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WIP: Digital Roll n' Write: "Three Sisters"

Image of the work in progress here:
https://imgur.com/a/YRkgWpU

Working on a digital roll n' write for a friend of mine. This is called Three Sisters and is based on creating adjacent sets of corn, squash, and beans. I also have bees and stones in there to make things a bit more challenging. Eventually I'll turn this into a tabletop version.

Right now, the game is supposed to be about the length of a coffee break. I'm not looking for anything more than that at this point.

I'm looking for additional methods to score points that are also tied to the theme. I'm thinking of a couple different options, and would love to hear more from this community. I'm also open to more tile types, but I don't want this to become overwhelming and "sprawled-out" by having excessive combinations and arcane scoring mechanisms.

A couple scoring options I'm thinking of at the moment:

  • Bees: when selected, player chooses a direction and scores points for each squash encountered in that line.
  • Rocks: Creating a monolith of 7 Rocks (one at the center, with a ring of Rocks around it) scores points.
  • Beans: Four tiles of beans creates a patch that scores points.

Other ideas for tiles:

  • Beehives. I'd adjust scoring so that bees would travel in a straight line back to the Beehive, and earn points for the number of Squash they pass on their way.
  • ...That's about it at the moment!

Any ideas? Please share and comment here. Thanks!

Comments

Scoring Points

Here's a breakdown of my current scoring process. The player has 10 opportunities for scoring, from the following options:

  • Three Sisters Trio: start with Corn, and check all adjacent hexes for one each of Squash and Beans. These three hexes earn the player 6 points.
  • Rock Garden: A Stone surrounded completely with other Stones earns the player 6 points.
  • Bean Bush: A patch of four adjacent Beans earns the player 4 points.
  • Squash Sprawl: Earn 1 point for each empty hex surrounding a Squash tile.
  • Bee Line: Choose a Bee and a straight line path it will follow. For each Squash it passes, earn 1 point. If the Bee overlaps a Beehive, it stops at that point and instead each Squash passed earns 2 points.

Once something is used for scoring, then it is Harvested (removed from the map). So an icon can be used for scoring only once per game.

I guess...

The scoring is okay if a "computer" handles the calculations. Otherwise I MAY say it's "TOO COMPLICATED". The "computer" can also SUGGEST the "Best Possible" move per turn (as maybe allowing or giving the player 3 tries at using this feature). So you could ASK for "Help" 3 times in a game...

I still feel that the SCORING is too difficult to remember all those moves even if you have named each one of them. Perhaps if it was a BIT different.

What about "Rock Garden" being a part of the game's GOAL. And instead of earning points for accomplishing it, you just get a "DONE" this goal. And make the PLAY AREA "smaller" limiting how many points you can score given a single player game...

This is single player, right???

You also mention that you want to turn it into a "TableTop Game" at some later point in time. If this is true... Well then I would say scoring is way to complicated...

So why not make it a GAME to win needs "X,Y and Z". Just a thought. I'm not really into Euros so that's why I'm not really into scoring games. I've seen played "Lorenzo il Magnifico" and I wasn't impressed at all. Those types of games of always trying the OPTIMAL move each turn are, to me at least, boring.

Your puzzle seems to be something similar. You want the highest score... But there are all these other ways to score too. My guess is that it boils down to the "Best Possible" move each turn. Again not my taste in games... I really liked your Mining game ... but this one doesn't speak to me.

Like you just put a rock and surround it by rocks. Okay?! Now what happens next?! Rinse and repeat??? Like I said I'm not a fan of games that are "Puzzles" or require finding the optimal move each turn... And this game seems to be BOTH.

Maybe you could EXPLAIN a bit better ... How to play this game? Is it just you draw a tile and need to play it ANYWHERE? Or are there some kind of rules that it MUST be "adjacent" to another tile, etc. What are the "restrictions" to playing tiles... The gameplay seems a bit nebulous to me also... (Sorry ... It may not be your game, it may simply be me not getting HOW to play it... What rules are missing... etc.)

