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Last 'Bot Standing [GDS 2011-09 Entry]

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feNix
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I was thinking over the game and thinking that it would have been better if I'd made it so that a bot received only his starting armaments (ammo could be replenished between bouts) and that if a module was damaged to the point of destruction then a big ol' X was put through the box on the robo-card pertaining to that area. No buying of new equipment. Though I'm not sure about the no repairing between battles bit. I just don't see it. Unless...

Maybe a 'bot is good for one battle and one battle only...
It's not the 'bots that receive experience but rather their builders. Hmm, maybe? Yes? No?

Something t'ponder.

Permanence issues aside, it was mentioned that my game seems to suffer balance problems. What do you think? Would my suggestions for implementations be enough or would it need more change?

Also, as far as the 'bot standing in the corner(lack of players interacting) goes I think it would suffice to have microexplosives attached to each 'bot so that if they go X rounds without attacking someone, they would have a random module blown to kingdom come. This would serve as motivation for players to get out onto the field and not be destroyed due to sloth.

Any thoughts or suggestions on how to make this game better?

rcjames14
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A Demolition Rally

feNix wrote:
It's not the 'bots that receive experience but rather their builders.
Handle it like the way that the old arcade game Off-Road did, give players prize money which they can use to repair and upgrade their bots.

feNix wrote:
It was mentioned that my game seems to suffer balance problems. What do you think?
Since everyone has equal access to all components and everyone starts with the same money, I do not see how this is unbalanced. In repeat plays of the game, there will be competitive exclusion if there are different rewards for different players. But, the way you can handle this is by attaching bounties to damaging and/or destroying robots proportional to the value of the other player's robot. The result will be that weak players will gain more money for killing than their opponents will for being killed. If this is scaled properly, ultimately it will be the inventiveness and tactical play of the player that will make the difference in the end.

feNix wrote:
Also, as far as the 'bot standing in the corner(lack of players interacting) goes I think it would suffice to have microexplosives attached to each 'bot so that if they go X rounds without attacking someone, they would have a random module blown to kingdom come.
In FPS games, weaker players often camp in the corner... but it doesn't seem to meaningfully impact the game for a number of reasons:

  1. In that genre, people are motivated to kill each other and will seek each other out anyway.
  2. Players are rewarded for frags, not endurance.
  3. A moving target is often harder to hit than a stationary one.
  4. Levels are frequently designed to prevent any inaccessible chokepoints like SEA in the game of Risk.

Insofar as these lessons apply to Last 'Bot Standing, I think that: (1) People who play LBS will want to kill each other. (2) Progress coming from money coming from rewards for damaging other bots will incentives action over inaction. (3) You should definitely impose targeting penalties on a target that is stationary (4) Your board should be redesigned to have more corridors and paths... but I assumed you would do that anyway.

On a side note, let me say that I really liked this game (and voted for it) for a completely idiosyncratic reason.

About a decade ago, I started working on a giant lego based monster-truck demolition rally style game for my gaming group at UCLA. It involved a huge hex map (two full convention tables pushed together) that I assembled out of three banners that I printed out at Kinko's and rolled out side by side. I made components for each of the 'special parts' out of legos, assigned values and effects and gave each player a chassis to build his vehicle from.

Over the first hour of our meetings (this was played a couple times a year for a couple of years), the players would build their lego rally trucks out of a fixed amount of money... let's say $1m. Meanwhile, I would construct obstacles on the board, like oil slicks, pits, ramps, walls, sand, smoke, etc... Then they would spend the rest of the time destroying each other on the board. Since it was legos, each player was responsible for destroying his truck when he incurred damage and the lego debris would litter the board (creating further obstacles).

This was a monster of a game... usually with at least 12 people playing and lots and lots of tupperware containers of legos.

Over the course of many plays, I realized a number of things that would help organize Lego Rally which I think would apply to Last 'Bot Standing. First, I needed to create a system where penalties imposed by obstacles on dice rolls became asymptotic. It really was no fun to fail at what you wanted to do over and over again, or get stuck as a result of a failure. So, as obstacles got worse and worse, the cumulative effect of it was mitigated by diminishing marginal impact each penalty imposed.

Second, I eventually created a simultaneous system for movement and combat by borrowing some ideas from Robot Rally. Each player was given a set of movement cards for his chassis and each special piece came with a card that explained what it did. On each round, players would lay down 4 cards in order describing what they planned to do for the round and each card had a priority timing system. When everyone was finished planning their four card actions, then everything was turned over and non-interacting effects could all be resolved simultaneously leaving us to focus our time only on those conflicts which needed to be resolved. This gave each person a feeling that he was doing something frequently. It also had the effect of balancing movement and attacks so players could prioritize one or the other as they needed to. However, unlike RoboRally, these cards weren't random. Your options were entirely dictated by the cards you got from what you built and you decided which ones to play in what order.

Third, unless a specific component was targeted, the victim had the option to assign his own damage like in A&A. That meant that players could remain relatively operational throughout the game even as they took damage, provided that they sacrificed 'body parts' of their trucks. So... it was the vanity pieces which (for $5k each) players used to create the shape and look of their vehicle with the surplus money they had after buying all their 'special parts' which often littered the field first.

Lego Rally was still a work in progress. Despite the changes I worked out, the game never felt complete to me due to the fact that I didn't work for Lego. So, I could only go so far with the parts that I had. But, the size and scope of the requirements (play in 2hr, involve 12+ people, construct in 1hr, carry everything in my arms) required me to come up with some ideas which may be applicable to the tabletop environment of Last 'Bot Standing.

Ultimately though, I never saw this as a tabletop game. To me, this was either some extra-ordinairely large group activity (like Lego Rally or a street game) or it was best done as a digital game. Because I think that the move and roll mechanic is a little antiquated given so many possible alternatives available today which were not available when games like RoboRally and Car Wars were originally published. So, I think it is best to approach this game as an abstract framework and try to remain relatively platform neutral.

feNix
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Thanks for the response, rcjames!

You've given me some good points along with a nice tie-in. Wish I coulda seen all of those legos littering the table. Bet it was spectacular.

I haven't played Robo-Rally, or any other bot games now that I think of it. Is this something I should look into?

Empires
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Could you explan...

Hey feNix. Some things I wanted explained were searching for parts, assimilating, and building/destroying walls and doors. Like I had said, this was my favorite entry, and want to see it more developed. Also, I think more weapons should be included that use ammo because only the Cannon used ammo, and it pretty much made Ammo Box useless. These are just some thoughts. I had come up with tons of new equipment if you would like to hear my ideas, Thanks!

rcjames14
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It Might Help

feNix wrote:
I haven't played Robo-Rally, or any other bot games now that I think of it. Is this something I should look into?

Yes.

RoboRally should give you a sense of simultaneous turn taking in a highly structured environment. It isn't the big hit that Garfield had with Magic, and it has a run away leader problem, but it does provide a model for how robots can fight using their programming in a grid space with obstacles. RoboRally is a race though, not a demolition derby.

Car Wars is another example that ties into the genre of Last 'Bot Standing. It's worth giving a look, though... it is extremely antiquated now as far as mechanics go.

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