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Automation

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RGaffney
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I don't know if I'm alone here, but having grown up playing electronic games and learning programming I have trouble at times creating games that are simple enough to run with paper and pen.

One common problem is run into is automation. or very basic artificial intelligence

I'm interested in cooperative games, and that requires some aspects of the game which work against the players to run automatically. Hoards of enemies for instance.

Ideally, I would have games with armies and characters who could be player controlled with larger numbers of players, but automated for smaller games.

What are mechanics you know of that can help govern automation? Anything other than a shuffled deck of cards?

svenne
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I have been thinking of that

I have been thinking of that also and have been experimented with flexible hexagon map and troop movements that is triggered by how the player(s) is moving their troops. i have been using some random elements, using twp dices. 6,7 or 8 the automated troops is moving according to their giving pattern, 4,5 or 9,10 they have been chosen a different path or another action instead and so on. Some hexes triggers troops to do stuff also or call in reinforcements and so on.

I don,t know if this was what you where looking for but it worked quite well. The down side is that it almost needs to be scenario based games. When the scenarios is played through the game looses its replaying value....

RGaffney
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I'd also be concerned with

I'd also be concerned with turn length. Does this cause the payers to have to consult a rulebook for 20 minutes after every turn to determine how the enemy moves?

svenne
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Nope. Their moving patter is

Nope. Their moving patter is quite simple, like chess pieces, I had a small list of their moves beside the map. Some troops move around hills, some move over them, some will stand and shoot from hills if able and so on.

I am not saying this is a perfect system or even 100% play tested, just an experiment I was doing for some time ago.
If I had made a perfect automated and simple system, I would have been published a game by now :)

Jarec
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Reaction and action

I've just changed one of my projects to be automated instead of using a GM.

I'm using a simple reaction base which dictates action for getting shot, losing HP, getting an opportunity (player wants to flee from combat range), and an action which is made after every player has moved. I've printed these on the player sheets so that time vice it's non-issue.
I too have a lot of baddies at the board all times, but fortunately they are zombies and don't really need to act every turn. Those can have analogues like bandit camps, defender units or whatnots, who don't need to act so often.

Predictability can be the issue here (I have it so that players need to think about taking their shots as missed one might mean that the thing is on their skin the next turn). So dice rolls or small decks might be needed.

I once saw this cool looking board game that has a group of dudes fighting a single big monster. The monster in it had this small deck of cards (like 5-8 I think) and every card was it's attack queue and HP. Meaning that when it attacked it also lost HP, and when a player managed to wound it, it lost an attack. An iteration of that mechanic might be of use as it also means that fights can't take too much time.

RGaffney
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I love using a single

I love using a single mechanic for multiple things.

How would you incorporate dice into your zombie movements to damper predictability?

questccg
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Another idea

RGaffney wrote:
Hoards of enemies for instance.

I had a mechanic for HOARDS of enemies which is rather *simple*. It requires cards and wooden tokens.

So each player *is in control* of a hoard of ONE *specific* enemy. Let's say a hoard of Zombies. Next place ONE wooden token (let's use Black as the colour). Therefore ALL *Black* tokens on the board are ... Zombies! You can literally have a whole bunch of them!!!

A player could *control* TWO enemies, same principle, two different colour wooden tokens and then all of the ones on the board would be the same.

You can use simple *damage counters* for finite health calculations such that you need to destroy one at a time. You could maybe inflict sufficient damage to kill like 3 on one turn (as an example).

I was thinking about using this mechanic for a Dungeon Crawler. But that project is on hold... Too many of those around - and it's not what I am focused on completing...

Note: That this mechanic works very well if you have a "room" concept or divided board (like a hex, etc.) You can then pile on the mob of creatures that need to be defeated!

pelle
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As the OP is into

As the OP is into programming, it might be worth looking into using some of that to solve this problem. I have a few past and one current project related to that. The basic idea that I had for a long time but not quite made to function 100 % is to make a program that generates the boardgame AI (much like using procedural generation in making contents for a computer game). Tables, cards, paragraphs, arrows drawn on a map, and whatever else is needed to quickly automate the enemies can be generated by a program in advance, offloading as much as possible of the work the player would have to do, but still allow the enemy to make reasonably good semi-non-random decisions.

Somewhat related projects of mine (but far from procedurally generating much actual content):
http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1014484/postponed-solo-pnp-20132014-devi...
http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/299841/diy-ambush-missions
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/806508/2012-pnp-solitaire-contest-ad...

(The latter didn't really use any programming at all, but the mechanics were partially designed to be easy to procedurally generate. Much of that game was an experiment in trying out enemy AI mechanics for future projects.)

RGaffney
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One interesting idea that I

One interesting idea that I would like to see explored, is the addition of a small amount of modern technology combined with the cardboard.

Suppose for instance that the players were invited to download a supplementary app that would run the bank for them while they played the game out on a tabletop. That might allow for some of the more ambitious ideas had by those of us on the forum to become possible

pelle
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Computer-assisted board (and

Computer-assisted board (and tabletop miniatures) games have existed since the 1970's, and I believe there have been a few apps lately (or at least some web applications that can also run on a phone or tablet if you want to). From what I can tell (not that I played one, just read about them) there is room for improvement and probably many things not yet explored.

One idea I have written about elsewhere, that I do not think exists yet, is using a smartphone as a deck of cards for a card-driven game. Decks could be intelligent so some cards can only come up (or can not come up) if some other card has already done so. Or you could procedurally generate unique cards all the time so no cards are ever the same (I HATE games where you can memorize the decks and get a benefit from that rather than from intelligent use of what cards come up).

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