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January 20, 2013 10:40 AM   Subscribe

Take a copy of Monopoly, cover it in lye for a few days, boil from off the bones whatever flesh remains, and give the clean white skeleton a tasteful, minimalist paintjob, and you end up with ONOPO, an extreme reduction of the original boardgame by Metafilter's own Matthew Hollett, aka oulipian. Via mefi projects, hat tip to fastcodesign c/o Rock Paper Shotgun's always-lovely Sunday Papers feature.
posted by cortex (56 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite

 
Best-looking Monopoly special edition I've ever seen.

Your circle landed on my circle with circles on top--now, you must give me some rectangles.
posted by box at 10:47 AM on January 20, 2013 [8 favorites]


I didn't quite get how paying rent for landing on property spaces that have houses on them worked. On the bottom right corner of the property cards - pay X*200 for each house on every property of that colour?

Someone on the Mefi Projects page suggested a circular board, and I think that plus circular money of varying sizes could be interesting.
posted by divabat at 10:51 AM on January 20, 2013


One potential issue is that people with colorblindness may have a problem distinguishing between properties. It might be that property cost alone is enough to differentiate the properties. It's hard to tell from the presented cards how important the red/green distinction will be.
posted by muddgirl at 10:55 AM on January 20, 2013


But...the only reason to play Monopoly is nostalgia. Why would I play a new-looking game that sucks so terribly badly?
posted by DU at 10:58 AM on January 20, 2013 [5 favorites]


As somebody who is on record as loving Monopoly, and even as somebody who is enough a purist to not like the whole 'changing base tokens thing', I think this is spectacular -- though my opinion may be shaped by the fact that even though I have LOTS of serious opinions on the best Monopoly strategies, I can never remember what the names of the properties are under each color, so this pretty much feels like the way I see the world made flesh.

Beautiful, minimalist, no-mixed-messages-about-capitalism flesh.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:58 AM on January 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Neat!

My only criticism is that the numbers on the game board seem to be unnecessarily crammed in (especially apparent on railroad-with-four-dots). It's not as if the board is lacking in free space to put those numbers.

(Also: Where's "Just Visiting"?)
posted by Sys Rq at 10:59 AM on January 20, 2013


divabat: because capitalism! (although, technically, that particular foible is actually closer to Georgism, but hey).
posted by titus-g at 11:06 AM on January 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


titus-g: I'm still confused. I'm not asking about *why the rule is so*, I'm more asking *what the rule is*. One of the articles about Onopo mention the design for houses and hotels, which I only just realised after looking at the board again. I'm guessing the rule is that if you have a hotel AND extra houses, you get paid X per hotel, X times however many sets of 4 houses you have, and Y per extra house?
posted by divabat at 11:09 AM on January 20, 2013


Hi! I made ONOPO. Just to answer divabat's question, all the rules are the same as in the original game. The diagram in the bottom right corner of the ONOPO deed cards is just meant to illustrate how much houses and hotels cost. The main column on the deed cards lists how much rent is owed when there is one house, two houses, one hotel, and so on, with the topmost rent amount meant to replace the "If a player owns ALL the lots of any Color-Group, the rent is Doubled on Unimproved Lots in that group" from the original Monopoly deeds.
posted by oulipian at 11:21 AM on January 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


Ooh, want.
posted by mykescipark at 11:22 AM on January 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


But...the only reason to play Monopoly is nostalgia.

Not so! You might want to break up friendships or cause shouting matches between family members, but not have enough time for a game of Risk.
posted by figurant at 11:24 AM on January 20, 2013 [37 favorites]


divabat, regarding "I'm guessing the rule is that if you have a hotel AND extra houses", my understanding is that Monopoly doesn't actually allow you to build more than one hotel (or a hotel plus houses) on a property, that's a house rule that people often play with.
posted by oulipian at 11:25 AM on January 20, 2013


Really neat, though now I want to know what the Chance and Community Chest cards look like. Do you still learn that you won the beauty contest, or do you just get a stark directive like +$75?
posted by zompist at 11:51 AM on January 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I love the design almost as much as I hate Monopoly.
posted by BrotherCaine at 11:56 AM on January 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


I was saying to someone, looking at this, that I feel like you could drop this pretty much as-is into the next Mass Effect game as the playable spacepub minigame and it would take a lot of people a couple good solid blinks before they figured out what was going on.
posted by cortex at 12:01 PM on January 20, 2013 [5 favorites]


Really neat, though now I want to know what the Chance and Community Chest cards look like. Do you still learn that you won the beauty contest, or do you just get a stark directive like +$75?

zompist, I think if you click on image 4 on the linked site you see them. They're pretty stark (and pretty)!

