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Combining the CCG and the choose-your-own-adventure book

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TheReluctantGeneral
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Joined: 12/31/1969

Hi all,

I had an idea recently for a story driven CCG which has since developed into what seems an insanely ambitious project. I still think the idea has promise though, and having read some inspirational threads here (I'm thinking of some 2005 discussions on 'narrative mechanics' and adventure gamebooks), I just had to float this idea. I hope some of you here can spare the time to bring me back down to earth with some of the execllent considered criticism I have seen in this forums. I have set out my thinking so far below. Any feedback will be much appreciated! I've done my best to condense it but it's still quite long (and a bit terse)...

Premise:
------------

A combination of the venerable 'choose-your own adventure' solo adventure game to guide story development, a commercial multi player ccg and a 'confrontational' map based conquest game.

Goals:
---------

* To provide an immersive gameworld and a rich narrative story element with sufficient in-built hysteresis to allow for player actions to meaningfully influence the outcome of the game (not necessarily the main story though) without wrecking the main story arc.
* To have the story and game results carry over from one session to another with minimal book-keeping to allow for a deep campaign, while keeping each session or 'episode' portable, and within an easily digestible time limit.
* To provide a 'repeat purchase' model using some of the key elements of CCGs to make publishing the game commercially attractive.

Components:
------------------

* Story Cards
* Player Cards
* 'The Tome'

Mechanism
-------------

The Tome is a choose-your-own-adventure style paragraph hopping book which details key events in the game world and defines how players can influence the outcome, and the results for each outcome.

Story Cards acompany the Tome and may be won and lost by players depending on event outcomes.

Players aim to maximise their profits or minimise their losses by intelligently anticipating and reacting to reacting to events rather than determining the main course of event themselves. However the tome provides multiple story arcs depending on major event outcomes so as to retain a sense of participation.

Players have their own faction specific, event-independant decks which they can construct before the game, and which provide a means of influencing event outcomes, when combined with story cards.

This is the 'short' version of my idea. I'd love to hear what people think before posting the detailed version...

Julius
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Combining the CCG and the choose-your-own-adventure book

Is the tome multiplayer as well? I guess I'm trying to figure out how two players can compete in a choose-your-own-adventure setting.

larienna
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Combining the CCG and the choose-your-own-adventure book

Just a technical comment, if you are going to use cards and books together, make sure your book's binding is a spiral binding or any other kind of binding that can make the book stay open without holding it in your hands.

Nandalf
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Joined: 07/13/2009
Combining the CCG and the choose-your-own-adventure book

Some-what of a holy grail of mine *dons armour* :D

I agree if the book is combined with the cards it should be ring-bound.

and, i for one, will be awaiting the long-winded version, very, very interested in how this unfolds!

Fantastic

dete
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Combining the CCG and the choose-your-own-adventure book

personally I don't really care for the map idea,

maybe the map will tell you which chapter to go to.

as for CCG & choose your own adventure book, it is
awesome.

suggestion: make it so that you can put a card into the book.
like a book marker. why? I just think its cool like
how some people like the way it feels to throw the dice.

your on page 53, trying to avoid the savage dragon,
warding off the orcs, & looking for an exit while watching
your friend's back. In all the fast action & chaos, you
drop your sword,
you find an exit, a sewer canal. You slide down it with
your friend leaving the sword behind just as arrows
hit the wall a second after your shadow was there.
go to page 78, but leave your magical Wvyern Slayer sword
behind. (Wyvern Slayer sword is a card, put it in the fold of the page)

isn't that cool idea? You may pick up some cards along the way too.

TheReluctantGeneral
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Combining the CCG and the choose-your-own-adventure book

Quote:
Is the tome multiplayer as well? I guess I'm trying to figure out how two players can compete in a choose-your-own-adventure setting.

