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Random Map Generation during the game

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Piqsid
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Joined: 02/17/2010

I read in another post here about New Mechanics, that one of the potentially new mechanics out there will be randomly generated terrain.

The idea of randomly generated terrain is at the center of a CIV game I am currently working on. I really love Sid Meir’s computer games, and one of my favorite aspects was the exploration phase where you looked for the perfect spot for your new city. In many CIV games, the map is static (usually based on Earth). And if there are any “sweet spots” they are the same in every game. Other games with variable boards like Settlers or Twilight Imperium, are completely open to everyone and are designed to limit the number of sweet spots to balance the board for everyone.

My gaming group’s favorite Settler’s variant to play are the Seafarers scenarios where half of the tiles start upside down and you have to discover them. This comes close to randomly generated terrain during the game, but Settlers in not a CIV game, and the tiles are so large, that you can never have a very big map, and the discovery is over pretty quickly.

When I started bouncing around the idea of making a game around a map that is created during the game, I hit a lot of road blocks until I remembered Carcassonne. I was having trouble creating tiles that had all of the geographic features I wanted, but could still reliably be laid next to each other without creating large holes in the map. There are very few games of Carcassonne that I’ve played where the final map has a lot of holes. Yes, there are a few, but not many.

So, understanding that the tile distribution in Carc was probably heavily researched and perfected over many plays, I decided to base my tiles off of them. Roads became rivers, cities became forests, and cloisters became hills and mountains. The carc tiles are a little too small to build a civilization on, so I made mine bigger, and they hold mines, and quarries, and aqueducts and military units easily. A full 4 player map has 84 tiles, and I have produced 88 tiles. Randomly drawing them in groups, I have successfully been able to fill the map with every tile matching up several times.

Still, I worried that since everyone starts in a different area, and the map grows around them until it touches off with their closest neighbor, some players might want to be isolated and purposefully lay tiles at the edge of their land that will be very hard to match up. In Carc, there is always a tile to satisfy every possibility, but there might only be one or two, and they don’t always find their way into the right player’s hands. So I added a rule that says you can always play a tile upside down to represent a dessert tile. A dessert tile can legally be placed anywhere, dead-ending any river or forest and bordering any tile.

Right now my tech tree only goes as high as railroads, but if I ever wanted to take it as far as oil and automobiles, the desert tiles could be very useful. Since they are barren, most starting empires wouldn’t want them in their homeland, and they would only be placed between empires, thus making them battle grounds later in the game if they become valuable for oil.

Also, to eliminate as much chance as I can, each player holds 4 tiles throughout the game (like Tigris and Euphrates) so they can somewhat plan out their land and not be totally dependent on a random draw from the tile pool.

So, is this really a new mechanic? Does something like this exist in another game that I am unaware of? Would any of you like more information?

In addition to random map generation, which is really the axle around which this whole game spins, there is also a Tech tree, military units, wonders, great people to be born, and I am debating adding politics and financial aspects, but that might have to wait for later as it is getting way too complex. Also, because there is little player interaction until the map grows enough for us to see each other, most of the early turns can be taken simultaneously and it moves very quickly. I don’t see this being a 6-hour CIV game. Probably closer to an hour per player.

Taavet
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Joined: 08/15/2008
New?

Well you said so yourself that it was merely convereted from Caracassonne (as well as Seafarer's) and if you ask me sounds very similar to the Hunter's and Gatherer's.

Using it in a Civ game is so far new from what I know of Civ games and it sounds like a really cool use of the already used method for random map generation.

I think some of the New things that board games want/need is already present in video games:
- intelligent AI (NPC's)
- hidden movement (stealth/cloak)
- random yet organized generation (terrain, resources, scenarios, quests)
- complex accounting/bookkeeping made simple
- detailed and complex setup made quick
- ability to 'save' and continue later

Just a few examples I can think of. Finding innovative ways to use the resources available to us is part of what makes this hobby fun.

Keep up the good work!

Willi B
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Joined: 07/28/2008
Carc' variations

Not having to align the tiles in any particular border matching way has been done... and I think that is the best direction for your game. If you want more "realism" in that forests and other terrain types are sometimes large areas, you could make a rule to accomplish this - as in "you must align in the chosen placement if possible".

funlerz gamez
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Joined: 03/09/2010
Random terrain

This souns like a neat [board] game idea. As for simple book keeping, a monopoly game has a little banking device thats easy to use, and some games (memoir 44 for one) have scenarios and have maps for how to set up the board with pieces.

nicholas987
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Joined: 06/13/2009
In addition to random map

In addition to random map generation, which is really the axle around which this whole game spins, there is also a Tech tree, military units, wonders, great people to be born, and I am debating adding politics and financial aspects, but that might have to wait for later as it is getting way too complex.

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