I really like this design, oulipian. Congratulations!
posted by theredpen at 12:25 PM on January 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


There are some good possibilities for alternate titles and themes, too, like POL, a game of building voting blocs, ONO, a conceptual-art experience, and POLY, which is played with a set of erotic dice.
posted by box at 12:25 PM on January 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Or MONO, which is a kissing game where you collect virus tokens.
posted by hydrophonic at 12:34 PM on January 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


Really neat, though now I want to know what the Chance and Community Chest cards look like. Do you still learn that you won the beauty contest, or do you just get a stark directive like +$75?

"You engaged in a behavior with a resulting outcome! Obtain several items."
posted by and so but then, we at 12:46 PM on January 20, 2013 [10 favorites]


OOOOOOHHHHH. derp. Thanks for explaining. I have been playing Monopoly since I was a kid and was wondering if I had missed out on some obscure rule (I don't think any of the games I played ever got to the building-hotel stage).
posted by divabat at 12:56 PM on January 20, 2013


box: I would totally be down for a game of ONO. And POLY exists already; it's just a computer game named Onyx..
posted by divabat at 12:57 PM on January 20, 2013


I really, really, really like the house/hotel pieces.
posted by Spatch at 1:43 PM on January 20, 2013


I saw this around design blogs a while ago. My immediate reaction was that by reducing the game to its core rules, it sheds the colorful narrative of the game, and that is what made the game so popular in the first place. This is probably why there are a gazillion different -opoly variations around, everyone wants to substitute their favorite narrative around it. But as a design exercise, this is fairly common, to strip out everything non-essential, including Fun.

I was disappointed, though, by the OP teaser about covering the game in lye. I thought this might be an elaborate, nearly indestructible version with heavy patina through acid etching on the board and game pieces. That would be really interesting.
posted by charlie don't surf at 1:52 PM on January 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


That's the dilemma with something like Monopoly, though: if all it has going for it is the set dressing, it's not much of a game. Not that people shouldn't get joy out of whatever they get joy out of, but you don't ruin a poker game by taking the porn stars off the cards and you don't ruin chess by not having animatronic battles when one piece takes another.

As a design exercise, ONOPO is an interesting alternate look at a game that has existed as a cashcow largely on the back of fandom-baiting licensing wholly unrelated to the core game. That it might not be much fun to play is, as anyone who has had to play more games of Monopoly than they'd like can attest, not an indictment of the designer but of the materials he had to work with.

To put it another way: there are far better skeletons over which to drape a colorful narrative, if that's what you're primarily interested in.
posted by cortex at 2:33 PM on January 20, 2013 [6 favorites]


I, too, was distracted by the lye-stripping description.
posted by redsparkler at 2:34 PM on January 20, 2013


the next Mass Effect game as the playable spacepub minigame

As somebody who just started playing Mass Effect recently...and somehow played High Stakes Quasar for probably half an hour last night... I'm not sure if this is a wonderful or horrible idea.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 2:43 PM on January 20, 2013


This looks like a board game that the people on the Lost island would have to keep playing to prevent the world from ending.
posted by nev at 2:49 PM on January 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


This looks like a board game that the people on the Lost island would have to keep playing to prevent the world from ending.

I'm pretty sure that's a good description of how most people feel about Monopoly, actually -- that it contains a whole bunch of meaningless numbers that seem to have a pattern but don't, the game itself is just an endless cycle even if it felt important at the beginning, and you'll probably end up trying to kill somebody just so you don't have to keep playing.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 2:57 PM on January 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


That's the dilemma with something like Monopoly, though: if all it has going for it is the set dressing, it's not much of a game.

The last Monopoly thread we had I presented a few ideas for how to improve and speed it up while not outright abandoning the game. To recall, the two primary ideas I had were:

1. Distribute all the properties at the start of the game (being sure that no one ends up with a starting color group), come up with ways to force players to make trades semi-regularly (like on passing 'Go'), and also not allow players to mortgage, sell/buy houses or hotels, or make deals at any time other than the beginning of their turn. This could speed the game up by giving players a fairer chance of making color groups and forcing them to choose between profitability and survival chances as they travel the board. It might still have a minor effect though, especially with knowledgeable players.

2. Play the game completely on autopilot, with a computer handling every aspect of the game including making all minor, non-trading decisions in the game automatically, but let the players interrupt to make trades with each other. Played this way a game could be over in minutes, and then everyone could move on to Power Grid or Agricola, or something.
posted by JHarris at 2:58 PM on January 20, 2013


A magical Jumanji board transports players to the wild jungle.

A magical Zathura board takes players to the depths of outer space.

A magical Monopoly board, well, the government slaps you on the wrist because you're "too big to fail."
posted by JHarris at 3:02 PM on January 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


The best way to speed up the game is to read and follow the actual rules, most importantly the rule that says that if a player does not want to buy a property when they land on it then the property goes up for open auction. This is vital.
posted by alasdair at 3:30 PM on January 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


I really like this! It's so European, such a relief from the tacky branded editions. I'd play it, if I knew anyone else who liked Monopoly, which, sadly, I do not. Possibly it's because they've played it with me already.

