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Dinosaur game in the making

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Cyberchrist
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Hi there!

First of all i must excuse my crappy english, sometimes its hard to make yourself understood when not writing in my native tounge(swedish).

Im currently working on a dinosaur game and im putting all my efforts in making this game my best ever.
All input is greatly appreciated!

I searched the net for games with similar themes and i must confess, the prehistoric games that i found have many similarities, and mine is no exception!

Lets face it, we all know that the Dinosaurs went out with a big bang, and they gonna do that in my game too (meteor strike).

Every dinosaur species is going to have a couple of characteristics:
Combatvalue
Movement
Climate survivability
Fertility
and be eiher a meat or plant eater.

There are going to be a number of characteristic points available at the beginning of game and every player distributes the points as he wishes, to create a unique species, these numbers are secretly placed.
Then the player decides if his species are a meat or a plant eater.

Different events trigger during game and tests the characteristics.
A failure could mean that your dino would be eaten by another dino or maybe die by heat or cold.

I have this idea of that the player with most dinosaurs in game when the comet strikes are the winner, if two players have the same amount then the player with the highest total of characteristic points are decided a winner.
The characteristic points will move up and down when different events trigger.
A value of 0(zero) will cause the extinction of the species.
Another win criteria could be that one race dominates let say 50% of the map.

I think im going for loose tiles (a´la Settlers) as i have found that Settlers is one of the few games outthere that can produce a fun variable gameboard.
Other suggestions are of course welcome.

Im right now brainstorming on different ideas on how to make the gameboard as strategically challenging as possible, and i have a couple of ideas.

This is how it looks right now:
Planteaters have to end their turn on a tile containing plants.
Meat eaters have to eat another dinosaur before they end their turn.
tiles are containing volcano´s and other prehistoric enviroments and can only be passed safe by dinosaurs with high climate survivability, dice rolls are needed to determine if the dinosaur gets throug safe or if the climate gets him, theres always a chance to get killed no matter how high survivability your species have.

All input and suggestions on how to get the game more challenging or other suggestions on game engine are greatly appreciated.
This game is planned to go in print during autumn this year and every contributor are going to get his fair share of credit.

[ This message was edited by: Cyberchrist on 07-03-2003 06:55 ][ This message was edited by: Cyberchrist on 07-03-2003 10:25 ]

Scurra
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Dinosaur game in the making

Dinosaurs are always a winning theme IMO :-)
I still find it amusing that all the games end with basically the extinction of the dinos - you spend all that time in Evo evolving your genes to match the climate and you all die anyway.

My reaction to your brief summary is to say that it sounds a little complicated to keep track of - one of the virtues of, say, Evo, is that climate is basically the only determining factor so it is relative easy to check the status of a dinosaur during a turn; if you have to take food, climate *and* other events into account, you might find players getting easily confused (I know I would!)

I

Cyberchrist
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Dinosaur game in the making

I shall have a look at the games that you mention.
I havent really figured out a good way of having some more player interaction (and i really want that!), dont know if it really fits the game to have any kind of trading, bidding or diplomatics, i guess that not the dino way!
But theres more ways than that to have some decent interaction (i just havent figured out a good way, yet).

I really hope that people dont get confused by the many different factors.
When evolution phase occurs then every player get to secretly re-distribute the points, so its a kind of dynamic mechanism with no random factors involved, i guess you could call it resource management.
By distributing your points you are deciding your strong or weak spots, your basically planning what you gotta watch out for.

Climate survivability:
-----------------------
The ability to survive the climate changes, extreme heat or cold.
Exactly how this is incorporated in the game is not decided.

Fertility:
---------
The reproduction ability of the dino, the first phase could be a reproduction phase, a reproduction roll on a D6, where everyone having a fertility factor of equal or less get to place a new dino for each dino already in game.

Combatvalue:
---------------
Selfexplaining, right?
If a dino steps into a hex (or whatever) battling another dino, the one with the lower combatvalue gets chewed on and is removed from the hex.
No dice rolls!

Movement:
------------
The amount of hexes(?) you may move this turn.
I eventually thinking of splitting this characteristic into two separate ones, land and water.

Plant or meat eater:
----------------------
My initial thoughts was to have a rule that a meat eater have to eat a dinosaur before they end their turn, and a vegetable lover must end his turn on a plant(jungle hex?).
This would probably start some strategic war for territory, and some real tasty lunch snacks.

These are the initial thoughts, to fine tune the mechanism, i gotta decide how im going to do with the board, loose tiles, static or ...?
So far i feel that every charachteristic is vital to the game, the problem is that i want more interaction between players than just chewing on eachother.
And that is a hard nut to crack.

More input thanx!

Cyberchrist
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Dinosaur game in the making

Hmmm i was thinking about throwing two D6 before the players are beginning to take their turns, this would be one die testing the reproductive ability and the other one setting up the climate changes or maybe just testing the climate survivability of the species (depending on how you use the climate survivability factor).

To add some randomness to when the comet strikes i was thinking in the terms of letting the comet move one step closer impact everytime the two D6 sum is 7, this would definately add a chaosvariable to game ending.