Rules

Thanks for your feedback, questccg! I realize now just how poor of an explanation I provided about how the game works. So here's another attempt. This is the text I had sent to the friend of mine for whom I'm making the game, and now includes specific point values for scoring:

Quote:
I have a total of 15 different tiles, and the game is over when they are all distributed (so the entire "garden plot" is never completely filled). Think of them as dominos, with discrete pairs of icons instead of numbers. I call them "heximos," for short. These tiles represent all possible permutations of the pairings, plus a "random" tile that can be turned into anything else.

In addition, there are 10 single-icon "volunteers" that seed the board in random locations, and could be any of the five possible icons. I am thinking of hard-coding these icons so there is a more-equitable distribution of icons instead of - for example - possibly being flooded with stones during a game. I may also determine that these volunteers show up in fixed locations instead of random ones.

Finally, I'm strongly considering testing the game with a sixth variety of icon: the Beehive. These, as you might guess, pair with Bees for scoring.

Speaking of which, here are some ideas for scoring I want to pass along to you for feedback. Specific point values aren't sorted yet, but consider a trio of the Three Sisters as 6 points, which I'd like to see as the main scoring method. Everything else should be useful but of lesser value. Additionally, after a tile is used for scoring, it is Harvested (discarded). The player has 10 opportunities for scoring, from the following options:

- Three Sisters Trio: start with Corn, and check all adjacent hexes for one each of Squash and Beans. These three hexes earn the player 6 points.
- Rock Garden: A Stone surrounded completely with other Stones earns the player 6 points.
- Bean Bush: A path of four adjacent Beans earns the player 4 points.
- Squash Sprawl: Earn 1 point for each empty hex surrounding a Squash tile.
- Bee Line: Choose a Bee and a straight line path it will follow. For each Squash it passes, earn 1 point. If the Bee overlaps a Beehive, it stops at that point and instead each Squash passed earns 2 points.

That's a summation of the game.

As for details on the scoring mechanism, I intend to have summaries of the rules off to the side of the board whenever the player has a tile selected so they'll know of the possible options for scoring.

I appreciate your feedback on the confusing nature of scoring the game, and agree. This game is based at least somewhat on another computerized roll n' write, Tiny Islands, and my friend is a big fan of it. They asked for a game similar in style to that, so this is my attempt.

If I do end up including the Beehive tile, then this will increase the number of tiles available overall. I am wondering if I can include just one Beehive tile, meaning the game will have 16 total heximos. The garden will still have empty spots left at the end of the game, but I don't see that as a problem yet.

Thanks for your patience, questccg. :) If you manage any additional feedback, please share. Once I come up with a working prototype, I will share a link to it in this blog thread so anyone interested can have a go at the digital version.

It's really not the scoring that is the issue...

Well the scoring is part of the issue. But how are you going to RANDOMIZE the tiles in a Roll & Write? You have a die with 6 sides and therefore 6 tiles??? You haven't explained anything about PLAYING (Method of Play). And that's where the confusion lies for me...

Sure you talk about SCORING ... And yes this is VERY important for how you WIN the game. But there is no direct METHOD OF PLAY...

Guessing I would say you roll 1d6 and that's the tile you get to play.

BUT the "theme" is SUPER BORING! Growing vegetables... Really???

I'm not trying to be super critical... I really LOVED "Coal & Write", so much so that I thought you should have entered it into TGC "Roll & Write" contest. I say that game could have been a finalist... I'm not saying you would win... But you'd make the Top 10.

This game... not so much. (Maybe it's just me...)

Like can you place a tile anywhere in the board or does it need to be adjacent to a tile (Simple PLAY rules are missing)! Do you ROLL a 1d6 or not!? Or could it be 1 to 5 plus a Wildcard (your choice)??? Things basic like that.

I don't have a theme to match this game... Let me think about it and I'll get back to you. At that time you can feel free to ignore my ideas if they don't appeal to you.

But honestly, Vegetables don't excite me in the LEAST BIT!

