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Would you play an open world board game?

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questccg
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My concern...

Is that an Open World game might resemble a "large" Dungeon Crawler. Or the experience of the game would be something like that.

Reminds me a little about "World of Xeen" the Might & Magic series (before Heroes). The map from the "Clouds of Xeen" was for Might & Magic IV and some places could not be explored because they actually belonged to "World of Xeen" in the future release of Might & Magic V!

These are older games... But the two (2) games intersected in certain areas of the game's map... Which was kinda cool to be real honest.

One side note, I think people who read "LEGACY" thought it meant permanent defacing of cards and tiles. No it just means that you can mark up the cards with stickers while you play - and then after the game is over, you can remove all those sticker ... and play again.

You might need to buy more stickers at some point... but that goes without saying in a LEGACY game!

After reading what everyone else has say... I get the impression that the game WOULD be reduced to some "elaborate" Dungeon Crawler... Anyways...

X3M
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questccg wrote: After reading

questccg wrote:

After reading what everyone else has say... I get the impression that the game WOULD be reduced to some "elaborate" Dungeon Crawler... Anyways...

My thoughts exactly.

But I wonder about the "open" world part. Is everyone talking about a possible "infinite" expansion? Or would it be a "random" world, each time it is played?

Gabe
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questccg wrote: After reading

questccg wrote:

After reading what everyone else has say... I get the impression that the game WOULD be reduced to some "elaborate" Dungeon Crawler... Anyways...

I guess it depends on your definition of dungeon crawl. But the game I'm thinking of is more about exploration, figuring out where to go, completing side quests, completing plot points that lead to numerous decisions on where the story goes next.

And there would also be some dungeons to explore, beat, and find cool stuff in.

Combat would not be tactical at all. It would be quick. Encounters are currently averaging around 30 seconds. The goal is to get through combat quickly to move on to the next thing to explore.

X3M wrote:

My thoughts exactly.

But I wonder about the "open" world part. Is everyone talking about a possible "infinite" expansion? Or would it be a "random" world, each time it is played?

None of the game would be procedurely generated. The world, maps, and enemies would be fixed.

There would be a random encounter deck and perhaps a random loot deck for areas that weren't involved in the story, but even these decks would be tied to specific areas.

I want the player to have to do as little book keeping as possible, so there wouldn't be any charts or draws for the player to do to see what comes next.

radioactivemouse
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Not interested.

Gabe wrote:
The more I play open world video games, the more I wonder if there would be a market for an open world board game.

What if a tabletop game could capture a similar experience that the new Zelda game offers? Would anybody be interested in that?

I realize it would require a mountain of work and probably only work for 1 player.

I don't want to sound like a downer, but as much as I do like variety and a lot of game modes, having a board or card game that's "open world" just lends itself to a complexity that would take too many moving parts to achieve.

I mean a game like Thunderstone or Marvel Legendary are very setup-intensive games that only focus on one aspect.

If you have a game that tries to do everything, you'll end up having to make mechanics that are shallow at best. If you're planning on doing something that's Zelda-esque, you'll have to create separate games just for all the smaller aspects of this endeavor.

I love board games because I know I'll be committing a certain amount of time to it and I'll be pretty much done. An open world, while brilliantly executed in the newest Zelda, just can't (or is very difficult) translate as a board/card game unless you have modules that expand every aspect of the game...then it gets overcomplicated with modules no matter how simple the gameplay is. You'd have to design everything up front...which was mentioned at the start.

I dunno, it just doesn't seem like a great idea and energies could be spent on smaller, more tighter games, imo.

HPS74
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Yes I would

And I think it could be done without a board

The Professor
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Open World Game

Gabe,

I come at this question from a not-too-distinct angle. As a 35+ year role player, I have had absolutely no interest in card or board games (Thunderstone, Descent, Gloomhaven) which try to capture an RPG"s essence and for me, simply dilutes it to a series of cards which determine the flow of the game.

The genre, which includes the 1-player community's #1 game, Mage Knight, must clearly have a following, as evidenced by Gloomhaven's and Seafall's success on KS. It's just not one that endears me. Give me a table of 3-5 players and a few hours to weave a tale, enjoy the encounters as they occur, and allow the player's characters to advance in skill and abilities.

Anyway, just some thoughts...well before my first cup of coffee.

Cheers,
Joe

Willem Verheij
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Here's an idea that might be

Here's an idea that might be interesting for a game like this:

Advanced classes.

This might make leveling a bit more interesting and could make it feel like a true achievement when you reach the thresshold where you get to pick your advanced class.

Initially, you could have basic starting classes available like a squire, apprentice, pilgrim and peasant.

There could be multible figures of each of these, allowing multible players to start as the same starting class. Player colored rings could be put around the base to show player ownership.

Each of the basic classes would have some abilities, and would have different advanced classes available. Some exclusive to a single base class while others could be available to two of them.

Both a squire and a pilgrim could become a paladin for example, but the pilgrim can't become a knight and the squire can't become a priest.

These advanced classes would have their own unique figure, which would make putting them on the board all the more satisfying when you reach that goal. These would be quite limited, there could be just one of each. Or two if there's figure variations to allow for both genders.

The advanced classes would allow for better abilities and a more clearly defined role.

And expansions could easily add additional advanced classes or could even be a race pack that adds a dwarf as a starting class for example along with several advanced classes unique to them.

