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Information managment nightmare

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snarf135
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Joined: 12/31/1969

hi all,

I have been lurking here for about 6 months or so reading your great discussions untill this problem drove me to register and finally seek some help of my own.

Here is the situation. I am in the early design stages of game themed around the concept of waring thieves guilds in a fantasy setting and have hit a brick wall with information managment.

One of the main concepts i have in mind is the idea that players will benefit greatly from planning and preperation of their actions (you dont just decide your are going to rob the merchants guild. First you case it, acquire neccessary tools, bribe folks, etc.). In the game this would be represented by allocating resources, manpower, and "specials" to a plan before executing it. For example; player A acquires the "Merchant Guild: gold shipment" card during turnX, he has an available leutenant so he plays the card face down and assigns the lt. to oversee the operation. On
TurnX+1 player assigns resources and specials to the plan. On turn X+2
player decides that he now has a reasonable chance to accomplish the plan, assigns manpower, and executes.

Ok not bad so far right. It would seem fairly simple to play the card and simply stack the neccesary resources on top of it.

This is where it starts to get tricky. Player B decides he wants to attack a gambling hall in the red light district, owned by Player A. This also requires planning, but the sheer number of combinations of locations, buildings, and players makes having a card for this impossible.

Question #1: How do you record what Player B is planning WITHOUT giving away generally what hes up to?

Now this is where the headache turns into a nightmare; Another key concept for the game is spying and intelligence. Each plan may be uncovered by the other players in the game and that information traded amongst the players. For example; Payer C launches a directed intel. op. against player B and uncovers the planned attack, she then sells that info
to player A. In a perfect world player C could succed in part or in whole depending on the success of her intel op (for example; she would have obtained information ranging from player B is up to something in the red light district, to the the entire plan of player B). Also in this perfect world
the other players would have no idea what information Player c uncovered
(She wouldnt reach across the table and pick one of players B's plans to look at). But sadly i think these last two ideas are a bridge too far, although they will be sorely missed for the elements they could have brought to the game.

Question 2: I was going to write out a different question but it basicly comes down to, How the hell do I record all this information in a way which allows me to accomplish the above?

I do have some strategys in mind but i dont want to influence anyones thinking. I'll post my thoughts in a few days after i have gotten some feedback from others.

Hedge-o-Matic
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Joined: 07/30/2008
Information managment nightmare

Sometimes game ideas just aren't suited tothe genre we first envision for them. Since you don't want the player to know what information they had stolen, cards present a problem.

Also, you may do a ton of work to find yourself with a massive clarity problem in the game. Getting snippets of information in the real work is a pain in the ass to decypher. In a game, the choices would have to be limited enough to allow a person a good enough chance to figure out opposing plans by intercepting fragments of planning.

If the fragments of intel are too small, then players won't even bother. With all the planning that goes into their own heists, players may not feel like glimpsing the opponant's messes.

given that player interaction wil most likely complicate the planning, resource allocation, and execution stages, complex information interception just sounds like too much to handle at once to be fun.

Emphyrio
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Joined: 02/10/2010
Information managment nightmare

It might be possible to do this using a board. Suppose you have 4 districts W, X, Y, Z, each with 4 buildings of types A, B, C, D. That is easily represented on a board. Now suppose you have 4 players, each controlling 4 buildings. You could use markers (colored beads, pawns, or tokens) to denote which player controls which buildings.

Now when you plan an operation, you need to play at least 2 cards to specify the target building -- district + building type, district + player, or player + building type. So an intel op could return partial intelligence by revealing only one of those cards. I don't see why this couldn't be kept private to the player conducting the op.

You might need to let players take notes about what they learn. But I don't think this amount of information is unmanageable. Consider a typical card game like Hearts -- a good player will, in addition to planning his own strategy, piece together an idea of what high cards are still unplayed, which players are void in which suits, how many cards are left in each suit, and so on.

NetWolf
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Information managment nightmare

Here's an idea: Every player has their Mark card (their target). This card is then placed face down in front of them. From their hand of resources (Manpower, tools, spies, planning, etc...) they allocate an amount to the Mark. These are also played face down, turned longways, on top of the mark for this turn.

The resources that are kept in the player's hand is the total amount of resources that they can use to defend their own investments (Guild Hall, corrupt establishments, etc..)

Once every player has taken their turn to draw a Mark and allocate Resources, they second phase of the turn begins. Everyone flips over their Mark and Resources cards. These cards are totaled up and the events take place based on timing on the Resources cards. Naturally a card like 'Long Term Planning" would delay the player's turn a few rounds, but increase their chance at attaining their goal.