Yes, the tome is multiplayer (remember in this game players control families of characters who in turn control positions of power in major nations and institutions - they don't wander round graveyards looking for treasure :-) )

Here's an example:

"After Lord Kask of Ougm beheads his new Swemmish wife after only 2 weeks of marriage, the Kingdom of Swemy Declares war on Ougm.

The war may now be resolved according to the normal rules. Troops may only deploy and enter Swemmish or Ougmian territory. Peace offers may be proposed and decided upon by majority influence vote as normal.

If the Ougmians win then turn to para 743
If the Swemmish win or the conflict is drawn, then turn to para 621

Para 621 might say:

"* Up to two provinces captured by Swemy may be retained as part of the Swemmish crown. The captured provinces will be controlled by the faction controlling the forces in that province.
* The Swemmish court receives 6 Florins in compensation from Lord Kask. If Lord Kask is controlled by any player then that player must fund this from their own hand. "

Does that convery a sense of how this is supposed to work?

TheReluctantGeneral
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Combining the CCG and the choose-your-own-adventure book

Quote:
suggestion: make it so that you can put a card into the book.
like a book marker. why? I just think its cool like
how some people like the way it feels to throw the dice.

It is a very good idea... but I guess I'd use it to keep 'Story Cards' inserted on the page which introduces the card to the game (remember this game is supposed to be about family dynasties or factions, not individual treasure hunters). That way, the Story Cards and the hints they contain are kept hidden in the Tome until they are ready to burst on the scene, accompanied by text on that page of the Tome.

The only issue I can see with this is that you might need to space out the paragraphs more to make way for the card holders, which would make the tome larger and more expensive. But maybe that's no bad thing?

It would obviously need to be ring bound as suggested in a previous post.

HyveMynd
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Combining the CCG and the choose-your-own-adventure book

The combination of CCG and "Choose Your Own Adventure" book sounds really cool. And I'm not just saying that because I was a fan of both when I was a kid (read. kid = yesterday). The book would definately have to be spiral-bound, but from a design stand point (I have a BS in graphic design), I would love to see the book made to look like some really ancient, leatherbound tome. Something suitably majestic and awe-inspiring to match the tone of your sample scenario.

And no offence, but I think that the pages would look strange if the paragraphs were seperated by a playing card sized space. It would also force the book to have a large number of pages, depending on the number of cards/scenarios and the physical size of the page. I would much rather see the paragraphs indented more than usual, and the cards placed in the margins of the pages. You could alternate the locations of the cards on the page, like left, right, left so people don't get confused about which card goes with whick paragraph. Or (and this is pure genius if I do say so myself...) you could incorporate the card into the written paragraph. Like those illuminated letters in old midevial books. Tie the artwork into the paragraph somehow so that the card and text really fit together nicely.

Julius
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Combining the CCG and the choose-your-own-adventure book

TheReluctantGeneral wrote:
Does that convery a sense of how this is supposed to work?

Ah yes, very clear... and brilliant, if I may say so. My brain is currently wracked with finals.

So, a story would be made up of paragraphs, yes? And a single story would be one sit-down session between two or more players. In that session, players would have several skirmishes (paragraphs), and the set-up for each would be determined by the outcome of the last one.

Hmm, I like this. I'm interested to see where it goes.

TheReluctantGeneral
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Combining the CCG and the choose-your-own-adventure book

HyveMynd wrote:
I would love to see the book made to look like some really ancient, leatherbound tome. Something suitably majestic and awe-inspiring to match the tone of your sample scenario.

And no offence, but I think that the pages would look strange if the paragraphs were seperated by a playing card sized space. It would also force the book to have a large number of pages, depending on the number of cards/scenarios and the physical size of the page.

That's kind of what I had in mind. However, since players would need to keep buying tomes to keep playing through the story, costs would need to be kept reasonably low. I also like the ideas of making the cards enhance the text.

Thanks for the ideas. Much appreciated!.

Dan

TheReluctantGeneral
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Combining the CCG and the choose-your-own-adventure book

Julius wrote:

Ah yes, very clear... and brilliant, if I may say so. My brain is currently wracked with finals.

