I think this has happened to everyone at one point or another, first or second turn of a game you have played maybe two or three times, still learning and you’re out. Wait, what? You mean, like out of the game out? Yes, thank you for playing and sit there until we are done.
We don’t work on a lot of games that have player elimination but I have spent time working on ways to make player elimination a better mechanic to work with.
One thing I like to do is give eliminated players a free in to the next round, as if they never left and give them a starting set of gear. Depending on what round of the game you are in, the starting gear gets better. I don’t want eliminated players to have to walk away from a game feeling like their fun was cut short. I also don’t want the players in the game who managed to stay alive, to feel like the player who was just eliminated still has just as good a chance at winning. Being eliminated, even for a round, should be a penalty*, but it should not make players not want to play again because they made a bad move or the cards didn’t turn their way and they had to sit out the last ten minutes of a game. Even if the game is short and a new game will start soon, I want players to be able to get back into the saddle in the same game. If they were trying to accomplish something in the game and they were almost there, I want them to get back in there and make the game interesting for themselves, or try to get revenge before the game is over. Telling a player they are no longer allowed to play the game comes at great expense to the game and I am not cool with that.
Another trick I like to use is to turn players into ghost players and give them an entire new set of rules to play by. They may not be able to win the game, but they are allowed to mess with other players, items in the game or whatever else the theme allows for that would make sense for a ghost player to mess with. Even give players a new set of movement rules to make their new role as ghost a little more interesting.
*Unless a player could be eliminated on the first or second turn, that is bad design.
If you have any comments or questions, leave a comment here or email Chris at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have made it this far, would you like to go a little farther? We are thinking about starting a regular Google hangout with other designers. We can try to design a game together, we can talk about designers we are working on, you can ask us questions. We can make it whatever we want. What we really want to do is get to know the people that are willing to read all the way to the bottom of our posts. Please contact Chris on Twitter or send him an email and if we are able to get a minimal amount of interest, we can work on putting something together.