I did once find a place to play Monopoly online, but it got old fast when I was subjected to anti-Semitic insults over chat because I was winning.
posted by Countess Elena at 4:03 PM on January 20, 2013


No, as someone who's played a good deal of Monopoly I dispute that alasdair. It makes it a bit faster, but it's still waaay too long, and it's too dependent on the players trading with each other to speed it up.

The only thing in the game that compels people to trade is the possibility that someone else might have more color groups than he has. If no one ends up with a color group while the properties are being initially purchased (and it usually takes a while for that to happen, holding out frequently-false hope for a substantial portion of the game), then someone must make a trade for the game to end, because players will be able to circle the board endlessly collecting $200 on each trip by Go, and the game will last until someone trades or everyone gets sick of it. Depending on your group that could be pretty quick, or it might never happen; in most of the groups I played in, it was the latter, and I did insist on playing with the full rules.

If one person gets a full color group by chance, then the nature of the game changes. That player wins unless the other players take action. Then trades tend to happen pretty quickly (provided the players are savvy enough to see it's in their interests).

But even when trades are made... THAT is the important decision of the game. There are only a handful of trades in a game; everything else is just a drawn-out, convoluted test of whether those trades are good or not. Every other decision in the game is trivial, to a player versed-enough in the rules and their consequences. The length would be forgivable if Monopoly's play gave players meaningful decisions to make throughout that time. But it doesn't, and it's not. That is why Monopoly is looked down upon by serious board gamers.
posted by JHarris at 4:12 PM on January 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Monopoly! - Yes! I love that game!
posted by odinsdream at 6:48 PM on January 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


2. Play the game completely on autopilot, with a computer handling every aspect of the game including making all minor, non-trading decisions in the game automatically, but let the players interrupt to make trades with each other. Played this way a game could be over in minutes, and then everyone could move on to Power Grid or Agricola, or something.

I'd be all about having a couple of tireless Monopoly-playing robots. It would be like kittens, only (a) less fun (b) less pooping.
posted by and so but then, we at 8:11 PM on January 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I really like the design, but I wish that it wasn't textless. Minimalism is anti-clutter, not anti-text; if the design makes things harder to understand, it's failing the user.
posted by me3dia at 8:18 PM on January 20, 2013


Minimalism is anti-clutter, not anti-text; if the design makes things harder to understand, it's failing the user.

I agree, certainly. I made this as a design experiment and a learning exercise. The goal of the project for me was taking this complex system of rules and figuring out how I could represent it visually in the simplest way. Definitely in some places it would have been more user-friendly to use text, but I wanted to challenge myself to come up with visual ways to convey information and relationships between parts of a system. I was inspired in part by the design of the card game Race for the Galaxy, which uses very little text. The feedback (both positive and negative) has been really helpful.
posted by oulipian at 8:57 PM on January 20, 2013


As far as I remember the only way to decisively win at monopoly was to steal from the bank, which I would do expertly and from all angles. Just like real capitalism!
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:57 PM on January 20, 2013


Oh and I would buy this awesome version of the game for, let's say, around 50$ (real money).
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:58 PM on January 20, 2013


cortex: To put it another way: there are far better skeletons over which to drape a colorful narrative, if that's what you're primarily interested in.

That is precisely backwards from what appears to be the original function of the game. The game mechanics were devised to fit underneath a pre-existing narrative of Atlantic City.

me3dia: I really like the design, but I wish that it wasn't textless. Minimalism is anti-clutter, not anti-text; if the design makes things harder to understand, it's failing the user.

LOL, you just gave me an idea. You made me remember an old script treatment I tried and failed to sell back in the 80s, called "Mini Mall-ism." It was a ludicrous story about a war between mini-malls controlled by gangs that used the UV lights in tanning salons to grow hybrid algae-marijuana at nights. Anyway, you could make the Mall-opoly game where each side is one mini-mall, you need to build a donut shop, a liquor store, and a tanning salon on each mini-mall before you can build a restaurant.

Yeah, people love their context and narrative more than they like the mechanics of the game.
posted by charlie don't surf at 9:10 PM on January 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


I was inspired in part by the design of the card game Race for the Galaxy, which uses very
little text.


Ah, and that's a weird thing, because I've found Race For The Galaxy a difficult game to learn and teach precisely because there's no text on the cards, there's abstract icons for everything. I note that 7 Wonders also has cards that code effects entirely using icons, but for some reason I don't have the problems with it that I do RFTG.