Some numbercrunching help could be needed here, if anyone could show me some understandable formulas i would be most thankful.
We all have fingertip feelings with dice & cards but sometimes it feels good to know the scientific/mathematic aspect of things.
And depending on how many turns you want the players to have before impact it could be a good tool to have some formulas up your sleeve, to quickly change the testing enviroment, it sure would save a lot of time to know the approriate figures.

Any comments/suggestions, negative or positive is greatly appreciated!

Anonymous
Dinosaur game in the making

Knizia book: "Dice Games properly explained" would probably help you here.

It is really not all that difficult. You look at all possible outcomes of the dice roll and the probability is the number of ways you can throw the desired outcome divided by the total number of possible outcomes. So throwing two dice there are 6 ways to throw a total of 7 (1-6,2-5,3-4,4-3,5-2,6-1) and 36 possible outcomes so the probabiltiy of throwing 7 is 1/6. This is actually the most likely outcome. The probability of throwing a total of 2 is 1/36 (only a 1-1 roll will work).

More complicated outcomes can be handled relatively easily with a spreadsheet.

It gets a little more complicated if you want to know how many

Cyberchrist
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Dinosaur game in the making

Thanx for your input DonB!
Have i understood you right, if the comet moves one step closer impact for every six rolls ?
That would take sixty rolls to make the comet move 10 steps, right ?
If you break down the probability into percentage then would 1/6 be around 17%, the percentage factors that i´ve had presented to me before is around 32% - 34% of rolling a 7.

Hmm this needs further investigation.

Scurra
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Dinosaur game in the making

No, DonB is saying that there is a 1/6 chance of rolling a 7.
As anyone who has played Settlers will tell you, that has no bearing on how often 7 actually comes up in the game!

If you make it so that the comet moves everytime the dice come up 7, then it will move *on average* every six rolls.
If combat involves dice rolls, then this could speed things up unpredictably!

FastLearner
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Dinosaur game in the making

Quote:
08-03-2003 at 16:41, Cyberchrist wrote:
To add some randomness to when the comet strikes i was thinking in the terms of letting the comet move one step closer impact everytime the two D6 sum is 7, this would definately add a chaosvariable to game ending.

It depends a lot on how often the players will roll the dice. If it

Cyberchrist
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Dinosaur game in the making

Quote:
However, in your game example the players could roll seven every time, with the game being very, very short, or they could not roll a 7 for six hours (or, as noted, ever).

If you increase the chances of the comet hitting over the course of time, you

Scurra
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Dinosaur game in the making

Quote:
10-03-2003 at 07:57, FastLearner wrote:
(Edited to curse Scurra for getting in the Settlers example while I was typing mine! :-) j/k)

Hey - that

Anonymous
Dinosaur game in the making

The curse of being so far ahead of the rest of the world! This whole conversation has happenned while I slept.

Fortunately everyone has stepped in to steer you right. I was saying 1/6 chance of a comet move for every roll of the dice. You can quantify the proportion of games that will have no comet moves for a given total number of dice rolls. The chance of the commet not moving on a roll is 5/6 so the chance of having no comet move for a sequence of N rolls is (5/6)^N So if N is 6 dice rolls then the chance of the comet not moving at all for 6 dice rolls is rolls is 33% (1 in 3).

The chance that it moves exactly once in N rolls is N*(1/6)*((5/6)^(N-1) which for N=6 is 40% (2 in 5)

The chances that it moves exactly m times in N rolls is [NCm]*((1/6)^m)*((5/6)^(N-m)) where [NCm] = N!/m!(N-m)! is the binomial coefficient "N choose m".

This lets you answer all sorts of useful questions. Like how often will I get twenty rolls with less than 6 comet moves. Answer: add up the chances of moving exactly 0,1,2,3,4, and 5 moves and substract this from 1.

This is probably as clear as mud. But the short version is, you can work out these odds and they tell you something about how often people are going to encounter problems with the mechanism.

Often this is enough, but sometimes what you need to guarantee game length is a more controllable mechanism. You could for example insist on one comet move for every 10 dice rolls as well as for your roll of 7. This guarantees a maximum length of the game but still allows for contolled variability.

I submitted a little excel spreadsheet to the files/software download area that lets you calculate the probability of an event happening exactly m times in N attempts and the probability of it happening less than m times in N attempts. This might be useful in quantifying things.

The excel spreadsheet is also at

http://sagacity.aires.com.au/Sequential-Dice-rolls.xls

enjoy[ This message was edited by: DonB on 10-03-2003 20:18 ]

FastLearner
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Dinosaur game in the making

Very cool, Don, that

Anonymous
Dinosaur game in the making

FastLearner is right, these are just probabilities. They can

Cyberchrist
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Dinosaur game in the making

Quote:
10-03-2003 at 14:47, DonB wrote:

The chance that it moves exactly once in N rolls is N*(1/6)*((5/6)^(N-1) which for N=6 is 40% (2 in 5)

The chances that it moves exactly m times in N rolls is [NCm]*((1/6)^m)*((5/6)^(N-m)) where [NCm] = N!/m!(N-m)! is the binomial coefficient "N choose m".