In addition to that, the player color could also have a small effect, allowing for something unique to start with, something that can be usefull for any class.

Like yellow getting extra gold from rewards, green having a little extra movement, purple making them royalty, blue making them better at sea, etc.

Rick L
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I've been enjoying this

I've been enjoying this discussion and had another thought to add, partly inspired by professor Joe's post above. I think the concept up for discussion is a game that walks the line between a single session thematic board game and a multi-session RPG.

Maybe the key to that lies in the objective of the game as much as in the mechanics. If the main objectives are character building and quests, it's going to feel like a scaled down RPG. If it's co-op, that also adds to the RPG feel.

I'm just thinking out loud I guess, but what would the ultimate objective of the game be? Completing a story? Defeating a boss? Finding or reclaiming some talisman? Or something altogether different? Because those are all very "RPG", and it occurred to me that a different type of replayable objective, such as survival (7th continent) or race against Time might provide a less than RPG-ish feel...?

So the thing I'm wondering is, could that sort of game objective meld with an open world in a way that creates an in-between genre? Or would it still just feel like a scaled down RPG?

let-off studios
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In-Betweening

Rick L wrote:
So the thing I'm wondering is, could that sort of game objective meld with an open world in a way that creates an in-between genre? Or would it still just feel like a scaled down RPG?
Your critique would inevitably be one of two things:
- "There's not enough depth for it to be a role-playing game"
- "All I want to do is have a dungeon-crawling board game... Is that too much to ask?!?!?"

Seriously though, the old maxim is: if you try to please everyone, then no one will be satisfied. I would caution anyone who attempts to follow this track. I still say it would be largely unsatisfying for the player due to the required level of fiddly-ness.

Barbarian Prince seems awesome and fascinating to me personally, but objectively speaking it's very old-skool (it requires *gasp* reading!). I don't think the current market can even consider approaching that level of attention span required. It seems as close to the RPG-tabletop-single-player experience as anyone has come.

Gabe
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radioactivemouse wrote:I

radioactivemouse wrote:

I don't want to sound like a downer, but as much as I do like variety and a lot of game modes, having a board or card game that's "open world" just lends itself to a complexity that would take too many moving parts to achieve.

I disagree. Open world just means the player is able to pick and choose what opportunities to do next. He can pursue the main objective or he can go off on side quests. If done correctly, this doesn't add any extra moving parts or mechanics. It just adds a lot more work for the designer as the game will need a great deal more content.

radioactivemouse wrote:
I mean a game like Thunderstone or Marvel Legendary are very setup-intensive games that only focus on one aspect.

Those games take forever to set up, but this is due to their extremely modular nature. If they weren't modular, they wouldn't be fun for very long.

However, if a game had 10 or even 20+ hours of content, it wouldn't need to be modular to stay fresh. It could have almost no setup time at all as the player wouldn't have to do much pre-game book keeping.

radioactivemouse wrote:
If you have a game that tries to do everything, you'll end up having to make mechanics that are shallow at best. If you're planning on doing something that's Zelda-esque, you'll have to create separate games just for all the smaller aspects of this endeavor.

The key word is "esque." Attempting to recreate an open world video game in tabletop format is ludicrous. It cannot be done for reasons already mentioned in this thread.

However, to take elements and a core experience from a video game and recreate it in tabletop format is definitely possible and has been done many times. Bloodborne, Portal, and Gears of War are three that come to mind. Those games take complex ideas from the virtual world and simplify the concepts into something that works for a board game.

Don't miss the forest for the trees.

Gabe
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The Professor wrote: I

The Professor wrote:

I come at this question from a not-too-distinct angle. As a 35+ year role player, I have had absolutely no interest in card or board games (Thunderstone, Descent, Gloomhaven) which try to capture an RPG"s essence and for me, simply dilutes it to a series of cards which determine the flow of the game.

Based on those 3 games you mentioned, I completely understand. Thunderstone is just Dominion in a dungeon.

And Descent and Gloomhaven are simply tactical combat scenario games. They got rid of what makes D&D amazing and just left in the combat. They try to sprinkle in story to add thematic flavor, but it often feels pasted on and really just acts as a frame to give the combat scenarios a reason to exist.

But what if a game was story driven, filled with choices that affected the story, and the combat was sprinkled in? What if exploration was the driving force, and combat was just a way to progress stories and learn about more places to explore?

The Professor wrote:
Give me a table of 3-5 players and a few hours to weave a tale, enjoy the encounters as they occur, and allow the player's characters to advance in skill and abilities.

Nothing will ever replace this type of experience and the emotions it creates. I guess what I'm thinking of just wants to scratch a similar itch for people who don't have access, time, or opportunity to commit to a proper RPG.

Gabe
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Willem Verheij wrote:Here's

Willem Verheij wrote:
Here's an idea that might be interesting for a game like this:

Advanced classes.

This might make leveling a bit more interesting and could make it feel like a true achievement when you reach the thresshold where you get to pick your advanced class.

This is the approach Gloomhaven has taken, and people seem to really get into it. They'll grind away for hours in the Skinner Box just to be able to open a new envelope and see what the next class option is.

I've gone back and forth between 2 ideas:

1. Having a somewhat complex leveling system like The Witcher where a player's character dramatically changes over the course of the game as he gains new skills and abilities.

