Friday, May 2, 2014

How to engage non-Korean audience? “Go-Stop” (Project: Localizing “Go-Stop” #6)

In the previous posts, I talked about what may be done to change the Japanese Flower cards used in the game of “Go-stop. Now let’s go talk about what should be changed in the game itself.

Previous Post

Go-Stop is a game with a rather simply mechanism. Essentially, you are given a set of cards which are used to collect matching pairs from what is essentially a portion of the remaining card deck. The random factor is introduced by taking a card from the remaining card deck and either playing it or leaving for the other players to take depending on whether there is a matching pair available on that specific players turn.

Once again, the mechanisms are rather simple. The interesting aspects of the mechanisms are related to the point system. There are two major aspect of interest. First, the base points are calculated using a point threshold system rather than am incremental point system. Just collecting a card does not automatically give a player points. The player has to collect more than the required number of specific type of cards to score points.

Second, there is a bonus point system that could radically add or multiply the base points one has. These bonus points are usually generated by collecting a specific combination of cards. Theoretically, these bonus points could add up to several thousand points. For a 3 player game, a player can end the game after accumulating 3 points. You see the difference!

If you agreed to pay $1 per point, the money one loses could not much higher than one expects. This is why Go-Stop is so popular in Korea. Koreans have a tendency to easily get addicted to things since we, as a culture, do not have very balanced lives. It could be traditional gambling, women, or computer MMORPG games. We get addicted it. The fact that a lot of these bonus points are generated by the random card draw after a card is played from the player hand, it the real attraction of the game, Go-Stop. Koreans and our addictive personality go crazy for random factors that make a serious impact to one’s fortunes.

However, this fact does make it more difficult for non-gambling card gamers to accept Go-Stop. For hard core card gamer of the non-gambling variety, there is too much randomness. At least for Poker, there is more strategy and skill associated with the game. With Go stop, it is more of a play as many games while minimizing losses until you get that big combination of cards that win you big money.

For the casual card gamer, the gambling aspect of Go-Stop is a turn off. At the same time, without the gambling aspect, there is not much value to the rather arbitrary bonus point mechanic.  What is the difference whether you win with a 100 point lead or a single point lead? In a game like scrabble, the point system does work better because a game does last longer and thus the points mean more to the player. However, a game of Go-Stop is rather short. If everyone knows what they are doing, it only takes 5 minutes to end the game.

So, what should be done?

I think you need to add more into the base mechanism of the game and I am not talking about the bonus point mechanisms. I do think that the basic mechanisms are interesting and robust enough for this to work.

On the simple side, you could actually turn the game into a dice roll game. This would add another active element to the game albeit a random one. But still it gives the players more to do and lengths the play time. This would be keeping the game as a micro game which is a genre of game that is played for a short period and does not include many components. In this manner, poker could also be considered a micro game.

On the medium side, you could turn it into a card combat game. I think, with a little adjustment to the game mechanics, the combo bonus point system would be actually interesting in a two player combat setting. You could also sell card expansions.

On the more drastic side, you could try to incorporate some of the mechanism into a larger meta-game somewhat in a monopoly style but not as archaic. I have some ideas about that.

What do you think?


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