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Help with idea/mechanics please!

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Westmaas
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Hi there! I'm in the stages of creating a game and can't seem to figure out which direction to proceed in - I feel like the game definitely needs some more interesting and flavorful mechanics to work with, but I'm not sure what.

At it's heart, it's very simple, with a virtual domain 'hacking' theme - The board is a 7x7 square grid. The back 2 rows of each side are filled with drones (pawns) and the idea is that the first player to 'infiltrate' the back row of the other player has won. The drones move like pawns, but can also move diagonal, and like chess, they also 'destroy' (capture) a piece diagonally.

At the start of the game, both players place down 3 'hyperlinks'(square chits) for a total of 6 on the board, anywhere in the middle area. The drones can't stand on these spaces, but instead pass through them as if they were jump spots. The exception is that they cannot use the link if there is another drone on the other side of it, only if the square is empty.

Thus far it plays perfectly fine, but is pretty simple and might not be enough to be considered a proper unique game, and could certainly use something else.

Any ideas? Should the board itself come into play more, for example 'zones' that do different things depending if you're standing in it? Should there be more of a combat situation when you attempt to destroy another drone? Should I incorporate ability cards somehow?

I'm looking for radical ideas of any kind, anything to spice up the template I have thus far. The one caveat is that I'd like keep all the pieces uniform, meaning no different types of drones - they all move the same and act the same (unless something in game affects that).

Thanks for reading!

questccg
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I have some ideas...

My ideas may be RADICAL (for sure).

Okay so instead of "Drones" which is boring and maybe too similar to "Pawns"... what if those drones were "Changelings"!!!

Man that could be the name of the game: "Changelings"

Let me continue with my radical idea...

So each "Changeling" can move on the board as you have designated BUT from a hand of CARDS, you can MORPH your changeling into "something". And you can BATTLE an opposing "Changeling" given that the opponent may play a card from HIS hand...

For example you ATTACK an opponent's Changeling... You play a "Tank"... Your opponent counters with a "Eagle". And then the "Eagle" can Fly over the "Tank" and therefore the "Tank" cannot defeat the "Eagle"...

(An example - not the best... but this may give you more ideas).

The "MORPHING" is what spices up the game and adds more TACTICAL combat that something ABSTRACT like Chess or Checkers...

Just an idea... do with it whatever you like (or dislike)...

Cheers and best of luck(?!) with your game!

Westmaas
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Whoa that is quite radical,

Whoa that is quite radical, but I like it! Haha yeah changelings that are able to assume the form of something else. The example was good and fitting - how many different types would you suggest? Just curious what would make it the least random, and still work in theory. Because it takes on a rock/paper/scissors element there, so should there be only 3 morphing types? Or 5?

Thanks for the idea there. Any other radical suggestions are also welcomed!

questccg
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RPS-3 sounds good!

Westmaas wrote:
Just curious what would make it the least random, and still work in theory. Because it takes on a rock/paper/scissors element there, so should there be only 3 morphing types? Or 5?

Well I think the rock/paper/scissors idea is GREAT. You could have flying/melee/ranged. And ranged could beat flying. That could be some general element as part of combat.

And then you have to come up with combat-mechanics and stats to figure out how battles could be done.

Just a couple additional ideas...


If you want a Sci-Fi Theme ... how about The Mighty Morphing "Power Rangers"! Or some Manga styling Japanese inspired group of Heroes that have the ability to morph into different things...

That could be cool too!

Westmaas
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That could definitely work,

That could definitely work, but what do you see in terms of combat mechanics/stats? I figured in this concept, I would move diagonally into a piece and then both players would then flip over their desired card. If I played my 'ranged' form, I would beat the 'flying' form and move into the square. If I lost, the opponent would stay where he is and I would remove my piece. Would there be more stats at play here?

questccg
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Stats for ties???

Westmaas wrote:
That could definitely work, but what do you see in terms of combat mechanics/stats? I figured in this concept, I would move diagonally into a piece and then both players would then flip over their desired card. If I played my 'ranged' form, I would beat the 'flying' form and move into the square. If I lost, the opponent would stay where he is and I would remove my piece. Would there be more stats at play here?

What about TIES??? Like Melee vs. Melee. My guess to keep it SIMPLE you should have a POWER! Like Melee 5 beats Melee 3...

I don't think you need something more super complicated than that.


Example: Archer 3 vs Nuclear Bomb 9. Both are "range"... But the Nuclear Bomb will overpower the Archer! LOL ... Could be a LOT OF FUN - if you think up of weird and wacky things they can morph into! LOL

Cheers!


Also if some cards can act as "interrupts"... Like you play that Nuclear Bomb 9 and I use "Missile Defense System": prevents using missiles.

Some kind of "Take-That" or Combo-ing mechanic would be pretty awesome too!

Westmaas
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Yeah power would be okay, but

Yeah power would be okay, but I'm not sure how that would work because every unit is the same until it's time for combat... it might have to be something easier like TIE goes to the attacker or something to that effect.

Or the system could be the reverse - the defender has to guess the same card that the attacker plays in order to win. Otherwise the attacker wins, giving them a 2/3 chance every time?