..snip..

Hmm, I like this. I'm interested to see where it goes.

Ta very much for the kind words :-) The tome idea originally started out as a deck of event cards, but it got too complicated so I moved to the book idea.

Unfortunately I see a few problems standing in the way of this idea achieving world domination. Specifically:

* limited replayability
* cheating. Any player can secretly purchase a copy of the tome and look forward into the storyline and events.
* playtesting :would be difficult to playtest enough to ensure that all paths through the tome are reasonably balanced for the players.

Since the idea hasn't been thrown out of court so far, I'd be most interested to hear any views people may have on these problem areas.

I sympathise with your plight re the finals Julius- the internet makes procrastinators of us all...

Stainer
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Combining the CCG and the choose-your-own-adventure book

I'll be the devils advocate here. I think the idea is original, and I always like the enthusiasim that goes with a new idea. But I genuinely think the idea is not good from a market standpoint.

I'm no market expert and will never claim to be, but I just don't see people buying this. They'd have to construct a deck, which requires buying cards. Then they'd have to buy a book (or a 'tome' as you called it) just to play their cards. Then their cards are restricted by the book in how they can be used. You're losing the initial idea of a CCG - freedom to do what you want. In a CCG you can choose what cards you want to play and you can choose the style of game you want to play. Nothing is restricted and there's no real 'timeline' to follow. As as for a choose-your-own adventure, this has too much 'stuff' added to it to really appeal to those book readers. They just want to read the book, they don't want to fight a battle with another person to decide what page to go to next.

I think the idea loses everything that's good about a CCG and loses everything that's good about a choose-your-own adventure. The idea does both of these good, but not great. It's not focused.

You might be able to pull it off, but I'd be surprised. I think it needs alot of work. It needs something new, not something borrowed and then joined with another borrowed idea.

I hope I wasn't too critical. But that's the way I see it. Hope that helps.

RD

TheReluctantGeneral
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Combining the CCG and the choose-your-own-adventure book

Stainer wrote:

I'm no market expert and will never claim to be, but I just don't see people buying this.

..snip..

I think the idea loses everything that's good about a CCG and loses everything that's good about a choose-your-own adventure. The idea does both of these good, but not great. It's not focused.

..snip..

I hope I wasn't too critical. But that's the way I see it. Hope that helps.

I'm inclined to agree with your points in any case. I've had the same thoughts myself. And thanks for the tact - but it's not necessary, I'm just greatful for all feedback I get.

Having said that, I have two solutions to your points in mind:

(1) Dispense with the ccg aspect of the game. Instead, the repeat purchase aspect (which is what I'm really after) comes from the tomes alone. If players only have to purchase new tomes then they can be more expensive, and more jazzy, like previous posters have suggested. All cards required either come in the tome or a buy-once starter pack. Tome based cards can be of cheaper stock (or could even be stickers or something since they are disposable after a short while).

(2) Ensure that the game is more replayable. Replayability maximise return on investment. To this end:

- ensure that investment in constructed player decks can be carried forwards between sessions, with some forewarning of events so players can use skill in forming a suitable deck to cope with likely events, or to develop a ploy against another player.
- ensure that size of player decks is much greater than the number of 'story cards' that only persist for periods of the storyline to miminise non replayable cardstock and maximise return on investment for players.
- if player card decks can be reused then the game can be replayed by using a different 'tome' that takes the story in a completely different direction at any point in the storyline. Having finished a full campaign (maybe representing 100s of years of history of the world), they can start again with a 'what if that had never happened' type premise, using the same player card deck.

Lastly, I'm not sure I agree with the point you made regarding the restrictions on card playability imposed by the tome. I think this apsect depends on the details of the rules of the game. For example, military unit cards could be played whenever armed conflict arises. The trick is in watching the signs in the storyline that suggest that armed conflict is likely and make sure that you are well equipped for it.

