Phylomon

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Misconceptions that should be avoided/stomped on

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We are presumably expected to spread the word about Phylo(mon). This is not a problem... but if people get the wrong idea about the project, that is a problem. I think we could use a thread devoted to exactly that kind of problem, so that we can learn from each other's mistakes. Here's min, from an IRC chat earlier tonight:
Code:
Me: Basic premise is more or less "Pokemon, except with real animals and real biological factoids".
[Me: For anyone who may find that interesting: http://phylomon.forumotion.net/phylomon-f1/
[Other dude]: What do you use for Psychic-Type critters?
Me: Like I said, *real* animals. No Psychic stuff at all.
• [Other dude] looks at card mock-ups. "Where're the lists of powers and things like that?"
Me: The "powers", if any, will be the critters' actual physical abilities. As you may have percieved, Phylomon is at rather an early stage of development at the moment...
I honestly thought "Pokemon, excerpt with real animals" was a decent capsule summary, because I figured the "with real animals" clause would be a sufficient indication that This Is Not Your Child's Virtual-Reality Cockfighting Game. Alas, [Other dude]'s first question indicated that they didn't catch that subtlety... and their second question, after I repeated "real animals" with emphasis, indicates that said re-emphasis did not correct their misconception.
It would be pointless to avoid using the word "Pokemon" when talking about Phylomon, but I think it would be better not to describe Phylomon as "Pokemon with real animals". Sure, it's a pithy phrase; it just runs a nontrivial risk of hammering The Wrong Impression into people's heads. Something like "inspired by Pokemon" might be better.

Anybody else have any 'horror stories' they want to share?

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This I think will happen sooner or later, but I'm often asked how will this game be played, and I'm really much of the opinion that there will be multiple ways of playing as time goes on. Kind of like a normal deck of cards has so many different ways of using.

Anyway, this is why I think it would be great to keep at this forum even after a first set of rules is developed.

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One thing to emphasize is that - at least to my understanding - Phylomon isn't about leveling up your critters to create the strongest fighter or team of fighters. How would an oak tree begin to fight a whale shark, anyway? They're in roughly the same size bracket but...

Maybe the game's about creating a fully-realized ecosystem, complete with decomposers, primary producers, herbivores, and apex predators. Help kids realize that it takes a lot of clover plants to support even one hamburger.

Or maybe the goal is to show the struggle for existence in the natural world, including the need to gather resources for oneself (avoiding competition), find safety (avoiding predation) and shelter (avoiding natural disasters), and finding a mate (thereby avoiding extinction - please forgive the non-selfishness of this statement but you have to admit this is how most people understand the idea of evolution...).

Whatever the goal turns out to be, whether it's a cooperative game where kids combine their decks or a competitive game where Jimmy is the winner and better luck next time to little Johnny, the "feeling" won't be the same as Pokémon, not by a long stretch.

The similarity lies in the fact that it's a collectible card game, playing off the impulse to "catch 'em all" and accrue a longer list/ bigger collection than the next guy. The characters are cute and kids identify with them. Learning stats and creating strategies comes alongside that naturally. If we can get kids to learn some real biology along the way or maybe spark some interest to investigate science or to go for a walk in the woods, then I'd say we've accomplished our goal in creating Phylomon.

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...although who's to say that somebody won't come up with interesting ways to play with these cards, that do happen to veer away from reality. i.e. Can you learn something by pretending to pitch a blue whale versus an oak tree? Or even, if you pitch a blue whale versus an actual pokemon card?

I do think such options are not to be focused on (i.e. the eco community building idea is definitely a great one - especially if we come up with ways to "mess' it up with scenario cards, etc), but at the same time, it might be worth discussing whether we should be "adamant" on reflecting reality not just most of the time, but all of the time.

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davehwng wrote: Can you learn something by pretending to pitch a blue whale versus an oak tree? Or even, if you pitch a blue whale versus an actual pokemon card?

That's a very good point. The Top Trumps game does just that, in fact - by using stats like "cuteness" and "rarity," they create a sort of competition between organisms that would never meet in the wild by giving the players a gauge to which both creatures can be compared. I think Top Trumps achieves this by having a deceptively simple rules system.

davehwng wrote: ...whether we should be "adamant" on reflecting reality not just most of the time, but all of the time.
No one will want to play the game if it isn't fun. Walking around banging my "this is science!" stick on the heads of kids who want to pit pocket gophers versus horseshoe crabs is totally counterproductive. Maybe exercising their imaginations in this way will help them realize why we don't see the gophers and the crabs in the same environments, and that would be a discovery they made on their own, intuitively.

So maybe it would be good to let them put polar bears in the Sahara, if they want, but then the polar bear won't be able to perform to the peak of its abilities, reflecting nature without limiting the imagination of the players.

Sometimes, I just need someone to tell me to back off and remind "it's only a game" Smile

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I think a raccoon could take on Pikachu anyday!

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I think this is a useful thread. It might actually be best to describe Phylomon as a cross between Magic the Gathering and real biology, with board-control elements.

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Phylomon in its current iteration is, as far as I can tell, absolutely nothing like either Pokemon or Magic: the Gathering. Associations to either will just be misleading. Maybe we could say that it's a game about how ecosystems develop, or something like that?

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I disagree; it's still a useful analogy. Both M:tG and Phylo share land cards/habitats that enable other cards, also creatures, and "event" cards that affect other cards like enchantments in Magic.

It's clearly not a direct parallel, but it shares core mechanics with an already established game people are familiar with, so it's a reasonable reference point.

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I'm operating purely on my memories of these games, of course, having not played either in quite a while. But as I recall, in neither is the physical juxtaposition of cards significant.

In Pokemon, for instance, you've got an active card, several benched ones, and your hand. Pokemon can have Energy cards attached to them, sure, but that's pretty different -- it's an indication of association executed by connecting the cards (in this case, stacking them, actually -- but close enough), but juxtaposition has no significance. Their connection graphs are simply fans around a center node -- nothing even remotely interesting at all.

Magic has a bit more depth, but again you see the presence of cards, not their positioning, being the important thing. Mind you, I never got very far into Magic, but as I understood it, basically each person has their side of the playing space, and is trying to develop a better card configuration than their opponent, so that they can win.

For contrast, Phylomon has a very different setup -- cards are placed next to other cards and form networks. There's inter-card interaction, sure, but the way it works is entirely different. As far as I've seen, linking cards up to each other in Phylomon's manner is not even a mechanic in either Magic or Pokemon, let alone the focus of the game. The fact that this is Phylomon's core mechanic means, at least to me, that we should give more emphasis to it, which is something that comparisons to Magic and Pokemon simply don't do.

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If anyone is old enough to have played the original star wars ccg, it bears the most resemblance to that game. There were location cards which were played in a line between the players, and then characters and vehicles were played on each location. However, since kids today will have no idea what I'm talking about, perhaps it isn't the best example.

I think it speaks well for the rule set Fenris developed that it isnt easily compared with popular games, we just need to figure out the best way to describe it.

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Whenever I talk about Phylo, I just tell people that it is a biology Trading Card Game because two reasons:
1. Most of my peers a teacher.
2. If I describe Phylo as a Pokemon TCG but with real animal, students will think that it is something like Animal Kaiser instead.

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