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Game idea help

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iceman0c
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Joined: 03/06/2009

I have some ideas for a game that I've been kicking around for awhile and I know it's missing some key pieces to pull it together. I thought I'd post it here and see what comes of it. I know it's a rather large post but any help would be greatly appreciated.

The reader's digest version of the game:
Players are archaeologists trying to get an artifact from a temple (think indiana jones). They have to take actions exploring, translating writing, clearing debris, and other archaeologisty things. The twist is that some bad guys are coming to try and steal the artifact from the archaeologists and one of the archaeologists is actually a thief in disguise. The thief tries to sabotage the actions of the good guys in order to help the bad guys get to the temple. Failed actions and some other events let the bad guys get one space closer to the temple. The game ends when either the archaeologists retrieve the artifact and escape, or the bad guys reach the temple. The archaeologists win in the first scenario, the thief wins in the second.

Some mechanics:

Players keep a hand of cards with basic icons printed on them representing searching, climbing, digging, study, translation, etc. A card will have multiple icons printed on it (i.e. three dig icons and one climbing) Each action taken involves drawing an event card and paying the icon cost (i.e. player takes an exploration action and draws a card that says "collapsed hallway" and will have a cost of five digging or whatever. The player then plays cards with enough digging icons on them to pay the cost or they fail the action.

Some actions require a group effort. When an action like this is undertaken, each player passes a card face down to the player that began the action in order to help with the cost of the card. They may pass whichever card they choose (this is one way that the thief can subvert the actions of the group)

Each completed action card helps to lessen the final gauntlet in the treasure room (again, think indiana jones). Each glyph translated helps to read warnings later, each hallway explored helps with the escape route, each trap disarmed, etc. etc.

The final treasure room needs to be first discovered using exploration. The way I envision exploration is by starting with one tile that has three paths to travel. Each exploration action adds a tile to the pathways. Tiles are randomly drawn and can be dead ends or have other branching paths etc. Each path tile will have icons on them that will show that there is a glyph to be translated or a possible trap to disarm etc. I haven't decided if the treasure room will be a random tile or automatically discovered after a certain amount of actions.

The Thief:
I have an idea for determining the thief that would allow everyone to discover who the thief is as the game progresses. The thief wouldn't even know that they were the thief until they begin to discover it later (not sure how that might fit thematically but I like the concept). Everyone gets a few "identity cards" with a unique symbol on them and those are placed face down in front of the players. There are corresponding symbol tokens that are placed face down in a square pattern and one of them is removed. The person with the card matching the removed token is the thief.
Those tokens are revealed through actions as the game progresses and players begin to find out if they are "safe" or not. The cards in front of the players are revealed through game actions and there are also actions that would allow for a player to view another player's face down card. Those players with symbols matching the remaining face down tokens don't know if they are the thief or not yet. Eventually, all tokens are revealed so that the thief can know for sure that they are the thief and begin working in earnest. Naturally, some players will have seen the correct face down card and have a good idea of who the thief is so they can try to work against the thief.

The hope is that in the early game, players will have an uneasy alliance because they don't know which victory condition they are seeking. As the game progresses, some players will begin to suspect others of being the thief and some players will begin to suspect themselves. Actions will begin to fail as a few players try to sabotage actions every now and then because they might turn out to be the thief later.

Problems:

1. I want the game to be more about the thief mechanic than anything else but I can't figure out enough things for a thief to do that would hurt the team. A corollary to this is that there needs to be more tension in the game, more finger pointing, more actions that players can take against each other. Maybe a way to accuse the thief or something.

2. I don't know what to do if the thief is totally discovered. In a perfect scenario, no one would know for sure but it is possible that a majority of the people would know for sure. Clearly in real life they would just ditch the guy or incapacitate him. They would stop allowing him to "help" the team at the least.

3. Anything else that you might see as a potential problem or a cool idea that pops into your head is welcome here.

a majority of the "mechanics" in my game are more like concepts than anything else. I have an idea of what I want but no concrete way to do it yet. As a result, I can be very flexible with the core game play.

Pastor_Mora
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Joined: 01/05/2010
Many games means many problems

I think you are mixing up a lot here. That will get you more sidesteps than steps forward. Overall, I think you should choose a mechanic and start building from there, adding one element at a time.

Having the thief role means having two games and sets of rules running at the same time. That means more components, longer rules, thematic restrictions to your mechanics, player elimination, more luck and a longer game. This is the classic ameritrash growing snowball.

If you like the thief, make a thief game. If you like trasure digging, make a treasure hunters game. But don't make players play different games. Don't make 3 people play against 1. There is no perfect scenario. There never will. Everyone will know who is the thief in 5 minutes.

As an alternative, have the thief (the evil spirit trapped in the ruins) appearing a lot in the events deck (traps, encounters or however you name it). Or give everyone the chance to steal from other archeologists camps (I did that in my archeology game for kids).

Less background and more specific questions will get you more feedback.

Keep thinking!

iceman0c
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Joined: 03/06/2009
I had envisioned a sort of

I had envisioned a sort of shadows over camelot type of game but more focused on the traitor aspect instead of only having the possibility of the traitor appearing. Perhaps having too many things going on is why i can't seem to get it to gel into a playable game.

