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Greetings all from (yet another) newbie!

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Anonymous

...and I'm actually a beginner looking for suggestions, so this may be in the wrong forum.

I've had an idea for a game for some time based on the online comic strip that I draw, but I'm a little fuzzy on how to work the mechanics - I'm an art and comedy guy, not a heavy thinker. :)

Here's the basic premise. The characters in the strip are all college students, and there's also a notoriously hardnosed professor character. In the game, he's assigned a ridiculously tough paper which you'll need a certain book to finish. Only problem? There's only one copy, and of course all the other players want it too.

The point of the game would be to get the book (naturally) and collect Facts from it, and at the end of a certain number of rounds (or days) the paper would come due, and the player with the most Facts would be the winner.

What I envision is something akin to Cheapa-- Games' Captain Park's Imaginary Polar Expedition, where each player has a token, and the book is another token on the board starting in the Library. There'd be different areas of the campus to move to, and once a player had the book, it'd move with that player. The other players would then either find ways to wrest control of the book away, or of course the book would eventually have to be returned to the library (everyone always takes back their library books on time, right? ...yeah...).

At any rate, does anyone have any helpful suggestions, things I should read, or other games I should look at for ideas? I'd greatly appreciate it! Thanks to all!

Matt Nelson

FastLearner
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Greetings all from (yet another) newbie!

Here's what first struck me:

The book has come apart, with pages scattered all over campus. Each player can only hold, say, 2 chunks of pages at a time (of the, say, 20 scattered around). Players move around gathering up the pieces, receiving "credit" for each chunk they've seen, but they have to have two adjacent chunks for it to make sense and receive the credit (like page 6 and page 7). If you're holding 2 pieces then you have to drop one before picking up another.

Some of the strategic issues would be figuring out where you're willing to drop stuff so that you don't help the other players too much -- players would be constantly trying for specific pieces while trying not to drop adjacent chunks too close to each other on the board. By being limited to 2 chunks at a time no player could "horde" pages because you have to be able to hold two pieces to get credit.

Add to that a board with complications. For example the library is only open during certain hours while the nightclub is only open during other hours, so players can only enter at certain times (with time advancing during every players' turn) and are automatically kicked out at closing time -- if a chunk you need is in that location during its closed hours you'll just have to go for something else. Maybe players could drop a chunk in the mailbox, in which case it would appear in the other mailbox the next day.

It could be a game with an action point system. Each player gets, say, 5 action points per turn. Moving from one location to an adjacent location costs 1 AP (action point). Picking up a chunk costs 1 AP. Dropping a chunk takes 1 AP. Simply advancing the clock 1 hour (or whatever time increment) -- that is, waiting -- could cost 1 AP and could only be done once per turn.

As players read chunks (get the knowledge) they place their marker on that part of the book (everyone gets 20 markers plus a movement marker, and a 4 x 5 grid symbolizes the book). First player to collect the entire book wins (you could say that 20 and 1 are adjacent if desired... maybe even put the 20 marks in a circle so that adjacency is clear).

20 might be too many -- perhaps 12 or so is better -- but it would become more clear with playtesting.

Sorry, I know that's pretty stream-of-consciousness, but I don't have a lot of time at the moment. Still, perhaps with sufficient modification it would be a usable idea.

(I've not played Captain Park's IPE, so sorry I can't comment on that.)

Anonymous
Iiiiinteresting ideas!

Okay, let me explain Captain Park's a bit for those who haven't played (fun game, btw).

In Captain Park's, the premise is that you're all members of a gentleman's club, and the infamous CP is always coming back with tales of his heroic deeds of derring-do in faraway lands. Problem is, you've discovered he's a big fat liar. The solution is not to expose him, but to beat him at his own game. You and your friends compete to assemble your own tales of wonder and return to the Gentleman's Club to report your findings.

In the game, there are various types of cards which can only be played when you move to certain locales. In each turn, someone first puts out a token (indicating that you've been gone from the GC one month) and then can move to a location and do whatever is appropriate for that square. In the game, the actions are generally limited to drawing a new card, or if possible, playing a card. Every time you play a card, you may move to another location, but CP, who is also on the board, moves along a predetermined path as well. If he catches you, you lose all your month tokens (which must accrue to a certain amount before you can return to the GC and score an Adventure). There are three safe spaces from CP. That's the game in a nutshell.

In CPIPE, the cards all have various hilarious things printed on them (one of my favorite "fact" cards reads: "Lions Hunt At Night. Lions can see better in pitch darkness than a man can see in the day. By night, they sprout wings and swoop down upon their prey like giant eagles, carrying zebras off like rats."). I was thinking of having actual trivia printed on my cards, so the game would be somewhat educational as well as fun (hopefully), but the page idea could probably work the same way. Thanks very much for the suggestion! I eagerly welcome any others, however. :D The easy part for me will be producing all the artwork, heh heh...

