Revisiting Monopoly

As a kid Monopoly used to be one of my favorite board games. This was back in the days when games like Movie maker, Mad Magazine, Anti Monopoly, Scrabble and others were big titles.

Depending on which country you came from Monopoly came in various languages and had different streets and stations, but the basics of the game were always the same.

From a game design point of view Monopoly has its flaws, massive flaws as a kid you might not have been aware of but the game designers certainly were. The game was rejected, due to 52 important design errors in 1934. Yes that is right 1934, and the game lives on.

The best version of Monopoly you’ll find on the PC is Monopoly here and no edition by Hasbro. Also known as Monopoly 2008.

While this game captures the original spirit of Monopoly, the game does have its flaws.

What I found while playing this version is the AI could be improved on. Even on the most difficult game setting the AI is predictable and easy to beat. The cards are also not pulled sequentially but randomly, so it is possible (yet uncommon) to get the same card twice.

Why I’m writing this post is because I am pretty shocked that there aren’t any good Monopoly like games. I’ve searched for Monopoly version 2, and it simply doesn’t exist. It strikes me as strange that no one has had a shot at improving on the original 52 design flaws and bringing out a better game.

If you don’t believe me – I challenge you to try and find a Monopoly type game with more complexity and balance.

What I also find kinda strange is since Monopoly has such a cult like following, I would really have expected a version with the best AI opponents anyone could hope to program. Yet this too doesn’t exist, there simply is no single open source effort out there. You would think that maybe this would have been a cool project for some first year student, but not yet. The actual AI would be relatively easy to program, the game largely revolves around luck and even the trading isn’t that complicated.

The whole genre of board games on the PC is a rather neglected category, which is a shame, Monopoly might not be that captivating in it’s current form, but I think at heart it is a great game once you solve the balancing issues and add some more content.

Anyone working on a Clone?

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2 thoughts on “Revisiting Monopoly

  1. > The cards are also not pulled sequentially but randomly, so it is possible (yet uncommon) to get the same card twice.

    I believe you’re mistaken in this, at least I’ve never noticed it. Perhaps you’ve noticed that you can get Chance card that says “Advance token to nearest railroad…” twice in a game – this is correct, because there are two of those cards in the normal Chance deck (at least in the US version) – see this Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chance_and_Community_Chest_cards

    As far as it being easy to write a good AI for the game – I must disagree with that. Working out how the computer should value any given property on the board – critical to the operation of the AI – is a pretty tricky proposition. For example, is it worth trading one of your railroads for a gray property when that would give you a monopoly on gray, but give your opponent a fourth RR? Who gets the better deal? This is a non-trivial calculation.

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