2. Not having a leveling system at all like Zelda and having the player gain new skills, abilities, and stats through quests.

Not sure which way is best, and I can see pros and cons on both sides. However, going with the Zelda model makes content creation easier.

Gabe
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Rick L wrote:I've been

Rick L wrote:
I've been enjoying this discussion

Me too! I never expected to get this kind of a response, and this has been one of the most enjoyable threads I've ever been a part of on the BGDF.

Rick L wrote:

I think the concept up for discussion is a game that walks the line between a single session thematic board game and a multi-session RPG.

I think that's a really good way to put it. The game would draw elements from both to become a hybrid. But hopefully it would be a hybrid more like Bo Jackson than Tim Tebow...

Rick L wrote:

I'm just thinking out loud I guess, but what would the ultimate objective of the game be? Completing a story? Defeating a boss? Finding or reclaiming some talisman? Or something altogether different? Because those are all very "RPG", and it occurred to me that a different type of replayable objective, such as survival (7th continent) or race against Time might provide a less than RPG-ish feel...?

So the thing I'm wondering is, could that sort of game objective meld with an open world in a way that creates an in-between genre? Or would it still just feel like a scaled down RPG?

I think the game would have 2 overall objectives:

1. Exploration - Wander through every nook and cranny of the game's world. Talk to NPC's. Hear stories about the kingdom that used to be. Help peasants in distress. Buy cool stuff from traveling peddlers. Find dungeons to explore and kill monsters to get cool loot.

2. Complete stories - The game would have multiple stories that have branching paths based on the decisions you make. Think TellTale Game's "The Walking Dead" in which one choice leads to the story being very different. And there would be side quests that lead to better stats, abilities, weapons, etc.

The game wouldn't be a win/lose type of deal. If you die, you don't start over from the beginning, you start over from before you went into that dungeon or had that encounter. There would be a cost for dying, but it wouldn't end the game. You wouldn't lose your progress.

Again, exploration and story would be king.

Gabe
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let-off studios wrote: Your

let-off studios wrote:

Your critique would inevitably be one of two things:
- "There's not enough depth for it to be a role-playing game"

Where does depth come from in an RPG? Is it the story? The mechanics? The options? The ability to come up with super creative ways to avoid peril?

Does a tabletop RPG inherently have more depth than an RPG video game?

let-off studios wrote:

- "All I want to do is have a dungeon-crawling board game... Is that too much to ask?!?!?"

Yeah, this definitely wouldn't be a dungeon crawl. No tactical combat. No fighting hordes of monsters.

let-off studios wrote:

Seriously though, the old maxim is: if you try to please everyone, then no one will be satisfied. I would caution anyone who attempts to follow this track.

That's definitely a great point, but I think a game like this has already niched down a great deal. Single player, story-driven, fantasy setting. That's not exactly a large percentage of gamers.

let-off studios wrote:

I still say it would be largely unsatisfying for the player due to the required level of fiddly-ness.

Where would the fiddly-ness come from?

If the game took the same approach as Barbarian Prince, then yes, it would be insanely fiddly. Keeping track of food supplies, constantly rolling and referencing charts, getting lost, and etc are a lot to keep track of. But what if the game didn't have any of those unfun mechanics?

let-off studios wrote:

Barbarian Prince seems awesome and fascinating to me personally, but objectively speaking it's very old-skool (it requires *gasp* reading!). I don't think the current market can even consider approaching that level of attention span required. It seems as close to the RPG-tabletop-single-player experience as anyone has come.

Don't count reading and attention span out completely. TIME Stories is doing pretty dang well, and the game's core mechanic is reading and telling other people what you read.

I think the trick is to find the fun in the RPG experience and cut out the rest. Keeping track of your food supplies and losing health if you don't eat is decidedly unfun. But finding resources and combining them in different ways to give your character stat boosts can be an enjoyable exploration.

radioactivemouse
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Maybe?

Gabe wrote:

I disagree. Open world just means the player is able to pick and choose what opportunities to do next. He can pursue the main objective or he can go off on side quests. If done correctly, this doesn't add any extra moving parts or mechanics. It just adds a lot more work for the designer as the game will need a great deal more content.

Those games take forever to set up, but this is due to their extremely modular nature. If they weren't modular, they wouldn't be fun for very long.

However, if a game had 10 or even 20+ hours of content, it wouldn't need to be modular to stay fresh. It could have almost no setup time at all as the player wouldn't have to do much pre-game book keeping.

The key word is "esque." Attempting to recreate an open world video game in tabletop format is ludicrous. It cannot be done for reasons already mentioned in this thread.

However, to take elements and a core experience from a video game and recreate it in tabletop format is definitely possible and has been done many times. Bloodborne, Portal, and Gears of War are three that come to mind. Those games take complex ideas from the virtual world and simplify the concepts into something that works for a board game.

Don't miss the forest for the trees.

I'd really have to see this in practical form. Open world would mean many choices for the player, which would either push the game to RPG status or there would have to be a mechanic for every possible decision a player can make.

Either way, you said it best "I realize it would require a mountain of work and probably only work for 1 player."