So which one of the two options here would you go for - number one I guess?

larienna
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Combining the CCG and the choose-your-own-adventure book

I also have a problem to see both type of game match perfectly in the setting you are currently in. Consider that normally CCG include some deck customization, so I found it hard to imagine how they could be used for the story.

On my point of view, the best implentation would be :

Card : Strictly used for military combat result. But a dice roll could also do the same

Book : Ask user for decision and some cards can add themselves to your deck according to your decision.

It reminds me Ogre Battle 64 where some paths could make some people join your army.

But your story has to be more than "I invade this country" else a simple war game would do the job better. Maybe more focus on the diplomatic relations and event. Maybe, if both player are playing together, each player has his book, and when making their decision and looking for another paragraph, they take the answer of the other player and their answer to find the paragraph. Increasing the possible outcome but complexifying the story creation.

For example :

You have 3 choice

If you made choice A and player made choice A goto XX, choice B goto XX or choice C goto XX.
If you made choice B ...
If you made choice C ...

But the other player do not tell exactly what the choice mean. He just say "I made choice A".

But the idea of combining both games could be interesting. Maybe not with a "collectible" but more with a "Customizable" card game. The fact that the book can give you of make you leave cards is cool. Because another player that play the book could pick the cards you have droped.

Is there a technical way to make the card hold in the book conveniently. Magnet and velcro is not really well suited. Maybe some material that attract statics.

dete
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Combining the CCG and the choose-your-own-adventure book

I made a game a while back
that was a CCG + choose your adventure book

the cards became the pages.

you can down load it here if you want to check it out:
http://www.geocities.com/ferjn3/mogab.zip

jwarrend
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Joined: 08/03/2008
Combining the CCG and the choose-your-own-adventure book

This sounds like a pretty neat idea! Other games that come to mind that you should look at include the CCG "Allegiance" (which I learned about from one of Tom Vasel's interviews), Tales of the Arabian Nights, and Blood Royale.

First things first:

Quote:
To provide a 'repeat purchase' model using some of the key elements of CCGs to make publishing the game commercially attractive.

If this is your goal, it's your goal, but it seems to me that embarking on a game design that's this ambitious doesn't need the additional baggage of a marketing model weighing it down. At this point, I really think you should just stick to trying to figure out how to make a great game, then worrying about how to make money off of it.

If you want to package this goal in terms that will be more conducive to your design process, say "to allow for expansion of the game by addition of new events (eg, a Barbarian invasion, a crusade) or factions".

On to the game itself. If you've read my thread on "narrative mechanics", you know that I was trying to do something vaguely similar. The rough idea of what I was going for was to have a the "game state" tracked by the pieces, the board, and tokens and counters, and to have the players interact with the game state via the paragraph book. (eg, I open the door to the Laboratory. It is current Night, and I am Alone. Go to paragraph 243). The key was that there would be a set of Event cards that, while revealed in semi-random order, would shape the storyline by directing which paragraph you'd look at. So it wouldn't exactly have been a choose-your-own-adventure, in the sense that once you end up in one "track" in the book, you follow it to one end or the other. Instead, the goal was to have the events in the book be somewhat interchangable, but to have their importance or details be reflective of the overall state of the game. Additionaly, I was going to give each character his own paragraph book, so that an event would be different depending on the character that uncovered it. Clearly, this was ambitious, and I haven't gotten too far with it yet for lack of time, although I do have some thoughts on how to proceed. A real snag was how to handle the forking of the narrative depending on the choices made without the size of the book becoming absurdly big, AND how to simultaneously allow for a lot of replay.

I have a different game I'm working on now with SiskNY that is more of a deduction game, and it sort of has a "paragraph book" but really, the paragraph book is a set of clues, and you interact with the board elements to earn the ability to look at certain clues. So in that sense, the game book is fully omniscient -- it knows the entire unfolding of the story. So, I'll need a separate "track" for each playing to enable high replay. My original idea would have been only "partially omniscient" -- the idea was that the story would have been shaped by the order in which the event cards are revealed, but obviously this could be broadly variable.

