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Boggle-type Random Map Generator

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Black Canyon
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This is an idea I have been kicking around for a few weeks and I'd like to get some feedback.

I'm imagining a game where players must race for treasure using a treasure map. There would be many short rounds of treasure hunting and the goal is to get the most treasure. If the game came with a deck of treasure map cards, eventually the players would learn the location of the treasure on each map and the game would lose most of its play value. So I thought of a way to make a randomizable treasure map.

My idea was to use something exactly like Boggle (Big Boggle to be exact, for a 5x5 grid). The only difference is that the dice show terrain features instead of letters. One die would be marked with an X on all sides. When you shake up and settle all of the dice, you end up with a simple map with a treasure location somewhere on it. The next step would involve route planning, action point spending, or any other method of racing to the treasure's location.

Using a map generator like this, you could also develop a game about cultivating the land or building an empire. It could be used to create an overworld in a dungeon crawl. I imagine it could also be used to create a neat puzzle game where you have to fix the layout of the grid using only a limited number of moves. There are a lot of applications, but right now I'm trying to work on the treasure hunting game.

CloudBuster
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Hey! I like it!

This is a GREAT idea!

I've been wanting to figure out a way to create random maps, too. This is really cool! Would you contain all the mapping dice in a little plastic holder thingy?

I wonder...what if you were to simply market the mapping system by itself? Then you could add modules depending on the type of game people wanted to play (...kinda like a Cheapass game). You could market the dice for say...a dungeon crawl and have a couple modules for that. Then...sell the dice for a land cultivating game, a puzzle game, or your treasure finding game separately. Would it be possible to build story elements into these modules? Your players move through different "chapters" for each module they buy. You could replay it because the maps would always be different...hmm...but the story would be the same...how would you change the story? Meh...okay...so maybe that wouldn't work...perhaps there's a general story line and you could have different elements while you play that make the story unfold as you go? I dunno...just throwing out ideas cuz I like this!

Nix_
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Its a good idea, as long as

Its a good idea, as long as you don't have to roll for more treasure too often. It can reallly be onorous locating spots on the grid all the time. While the mechanic does a good job randomizing, it might be a bit to random. One of the best things about the route cards in Ticket to Ride is that players can choose which routes they want, it isn't completely chosen for them.

schmanthony
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Tiles instead of dice

Instead of dice, which would be very expensive to produce in large size - not to mention cumbersome to roll - why not tiles?

I'm thinking double-sided tiles, at least 25 (for your 5x5) but possibly more, jumbled up in a draw bag and then blindly laid out into the grid. Similar to the dice. Perhaps even better, as certain outcomes could be prevented like "all grass" for instance.

Willi B
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Joined: 07/28/2008
Good idea

I think you have come up with something that could have many uses.

I think for random generation, you have a better system than tiles in that there are 6 sides to each die and these could be the equivalent of 6 tiles.

My concern is publication. You will have to probably do this with stickers - a major annoyance to most people, or have manufacturing costs that skyrocket the games price.

Most unique dice are still in mono-colored designed (Dragon Dice, lettered Dice, symbol dice, etc.). I haven't seen true multicolored artwork on dice. I assume there's a reason and that reason is cost.

If anyone knows of any example otherwise, or a reasonable cost for 2 or more colors, I'd be interested. My guess is stickers are the only option.

Publishers? Anyone got something on this?

Rick-Holzgrafe
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More thoughts about tiles vs. dice

Willi B wrote:
I think for random generation, you have a better system than tiles in that there are 6 sides to each die and these could be the equivalent of 6 tiles.

No, I think dice are worse than the tile idea. Consider: if you merely roll dice, you cannot guarantee how many treasure locations you will get. Could be a lot, could be none at all. With tiles, you could separate treasure tiles from other kinds first. Then decide how many treasures there ought to be. Randomly select enough terrain tiles to add up to 25, mix in the treasure tiles, and shuffle them face-down to make your map. You could have lots more than 25 terrain tiles so that you can get a lot of different mixes.

Yes, dice would give still more combinations, but the tile mechanism already gives so many that the players will never exhaust them all; and it allows the players to choose a "landscape type" by, for example, using lots of "desert" tiles and few or no "forest" tiles, or vice-versa. Choosing a landscape type is another feature that would be difficult to do with dice.

You can accomplish the same effects using dice, but you need a lot more dice: some with only treasure (to guarantee that you will get at least X treasures), some with mostly forest, or mostly desert, etc., so that players can customize their landscapes. You're already worried about 25 dice, so this would make that situation even worse. I'll bet tiles are a lot cheaper.

One more advantage of tiles: they are two-sided. This allows you to conceal things on the flip-side of the tiles, and reveal them when players make the right play.

Black Canyon
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Nix the tiles

The main reason I came up with this idea is to find an alternative to tiles. It's a gimmick. Who want's to play another tile-laying game? That's been done to death.

About the treasure hunting module: to ensure you'd always get a treasure chest on the map, one die would have nothing on it but treasure chests on all sides. The rest of the dice would have terrain types in varying frequencies. So where ever that treasure die landed, that's where the treasure is. You can't accidentally get no treasure or multiple treasure (unless you arrange the initial dice mix). The question becomes, where will it land, and what terrain will surround it?

As far as producing such a thing, I agree full color dice would look the best. There is one game I know of that has done four process color printing on dice, and that's The Simpsons Liar's Dice game. I am sure it was an expensive process. Using stickers as an alternative is generally a bad idea because they would have a higher than average chance of wearing off or becoming damaged by the edges of the grid. One work around for that would be to use indented dice. Another idea would be to use dice with different solid color faces. Blue for water, green for forest, etc. But all of these production questions are way ahead of the real issue: is it going to be playable?

I've begun writing up some game ideas using this thing. If I can come up with a compelling and fun use for it, then I'd pursue developing those games further. I'm interested in hearing about any ideas you can come up with for this kind of component.

Willi B
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I'm thinking many games

There have to be a lot of potential uses for this. I really wasn't answering to a particular game when I said it could be better than tiles, but I think if you have a significant amount of mixing, the proposed "X marks the spot on a single die" could easily be used effectively.

Let's take a battleship style game where we each take our dice sets and make an island of buried treasure.... players could each make a random setup faster than lightning. Then the players, hiding their "island" behind a screen could easily play a battleship treasure hunt. Add a movement restriction of following a path and terrain hindrance with some way of adding some clues to the location, and a neat little game is made.

Though this is probably a concept that is best for map generation, I think there are MANY possibilities. Great job.

hoywolf
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Size

I have a few ideas for a game with your concept, the only issue is the playing field... if you use something like a boggle board/grid, the playing field is just way to small unless you get larger dice, which can look likes odd, if you want a 1 inch square then the game surface will be raised 1 inch as well.

Also the dice size will only be terrain, you cant contain any roads or things like that.

The idea I have is that you have these dice, each size represents a terrain surface to dig on. Each dice has a color and number, you move pawns on top of the terrain and you dig, depending on the surface type it will take X moves to dig up, when you dig up the treasure, you peek at a card face down on top of another grid that corresponds to it, then I guess you can have an information passing phase and each player needs to dig up their corresponding set, so sharing info while trying to find the items yourself becomes a balancing act.

This is just an idea, but its a start. It would be nice if there is a way to have some type of roads, but its too random, you could have a setup where no roads attach to any other, not only are there 6 faces to a dice, but they have 4 directions they can face in respect to the other dice on a grid like set up.

CloudBuster
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I still like this idea

Although I agree (and I've played games that use them) with the tile based random map comments I still think this has potential. Part of what I like about this is the speed. Shake 'em up and BAM! Randomness. Done.

If you need a bigger map, couldn't you just shake up the dice again and connect the two somehow? Or perhaps, switch out some dice with a different type of terrain, or treasure, or monster dice and shake again.

I'm so intrigued by this I might start messing around with it this weekend! For prototyping, do you think stickers would work if you sprayed them with some type of protectant sealer stuff?

-CB-

Black Canyon
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Other ideas

CloudBuster wrote:
I'm so intrigued by this I might start messing around with it this weekend! For prototyping, do you think stickers would work if you sprayed them with some type of protectant sealer stuff?

I imagine for prototyping, you wouldn't have to bother with protecting the stickers. It's just a prototype.

Concerning size, I hadn't actually thought of using the dice as a playing field. I suppose you could, though. I like the idea of using a pawn to move around the grid for whatever reason.

Since this really just boils down to a mechanism to create a randomized 5x5 or 4x4 grid, the possible game applications are endless. The dice could designate powers and abilities for NPC creatures in a dungeon crawl or battle system. They could show an area's natural resources in a civilization or farming game. They could be islands in a trade route game.

Maybe this would be a good idea for a game design challenge?

InvisibleJon
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I know I'm going off on a tangent here, but...

Black Canyon wrote:
The main reason I came up with this idea is to find an alternative to tiles. It's a gimmick. Who want's to play another tile-laying game? That's been done to death.
This response got me thinking: What other options are there other than tiles (or cards, which are just large, flexible tiles) and dice? Then my mind suddenly went in an unexpected direction.

Marbles.

Spheres packed into a flat plane self-organize into a hexagonal grid, like a hex map for a board game. Imagine a set of marbles in green (grassland), brown (hills), gray (mountains), blue (water), and just a few yellow marbles (treasure). If you want special features, you can include unique marbles for those too. Get the ratios the way you want them, shake 'em up in a bag, and dump them into a tray that's just big enough to hold them. Once they settle and self-organize into a hexagonal grid, put a clear top on the tray and that's the playing surface where you place and move your pawns. If you're worried about them shifting or not self-organizing correctly, make it a tray with marble-holding dimples in a regular hexagonal pattern.

The problem is boundary coherence. You won't get a logical, reasonable map this way. You'll have a mountain in the middle of a field, splotches of water here and there, and so on. However, the (very clever) Boggle-map idea has a similar issue. You could try to make some of the marbles magnetic to encourage clumps of similar features, but that takes it from being an inexpensive and easy to prototype mapping solution to something far more complex (and it may not work anyway).

Just a thought...

Black Canyon
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Marbles

I think that is a great idea. I believe you'd almost have to use a tray with dimples in it to catch and hold the marbles, but it is effectively the same thing as the Boggle idea, only hexagonal instead of square. Again, this device could be used with any number of game ideas and themes.

Depending on the scale of your map, the extra random locations of various terrain features could work. I imagine a single blue (die or marble) could equal a pond. Two or more touching would be a lake. One mountain would be a hill, two or more a mountain range, etc. This is really only a difficulty if you want to use the mechanism for map generation.

Willi B
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Lego Dice

These are looking very intriguing to me... now if they would come out at a decent price instead of only being in the games (my guess), there is a good amount of potential for prototypes.

InvisibleJon
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Link to Lego's game page (featuring Lego dice)

Willi B wrote:
These are looking very intriguing to me... now if they would come out at a decent price instead of only being in the games (my guess), there is a good amount of potential for prototypes.
I was curious about this (not knowing of it before), so I did a little research:

http://games.lego.com/en-gb/kids/default.aspx#/dicequest

Now that I've seen it, the designer's soul inside of me aches. So. Much. Potential!

Note: I suspect it'd be easy-peasy to make your own lego die (for prototyping purposes) with a computer controlled 3-D printer, like the Cupcake CNC or a RepRap.

Cupcake CNC: http://store.makerbot.com/cupcake-cnc.html

RepRap: http://reprap.org/bin/view/Main/WebHome

funlerz gamez
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Marbles for Maps

Rolling marbles into a board with the hex shaped dimples sounds like a very neat way to generate a random map, it would be neat to watch the game board fall into place in front of you. Of course, like mentioned, the map could be strange, but I think it could definetly be used.

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