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Is this feasible?

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ycyclop
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Joined: 11/12/2008

After a long time that I haven’t entered BGDF (for so many reasons but I’m happy to say that some of them are connected to gaming) I reentered and I saw the new “online board game project”. I read the different threads and I think that the goal is a good one but (there is always a but) not realistic, well not in the way people are going at it now.

Real online game that will enable programmers to define their game based on predefined block is a huge task, since there are so many blocks need to be defined (map, cards, tokens, behavior of the elements, interaction etc…). Now think about building the same application with simple UI for non-programmers. This is even a larger task.

I’ll give you some examples of what I mean and give some suggestion.

Lets looks at a “simple” item: maps.
Just from the top of my head I can think of 4 different types of maps:
1: hexagonal or square ordered map. Any AH war game is a good example.
2: Non ordered map: El Grande, Taj Mahal
3: Randomly generated map at the beginning of the game: Settlers is a fine example
4: Randomly generated map that evolves as the game goes on: El caballero, Kings gate and much more.

Just building structures that will enable all these maps is hard (how do you handle a map that evolves during the game is very hard to define). Now take the map case and try to think about different components in different games to see how many cases you have out there. And this is the simple part. Why simple? Because these are the things you are aware of. People here on this group are trying to think of new games. This is good new for all of us as players. It is bad news for people who try to develop generic software. If I want to test a new mechanics, odds are that the system will not support it and I’m back to square 1: no online software to support me.

Can something be done?
Yes and no.
Lets start with the no: Bottom line we (as a community) will not be able to develop a software (well not in realistic time) that will enable no-programmers to build all types of games to play test online.
Yes: there are two ways I think we can go at it.
1: Couple of people who want their games to be tested will define what are the game components they need and simply build the first version that will support those games. Then every game added some programmers would write the addition code and UI that needs to support the new game. After several games, we will have a system that for simple games will work. This is the quick and dirty method. It’s quick because you’ll have a first version fast. Dirty because when adding more games programmers will probably need to rewrite some code in different places.
2: Several people will define all the basic things and the programmers will try and write some basic framework architecture that will support all the basic structures that were defined. Then the first game or two will be built on this framework, adding UI and other elements. This will take longer but the code will be cleaner and probably more stable.

I don’t want to discourage people but the problems should be shown and be in front of the people. I saw too many projects that failed because they were not realistic. Those projects were interesting and fun but the huge goals the people set overwhelmed them and they simply did not know were to start and what steps to take. Documents were written, elements were defined, but then after seeing the work needed they simply gave up.
I don’t want this to be the case. It is not as if we have so much spare time on our hands. Time we put into gaming we want it to be worth something.

Well kind of long but something to think about.

phpbbadmin
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Joined: 04/23/2013
Re: Is this feasible?

xycyclop,

I proposed an even simpler method in another thread. That proposal was this:

Pretty much all game components can be represented as images.. Boards, dice, tiles, chits, pawns, etc. For the most part, this is ALL you will need. If you are creating a 'dumb' (read: no rules checking, no checking for who owns what, etc). virtual game environment, then the images are the only thing the player really needs to see. For this reason, you could define a board in the same way that you define a six sided die or a tile or a chit. You could call this generic definition a game object. All that a game object really needs to 'do' to function properly is display an image and be moveable. Now obviously for things like dice and cards you need to be able to display just more than one graphic. For that reason, I proposed game objects have 'states', that when defined allow the object to display an appropriate image depending upon it's current state. For a card, two possible states might be face up and face down. For a six sided die, the object might have 6 states each with a different image displaying the appropriate dotted side. Now beyond that, it would be great if the engine could rotate the image for a given game object. So for playing cards, if you needed to you could allow the engine to rotate the card 90 degrees in any direction. For war games this would be necessary if you need to represent the facing for a particular unit.

Next you would need to be able to assign an object to a group of other 'like' objects. This would allow for things like creating decks, pools, shuffling, drawing random objects, etc.

I believe that with the above framework, 90% or more of the board games available on the market could be created within the software.

However, realistically, I don't believe it will ever be done unless ONE person with the know how and the time takes on the project. I am not that person. I don't know who is. I wish I did. I sure could use it.

-Darke

ycyclop
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Joined: 11/12/2008
Is this feasible?