Honestly, I think ONOPO does a bit better than Race in this regard.
posted by JHarris at 11:51 PM on January 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I love that of the two two-property color groups, the ghetto dark purples have the one- and two-circle icons, while the high-rent dark blues have the two- and three-circle icons. Well done!
posted by jcronen at 6:31 AM on January 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've found Race For The Galaxy a difficult game to learn and teach precisely because there's no text on the cards

Oh, me too! Definitely. But once you learn the system it's really efficient. I think they designed the game that way so that there is lots of room on the cards for the artwork. It's interesting to see how they continue to extend the icon system in the expansions.
posted by oulipian at 9:07 AM on January 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, JHarris, you make some good points: I disagree in that the going round and seeing who gets what is fun (one of the rules is that properties must be on public display), and the "who will go bust first" is fun. It only takes one person to be prepared to do whatever to get a colour group and that breaks the stalemate. I maintain that following the actual rules would help 90% of people enjoy the game.

But mainly I'm cross at your "serious boardgamer" comment. Silly people might like to poo-pop popular (or often-played!) games, as silly people do, but I don't think we have to.
posted by alasdair at 10:23 AM on January 21, 2013


Oulipian, it's really quite lovely as an object on its own, and an elegant solution in the engineering sense of the world.

As far as games needing context or narrative to be fun, I have known people to play Parcheesi, Backgammon, and Cribbage, so that's no objection on its own.

On the practical side, I'd love to explore how playable Onopo actually is, either by players familiar with the template game or by newcomers with a similarly simplified set of rules.

I can see using this in classes on information display and user interface design. These can be fun, but the practical challenge is making them clear to varying audiences, especially, audiences that speak (and read) different languages.

Onopo is like a wireframe model of the information- and work-flow of Monopoly re-rendered with a sense of design.

Nice.

Did you do anything about the player tokens? I'm trying to imagine deracinated terrier, tophat, racecar, flatiron, shoe, thimble . . .
 
posted by Herodios at 10:28 AM on January 21, 2013


I assume, in the spirit of Eurogames, that they would just be different-colored meeples. They could even be the cylinder-shaped meeples instead of people-shaped meeples for an extra layer of abstraction.
posted by muddgirl at 10:32 AM on January 21, 2013


Really neat. And clean.




I hate it.
posted by Doohickie at 11:06 AM on January 21, 2013


Did you do anything about the player tokens?

No, I didn't do anything with the player tokens. When I played as a kid we would often use our toys or household objects as tokens, which was fun because everyone picked something unexpected. Although I think the little colored cubes from Pandemic or Agricola would work well for ONOPO.
posted by oulipian at 11:19 AM on January 21, 2013


But mainly I'm cross at your "serious boardgamer" comment. Silly people might like to poo-pop popular (or often-played!) games, as silly people do, but I don't think we have to.

Well, I didn't mean to deride non-serious players out of hand. Sorry if you took offense. There are many reasons to play games. And in fact the very phrase "serious boardgamer" is kind of self-negating by itself, don't you think?
posted by JHarris at 6:42 PM on January 21, 2013


Although I think the little colored cubes from Pandemic or Agricola would work well for ONOPO.

They might work better than they do in their original game. Because the fact that you have these disks and cubes and are supposed to mentally translate to vegetables and animals is my least favorite thing about Agricola. I've been meaning to get the "animeeples" for my set for a while now.
posted by JHarris at 6:43 PM on January 21, 2013


Passing go vs landing on go?
Where does it say to collect (or do not collect) $200?
Utilities explained?

This is a really cool design...wondering after a few of the "alternate" rules, like landing on Free Parking.
posted by Chuffy at 9:28 PM on January 21, 2013


Also, where's the, "It's 2 AM, nobody has a monopoly, I just landed on Boardwalk, fuck you Grandma, I'm going to bed!" with the requisite board flip?

Having no memory of actually finishing a game of Monopoly...ever...I wonder if these guys can do the same thing to Risk, my least favorite game of all-time.
posted by Chuffy at 9:32 PM on January 21, 2013


This is a SERIOUS GAME.
posted by Chuffy at 9:35 PM on January 21, 2013


And in fact the very phrase "serious boardgamer" is kind of self-negating by itself, don't you think?

You've saddened me so much that my kriegsspiel push stick has fallen from my black gloved hand.
posted by BrotherCaine at 1:31 AM on January 22, 2013


Not sure whether to post this here or in the "HMV closing down" thread:
New UK Monopoly board unveiled

"It’s your birthday! You receive an HMV voucher. Collect £0 from each player."
"Your bank has made an error. Pay them £100 plus £20 in additional fees."

posted by EndsOfInvention at 5:26 AM on January 22, 2013


You've saddened me so much that my kriegsspiel push stick has fallen from my black gloved hand.

Kriegspiel? What a noob. I used to play that game when I was like 13 years old.
posted by charlie don't surf at 6:17 PM on January 22, 2013


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