The Professor
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Interesting points

Gabe,

Yes, I absolutely agree that most, if not all board and card games, even the currently, wildly-successful City of Kings by our own Frank West has combat and leveling at its core, but seems to ratchet-up the story aspect to make it intriguing. I, myself, purchased and have played Mage Knight (I couldn't resist when the price plummeted to $54 during the Christmas season) which really scratches the RPG-ish itch for me...given both the time and energy I want to expend on a game of that nature., To your inquiry however, what makes an RPG compelling? For me, it's the ability to do almost anything, coupled with the social interaction I have with fellow characters (as a player) or as the DM.

Cheers,
Joe

let-off studios
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Responses

Gabe wrote:
Does a tabletop RPG inherently have more depth than an RPG video game?
Inherently, no. In practical terms, yes. You're dealing with limitations of video game development versus on-the-fly, seat-of-the-pants DM technique. There's really no comparison, in my view.

Gabe wrote:
...I think the trick is to find the fun in the RPG experience and cut out the rest. Keeping track of your food supplies and losing health if you don't eat is decidedly unfun. But finding resources and combining them in different ways to give your character stat boosts can be an enjoyable exploration.
I guess all I have to say to your other responses is, "Go for it."

I may be wrong when I see some blockbuster game that does all this eventually hit the shelves and really take off, but I just don't see the reason to work so hard at this kind of endeavor. Maybe it's just not my type of challenge/design.

I may just seem overly pessimistic or skeptical, but I certainly do not mean to personally shut down this discussion. I too think it's been fascinating. :) And if you do come up with something, make sure it hits the table sooner rather than later, so you can iron out the bugs. Good luck!

Rick L
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let-off studios wrote: I may

let-off studios wrote:

I may just seem overly pessimistic or skeptical, but I certainly do not mean to personally shut down this discussion. I too think it's been fascinating. :) And if you do come up with something, make sure it hits the table sooner rather than later, so you can iron out the bugs. Good luck!

I think it's great that there have been some skeptical comments in this discussion - in fact I think those comments are vital here. If everyone just said "sounds great, go for it", we would be missing out on something important - the identification of the major obstacles that would cause this kind of a project to fail.

There have been several examples of games that have "come close" to achieving the type of open world adventure here, but perhaps they failed or fell short precisely because they didn't identify enough of the obstacles that have been mentioned so far here.

But now you've got a great descriptive list of the various pitfalls to avoid in this kind of a project!

As a side note, this has spawned an interesting multiplayer co-op game idea in my head, so I'll start a thread on that once it's had some time to develop a bit more.

Gabe
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let-off studios wrote: I may

let-off studios wrote:

I may just seem overly pessimistic or skeptical, but I certainly do not mean to personally shut down this discussion. I too think it's been fascinating. :) And if you do come up with something, make sure it hits the table sooner rather than later, so you can iron out the bugs. Good luck!

I haven't found any of the comments here to be harsh or unwarranted. Pessimism and skepticism are great for this because it points out the many potential pitfalls.

I love having a group of people who say, "Whoa, easy trigger!" haha.

My former boss was a pilot in the Air Force, and he often talked about needing both thrust and vector. If you have thrust but no vector, you have no idea where you'll end up. If you have vector but no thrust, you'll fall out of the air.

I've found that in game design it's easy to have a burst of temporary thrust but no vector and end up wasting a bunch of time.

Thanks to all of you for helping me find vector for the project.

Rick L wrote:

I think it's great that there have been some skeptical comments in this discussion - in fact I think those comments are vital here. If everyone just said "sounds great, go for it", we would be missing out on something important - the identification of the major obstacles that would cause this kind of a project to fail.

There have been several examples of games that have "come close" to achieving the type of open world adventure here, but perhaps they failed or fell short precisely because they didn't identify enough of the obstacles that have been mentioned so far here.

But now you've got a great descriptive list of the various pitfalls to avoid in this kind of a project!

Exactly!

Rick L wrote:

As a side note, this has spawned an interesting multiplayer co-op game idea in my head, so I'll start a thread on that once it's had some time to develop a bit more.

That's funny because this single player, open world game started off as a multiplayer co-op. I look forward to hearing your idea.

Gabe
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radioactivemouse wrote: I'd

radioactivemouse wrote:

I'd really have to see this in practical form. Open world would mean many choices for the player, which would either push the game to RPG status or there would have to be a mechanic for every possible decision a player can make.

Either way, you said it best "I realize it would require a mountain of work and probably only work for 1 player."

I think the best way to do this and the game not get wildly over-complex is to offer a lot of choices but only in a specific context.

It wouldn't be like GTA where a player thinks, "What if I drive this car at 80mph up that hillside that looks like a ramp?" This is open world mechanics.

It would be more like giving the player choices inside the story that would lead to vastly different story options, boss battles, items found, etc. It would be open world storytelling.

Basically, go where you want, explore what story you want.

Gabe
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The Professor wrote: I,

The Professor wrote:
I, myself, purchased and have played Mage Knight (I couldn't resist when the price plummeted to $54 during the Christmas season) which really scratches the RPG-ish itch for me...given both the time and energy I want to expend on a game of that nature.

What are your thoughts on the game? My goal would be to create a Mage Knight killer, so to speak, that would learn from and improve on the experience MK provides.

The Professor wrote:

To your inquiry however, what makes an RPG compelling? For me, it's the ability to do almost anything, coupled with the social interaction I have with fellow characters (as a player) or as the DM.