Game Theme

Hehehe! No, the theme is a bit "milquetoast," isn't it? I wanted to make a game with a gardening theme, not an action theme. So likely this game will never speak to you like Coal n' Write has. But this game is being made as a favour for a friend, so I'm most concerned about it being liked by them. This also explains why it's being made primarily for the computer.

As for how the game is played, dice aren't involved. There are 15 pre-made heximos, as described previously. One is picked at random, and the player places it in the garden, in any direction they wish and on any non-occupied spaces they wish. Once all tiles are placed, the player has up to 10 opportunities to score based on the scoring rules.

In regards to how the "random" tiles are determined, well in the analog version I'll let the player take a single-hex tile from a face-down pile. This prevents completely random results and allows me to develop optimal quantities of tile faces for the game. The tricky thing for the player is that the random tile is drawn after they've placed their heximo.

Please don't wrack your brain trying to come up with a captivating theme. :) Believe it or not, this game was built round the theme from the start, as opposed to the mechanics - though the game mechanics and unusual scoring process are important aspects, too.

Thanks anyhow for your input, man. :)

Tiny Islands

For those of you interested in and/or curious about Tiny Islands, here's a link to play it in your web browser:

https://dr-d-king.itch.io/tiny-islands

Cheers @Stephen!

let-off studios wrote:
Please don't wrack your brain trying to come up with a captivating theme. :) Believe it or not, this game was built round the theme from the start, as opposed to the mechanics - though the game mechanics and unusual scoring process are important aspects, too.

Thanks anyhow for your input, man. :)

Okay... I won't see if I can come up with a better theme. Yeah to me it feels like the mechanics came first and the theme came up later... Or at least AFTERWARDS... (LOL)

Funny my brain must be working well because as I sat there and thought about the information you provided, I had the foresight to think up of a Pirate sort of theme... Then when you offered a preview of "Tiny Islands" ... I was like: "That's sort of what I had in mind TBH..."

I'll take another look... Just the instructions seemed interesting.

Again no offense to your "Vegetable" (I have a hard enough of a time eating them... LOL) themed game...

BTW I had an "idea" of a couple islands and finding BURIED treasure... Something like this as a "Roll & Write"... Featured a 1d6 with values 1 to 5 plus 1 Wildcard. A paper grid of 5 x 5 squares (25 tiles) and in some way you find the buried treasure. It's just an IDEA. It could be sunken treasure in the WATER or on an Island as buried...

Again just an "idea"... No clue how to bring it all together...

I like the theme you picked.

I like the theme you picked. I have a lot of games like Herbatious, Takenoko and Tussie Mussie, and I think anything garden themed works well for a bunch of different kinds of games. But just so you know, the title at first invoked images of the three witches of Macbeth. After learning about it's relation to gardening, and how your scoring mechanic fits well with the title and theme, it does make a lot of sense.

Tile idea:
You could have a negative tile which must be placed at a certain place which unless dealt with would cause it's target to be ineffective.
Ex: Gopher / Bunny - must be placed next to a squash or corn. None of the tiles touching it score unless you covered it with a rock.

Name change maybe?!

Maybe use the name "Twisted Sisters"... And listen to this audio when playing the game:

Cool beans (Pun intended)! Hehehe... Just a little 80s humor!!!

Hahaha!

Kris, you're a trip, man. Thanks to you I ended up being sucked down the YouTube rabbit hole for like an hour... :)

@Juzek: having a "penalty" tile is something I should definitely consider. I appreciate your suggestion!

Hehehe... I even found a way to EMBED the video!

Now you can just click on PLAY and it starts at 177s from the start of the video... By-passing the "boring" intro ... Without the cool music!

@All Designers: If you ever want to EMBED a YouTube Video in your posts... Send me a PM and I can explain how to do it... It's really simple once you know the particulars.

Cheers All!!!

My problem with this is ...

Juzek wrote:
...Ex: Gopher / Bunny - must be placed next to a squash or corn. None of the tiles touching it score unless you covered it with a rock.