Hi Darkehorse.
Even what you suggest is not enough:
Lets say you have a deck of cards when do you turn a card? who says to the system that does not have any rules when to do what? I think it can be annoying when the players by accident do the wrong action and might ruin the test play since the system will not put any limitation on them.
But I think that in a sense your direction is a direction that should be checked and maybe find a way to prevent accidents or allow some simple logic to prevent mistakes as much as possible
-- ycyclop

phpbbadmin
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Joined: 04/23/2013
Is this feasible?

ycyclop wrote:
Hi Darkehorse.
Even what you suggest is not enough:
Lets say you have a deck of cards when do you turn a card? who says to the system that does not have any rules when to do what? I think it can be annoying when the players by accident do the wrong action and might ruin the test play since the system will not put any limitation on them.
But I think that in a sense your direction is a direction that should be checked and maybe find a way to prevent accidents or allow some simple logic to prevent mistakes as much as possible
-- ycyclop

Point taken. But we have considered it before. You must assume that the players have a reasonable level of competence when they playtest your game. Think about it, if you are playing a game of magic the gathering, you expect people not to go digging through the deck or your hand when they are not legally allowed to. The same must hold true for a virtual environment. Now that's not to say you couldn't install safeguards (such as component ownership, etc), but I think they should/could come later, after the environment has become fully developed. Plus I don't think it would be that difficult to have a logging of player actions. Also, I think it would be nice if ALL the players could see each other's little virtual hand and also see any popup menus and selections that everyone makes. Again, I can't stress enough how much I believe the environment should be as dumb as possible. If we keep it dumb, it will be able to do as many games as possible.

-Darke

RookieDesign
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Is this feasible?

I've decided to spend some time to try to bring this project to life.

I'm in sync with Darkehorse point of view.

First I'm trying to accomplish the following:
Boards, Cards, Dice, Networking and Chat Window, Design tool.

I'm starting from whiteboard application concept to achieve the desired result. I'll continue working on it when I have something basic, I'll release it. Unfortunatly, it will be on MS .NET. I would have prefer a more open environment, but I don't know Java or Flash. My idea is to build the building block and some Java developer could convert the code I have. It should not be such a big deal. (Maybe it is I have no clue).

People can say that not very democratic. It's not. I'm starting on my own and hoping to achieve something. So far on this forum, lot of talk but no real action or decision.

Take care.

Trickydicky
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Is this feasible?

Rookie Design my hat is off to you. Action is the way things get done. Good intitiative.

I hope it goes well. I would act but I can't even program my television! : )

ycyclop
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Joined: 11/12/2008
Is this feasible?

RookieDesign,
Since I was also thinking about writign something but will only start in 2-3 months (hopefully) here aer some more items that the program should support:
1. players hand: that can include cards,tokens,...
the hand should have the following option:
-clear view: evry one can see the items
-number view: every one can see the nubmer of type of items
-hidden: nothing is visible to other players.
2. player board: sometimes every player can have a different board with different items. The users can select their starting boards from a selection.
Just something to think about.

Any way great on seeign someone starting to work on the project
-- ycyclop

RookieDesign
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Is this feasible?

ycyclop wrote:

1. players hand: that can include cards,tokens,...
the hand should have the following option:
2. player board: sometimes every player can have a different board with different items. The users can select their starting boards from a selection.
Just something to think about.

It's pretty much inline with my thinkings. My goal is to get to basic stuff we need, then build up from there. These feature might not all be in version 1. If you are available in 2-3 months, that could be good. I'm might have some time issue by this time. Wife is expecting.

Take care.

Zzzzz
Zzzzz's picture
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Joined: 06/20/2008
Is this feasible?

Well I think the project is possible, but it will not be something that happens over night.

I think that RookieDesign is heading in a good direction. We need someone or a small group of "someones" to start the ball rolling and develop this online game builder/tester application. Taking into account what other on the site "want". Maybe not everything will be in the first version, but that is ok... it will be a starting point.

If at some point others can help out or have ways to improve this starting application, it will evolve into what we all want, but only over time.

As with the site, things start to take on a life of their own and over time change (such as the inprogress wiki port of the site, but it takes time, and well I need to kick myself back into gear, sorry darke)..

If I have time down the road I will help out, but my time is already over booked. Again I am glad to see that other members are spearheading this effort ..... thanks in advance for yout efforts.

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