Yeah, I remember my days of D&D when so many ridiculous things happened because the game is really only limited by the players' imagination. That part of the experience will never be recreated in a board game. Even in a game like Arabian Nights in which a player gets a long list of options for dealing with an encounter, there's still something missing because a player can't free style or use an item in an unorthodox way.

questccg
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Betrayal at House on the Hill?!

Gabe wrote:
...Basically, go where you want, explore what story you want.

Would it be kinda like "Betrayal at House on the Hill"? Or some more open-ended, fancier type of storytelling??? That game already has an "exploration" mechanic and it also features custom storytelling for Phase #2 of the game.

But it could be functionally something similar but more elaborate, no?

FrankM
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Let me backtrack for a second

Gabe wrote:
X3M wrote:
But I wonder about the "open" world part. Is everyone talking about a possible "infinite" expansion? Or would it be a "random" world, each time it is played?

None of the game would be procedurely generated. The world, maps, and enemies would be fixed.

There would be a random encounter deck and perhaps a random loot deck for areas that weren't involved in the story, but even these decks would be tied to specific areas.

I want the player to have to do as little book keeping as possible, so there wouldn't be any charts or draws for the player to do to see what comes next.


I know I'm responding to an older post, but that's because I blinked and eleventy thousand pages of conversation appeared ;)

This might limit replayability, since you'd end up with the same bosses doing the same nefarious things, and it's always Upright Citizen Thomas McPompous who betrays the city in its darkest hour.

Although randomizing the Big Bad is not worth the effort, a lot of details can be scrambled with little effort on the player's part (but a corresponding increase in your effort).

1. Separate the core rules from the story/quest book.
2. Include N variations of the story/quest book.
3. Randomly pick one for that run of the game.

The box has a special storage spot for the active storybook so that things don't get confused between sessions.

Fortunately, a lot of the writing can be re-used, so it wouldn't be quite N times the effort. But it would be a lot.

Expansions could come in two flavors: additional storybooks, and additional rules. Either might come with additional cards to shuffle into the existing decks.

Willem Verheij
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Gabe wrote:Willem Verheij

Gabe wrote:
Willem Verheij wrote:
Here's an idea that might be interesting for a game like this:

Advanced classes.

This might make leveling a bit more interesting and could make it feel like a true achievement when you reach the thresshold where you get to pick your advanced class.

This is the approach Gloomhaven has taken, and people seem to really get into it. They'll grind away for hours in the Skinner Box just to be able to open a new envelope and see what the next class option is.

I've gone back and forth between 2 ideas:

1. Having a somewhat complex leveling system like The Witcher where a player's character dramatically changes over the course of the game as he gains new skills and abilities.

2. Not having a leveling system at all like Zelda and having the player gain new skills, abilities, and stats through quests.

Not sure which way is best, and I can see pros and cons on both sides. However, going with the Zelda model makes content creation easier.

What about going with a mix of something in between?

Instead of classes, maybe it could be set characters but they can be developed in many different ways? You could get experience and leveling, but it could be more limited.
And the rest of it could be gathering items that improve your character, and maybe some forms of training could also be available to improve them to teach them new abilities. Which could work as items, represented by a card.

But the base character could have a few characteristics and limitations.
If there is an elf, she could be unable to use the heaviest weapons and armor for example and could maybe carry less, but could move faster on foot or have other benefits.
She could still be a warrior, mage, thief or whatever kinds of skills she persues, but all options would reflect her race and character.
For example her religion could be some nature god. If she'd be a priest, she would be a priest of that god.

And maybe the dwarf could have less magic potential, which could render spells of the highest level unavailable to them but they could get bonuses in mountains or such.
He could still be improved in many ways.

This approach might also make it a little more personal, and could allow characters to be given a background, setting up the beginning of their adventures but they can be taken in many directions.

Possibly they could all have maybe three possible ultimate goals to fulfill which ends the game, and the player can pick one of them.
That could be stuff like slaying the most powerfull dragon, become king or queen by their own hand, obtain ultimate power through a specific artefact, make the land safe, etc.

A nice possibility to this more character driven approach could also be to have maybe multible minifigures available for each character to represent their flexibility.
Like one could show them in robes, one in light armor and one in heavy armor. But stuff like that could be good for stretch goals and expansions of course.

Gabe
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questccg wrote: Would it be

questccg wrote:

Would it be kinda like "Betrayal at House on the Hill"? Or some more open-ended, fancier type of storytelling??? That game already has an "exploration" mechanic and it also features custom storytelling for Phase #2 of the game.

But it could be functionally something similar but more elaborate, no?

It would be a tiny bit similar to Betrayal, but the map would be fixed. Some locations would be numbered and send you to an adventure book. Other locations would just be named and would correspond with quest cards.

You wouldn't be exploring the map so much as the stories found at different places on the map.

Gabe
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FrankM wrote:Gabe wrote:X3M

FrankM wrote:
Gabe wrote:
X3M wrote:
But I wonder about the "open" world part. Is everyone talking about a possible "infinite" expansion? Or would it be a "random" world, each time it is played?

None of the game would be procedurely generated. The world, maps, and enemies would be fixed.

There would be a random encounter deck and perhaps a random loot deck for areas that weren't involved in the story, but even these decks would be tied to specific areas.

I want the player to have to do as little book keeping as possible, so there wouldn't be any charts or draws for the player to do to see what comes next.