As to the less background comment, whenever I've seen someone ask a specific question about a game mechanic, the first thing people ask for is more background on the game. I thought I'd include more info than needed just in case someone finds it helpful when forming a response.

red hare
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Joined: 11/09/2009
finger pointing

A game that might be helpful to look at for the conspiracy element is Battlestar Galactica. One of the players is a traitor, like your thief, and works behind the scenes to cause problems for the good guys. In case you've never played it, the traitor hinders the good guys much in the same way you have challenges being resolved - everyone contributing cards anonymously to meet a minimum value. Perhaps that's where you got your inspiration from. Anyways, the traitor will contribute cards that often lower the group's value and make them fail challenges. If the traitor is discovered, then he officially joins the bad guys and has new powers and abilities.
So it sounds like you need a cooperative mechanic in your game that allows the group to complete tasks and gives an opportunity for a traitor to ruin the outcome. One concept you mentioned was about going down hallways and translating glyphs and other archaeological actions. I'm just thinking out loud here, but perhaps a player wants to explore a hallway. This would begin with 7 outcome cards being placed on the table face down. These cards have varying outcomes, some good some not so helpful with different consequences such as successfully completing the action, but lose one health because a player falls down a shaft. While another card might have just an ok result and no negative consequence. Well, players could go around in turn, choose a couple, look at them, and then choose a card to discard until the last one or two cards remain, and then the player who initiated the action must choose one to put into effect. Here the thief could sabatoge the group by discarding helpful cards and leaving bad choices for the players.
Or you can go a more complex route where a player decides on an action, like translate a glyph, this lets him draw three cards to choose from, he can choose a card that will benefit the players, add that to the group's deck. Then, after a number of rounds of doing this, the players take the group deck that they've been building. They play out the cards one by one and if they do well enough, like have enough points in a number of categories or create collections of certain items, then they win. But if there is not enough, then the thief wins. This way everyone is contributing until the every end.
I think Pastor Mora has a point about focusing on a single mechanic and building from there. Don't make another BSG, which in my humble opinion, is fun but overly complicated and convoluted. I love being the Cilon, but good luck finding people to play...

pelle
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Joined: 08/11/2008
themes are fun, fun games are good games

Pastor_Mora wrote:

That means more components, longer rules, thematic restrictions to your mechanics, player elimination, more luck and a longer game. This is the classic ameritrash growing snowball.

You say thematic restrictions to your mechanics as if it was a bad thing. I find it much easier to come up with a solution for a problem when there are additional restrictions, since they often give away much of the answer, and if the restrictions come from the theme then that sounds like a great start to make a fun game (not just some abstract with a pasted on theme). I know I might be in a minority here, but I think a mechanic that is not based on the theme should not be in the game (classic eurotrash growing snowball, one might say, but I'm not sure I want to go down that slope, so I don't say that).

Besides I find asymmetric games much more interesting than symmetric games. And if you want to add luck, make sure you add enough of it so that no single instance of bad luck ruin the game (no pun intended).

pelle
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iceman0c wrote: 2. I don't

iceman0c wrote:

2. I don't know what to do if the thief is totally discovered. In a perfect scenario, no one would know for sure but it is possible that a majority of the people would know for sure. Clearly in real life they would just ditch the guy or incapacitate him. They would stop allowing him to "help" the team at the least.

I also thought of BSG here. It seems like there are plenty of things for the traitor to do even after being discovered. I also like how there are things players can do before that, like voting to put someone they suspect in jail. It is also a good thing that until the end-game (when you deal a new set of role cards) it can in theory be no traitor at all, making it probably easier for a traitor to stay hidden (in the only game I played the traitor didn't play any bad card at all, just building up and preparing for the end-game without any chance for anyone to suspect him really; he won in the end).

iceman0c
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Joined: 03/06/2009
wow

red hare I've actually never heard of the game you were referring to but my concept of the thief is scarily similar. And, just for clarification, I started with one (the thief) mechanic and tried to build a game from there. I wanted it to be a player vs. game type of scenario where there is one guy working against the rest of the group. I made the archaeology game around that mechanic and tried to make it work.
I came up with the idea later that the thief discovers that they are indeed the thief as the game progresses. The hope was for everyone to be suspicious of everyone including themselves, then they go about trying to complete a "co-op" game. No one wants to help too much because they might find out they are the thief, but everyone needs to help some because they could lose if they aren't the thief. I realized that this would need a dramatic theme overhaul but I figured that the mechanics of a game are easier to digest online if I provide some sort of theme.

Perhaps I should start over. Does anyone have any thematic ideas for a game about a group of innocent people/good guys trying to accomplish something and a traitor/thief/murderer/etc. that finds out that they are the culprit as the game progresses? closest I could come was amnesia or being drugged, neither of which I like. Maybe if I nail this down the mechanics will flow a little easier

iceman0c
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Joined: 03/06/2009
pelle wrote: I also thought

pelle wrote:

I also thought of BSG here. It seems like there are plenty of things for the traitor to do even after being discovered. I also like how there are things players can do before that, like voting to put someone they suspect in jail. It is also a good thing that until the end-game (when you deal a new set of role cards) it can in theory be no traitor at all, making it probably easier for a traitor to stay hidden (in the only game I played the traitor didn't play any bad card at all, just building up and preparing for the end-game without any chance for anyone to suspect him really; he won in the end).

Thanks for the info. I had no idea this game existed but it sounds like it addresses some of the problems I'm having

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