There is no "challenge" to playing this kind of game. So you get a ROCK. Of course you're going to Cover the Gopher or Bunny! What else could you do with a ROCK ... The Rock Garden thingy???

If it's a 1 Player game I (personally) think that there NEEDS to be an AI player (at the minimum). Someone has to get into your plans and MESS-UP the Garden with their Gophers, Rock placements, Bee Hives, etc. You should read up on Morten Monrad Pederson Automata methodology for creating "semi-intelligent" AI.

Why do I say "semi-intelligent" AI... Is because it can ONLY do whatever the player can do. It can't go beyond how you "program" the AI to work.

And in this case, I feel like you NEED something to DISRUPT your gardening plans... Otherwise I really don't see this as a game worthwhile playing. Why? Because even say a negative tile is played, the NEXT "Rock" Tile means it's going over to "block" the negative effect. What effectively makes that TILE USELESS.

If it's a NEGATIVE tile (Gopher/Rabbit) ... Well then LEAVE IT AS-IS.

The question to WHERE the NEGATIVE tile is also "debatable". Why not just put it in the corner where nothing grows there?!?! See what I mean??? You can virtually BY-PASS all the challenges in the game because there is no "intelligent" AI (even semi AI) to disrupt YOUR plans.

All you do is lay tiles and count up your points. REALLY??? Is this really a GAME? It feels and seems pointless in terms of "gameplay". Sorry this is just my opinion...

Now IF you had an opponent and maybe used a 5 x 5 Grid with 2d6s (Custom: 1 to 5 and a STAR), you could have the AI disrupt all your plans given the position (and there could be 2 positions - depending on some kind of AI rule, like where there is the higher concentration of tiles) and a tile the AI lays "FOR YOU".

So then there would be this "un-harmonious" AI that just mucks around in the dirt causing problems for the player.

Now THAT to me sounds like a 1 Player Game.

No AI... Even semi-intelligent ... To me feels like NOT A GAME. You could play the game the EXACT same way every time you play and get the exact SAME result. That to me is NOT a GAME. It's more of a PUZZLE and even then a very WEAK one at that.

(Sorry I'm being so negative... I just don't get it. It's not something that I would design and it feels very superficial in terms of being an ACTUAL game ... FOR ME!)

Note #1: This is ONLY my own opinion. And I am explaining what makes me feel like this is not something that would interest ME. Maybe there is an audience for the game... It's just not for me... At least not without some AI to challenge me and "break" the deterministic nature of the Puzzle.

Just to be clear ...

And if you're going to say the Tiles you draw each time are DIFFERENT! TRUE. But if there is no AI, I can place the tiles in the EXACT same positions as the previous game EVEN IF I get the tiles in a different ORDER. So the game is 100% DETERMINISTIC and not at all subject to any random noise.

You could argue that a SUBSET of the Tiles is used EACH GAME. Okay... So maybe there will be a Tile plus or minus, here and there... So it's not 100% EXACT (IF a subset of tiles is used).

I agree in this scenario, the "game" is LESS deterministic.

But I don't see the point of PLAYING TBH. If there is nothing to challenge ME... Why am I playing at all??? Where is the FUN?!

Further explanation...

If there WAS an AI player... And EACH TILE had a RULE (a little like in Tiny Islands where the boats like to be far away from each other, etc.), then I can see this as a REAL game.

The AI gets "Squash" and rolls a (2, 3). So the "Squash" could go to position (2, 3) or (3, 2) which ever has the more "Corn" near it.

I know this is a DUMB rule. This is just for illustrative purposes.

I think you need the AI to have a series of BAD (for the player) cards like Gophers, Bees, Rocks and the PLAYER focuses on Beans, Corns, Squash...

So by laying a Rock down is a NEGATIVE (because it doesn't help) ANOTHER RULE (better than my last one), every ADJACENT ROCK TO ANOTHER ONE scores +1 VP. Sort of in the spirit of the "Rock Garden" but less rigid and more flexible (because you are faced with rolls of the dice).