This might limit replayability, since you'd end up with the same bosses doing the same nefarious things, and it's always Upright Citizen Thomas McPompous who betrays the city in its darkest hour.

Although randomizing the Big Bad is not worth the effort, a lot of details can be scrambled with little effort on the player's part (but a corresponding increase in your effort).

1. Separate the core rules from the story/quest book.
2. Include N variations of the story/quest book.
3. Randomly pick one for that run of the game.

The box has a special storage spot for the active storybook so that things don't get confused between sessions.

Fortunately, a lot of the writing can be re-used, so it wouldn't be quite N times the effort. But it would be a lot.

Expansions could come in two flavors: additional storybooks, and additional rules. Either might come with additional cards to shuffle into the existing decks.

First of all, Thomas McPompous is an excellent name, and I might steal it for an NPC.

Second of all, I think you're right on track with your storybook idea.

However, replayability would come from a player wanting to experience the different stories that he missed.

The main quest stories would be branching, and there would be times when you have 2 or 3 options, and each option leads to a completely different rest of the story.

Different quests. Different types of enemies. Different bosses. Different world changing events.

But it wouldn't be random or based on card draws or dice rolls. It would be based on your actual decisions.

You might choose option A which leads to a dragon completely decimating a town. All your friends in that town are now dead, and you can't access any of the shops there anymore. And ultimately, it was your decision that led to that...And now you get the quest of going to kill that dragon.

Or you might choose option B which leads to a community of orcs building a settlement near a local lake, and now the local human fishermen are upset about the new competition for fish and you have to find a way to broker a deal between the two sides.

(The consequences of actions would be hidden until you make the decision.)

Maybe on playthrough 1, you choose option A and on playthrough 2, you choose option B.

The game would be full of these types of things.

Gabe
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Willem Verheij wrote: What

Willem Verheij wrote:

What about going with a mix of something in between?

Instead of classes, maybe it could be set characters but they can be developed in many different ways? You could get experience and leveling, but it could be more limited.
And the rest of it could be gathering items that improve your character, and maybe some forms of training could also be available to improve them to teach them new abilities. Which could work as items, represented by a card.

I really like this idea. Similar to Zelda, there could be side quests that lead to new abilities, special weapons, better stats, etc. You don't have to do these quests, but they'll make the game more dynamic and give you more options.

Willem Verheij wrote:

This approach might also make it a little more personal, and could allow characters to be given a background, setting up the beginning of their adventures but they can be taken in many directions.

Possibly they could all have maybe three possible ultimate goals to fulfill which ends the game, and the player can pick one of them.
That could be stuff like slaying the most powerfull dragon, become king or queen by their own hand, obtain ultimate power through a specific artefact, make the land safe, etc.

I think this is where expansions could come into play. I could keep the exact same maps and release a new story book with new adventures and a new character to use.

Willem Verheij wrote:

A nice possibility to this more character driven approach could also be to have maybe multiple minifigures available for each character to represent their flexibility.
Like one could show them in robes, one in light armor and one in heavy armor. But stuff like that could be good for stretch goals and expansions of course.

Instead of mini-figs, I think I'd rather do clear plastic cards and sleeves similar to Mystic Vale. Your character would begin the game in his/her underwear and based on what armor/clothing you acquired, you would slide the clear card into the sleeve over your character.

Weapons and shields could have their own clear cards as well.

This is a superfluous idea, but since we're talking stretch goals, haha...

BHFuturist
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What a great discussion!

To officially answer the OP... Yes, I would play such a game.

So, here is my mostly unedited 2+ cents... I hope it all make sense in some way.

Some of the core ideas behind open world design in my mind are:

  • Player freedom from "script" but not the absence of story
  • Player meaningful choices/consequences (many paths)
  • Player tools with many functions
  • Functional interaction with the game world and local environment
  • Near limitless combinations

Some of the core challenges to making a board game version in my mind are:

  • Making it approachable by non-hardcore gamers
  • Reducing record keeping to simple but meaningful things
  • Keeping user interface and iconography simple and intuitive
  • Maintaining a good level of replayability
  • Breaking out of the board game mindset

In video games "the game" itself can teach you the limits of the game world through trial and error. A player can just try something and the game answers back yes or no. This is so intuitive that most people do not realize that in just the first 5-10 min of playing such an open world game they have learned enough game rules to fill up a board game rulebook twice over.

Because of this, the board game mindset is much different and many people will not play games that have complex or long rulebooks until someone they know can walk them through how to play.

For any such open world game, a video series on "How to Play" would be vital to reaching a larger audience.

Part of the board game mindset is that the game does not "react" dynamically to player randomness. This is not to say that board games "can't ever" just that in the vast majority of cases it can't.

As you and Tom were talking in your last podcast, one answer to some of these issues might be a companion app that players can use to get that sort of feedback.

One idea is to give the players a diverse enough set of action, skills, and tools that directly correspond to everything else in the game in more than one way. This will make free action selection easier for players to understand at a glance. This is where a robust user interface and iconography play a huge role.

This set of player actions needs to be robust enough to cover the things it is used for in the game in an intuitive and meaningful way while at the same time being a short enough list so it is not a burden to the players and also generic enough to fit many things you might add at a later time for expansion content.

In some ways, the heavy lifting for such a list has already been mostly done by the many video games and board games that have come before. Harnessing that work is not an easy task, but I see it as something that can be done.

