pile of cash.

I have a JS game-in-a-post implementation nearly ready to go, so that will appear shortly, along with a PDF of these rules, and potentially a few more strategic thoughts. Until then…

Lenovo Yoga Book

The Lenovo Yoga Book is a bizarre little machine. It’s unbelievably thin, and hosts a wee 10” display, netbookish almost. Unfold it, like a laptop, to reveal the secret to its thinness – a blank slate where the keyboard should be. Powering the device on, the ‘halo keyboard’, as it is known, glows. It is what it sounds like – a glowing, flat, touch-sensitive keyboard. It is the price paid for a 9.6mm thick, 1.5lb device that still manages a laptop form factor.

Now, I value a good keyboard. My primary keyboard uses Alps switches, my primary laptop is a Lenovo X220 that types rather well. This is neither of those. This is not a good keyboard, it’s a flat slab. But I’ve spent enough time typing on tablets that, a strategy of muscle memory combined with occasional glances down to reorient my fingers means I can type reasonably quick and with reasonable accuracy.

My use case is pretty simple – I spend nearly four hours every day on a train, but I still don’t like carrying a lot with me. I had been taking a Microsoft keyboard which I could sort of, kind of rig up with my phone and type nicely into Buffer Editor with. It works well when seated at a desk, but the unadjustable angle and possibility of the phone just flopping out made it suboptimal for the train. Physical keyboards take up space – the Yoga Book manages to be thinner than just that Microsoft keyboard, though obviously larger in the other two dimensions. But it opens like a compact, it can unfold to any angle (including all the way back to just be a really thick tablet), and just has a much more lappable presence. Also, since it’s running Windows 10, I get a real operating system and filesystem (by this I mean WSL or cygwin), I get real USB (OTG), and a solid software selection. An Android version is also available (for $50 less), but even if I didn’t hate Android, that just seems like a bad plan for as much as they have customized it. It does have an autocorrect feature, however, which the Windows version lacks.

I’ll continue using this thing on the train and finding out its compromises. It is obviously compromised. It’s doing strange new things, and it’s really positioned more for people who want to use the digitizer. Which, yeah, the whole keyboard area can be dimmed and turned into a pressure-sensitive digitizer, either with a typical stylus nib or with an actual ballpoint pen on a paper tablet set atop the surface. I guess I should mess with that more. But for my use-case, so far so good. It’s no Matias Alps keyboard, but it’s very typable, it’s very light, and very compact. I wrote this entire post on the Yoga Book, and didn’t feel like I was suffering1. It’s like a tablet where I can type without obstructing half of my screen.

  1. Punctuation tends to be something I miss. I also don’t hit left shift reliably, and will often also hit ‘a’ at the same time. Also when I enter a capital ‘I’, I tend to get a lowercase ‘i’ next to it, almost like weird keybounce. ↩︎

Game-in-a-post: Sid Sackson's Solitaire dice

Sid Sackson, in his book A Gamut of Games1, describes a solitaire dice game that I have grown very fond of. Fond enough that I decided to whip up a little js version of it, found below. I won’t go into the rules here, others have done that well enough. I will just put a couple of thoughts out there on why I find the game so compelling. Dice are obviously the epitome of randomness; roll-and-move mechanics are universally bemoaned for this. Games that try not to be awful while still using dice generally do so with some sort of randomness mitigation technique. Yahtzee is an easy example – a player gets three rolls to a turn to mitigate luck. Sackson’s Solitaire Dice does not offer any mitigation, and in fact it can be brutal. You could theoretically lose 400 points on your last turn. And while this sounds objectively terrible, it really isn’t. Occasionally you will have a game where the dice just torture you, but for the most part the game forces you to think about probabilities, and attempt to control pacing. If the game is going really well, you may want to try to blow one of your scratch piles up toward the game-ending 8 marks. Similarly, if things aren’t going great, it would probably be in your best interest to take poorly-scoring pairs in order to scratch dice evenly. In my plays thus far, I’d say that a meh game is in the -100-100 point range, a successful game being 350+.

  1. In my 1982 Pantheon (NY) edition, the game is described on page 169. ↩︎

Solo play: One Deck Dungeon

On to my number one solo game at the moment: Chris Cieslik’s One Deck Dungeon, released by Asmadi Games. This game takes all the uncertainty and the brutality of a roguelike, and packs it into a small deck of cards and a pile of dice. One’s character has attributes which indicate the number and color of dice that can be rolled in resolving a conflict. A section of dungeon, so to speak, is entered by spending time (discarding cards). This fills the player up to four face-down dungeon cards, which can then be encountered on a turn by flipping them up. One can either attempt to defeat the card or leave it for later, wasting time and available space to fill with new dungeon cards. Defeating these cards involves rolling the dice allowed by the player’s character attributes and placing them to beat numbers on the card. These can be color-specific or not, and spaces can either require the placement of one die or allow multiple dice. Unfilled slots are what ultimately cause damage – to either health, time, or both. Assuming the player lives, resolving a conflict allows them three choices – the card can be taken as an item (additional dice and/or health), a skill or potion, or experience.