And there can be a simple rule (for the Rocks) play where the PLAYER feels is MOST ADVANTAGEOUS for him/her.

This to me sounds like FUN. Because you need to react to external influences that FORCE you to design your garden DIFFERENTLY each time you play. And there are opposing moves from the AI which can sometimes turn into a "wrench" and mess-up your plans.

Just sharing folks... No need to worry. I'm not telling @let-off what to do ... I'm just explaining how TO ME the game can be improved upon...

Cheers!

About the AI

To make it simple, the AI does exactly what the player does: Draw a random "bad" tile and places it (given 2d6s).

This is as simple as the AI needs to be.

Some additional thoughts:

1> The dice can define 2 spaces. Either (x, y) or (y, x).

2> The player can choose which is the better option for him/her.

3> The AI only plays "bad" tiles: bees, rocks and gophers.

4> The AI has three (3) dice rolls to find an empty spot for its tile. If after three tries it cannot place a tile, the player gets back control.

5> As the game progresses, this could become an issue, so I suggest a cap on % filled of the play area. 1/5th remains, the game ends. In other words, when there are only 5 spaces out of 25, the game ends.

That's what I've got for now. It's 1:39 AM... And I'm using my phone to write these thoughts down. Cheers.

About the dice/randomizer

In the computer version you can do a rand(12) and have a 12 x 12 grid of hexes.

A physical version could use 2d12s also.

Or it can be 11 x 11 and 12 is a wildcard. That might make the game more flexible later on in the randomization...

It's 2:23 AM and I'm still thinking about your game. I must admit, I am tired but I wanted to share with you my thoughts.

Cheers!

questccg wrote: Note #1:

questccg wrote:

Note #1: This is ONLY my own opinion. And I am explaining what makes me feel like this is not something that would interest ME. Maybe there is an audience for the game... It's just not for me... At least not without some AI to challenge me and "break" the deterministic nature of the Puzzle.

First, Let's be clear here. There is a very specific and well defined audiance for this game, so let's help to make it as good and simple as possible.

Seccond, woah slow down Quest, and maybe drink a few less pots of coffee today. Sleep is important too.

Third, every one player game is a little like a puzzle. To increase playability,give the randomness more power by making the tiles need to be touching adgacent to the existing ones, and that would still give options. I bet one set of tiles could really work as the entire contents of this game

For Next Iteration

questccg wrote:
Just sharing folks... No need to worry. I'm not telling @let-off what to do ... I'm just explaining how TO ME the game can be improved upon...Cheers!
I like a lot of your ideas, quest. This discussion (and the attendant metal music, of course) definitely helped me turn this idea into more of a game. When I have a chance to sit down and work on this again, I will implement the following:

  • Heximos must be adjacent to at least one tile already in the garden. This works even for the first heximo placed, since the board is seeded at the start with randomly-determined, single tiles. This increases the challenge considerably, and is consistent with the placement restrictions found in Tiny Islands.
  • There is already random "noise," as you describe it. The seeded tiles are randomly-determined (from a subset of possible tiles). There are also heximos with one icon for a "random" tile, so the player doesn't know what it will be until it is placed. This inevitably makes each game at least slightly different from the others.
  • What I -may- do with these random tiles is indicate that when it is placed it will become one of three possible types. I can have a variety of random tiles, but still give the player some clues as to what they can expect.
  • I'm struggling to find ways to implement an AI within the current framework. I'm thinking that this first release will have no AI opponent.

I'm pleased with what I've been able to accomplish with this tile-based engine so far (this is my first time successfully making one), and there's always room for a sequel and/or a completely different tile-laying game in the future... Hopefully I'll be able to implement an AI and/or multiple players in the near future.

Thanks again to you all for your input and enthusiasm. :)

Some Adjacency Required

Juzek wrote:
To increase playability,give the randomness more power by making the tiles need to be touching adgacent to the existing ones, and that would still give options.
Yep! I hope to put this into the next iteration of the game. It's a way to avoid the "deterministic" play method that questccg outlined in his other messages. Thanks for the suggestion. :)

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