Words like "interact" as an action type is underutilized in board games but is used extensively in video games. Having an icon for such an action choice and the text/rules for that item on the card or board space where the players will encounter it is enough. On the flip side of that design choice is, of course, the hundreds of hours needed to develop the backend of the interactions with each of the places you put that icon.

Giving the actions a two part cost can make building diversity into such generic actions more user-friendly to the players. A standard "interact" action might cost the player a set number of "stamina" or "action points" but having the icon for "interaction" also bear the second half of the cost can give you a wide range of interaction costs based on a pre-determined "difficulty" of that individual interaction. This might be a "hand" icon with a number on it +/- the normal cost to "interact".

  • Interact [4 Stamina]
  • Large chest [Hand +2]
  • The unlocked door [Hand -3]

The major part of making this sort of game function well is on the shoulders of the designer(s). All of the "work" of figuring out the what can happen, how action/reaction will work, and what the players need to know to run the game intuitively needs to be pre-crafted. If you place any of that sort of work on the players the jig's up, and you might as well have a Dungeon Master do the work.

Crafting many stories from the same game world should not be an overwhelming task. There are many ways to craft new stories from a common set of locations the way you have described things. Giving the locations flavor text that is partially generic and letting a scenario book fill in the finer details can drastically change the game world from one scenario to the next. This can also be done with other components such as monsters/enemies/NPC. The card for the monsters can list costs/powers and the scenario book can name the one you are fighting now and even give it/them altered stats or abilities for this encounter. Having a set of generic looking NPC face tokens that have no other information to them and giving the additional information/stats in the form of an expansion card or scenario book entry should work wonders for replayability.

Keep in mind that in an open world you can still set boundaries and rules. In Grand Theft Auto (GTA) and similar games, players "can" do "anything"... but the game still holds the consequences for that action and many people overlook this because the consequences make sense within the theme of the game world.

In a board game form, this would not need to be any different. Basically, from a programming or design sense this type of ruleset called "error checking". In a board game version of an open world game knowing and understanding the limits of the format should point you to the places where you need to insert this type of error handling ruleset. These rules only need to make thematic sense to the gameworld to be effective. The hard part is each such ruleset must be learned by the players before or during play. Learning before playing is hard and during play can be frustrating or get missed.

Building rulesets and error handling into the way the components work might be one way to handle such things. This might require several versions and a lot testing to find the right combination.

In Oblivion, one way this error checking/handling was used was in the form of town guard that would show up and ruin your day if you did something that the developers did not want you as a player to be able to do (like kill NPCs).

So for the "what if a player wants to do X thing" but I don't have time do design something for that thing... insert X error handling event ruleset.

If a player wants to attack and kill an NPC you have put in the world to further the story and you don't really want such a thing to happen. Instead of just saying that players "can't" do such a thing (the normal way board games handle such things), you just need to make a way for said action to have an outcome that players get looped into whenever they take those types of actions. This might be as easy as adding a rule about how violence in town does not go unnoticed and so players can't do such things or as complex as adding an adventure mode where the player is now running from the law for an in-game number of turns... then a new NPC icon tile replaces the function of the one that was "killed".

Error checking is designed around the idea that if anything falls outside of a set normal range of input, then that thing gets sent to a place where it can't do any damage to the program as it runs. I am not saying that making such a system would be easy, but it might work well if done the right way.

You could have an "unnecessary" system for how long a player can be underwater before drowning (in turns or action points used) and hide it in with swimming skill tests. This means they "can" try to swim down to the bottom of the ocean if they want... they will just die or pass out before they succeed. It also means in some future scenario book you can have a pond or lake that was on the game board just for looks in the core game now hold a new challenge. Or the expansion might have equipment for going down off the coast to explore a shipwreck... potion of water breathing or a diving suit.

Back on the idea of open-world player actions. If players have the raw skills/tools they need that can then be matched to the things they will encounter in the world, adding more content becomes much easier.

One player might have a lockpicking skill or might gain lockpicking equipment that can be found/bought. This that might have a cost to use and you can have many locks in the game that have the second half of a cost or there might be some sort of icon matching system. I have the "ability" and "master lockpick" icons between my character and equipment cards that match the icons on that locked chest we found... if I don't have the right icons yet the chest can't be opened yet.

The "I have the same icons, so I can do or try to do X thing" method might work for many things in such an open-world game. In expanded content, the same icons are just arranged in different combinations for the new items/challenges. Also, having more than one way to match the icons would make things more intuitive to the player if done the right way. Shape/Color/Symbol

I might have three red squares with an arm inside for strength on my character card and get a fourth from a skill or ability that has a cooldown. so once every four turns I have 4 strength and the rest of the time I have 3 strength. If I get tired I might lose 1 strength until I rest. The challenge in the game might have such icons located on them to show what is needed to complete them. So until players can muster 4 strength and 3 sword Icons they can't kill the monster guarding the door to the tomb. In this way adding new monsters later is just a matter of a new combination of the same icons that the players have had access to from the beginning.

Getting the right number and combination of icons in-game might be as hard or as easy as you want to make it for the players.