Matt

Deviant
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Greetings all from (yet another) newbie!

Make a rough prototype before you start. Paper and pencil are invaluable - trust me, you WILL change some things if not everything by the time you're done, and pencil marks can be erased. Index cards cut in half work great, and you can cut through six cards at a time easily. Or get those business card labels with the perforations that snap apart - very quick and easy.

Speaking as something of an artist/game designer hybrid, I often can not resist improving the aesthetics, but this is wasted game design time. If your game is fun with no art, it will be that much better when every element is in place.

I haven't played CPIPE, but I've heard about it. Cheapass is a good company for the "just-starting" game producer to emulate. Fast, fun, and cheap.

Anonymous
Greetings all from (yet another) newbie!

Deviant wrote:

Speaking as something of an artist/game designer hybrid, I often can not resist improving the aesthetics, but this is wasted game design time. If your game is fun with no art, it will be that much better when every element is in place.

Oh, yeah, I know that for sure. :) What I figure on doing is making a rough mockup, then once I've run everything into the ground testing and re-testing, and I've thoroughly killed the fun aspect for me personally (kidding-maybe...) I can then think about doing new artwork for the game.

Now, here's another point to the design. I was thinking more about the suggestions put forth by Fastlearner, and I really like the idea of loose pages that the players must collect. This appeals to me greatly. I'm not certain about the idea of timed elements, however. I hate having to remember to increment things while I'm playing (it's the one quibble I have with CPIPE). Instead of that, to keep things moving briskly about the board, how about this idea? As suggested, the board bould be circular in nature, but the buildings would be located on various one-way streets/paths, and in the center is the Library, which a player must pass through to "score" with the pages he's collected. (After all, you gotta put in some study time, neh)? That way, the players can't camp around certain areas, and they also have a goal in common on the field.

The other idea I had was this. What if the game progresses in rounds, and in each round the "pages" (which are actually cards), are shuffled and dealt, face-down, into the different buildings? This gives the added obstacle of possibly retrieving the same page, which makes the player work a little more to find out which pages are where.

Thanks for the help so far, guys! This is really getting me thinking.

Matt

FastLearner
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Greetings all from (yet another) newbie!

MattNelson wrote:
Now, here's another point to the design. I was thinking more about the suggestions put forth by Fastlearner, and I really like the idea of loose pages that the players must collect. This appeals to me greatly. I'm not certain about the idea of timed elements, however. I hate having to remember to increment things while I'm playing (it's the one quibble I have with CPIPE). Instead of that, to keep things moving briskly about the board, how about this idea? As suggested, the board bould be circular in nature, but the buildings would be located on various one-way streets/paths, and in the center is the Library, which a player must pass through to "score" with the pages he's collected. (After all, you gotta put in some study time, neh)? That way, the players can't camp around certain areas, and they also have a goal in common on the field.

I'm not quite certain I follow you, sorry.

Quote:
The other idea I had was this. What if the game progresses in rounds, and in each round the "pages" (which are actually cards), are shuffled and dealt, face-down, into the different buildings? This gives the added obstacle of possibly retrieving the same page, which makes the player work a little more to find out which pages are where.

I think that would be far too random. Part of the fun of many games is to try to plan out what you'll do, but if the cards change every turn then it will just be a matter of luck.

Quote:
Thanks for the help so far, guys! This is really getting me thinking.

Excellent, that's the idea!

-- Matthew

Scurra
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Greetings all from (yet another) newbie!

Matthew - imagine a Clockface. Twelve locations around the edge and the Library in the middle.
A player can only move round the locations in clockwise sequence or from a location into the Library (or from the Library into a location.)
If the players can move round the locations more quickly than moving into the middle and out again, then they would have to decide how to balance their information acquistion against information declaration. (Note that I don't think that fits with most of the rest of your suggestions!)

I second your comment about the randomness though - it's generally a bad idea to essentially nullify a player's hard-earned information with some arbitrary action. However, having it happen perhaps once or twice in a game can be a good thing if managed in a controlled way.

Timed elements are often annoying, but they do provide an excellent "game-length" determinator - designing a good game-end mechanic is one of the toughest things to do: you want to ensure that the game ends in a reasonable time but you don't want it to feel too artificial. Having a timed element (in which the game ends when the marker hits the end of a track) is a good way to induce a bit of pressure on the players (especially as time starts to run out), ensures the game doesn't outlast its welcome and allows for more complex aspects (such as certain areas being closed at certain times) that can be introduced to the game to allow for "basic" and "advanced" versions.
It's pretty easy to simply make the Start Player responsible for moving the hour marker down a space - indeed, you could borrow a neat trick from "Murder at the Abbey" which semi-penalises a player for forgetting to do this by making their pawn return to a designated space and miss a turn (although I have seen it used as a tactic in that game!)

Anonymous
Greetings all from (yet another) newbie!