So, on to your game. You gave a sample entry:

Quote:
"After Lord Kask of Ougm beheads his new Swemmish wife after only 2 weeks of marriage, the Kingdom of Swemy Declares war on Ougm.
The war may now be resolved according to the normal rules. Troops may only deploy and enter Swemmish or Ougmian territory. Peace offers may be proposed and decided upon by majority influence vote as normal.
If the Ougmians win then turn to para 743
If the Swemmish win or the conflict is drawn, then turn to para 621 "

I have to point out that this is not a choose your own adventure-style entry. This is an event card. And an event card is, in game terms, a special set of rules that apply only while the card is active. In that sense, your tome is really nothing more or less than a huge extension of the rulebook. And that's fine, but could you not achieve exactly the same effect with a deck of event cards?

I guess the one advantage of a paragraph book is that you can make the events more fleshed out, and that's probably a good thing. But I think to really justify the use of the Tome, you need to ensure that the story "progresses" in some way that is specifically enabled by the Tome so that the separate events cohere in a way that they wouldn't if they were simply revealed as random event card draws. BUT, at the same time, you have to ensure high replay by making sure that there are a lot of different progressions possible so that the game feels different every time.

I think you have a good idea, and I'd be interested to hear more about it!

Good luck,

Jeff

TheReluctantGeneral
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Combining the CCG and the choose-your-own-adventure book

Larienna wrote:

But your story has to be more than "I invade this country" else a simple war game would do the job better. Maybe more focus on the diplomatic relations and event. Maybe, if both player are playing together, each player has his book, and when making their decision and looking for another paragraph, they take the answer of the other player and their answer to find the paragraph. Increasing the possible outcome but complexifying the story creation.

Thanks for your continuing interest and suggestions Larienna. My game is indeed intended to focus as much or more on diplomancy, intrigue and trade as it is on military events. For example, some of the cards players hold will give them influence in one of the major courts of the land, such that they can _try_ to direct that nations actions to their advantage. Other cards that players may hold would represent things such as trade monopolies, famous scientists in the pay of the family, as well as various members of their own noble family, who can in turn be attached to other cards representing positions of power in the game setting, which in turn may confere further influence at court, or control of military units etc.

Larienna wrote:

But the other player do not tell exactly what the choice mean. He just say "I made choice A".

But the idea of combining both games could be interesting. Maybe not with a "collectible" but more with a "Customizable" card game. The fact that the book can give you of make you leave cards is cool. Because another player that play the book could pick the cards you have droped.

I love the idea of players making secret or obfuscated choices! That adds another level of depth to the gameplay! The main issue I see is that this could get rather complicated with more than two players. I'll have to think about this more. Thanks again!

Regarding the book design, I think I'll have to leave the exact details of design until I have fleshed out the basic game flow more completely.

TheReluctantGeneral
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Combining the CCG and the choose-your-own-adventure book

Thanks for the considered feedback. I very much enjoyed the thread on narrative mechanics and was hoping you'd weight into this thread too.

jwarrend wrote:

If you want to package this goal in terms that will be more conducive to your design process, say "to allow for expansion of the game by addition of new events (eg, a Barbarian invasion, a crusade) or factions".

That's exactly my intention, I did come up with this idea prior to deciding I wanted a repeat purchase model, but once I realised the possible commercial advtanges I wanted to try and retain them...

Quote:
On to the game itself. If you've read my thread on "narrative mechanics", you know that I was trying to do something vaguely similar. The rough idea of what I was going for was to have a the "game state" tracked by the pieces, the board, and tokens and counters, and to have the players interact with the game state via the paragraph book.
...

So it wouldn't exactly have been a choose-your-own-adventure, in the sense that once you end up in one "track" in the book, you follow it to one end or the other. Instead, the goal was to have the events in the book be somewhat interchangable, but to have their importance or details be reflective of the overall state of the game.