Developing a good core set of icons for what you want players to be able to do and for what you want to be able to add to the system later is the real trick. (something I am still working on wink)

Having players run into things they can't do yet is a vital part of the exploration side of an open world game... a cliff that can't be climbed until we have the right climbing skill or the grappling hook. This gates the player's ability to move past some things in the game until they are ready for them in a less obstructive way. The fact that there are gated puzzles to be solved in the exploration of the game world also makes for the ability of the designer to later add scenario based gates to the same world we played last time that change where we can go this time until the players clear the gate requirements.

These are all things that can be done with mostly just a few icons and some easy rules for how those icons are used. Developing the common list of tools/skills that are used to complete challenges is vital.

Tool cards might also have a token for durability the way some skill cards in Gloomhaven have small round tokens that track how many turns that skill is active. But in this open world sense finding the lockpicks might only let you open 4 locks before you need to find/buy more. In a simpler tracking method, the edges of the card might have the number of time the item can be used and the player just turns the whole card to show how many are left (as in 7th continent).

That is about all the crazy brainstorming I can muster for now. I love the idea of an open world board game and I am trying to work out some of these same issues for a game I am making called "Crash Landing". More info to follow on that in the future.

I hope something in this rant is useful to you in some way.


It sounds like you already have a good grasp of how you want these types of things to work in your open-world game, and based on what you have said so far in this thread, I think you will do well in making it.

It also sounds like you have moved past the "I have an idea for a game" and have begun actively testing the flow of a set of mechanics?

If this is the case I would love to hear more about the mechanics and systems you are testing for this open world idea.

Sorry for the Wall of Text...

@BHfuturist

Gabe
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@BHFuturist I really

@BHFuturist

I really appreciate the wall of text!

I've definitely been pondering how a companion app could make the game function better and bring forth a better experience. The biggest drawback is that publishers aren't too keen on apps. Added cost. Added time. Added risk.

I love the "interact" action idea. That's definitely something I'll look into adding. It gives an incredible amount of flexibility.

You bring up a very interesting idea with the "error checking" concept. An open world video game can have countless ways to handle situations like a player attacking an NPC. But a board game can only do maybe 1% of that. I think creating a streamlined system that only comes up at key moments and simulates consequences for certain actions is the way to go. During certain encounters, a player would have the option to do something that would lead to consequences later in the game.

I like your icon idea. I was already messing around with a similar system. For example: Some encounters give a player 3 options. An "A", a "B", and a "Torch Icon." A player is always free to choose A or B, but can only choose the "Torch" path if he has an item, spell, or ability with the torch icon attached to it. This would lead to many different ways to approach encounters and open up numerous side quests to attain items, spells, and abilities.

I've pondered giving weapons and items durability and having them break after a certain number of uses. The new Zelda handles this really well and causes the player to constantly try new things instead of just finding the best weapon in the game and using it exclusively. However, for weapons, I think it would add even more work and components to the game, and I don't know it's worth it overall. However, having items that can only be used a few times is a much easier thing to pull off.

So, the game is definitely more than an idea at this point, especially after all the really great conversation here.

The game started off as a 1-5 player co-op that was super story driven and about accomplishing small quests that led to big quests. Think TIME Stories mixed with Eldritch Horror. But the more I tested it, the more I wondered if it would work better as a single player experience in an open world. That's what led to my initial question.

So, yes, many systems have already been prototyped, tested, altered, and decided upon. But the overall concept of the game is still very much in flux. I'm still working through a lot of "Ok, how would this work?" type questions.

Thanks for your feedback!

BHFuturist
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Gabe wrote:I've pondered

Gabe wrote:
I've pondered giving weapons and items durability and having them break after a certain number of uses. The new Zelda handles this really well and causes the player to constantly try new things instead of just finding the best weapon in the game and using it exclusively. However, for weapons, I think it would add even more work and components to the game, and I don't know it's worth it overall. However, having items that can only be used a few times is a much easier thing to pull off.

Here in the last few days I have come to agree that weapons would be hard to do with a standard durability mechanic. However, it occurred to me that a two state weapon or piece of equipment might be just what the doctor ordered for this sort of game. This is a normal state and a degraded state. Both states keep the item in use as long as the player wants to use it but gives the ability for it to have better stats after being repaired(or first crafted), so a new vs. used sword. Not having the item ever "break" but just degrade "one step" (flip the card or have a top/bottom of the front side and turn 180). Some items the player could "repair" themselves given the right cost (time/resource) and others would need to be taken to someone who had the "skill" to "hone" the item back to peek status. Also rather than tracking this turn-by-turn, it might only happen at the end of an adventure or other set duration in the game.

This is still just something I am rolling around in my head but this would not increase the number of items and weapons in the game and players would not be searching for new items all the time. This same mechanic could also be use for other two state items like torches (lit/unlit). I light the torch, then it goes out after this use of the item, but I can re-light (refresh the ability to use the torch) again if I have some cloth/oil or just X amount of time/stamina.


BHFuturist wrote:
If this is the case I would love to hear more about the mechanics and systems you are testing for this open world idea.

Gabe wrote:
So, yes, many systems have already been prototyped, tested, altered, and decided upon. But the overall concept of the game is still very much in flux. I'm still working through a lot of "Ok, how would this work?" type questions.


I feel like this just happened:

Capt. Malcolm Reynolds: You have to tell me about that sometime.

Shepherd Book: [pause] No, I don't.

Only I am Mal and Gabe is Book, LOL

@BHFuturist

P.S. Just kidding about the last part ;)

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