I guess I see your guys's point about randomness. I suppose I should mention that I come from a background of a lot of CCGs, and though deck-building is paramount in such games, the random factor cannot be denied (I've lost with a better deck just because my good cards managed to get buried). So I'm used to the occasional "please let it be there" feeling.

However, I don't think I was entirely clear about the page acquisition thing. If a player picks up a page he or she already has, I was assuming that they are under no obligation to keep it, but instead could then leave it, revealed, at the space they were on. Then any other player who needs that page is gonna go, "Ah-HA!" and want to head on over there.

You're right about the 'clockface' design probably not working with some of the other suggestions, but I think it could possibly be modified to approximate the same idea. For example, I don't know if the clockwise description is perfectly apt - maybe a spiderweb would be more appropriate for what I'm imagining.

I don't know how you guys manage to come up with this stuff so fast! :D I obviously need to read more on this subject... or just play more games. ;)

Matt

Scurra
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Greetings all from (yet another) newbie!

MattNelson wrote:

I don't know how you guys manage to come up with this stuff so fast! :D I obviously need to read more on this subject... or just play more games. ;)

It's just experience! I can't speak for other people (although I reckon we've all been at it for a while now!), but I've been designing games for quite a long time (I regularly say that I've passed my "bad games" design stage, have entered the "mediocre games" stage, and one day aspire to the "good games" stage ;))

So we're quite attuned to picking up on someone's suggestions and spinning a bunch of mechanics into a quick and dirty design for starting from. Sometimes it's clear that this is a good direction, and you draw up a formal ruleset to see how it pans out. Sometimes it is clearly wrong or inappropriate for the type of game you want, but gives you some useful pointers. Mostly you start off somewhere in between and then have to make decisions about which direction you want

What is possibly a bad way to do things however is to say "hey, I liked CPPE - let's do a similar game" because I think that you sometimes get locked into ideas that actually don't suit your premise.

Anonymous
Greetings all from (yet another) newbie!

Quote:
So we're quite attuned to picking up on someone's suggestions and spinning a bunch of mechanics into a quick and dirty design for starting from. Sometimes it's clear that this is a good direction, and you draw up a formal ruleset to see how it pans out. Sometimes it is clearly wrong or inappropriate for the type of game you want, but gives you some useful pointers. Mostly you start off somewhere in between and then have to make decisions about which direction you want

What is possibly a bad way to do things however is to say "hey, I liked CPPE - let's do a similar game" because I think that you sometimes get locked into ideas that actually don't suit your premise.

True, and I'm aware of that danger. That's why I'm trying to figure out what to introduce that's different from CPIPE. ;)

I guess I need to look closer at the idea of timed elements. CPIPE has a timekeeping technique as well (month counters at the beginning of every turn) but there could be a different way to do it.

What about this? There's a clock in the game, represented by either an actual physical clock (spinner mechanism) or beads or something. After every player has had a turn, the clock increments one hour (or more). That way time can pass and certain buildings can be open or closed in different time frames.

This is so cool. :D Just wanted to tell you guys that. I like discussing the game ideas with friends, but their input is usually less critical.

Matt

Scurra
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Greetings all from (yet another) newbie!

MattNelson wrote:

What about this? There's a clock in the game, represented by either an actual physical clock (spinner mechanism) or beads or something. After every player has had a turn, the clock increments one hour (or more). That way time can pass and certain buildings can be open or closed in different time frames.

Indeed, this would be the standard way to operate that mechanic ;) (the classic example is probably "DungeonQuest" in which any player who fails to get out of the castle before sunset loses automatically.) That did it by having a track down the side of the board along which the Sun marker moved each turn. If you've got a board, that's a decent way to do it.

It also lets you do other neat (non-board related) stuff like letting your player-characters have different abilities at different times of day (maybe one of them is more active at night-time etc.) which, for a game in which you want to use pre-existing characters is a good option.

FastLearner
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Greetings all from (yet another) newbie!

MattNelson wrote:
What about this? There's a clock in the game, represented by either an actual physical clock (spinner mechanism) or beads or something. After every player has had a turn, the clock increments one hour (or more). That way time can pass and certain buildings can be open or closed in different time frames.

That's just what I was thinking. The clock could be divided into different chunks, though, depending on how quickly you want time to pass -- it wouldn't have to be 1-hour segments, but instead could be 2 or 3 or 4 hours chunks.

Quote:
This is so cool. :D Just wanted to tell you guys that. I like discussing the game ideas with friends, but their input is usually less critical.

I love this place, too, in part for that very reason. :)

-- Matthew

Anonymous
Greetings all from (yet another) newbie!

Oh, I meant to ask. Was my second response on the shuffling aspect of the pages more clarifying?

I guess my thought on the shuffling is that it's one way to keep the players moving around to different areas of the board, but if you guys think it'd be too frustrating at every round, then I can see your point. After all, can't fall in love with one rule idea. :) Gotta make the game work for you, not work for the game... or something. I dunno.

Matt

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