:-o Like getting hit with a baseball bat !

The Excel spreadsheet is going to be a very useful tool, thank you!

Lets leave the scientific/mathematical aspects behind us for awhile and lets analyze how i could implement some more player interraction (other than eating eachother).

The game elements that i can think of (at this moment) that you could tweak and tune and turn into something interactive are:

* Initiative
* Climate changes
* Evolution

All suggestions/thoughts/input are appreciated.

Anonymous
Dinosaur game in the making

I had some idea for a game for the doomed civilization contest. But since I do not have the time or skill to actually make it and I think you might use part of it I will share it here.
The idea is that after a disaster such as a meteor impact there will come dust clouds all over in the air. So no plants will be capable of growth. Therefore all sources of food will disappear.
So instead of ending the game as a meteor hits the earth you could also do the following:
Place upon each hex a number of food tokens. (Probably depending upon the nature of the terrain.) At the end of every turn remove one token from a hex for each dinosaurus. If there is no food token remove the dinosaurus instead.
A possible new goal would be to be the last dinosaurus still standing. This will than be the species that survived the meteor impact. (Like the crocodiles or birds.)
This mechanism assumes that all dinsaurusses are plant eaters. You will probably need to adapt it for meat eating dinosaurusses.

Cyberchrist
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Dinosaur game in the making

I have fiddled around with allowing each hex (terrain type) only to contain a specific amount of dinosaurs, that pretty much replaces your foodtoken idea.
However one could try the foodtoken theory, just to get those dino´s on the move and racing for the limited food supply, it could open up for some new interesting ideas, i´ll try it out.
As the meateaters tend to eat other dinosaurs theres not really that much to adapt, could use some tokens for smaller animals so that they dont necessarily need to eat eachother every turn though.

I´ll test this variant and see how it feels, thanx for your input kleimar.

Scurra
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Dinosaur game in the making

Quote:
16-03-2003 at 08:03, Cyberchrist wrote:
I have fiddled around with allowing each hex (terrain type) only to contain a specific amount of dinosaurs, that pretty much replaces your foodtoken idea.

This is how "Trias" (previously mentioned) works. The various terrain types can only support a limited number of dinosaurs, and, since the game works by splitting the landmasses apart, clever play results in rival dinosaurs drowing. Of course, I usually manage to drown my own instead, but there you go ;-)

Cyberchrist
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Dinosaur game in the making

Hmmm
Sometimes it feels like i could just buy that game your talking about and put my designing efforts on another project.
Theres no doomed projects competition ?
Feels like we could have a winner right here .....

No, seriously talking, are there someplace where i could download the rules for the trias game, that could at least keep me from reinventing the wheel again.
Dont want to borrow mechanics from other dino games on the market, at least not if i can avoid it.
It seems like the theme triggers pretty much the same thoughts everywhere, even if the theme is far from unique, my aim is to bring some fresh new gameplay with interesting mechanics.
Dont want my project to end up as another cloned game.

Are there any other good dino themed games outthere that i should know of?

JPOG
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Dinosaur game in the making

I

Cyberchrist
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Dinosaur game in the making

After a week of extensive playtesting with two different gaming groups, i have to get back to the drawing board.
My analysis of the game (as it looks now) is that the game often develops into situations where the meateating dinosaurs are eating the dinosaurs of players that already are doing poorly.
Also known as attacking the looser.
Its the mechanic of grabbing a snack before you end your turn that force the players to eat something, and a player that is doing poorly is a easy target.
And this is something that i really dont like, this weekend i will concentrate on developing the mechanism.

This situation occured almoust everytime in one of the gaming groups (group A) and accidentally/occasionally in the other group (group B).
Group B seemed to be very aware of not letting any player grow too strong and sometimes it looked like they ganged up, shut down possible hexes and eventually they did eat a couple of dino´s of the player in lead, the games they played was very balanced and the outcome was far from obvious (at least to bystanders).

In Group A you could spot the game winner at a early stage, game mechanics seemed to fit the leader like a hand in a glove.
The loosing player(s) didnt have a fair chance to recover and i suspect that its a combination of things that made this happen.

The cool thing is that i was just in the audience taking notes (instead of participating and explaining rules), the game had a life of its own and i got the chance to see it play from an outside point of wiev.
This has been a lesson for life.
Another lesson for life is that you should always let different gaming groups/kind of people try your stuff out, it can truly be a whole different situation and its alot easier to spot potential problems and bad or well written mechanics.

FastLearner
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Dinosaur game in the making

Quote:
17-03-2003 at 10:01, Cyberchrist wrote:
No, seriously talking, are there someplace where i could download the rules for the trias game, that could at least keep me from reinventing the wheel again.

You can see pictures of Trias (along with reviews) at the BoardGameGeek. You can read the PDF rules at the Gecko Games website (link is to the PDF, so Acrobat is required).

FastLearner
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Dinosaur game in the making

Oh, and dino-themed boardgames (with links to BoardGameGeek):

Bitin

Cyberchrist
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Dinosaur game in the making

Wow!

Thanx for taking your time Fastlearner!
I´ll study these puppies with only one eye open ;-)

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