The game that was requested more than any other game, when I did a survey about a year ago, was Monopoly.
For those of you living under a rock, Monopoly is a board game that originated in the United States in 1903 as a way to demonstrate that an economy which rewards wealth creation is better than one in which monopolists work under few constraints and to promote the economic theories of Henry George, and in particular his ideas about taxation. Since the board game was first commercially sold in the 1930s, it has become a part of popular world culture, having been locally licensed in more than 103 countries and printed in more than thirty-seven languages.
With many games, I research open-source games, and look at the programming code written by other software engineers. I study how they approached the game on a computer, such as Windows or Mac. Sometimes a programmer had a great idea on how to present the game, and I can translate what they’ve created into an audio equivalent.
With Monopoly, the game rules are straightforward, the board layout is well known, so other people’s programs didn’t really help. Almost all of the games I found were designed for people to play against each other; I wanted to find one where you played against a competent computer opponent. I evaluated over 30 different open source Monopoly programs, and while some of them did let you play against a computer, it played horrendously.
I stumbled upon a master thesis written about 20 years ago, where the researcher came up with strategies for a greedy player, an evil player, a cheap player, an extravagant player, and for fun, a stupid player. The differences relate to what types of properties they collect, how often them build houses, how often they mortgage properties, and how they decide which properties to trade.
When I started testing the game, called Blindfold Oppoly, I let you pick which types of players are in the game. The testers told me that the players were too predictable, and they found it easy to come up with a strategy to win against each player type.
I created a “wise” player that took the best features of each of the four player types, and randomly set which tendencies each computer player would have. Most times, the wise player makes the best possible move, but sometimes he reverts back to a tendency. That made the game far more interesting.
While I’ll describe some of the features of the game in another blog, what I found fascinating was reading blogs about when to how to make a good a trade in Monopoly. Apparently, a trade only makes sense if you end up with a monopoly with rents higher than your opponent. If you need a monopoly, and you end up with lower rents in the trade, you must get sufficient additional cash to handle landing on their hotel several times. In addition, it makes sense to mortgage everything you own to achieve your monopolistic goals.
You can download Blindfold Oppoly here: