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Player generated map?

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Kneuronak
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I admire games in which players generate terrain on their own either in a setup phase, or as the game goes on, strategically, because I am of the impression that it keeps things fresh - and potentially eliminates the need for a gm in an adventure game.
I envision a dungeon crawl with four-six players. I like freeform, make-it-up as you go sort of stuff, but I acknowledge how much that can screw up a game once you introduce true competition to it, i.e., as soon as there's a real goal to be had, players would start inventing impossible tasks for their comrades.
Brainstorm with me on how one might create a game in which players create a board, or a board and scenario as they move through it. The simplest way I can imagine would be a "deck" of tiles/cards that one draws from whenever they open a door. They draw a new room, or a hallway and then a room, or hallways and rooms are treated in identical manners - but whatever they do they place it on the table connecting to whatever door they just opened.

Ideas?

The Magician
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I like the idea of the

I like the idea of the dungion or map unfolding as you go along. It creates an interesting blind factor that you can't see what is in front of you. It can be unlimited potentials.

I don't like the idea of making rules up as your go, if I am reading your post correctly. I guess the extreme example of this is D&D and other RPG style games that you play out of a book. I always hated these games with a passion because their was nothing there for me to look at or play with. Plus, whenever I sat down to try it out with my friends who had played it for years, I felt oberwelmed with the amount of information I had to learn that I didn't have anywhere for my brain to go. There was just to much to take in that I couldn't enjoy it at all. I like structure. If I have to make up the whole game as I go, where is the game?

scenarios yes! That could be vary cool. This is something I am contemplating for my game because it would allow richness I think. Also, what aspects of fun adventure video games can one get away with in a board game format?

In the first stages of this adventure labyrinth game I am working on, I had so much that I had to cut out of the game. It was way too complex. I had the Labyrinth board, then I had the overworld. It was going to be a 1000-course-meal. But there was this idea I had in the overworld where you meet different characters who had their own house on this map. And these character would send you out on missions or you could earn money by doing them a favor. Some of the characters would even send you out on this sort of "chain-sequence of events" inspired by Legend of Zelda. And the missions could be archived in a booklet or something to organize this complexity.

I wanted to mention a mechanic though that I had this idea for that would maybe allow the character locations on the map to be sort of random as to make each game experience different. So all 20-50 characters don't always live in the same house. I thought about little monopoly houses scattered all around the board that represented the inhabitence of this world. As you walk around on pathways around this board, you come up to some house that is unmarked. It looks like every other house. If you want to enter this house, you draw a character card, to find out who lives there. This character has some role in the game. You then get to mark the house by some method that identifies it now that that character lives there. And so on like this to discover the rest of the inhabitence of the world as the game progresses. It sounds complex I know. I thought I would share that though. I scraped this idea for the moment. Maybe I will think about it in another game.

dramaplastika
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Don't know if it helps

The way your explain the mechanics you're interested in reminded me a game I heard of time before, called "Zombie in my pocket". I think there's a solo version consisting on putting tiles from a pile to form a house, with simple rules of construction. In each room can have associated events, I suppose that some zombies appear and so on. It also reminds me to Tikal, in the way the jungle is explored by players and the board is in permanent construction. In this way I think this mechanic can be used in a similar way with a mistery theme, for example, exploring an enchanted house where things happen. Don't know if it helps!

hoywolf
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Pen and Paper

@Kneuronak i think you should look into the game Carcassonne, because your game sounds the most like it, players take turns building a map and can opt to put a figures on the board to claim a certain area (road, city, field, etc). What i thinking you can do is follow the idea of dynamic board making and add a movement/combat/item element to it.

@The Magician about your comment on old school Pen and Paper games such as D&D, i understand your point, games now a days require so much visual aid and user input for more visual output, i am guess that is how you feel about it. Pen and Paper games are at best drawn with your imagination, the game is more free form as you can do whatever and say whatever, its really in a different league as boardgames go. I used to play them, and they were enjoyable, i guess its just not for everyone.

brisingre
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The Holy Grail

In my designs, I do my best never to touch a static board. At worst, I have a board with variable elements, or a modular board that can be laid out randomly in a pinch. I have a couple of designs for procedural boards that can be created as players move along, but I don't think I've ever gotten it quite right. The elements of the unknown are harder, and that is what I am referring to as the Holy Grail. For me, at least. There are really two things that qualify, and this is both of them. Firstly, I'm always looking for the perfect method for procedural board generation. It's bloody hard to do. Secondly, I have an obsession with working stealth elements into strategy games. I've got a couple of mechanics, but they all feel forced.

As far as pen-and-paper games go, I play them. I like them. The trick to playing them is simple. You need perfect people. You need a dungeon master who has an ACTUAL story and can right interesting sequences without getting hung up on fights. You need players with imaginations, who can actually roleplay, who won't cheat, won't go looking for a fight (because fighting in DND, at least, is boring) and won't go out of their way to make life harder for the DM. You also can't invite a single jerk, because they screw it up for everybody.

The Magician
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brisingre wrote:In my

brisingre wrote:
In my designs, I do my best never to touch a static board. At worst, I have a board with variable elements, or a modular board that can be laid out randomly in a pinch. I have a couple of designs for procedural boards that can be created as players move along, but I don't think I've ever gotten it quite right. The elements of the unknown are harder, and that is what I am referring to as the Holy Grail. For me, at least. There are really two things that qualify, and this is both of them. Firstly, I'm always looking for the perfect method for procedural board generation. It's bloody hard to do. Secondly, I have an obsession with working stealth elements into strategy games. I've got a couple of mechanics, but they all feel forced.


Can you elaborate on this? Sounds, like some interesting ideas and would like to know more. What are the difficulties about board neneration and stealth elements?

Hoywolf- I just bought Carcassonne today. It's a cute little package and looks like fun. Can't wait to try it out.

The Magician
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@The Magician about your

@The Magician about your comment on old school Pen and Paper games such as D&D, i understand your point, games now a days require so much visual aid and user input for more visual output, i am guess that is how you feel about it. Pen and Paper games are at best drawn with your imagination, the game is more free form as you can do whatever and say whatever, its really in a different league as boardgames go. I used to play them, and they were enjoyable, i guess its just not for everyone.

[/quote]
Well, it was only D&D I tried, I can't speak about other pen&paper games. D&D felt so math based. I was turned off by so much dice rolling and numbers crunching. Plus, I think some of the people I was playing with at the time were just to much of a dork. My friend was a great DM, then there was this couple he invited over that wanted to show off how fluent they were with speaking French in the game. plus they were finatical about it and their knowledge of the game was way over mine. Which I had studied but was not fluent.

Anyway, not to step on anyone's toes here, basically how I feel about playing a game is this: As long as it's fun and it doesn't take too much away from my creative time. I get nurvious if a game looks like a lot of fun, but is going to require me to create a hobby around it just to learn and play it to have some fun. I have my place for bonefied game play for fun sake, but mostly I get enjoyment from creating.

How I justify creating a big long game and hope to seduce someone with a similar ethic as mine is that I am working tuards simplicity in learning to play the game but it is big and rich in it's experience. But, above all that, the player is advancing a real life skill that the player would have otherwise spent hours every day developing anyway. So they are "creating" for themselves by vertue of just playing the game, because they are better at what they work to develop after every session of game play.

brisingre
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Stealth Mechanics

I've only seen two that work, and even then they don't work perfectly.

Stealth Chess and War of the Ring use a counter that is incremented up one for each move the hidden piece moves. When the player moving it wants to do something with it, they make all of those moves at once. This works great until the opponent tries to interact the piece in question. In both of these games, that doesn't matter. It does matter if there is any area-of-effect involved. If somebody disappears, the logical thing to do is to fireball them that very second. You don't know where they are, but a twenty foot explosion ought to catch them. They can't have gone that far already. (I ripped this mechanic off for a tactical strategy game. You lot will be seeing a print-and-play release in a few months. I fixed this by declaring that anything shot at the player's last known position forces the player to move part of their stealth (moving their last known position out of the range) or take the damage.)

There is also a chess variant (I don't remember what it's called) where each player sits in front of their own board, take turns moving, and a referee transfers moves over when they capture pieces or get close to them. This is ridiculously impractical. It requires a player who can't play, and you can't in good conscience do that.

The Magician
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procedural board generation

brisingre- Thanks for the info about stealth. I am specifically interested about your statement that "procedural board generation is bloody hard". I haven't played many of them. Only reasently have I discovered the world of designer games, and expanded my knowledge of what kind of board games are out there. Procedural board generation seems to be popular these days. I have thought about haveing something like that in my game, but have a lot of resurch and game playing to do. I am currious about why this is so hard as you say. You seem to take a lot of interest in procedural board generation and I would love to read what you have to say about the challenges of designing them.

hoywolf
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@The Magician, good point, i did play D&D, but i liked playing the world of darkness games better, plus that game in itself is a social game, you need good player as well as a good GM (DM), or else the experience can suck. It sounds like you played with a more hardcore number cruncher players, rather than more imaginative players. I played a more story-base type game with very little rolling involved, that is probably why i enjoy it, if i wanted a heavy number crunching game, then i would opt for a video game and let the computer do the massive rolling.

brisingre
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@hoywolf Unfortunately, I

@hoywolf

Unfortunately, I keep landing number-crunchers in my games. I can crunch numbers as well as anyone, but I don't enjoy doing so in dnd. I'll play some wargame if I want heavy-strategy combat with lots of number crunching. I play DnD (And WoD, you're right, it is a better system. I also want to try GURPS) for the story, the puzzles, the intrigue. I've had one or two games with good people that have worked like that, but most end up playing like a bad co-op strategy game.

@The Magician
Doing procedural boards is popular now. The trick is, most people are doing it wrong. People make games with a boards, rather than having a map of hexagonal regions representing planets has a bunch of hexagonal tiles that represent planets, which you can put together however you like and the game will be a little different every time. This is a wonderful idea, and it works. However, it doesn't work spectacularly. The problem you run into is this. If you make the tiles radically different, the game becomes unfair. If there are enough impassable tiles to create chokepoints, somebody is going to get walled in. If there are tiles that are wealthy enough to fight over for the whole game, somebody is going to start right next to one and exploit it for long enough to build up an impassable defense before anyone can get an invasion force to it. The solution most people seem to have come up with is to make the tiles pretty much the same. This is still better than a prebuilt map, but the game is only a little bit different every time. There are solutions involving allowing players to place their own tiles during setup, but the result of this is that setup takes an hour and someone still gets screwed over. Exploiting the setup is not a good way to win a game. You also usually lose any idea of the unknown, although you could conceivably place tiles face-down and not tell people what you are placing. That's actually an interesting idea...

There is also the idea of generating a board based on some complex algorithm. Mazes are always a possibility this way, as are game-of-life styled terrain and coasts. This feels like a fair bit of work for your players, though. I bet there is a way to make it work. I'll think about this one.

Of my games (I have a big bash document of all of the ideas I want to develop) I have several different takes on this idea. I'll be releasing these games to you lot (I'm not in a position to publish) once they are developed into some sort of playable version. You'll see them.

The Magician
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This is great feed back

This is great feed back guys!
Now as I said I haven't played much to know what's out there. Carcassone is the only tile laying game I have played. I like it for some reason. I think it's the scoring mechanism that makes it fun for me. Yes, the player is generating the board as the game progresses, but someting about it doesn't quite float my ship. You don't move on the board. Your really only placeing things that remain static. The game is actually quite abstract. It's good in it's own right. It's not an adventure game for sure. But, the board doesn't feel like a board to me because your not moving anything on it. I also realize that their is no way for me to have fun playing it solo for the purposes of crasping it's game design lessons. It's not easy for me to look at a game and have someone on hand to enjoy it with. However, I just met this man who owns a little
book store in town, he doesn't stock game books. However, he just happens to be an espiring game designer and have a friend who has just published his own board game. We are quickly becoming friends and he sais that because we will have a little game designers circle formed, he is willing to now stalk game design books in his store. This seems to be a fortunate and vary conveniant circumstance.

So in my labyrinth game, I am thinking about haveing one side of the board be tile play generated based, and the other side be static labyrinth, with variable elements. This way I think, the different game phases feel different. So, the tile laying side that will be a forest labyrinth. I was thinking about the original Zelda for NES. Remember the simble sprite graphic system it had. The terrain feartures were vary simple. It seems vary easy for me to imagine those terrain graphics as terrain tiles in a board game. I'm trying to figure out how the player would lay them out as they go so it feels like they are discovering the map as they explore, and move along the tiles. And what mechanic would make for laying tiles and moving along them.

Taavet
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Taking away the edge

I also really like hidden information games.

Whether its stealth movement, discovering tiles, trying to figure out what someone is planning, player created resources/recipes, hidden resources/victory point/victory conditions, randomly spawning items/monsters.

It is VERY hard to do because in most cases to avoid cheating someone/thing has to know what is going on and prevent invalid moves.

As far as this thread goes, Carcassonne is a good player generated game. The reason it works is because there isn't any movement/play on the board. Otherwise you run into issues as described above where someone has an unfair advantage.

Taking from Knizia's designing techniques I think the solution to making every position equal is easier then making all the tiles equal. Or at least you can take a different approach to it. The key is to find a design which scales properly. For instance bidding does this well. If all players have 1-5 gold then all bids will be 1-5 range. If all players have 30-40 gold then all bids will be 30-40. Also, I one play does have more he will end up paying more for his winning bids while poorer players will pay less.

Knizia does this with many of his scoring mechanisms. In Lost Cities for instance it doesn't really benefit you at all for having a hand full of 9's and 10's, because you have to build up from the low numbers or you won't be able to play the low numbers and have to discard them possibly allowing your opponent to score more. It's a very give and take feel.

So maybe a solution to getting started next to the powerful tile would be to make things more expensive for that player. Not necissarily in purchasing things but just in how he has to play with what he's got. Hopefully, this is making sense. I don't know your game specifically but maybe instead of having units costs static for everyone have it based on their population to money ratio. So the powerful player will have a huge population but also a lot of money making his ratio similar to the poor player with a small population. It is hard to design games that way but once achieved I think it works wonderfully. Good luck, hope this helps a bit.

brisingre
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Procedural mazes.

Ok. There is the obvious way to do mazes. You draw a ton of little mazes, and you stitch them together. This is not a good idea in the first logical rendition. (I've been here, so I know.) You think you'll draw a bunch of 5 by 5 mazes, and then you'll put them together. The thing is, you need a way to connect them. That's where problems start happening. You see, when you put the tiles together, they need to match up. You can say that you play tiles however they will fit, but then they don't fit in the grid. You can make tile exits uniform (open in the center of each tile, for instance) which makes your maze feel very same-y after a little while, or you can leave the edges open in arbitrary places, and count something with a wall on either (or on both, depending on how much freedom you want to give) tiles as a wall between them, and anything without these walls as passable. This works pretty well if you design your tiles right, but you get "white space." Most stylish mazes don't have any "white space" or "rooms," or any place where you have a two by two block of cells with no walls between any of them. If you can live with whitespace, the third method isn't a bad call. The first is functional, certainly, but not very classy. The second works great in Wiz War (it's a very fun game, albeit one in need of some balance) because the board is so small, and the creation of choke points is an interesting element. If your game is bigger than that, and you mean it to be a maze, rather than a dungeon full of rooms, the second gets nasty quickly.

However, this is not necessarily the right way to do it. A better way to do mazes with tiles like this is to make each tile a single cell. It can have preset cells in the grid to force openness, or not. (There's a kids game (one of the better ones) like this: The A-Maze-ing Labyrinth. It has preset cells.) This is a ton of tiles, though, and it doesn't create a very complex maze.

The last thought I have for you is the concept of a knotwork maze. Basically, rather than thinking about walls, you think about paths. A one-by-one path-based cell has a few ways it can go. Without dead ends, it can be two right-angles, a four-way cross, or two straight paths, crossing over and under each other. With dead ends, it has left-hand and right-hand bends with two dead ends, a straight with two dead ends, a t-joint with one, and a four-way dead end. This isn't great in and of itself. However, it gets interesting when you make your knot tiles bigger. If, on a five-by-five tile, each of the twenty edge segments can be arbitrarily connected (or not) to any number of other edge segments, you can have ludicrously complex mazes. You quickly run into a problem. These are technically 3d tiles. Two pieces can occupy the same space on the tile without occupying the same space in-game (the center of an over-under straight in the small knot version, for instance.) Making tiles 3d is pretty much not an option, particularly once one realizes that in the five-knot version a knot can stack many levels high on a regular basis. The answer to this is to put a half-circle on each edge segment (they will form full circles when two tiles touch.) Rather than defining a move in terms of a grid on the tile, define one "space" as a move between one circle and any other connected to it.

I love this idea, but it won't work for your theme. It is a very abstract mechanic. A maze in a forest is pretty much 2D. You don't do a lot of moving inbetween layers in a forest. You don't make arbitrary jumps in a forest. (You don't have walls in an actual forest either, but that is called Creative License, while a knot-type forest maze is called Nonsense.) You'd want to go with one of the first two. Also, check out Labyrinth. It's a pretty good shifting maze mechanic, not sure if that's what you want, but it's a fairly fun game for something so simple. (One of these days, I'm going to rip it off for an abstract strategy game...)

Algorithmic generation is another possibility, but it is time-consuming, slow, and probably doesn't give you your exploration element. Here's the link anyway: Maze Generation on Wikipedia

Also, I'd like to link you to Daedalus, an old program that takes maze geekery to a whole new level.

The Magician
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You wouldn't happen to have

You wouldn't happen to have done mazes before would you brisingre? lol Thank you! These are brilliant ideas and beleave me I will be sitting down with a pen and paper tomorrow working out to truly grasp the meaning of what your saying. I had no intention of doing 3d knots. That will not be necessary but it's a cool idea of itself. I have a mechanic that I show in my journal and pictures for a variable component on top of a maze, where on a four-way-cross section of a maz the path is blocked, forcing player to take a different path. I intend to work this into the equation. If I want to lay tiles and move along them, maybe each tile should have several movement squares within it so that if I score 10 movement points and I lay one tile, I have room to use my movement points and am not forced to only move one space: the tile I just layed. I love both of your feedback. It has given me much to consider as I work on this problem.

seo
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5x5 tiles

I agree with brisingre, 5x5 maze tiles connecting through doors on the middle of the sides risk producing a monotonous maze. But I think for most games they can work. Some time ago, on the old-old BGDF site, there was a similar thread to this. I don't want to spend time looking for it on the archive, but I can post here some sample images I posted there back then.

Four basic 5x5 tiles:

Some of the possible resulting mazes (without rotation of the tiles):

And some more, this time rotating the tiles:

If 5x5 tiles result in monotony, you can use 6x6, 7x7, etc. As long as the doors on each side match, it will work.
I recommend using even values only for 8x8 and up tiles with two doors per side:

For 6x6, perhaps an acceptable solution (given that two doors per side will result in too easy a maze) would be to have just one off-center door and place the tiles so that doors match, forming a small empty space surrounded by tiles:

Keep in mind that to avoid unaccesible spaces, you need all doors in a tile to connect.

ilta
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Also worth noting is that if

Also worth noting is that if you have multiple maze tiles that interlock like seo describes, you actually have twice as many as you have physical tiles, because you can put yet another, different pattern on the back of each one. You can also calibrate them differently, so you could have an "easy" side / "hard" side (ideas: more dead ends? more monster spawn points? fewer but more valuable treasures?), or a passage side / rooms side, if having rooms is something that interests you.

Different scenarios could call for different kinds of tiles (all four A-side tiles; two A tiles, one B tile, one randomly chosen; all four random; this specific tile and three random; etc). If you really wanted to get crazy, you could flip the maze mid-game, or constantly be moving them around or introducing new boards, "Zombies!!!"-style.

The Magician
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Wow these are great ideas! I

Wow these are great ideas! I love the one about haveing maze printed on both sides. I would love to compose this monster so that game play could just keep going and going,or the fire keeps burning, going back and forth between boards laying new features over the board. If the player choses to play the game that way. I'm not quite ready to design the tiles, but when I do, I have a look in mind of pathways in the forest where you see some trees. Forests aren't mazes after all. For the forest I'm not going for the look of walls forming a maze, but pathways that one could get lost in because they will change.

brisingre
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Mazes

No, I don't have any maze games. It's just an old, old obsession. I've loved mazes since I was a little kid, and I still do. I have an idea for a maze game, but it's quite far from being developable right now. It's a competitive dungeon crawl, using the five-by-five tiles. They work, because rooms are a primary shape, rather than something to be avoided. The shifting wall mechanic is interesting. It's a good idea to enact drastic changes in the maze quickly.

EDIT: For the record, Tsuro uses 2-segment knot tiles. I don't know how it uses them, I've never played it, but this is a good idea of what they can look like.

clearclaw
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Maze tiles redux

The interior contents of the tiles doesn't matter. Each tile has 4 exits. Each exit can be a dead end, or connected to one, two or three other exits on the same tile. This gives 6 possible different tile types., 7 if non-intersecting cross-overs are possible.

The two tile arrangement patterns displayed above are effectively identical as far as maze generation is concerned. They may look different but in practice they're the same. Each tile has 4 edges. Each edge is either directly connected to either another tile or to an external edge of the map. Each of those tiles is one of the above 6 or 7 types, possibly modulo a rotation.

Moving to two exits per side doesn't make things a lot more interesting unless you also allow non-intersecting cross-overs. With forced intersections the number of possible permutations with 8 exits is not interestingly larger than with merely 4. (Exact count left as an exercise for the reader) With non-intersecting cross-overs however the number of possible tile permutations becomes noticably larger. Additionally with two exits per side the offset grid arrangement becomes significant as a given edge of a tile may have one exit to another tile and another exit off the board.

brisingre
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Nice!

Thanks. That was very concise and entirely correct.

Interior contents control the distance from one exit to another, but if that matters too much to a game, you're probably doing it wrong.

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