Why the turn delay and timing? This way if more than one guild is targeting the same Mark there are added considerations. Do you go for speed or calculation? If another guild gets there before you and gets the gold, then you run a chance of encountering the guard. If your rogues are out on a mission, then there are fewer to defend your home guild. A quicker, morereckless guild may be able to hit their Mark AND your guild hall both before you return from a mission.

To make the game a bit more tangible, use the board idea that Emphyrio suggested. All the buildings on the board would have a corresponding card, and at the begining of the game the players would draw one at random, making that their Guild Hall. Their guild hall would be kept a secret of course, making the game partially like Clue. The players would eventually narrow down which buildings were Guild Halls, but determining which belongs to whom is still tricky. They may think that they are leading an assault against the weakest guild, only to find out that they are attacking the strongest.

RookieDesign
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Information managment nightmare

I have a bit of general advice for you.

There's the brainstorm and the simplification.

Let me explain,
first you think of your game. What you want in it. What will be the component, turn order, etc...
Next you have to refine, simplify them to make the game playable and sellable.

When I first started Homini Terra, I had this great vision of mage brewing potion with a variable formula sheet that they can learn from. This was a good idea, but unplayable in reality. I then settle for few formula card that the players where drawing. Same game effect, more playable.

At first let your ideas flow, then really focus on the game aspect. I want this effect, but can I achieve it in some other way of with another game mechanics/props.

Good luck. You game sound fun.

OutsideLime
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Information managment nightmare

Quote:
Sometimes game ideas just aren't suited tothe genre we first envision for them. Since you don't want the player to know what information they had stolen, cards present a problem.

True. The holy grail of hidden information in boardgames is sought after by many an Indiana Jones. Fog of war, spies, ambushes, hidden movement, it's all very difficult to execute in cardboard, and I've personally spent hours and hours trying to create smooth and functional systems that allow for this type of stuff. ---without any real success, I might add.

In this case, though, there may be a workable solution for the spying aspect...

-Theft plans are made by building stacks of facedown cards. I'm not sure exactly what elements you want in the plan, but let's assume these three for now: Location, Time, and Target. (eg: Museum, Dawn, Diamond)

- Bluff cards may be included in the stack. You can throw in other Locations, Times, or Targets to throw off spies. (the stack-creating mechanic is up to you, I guess...)

- The only way to confirm a plan segment is to have TWO of that card in the plan stack. Therefore, a stack with:

Museum
Dawn
Noon
Diamond
Dawn
Statue
Museum
Diamond

is a plan that is actually aiming to raid the Museum at Dawn for the Diamond, with a Statue and Noon card thrown in as bluffs.

- When another player spies on you, you shuffle your plan stack and hand it to them, facedown. They pick a number of cards from the stack to peek at (how many? i dunno - depends on how intensive a spy run they've invested in, i guess), reshuffle the stack, and hand it back to you.

Now

a) they have spied on you and gained information
b) the information may or may not be accurate, confirmable to the spy only if a double is drawn in the spy run or through other info trading/logical inference... (or based on # of cards in the deck... If I am spying on you and I draw a Statue and Diamond card, AND I know that there are only 2 of each card in the deck, AND I happen to know where the other Statue card is, I can confirm that you're not going after it for real.)
c) You don't know what information they gained.

It's just a seed of an idea, but it might send you in a good direction...

~Josh

seo
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Joined: 07/21/2008
Information managment nightmare

OutsideLime wrote:
It's just a seed of an idea, but it might send you in a good direction...

It looks so good to me that I feel tempted to stole it and build a game around it.

Seo

markmist
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Information managment nightmare

The "have to see 2 of the same card to get information" mechanic was one that I have been planning to use in a card game with hidden information.

I think it could work quite well, but I agree that games with hidden information are probably the most difficult to design.

OutsideLime
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Information managment nightmare

seo wrote:
OutsideLime wrote:
It's just a seed of an idea, but it might send you in a good direction...

It looks so good to me that I feel tempted to stole it and build a game around it.

Seo

lol... Well, that's why we're here.... to publicly offer ideas to try to solve problems for those who ask, and to spark solutions and ideas in the minds of those who didn't.

~Josh

Hambone
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Information managment nightmare

Welcome.

It sounds like you have a design that has players going for a target, so you decided to make the target other players to add conflict and tension. Try exploring other ways to add tension. Maybe the tension can come from attacking the same target or having moving targets. Possibly competing for the same resources. If you are really in the early design stages, don't be afraid to shake it up a bit. With my current game, my first vision (although it will always be perfect in my mind) is far from where the game is now.

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