Westmaas
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Thanks man! The example you

Thanks man! The example you gave makes a lot of sense! I very much appreciate the help on this :)

let-off studios
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Different Chits, Not Cards

I like the idea you mention of creating hyperlinks on the board. I sounds to me like the board represents the Internet, and hyperlinks are allowing you to move to different "places" with more efficiency.

Have you tried creating different types of chits? Teleportation, capture, +VP, movement barrier, etc.? Effects occur when a drone moves onto the space occupied by the chit, and/or a one-time instantaneous effect. This allows for the players to customize the board in a more extreme way, as well as combine the effects of the different chits for interesting effects.

Draw the chits randomly out of a bag, or have all players start with an identical supply of chits to work with in the game. Random draws will allow dramatic differences from one game to the next, while a set of chits per player allows for developing strategy and tactics from one game to the next.

It sounds to me that sticking with the chit placement and then moving drones is enough information to wrestle with for this game. Personally speaking, the thought of managing a hand of cards, a supply of chits, and drones on the board adds an excessive layer of complexity. Whether you want your design to take that on is a choice you would need to make.

Westmaas
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Yes, the board is meant to

Yes, the board is meant to represent the internet, or at least an area of cyberspace :)

I actually like this idea a lot, to me it perhaps makes more sense to have chits than cards. For some reason I never thought about having different types of chits... I like the way it allows for customization each time, and will inevitably make each game somewhat different, if even to a slight degree which is nice.

It might be cool to have each player start with the same amount of chits, they both place them on the board wherever they like, and then are flipped before the game starts to reveal what they are. It may take some of the strategy away from placing them, but it could be neat to not know what you're dealing with.

I can see how teleportation could work (warping to the same chit wherever it is) but I'm not sure how to go about the Movement Barrier (would it just be a 'dead zone' that no drone can stand on?) What did you mean by the 'Capture' chit? Just hoping you can elaborate a bit because I think you're on to something here and it's already helping me quite a bit.

let-off studios
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Chitty Ideas

Movement Barrier: yes, I was thinking of blocking a specific square/area where no drones could enter.

Capture: a chit that either captures an opponent's drone that moves on to it, or returns a captured drone to the player who placed it. I suppose this works best only if chits are placed on the board face-down, and only flipped face-up if a drone moves on to it.

Control Points: I realize now that earlier I suggested players gaining VP by claiming a chit, but upon re-reading, I noticed your game ends when someone enters that opposite end row. My apologies. However, you could also implement a "king of the hill" mechanic, maybe a "file interface" where the player's drone will win them the game if they complete the file download (claim that spot for a certain number of turns). Additionally, if an area of the board is completely surrounded by one player's drones, that player wins the game. It might incentivize players to attack or set up a defense against one another. Maybe this could be just a game variant where the file needs to be discovered when moved into, just like any other chit.

Adding Chits at the Start: By adding the chits to the board at the start of the game, it might add some analysis paralysis as the game goes on, but it reminds me a bit of the setup phase of Stratego so there could be some attraction to it.

Westmaas
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Sweet, the idea of control

Sweet, the idea of control points is really interesting and I would have never thought to implement a rule like that. Could be very fun and strategic, The idea of uncovering the hidden file is neat and might be a great variant for sure. I wonder how hard it might be to corral certain zones, considering the drones can only move forward and not backward or laterally - but maybe they can be more flexible with the movement.

I hear your concern about analysis paralysis during gameplay, but I'm not sure how it would work otherwise, as playing chits down during the game might be strange - what would initiate that option? The idea of seeding the board to start might work best, will be interesting to try.

In my mind, the best scenario would be to have a certain amount of chits face down at the start, divided between the two players, and then either looked at and placed on the board face down in strategic positions, or just blindly placed. It could be more fun to have to uncover the chits as the game goes, but I'd also hate for people to actively avoid them because they'd be scared of what they find. However, the pros will probably outweight the cons in terms of the chit abilities.

let-off studios
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Pile o' Chit

Is this a typical chessboard setup? From the way you've described it, that's what I pictured in my mind. In any case, to accommodate random and player placement of chits, you can have a row of randomly-determined chits at every other space in the center row(s) and players have a choice to fill in the rest, and they alternate turns filling in those spaces.

Here's a quick diagram of one possible setup for the middle two rows of a chess board:

http://www.let-off.com/bgames/chit-face.png

Players could place drones across the row closest to them, giving them 8 drones to play with in the game. Since the random chits are randomly selected and randomly-placed face-down, there's a high probability that games will be at the very least slightly different from one another for each play.

Adding in the player choice about what chits they want to add from their supply will add a bit of balance to the makeup of the random chits, as well as those placed by their opponent.

PS: I may be going overboard a bit with these puns... My apologies. :)

Adam Leamey
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You have an interesting

You have an interesting concept with a sort of cyber battle going on there are quite a few ideas I can suggest but first I feel it important to ask the following questions as I find when your trying to come up with ideas it's important to know the direction of your game.

Length: how long do you intend the game to be is this a quick filler game, medium or long.
Number of players: this can be important it sounds like it will just be a 2 player game but I can see ways of adapting for more.
Age range: it's important to understand your audience if your aiming it adults only then complexity is not to much of an issue if your wanting a more family style game you need to keep things simpler.
Complexity: sometimes simple games can be good as long as players have lots of decisions to make while adding mechanics can improve gameplay adding to many can cause a negative effect.

I'm interested to see where your idea goes.

Westmaas
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hahaha I've been enjoying the

hahaha I've been enjoying the puns to be honest, I had a good laugh at 'chitty ideas' earlier.

Yes this is meant to be a typical chessboard setup, either an 8x8 or a 7x7. The back 2 rows are filled with the players drones. so for a 8x8 board there would be 16 red drones and 16 blue ones.

But as you mentioned, maybe only the back row is filled with drones... however I would be worried that because the drones can only move in a forward direction (never sideways or backwards unless a chit effects it), it would be tough to keep a strong defense as you move your pieces forward. But then again, maybe that would be part of the strategy as well.

I do love the idea of random chit placement, ALONG with strategic placement. It's the obvious perfect blend of strategy and surprise which is great, and will keep games fresh.

Your idea of random/chosen chit placements could work according to that diagram. I'll definitely try that out!

Westmaas
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Thanks, yeah I really like

Thanks, yeah I really like the concept and it's starting to evolve quite nicely thanks to all the amazing input I've received here. Adam I'd definitely love to hear your ideas as well!

Length: I'd imagine a game lasting anywhere between 15-25 minutes. So that could be classified as a quick game, but leaning toward a 'longer' quick game lol.

Number of Players: I've always imagined it as a head-to-head 2 player game, but if you can see ways of making it 2-4 then please don't hesitate to suggest.

Age: I don't think the game will ever get to be too complex that ages 12+ wouldn't be able to grasp.

I agree that I'd rather have players making the decisions than the complexity of the game making decisions for them, or bogging down play time with overtly analytical turns. A little bit of deliberation is always welcome, but I wouldn't want it to turn into an overlong ponderous chess affair.

Adam Leamey
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ok so your concept is some

ok so your concept is some form of cyber battle as the theme

What kind of game are you making: abstract strategy, area control etc.

In regards to some ideas here are a few of the top of my head.

Have different character hackers available with some sort of ability that helps in a specific area. This is not entirely necessary but this is a simple element to implement that will give players more options and the game a bit more depth.

Missions: This will be another way to implement more choices for the players by giving them different ways to win. I.E: Infect your opponents host computer, retrieve x before the opponent, take down x servers and so on. Having different ways to play will increase depth.

In terms of more players you could have a tile system to create the server were you do battle and just increase the number of tiles based on the number of players.

Tiles: Tiles are used in a lot of games and can be used in a variety of ways and can be used to create random maps that have walls, programs and the tiles can be used to determine were the chits are placed.

That's all i got for now.

questccg
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let-off studios wrote:
...Personally speaking, the thought of managing a hand of cards, a supply of chits, and drones on the board adds an excessive layer of complexity. Whether you want your design to take that on is a choice you would need to make.

Personally, I always like "including" cards in my design. And most of my designs are "card-driven" designs. I know some games tend to be more abstract and don't need that additional layer. And that very well may be your case.

Best of luck(?!) with your design!

Westmaas
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Thanks for the great

Thanks for the great suggestions, I really like the idea of having missions, which would allow different game modes/variants. The game itself could be considered an abstract strategy (the object is to infiltrate your opponent's 'server' on the other side of the board).

In regards to the Tiles, are you suggesting that the board would be constructed of tiles rather than a game board itself? Or would the tiles be placed over the board... either way, these are fantastic ideas and I'm already playtesting a lot of new mechanics :)

Adam Leamey
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The tiles would create the

The tiles would create the board which would mean every game would be different in terms of setup.

entwater
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not too complicated!

What I liked about your initial description was the simplicity of it. Like Chess, the actual rules are pretty simple, but implementing those rules against an opponent on a playing area creates endless complexity.

I would suggest that the 'chits' become a permanent part of the board. You create different points on the board that confer different effects to pawns around it. You could have a "hyperlink" with the jump ability you describe, a "haven" zone that protects any adjacent pawn from capture, and so on. This could create a permanent playing environment. You could design different boards with different point layouts to present players different strategic challenges.

Another idea that comes to mind is the ability to upgrade your pawns. Perhaps when you capture another piece, you can upgrade 1 pawn on your entire team. I'd limit the number of advanced unit types. Again, let the complexity come from player interaction, not the game design itself! A "Shield" which has +1 health and can absorb attacks to any adjacent pawn. A "Neutralizer" could neutralize the special ability of one nearby unit. A "Speeder" could move two spaces instead of 1. An "Attacker" could attack twice in a turn, but if so, cannot move the next turn.

If you define different unit types, perhaps that will give your game the variability it needs and you can eliminate or simplify the idea of chits or points.

Another idea is you could do a chinese checkers-type thing and allow all 4 sides to be occupied by players. So it could be a 2 or 4 person game, with the potential for teamplay or free-for-all.

Sounds really neat! good luck.

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