That's pretty much what I had envisaged for my game. I had started out without the tome, and had event cards instead, and realised that some events needed to occur in a particular order, perhaps separated by more random events which could occur anywhere, so I was going to number important cards and force the players to arrange the deck according to the numbering, when I realised it would be better done as a paragraph hopping book. So yes, it's just event cards in book form really. Perhaps using the title choose-you-own-adventure in this thread has confused people as to my intentions for this game.

Quote:
A real snag was how to handle the forking of the narrative depending on the choices made without the size of the book becoming absurdly big, AND how to simultaneously allow for a lot of replay.

This is what Larienna suggested, and is a really cool idea, but I think you get a kind of combinatorial explosion the more players and events you have which becomes unmanagable.

Quote:
So in that sense, the game book is fully omniscient -- it knows the entire unfolding of the story. So, I'll need a separate "track" for each playing to enable high replay. My original idea would have been only "partially omniscient" -- the idea was that the story would have been shaped by the order in which the event cards are revealed, but obviously this could be broadly variable.

I think what I am going for is a partly omiscient storyline. For example, if a major nation looses a couple of border territories to naother as part of a peace settlement, then that need not really affect the nations ultimate destiny and the book doesn't really need to care about it (though the player receiving or loosing the territories or positions in question certainyl would), however I would need to ensure the nation could not completely dissapear or get too powerful if that's not in keeping with the main storyline.

Quote:
I guess the one advantage of a paragraph book is that you can make the events more fleshed out, and that's probably a good thing. But I think to really justify the use of the Tome, you need to ensure that the story "progresses" in some way that is specifically enabled by the Tome so that the separate events cohere in a way that they wouldn't if they were simply revealed as random event card draws. BUT, at the same time, you have to ensure high replay by making sure that there are a lot of different progressions possible so that the game feels different every time.

I think you have gone right to the heart of my game with this analysis. Spot on. Regarding replay value, I'm thinking that if tomes are cheap enough then the story cards could be reused with a different tome representing a different track but reusing the same cardstock. It;s difficult to balance all the variables though...

Quote:
I think you have a good idea, and I'd be interested to hear more about it!

I added a journal entry with a bit more detail. More to follow soon. Thanks to all of you for your interest.

Dan

TheReluctantGeneral
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Combining the CCG and the choose-your-own-adventure book

For anyone who's interested where I've gotten to with this game so far (thanks to those who showed their interest!), or for those interested in the Narrative Mechanics thread, you can get a reasonably detailed write up of what I have managed to pull together so far here:

http://www.bgdf.com/files/My_Uploads/TheReluctantGeneral/codex_design_notes1.htm

As well as having some details about the game, I have also covered how I plan to handle the narrative branching and the issue of multiple players interacting with a single narrative.

There are still many areas which have not been fleshed out much yet, but I hope this write up gives you an idea of what the game would be like, and that some of you might come up with some ideas in those areas where I seem to be a bit stumped currently :-)

Jpwoo
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Combining the CCG and the choose-your-own-adventure book

Interesting idea! I do have several points of skeptisism though.

The joy of the choose your own adventure books , or the Ian livingstone RPG books came mainly from two things, Replayability, and Solo play. And you are discarding both of those aspects.

If I am with my friends this isn't the type of game that I would care to play. I want to interact with my friends, not with a book. However as a solo game I think this sounds fun.

Something strikes me as odd combining a big scale war/diplomacy game with a fixed narrative. It is a bold idea, and highly original certainly. But the joy I draw from those big scale political/war games is the ability to effect your own destiny without imposed narrative rails. Imagine you were playing Twilight Imperium, and you finally took the center planet after a long fought war, and then someone reads a paragraph that hands the planet over to someone else. A neat aspect of these games is that they create their own narrative without the need for flavor text.

Somehow I don't think I would be satisfied with a game where a friend and I play for an hour, reading along and enjoying the story, and the only effect that we had on it was who controlled the iron mines, or got to marry the princess.

I just can't help but think that this idea would mesh better with the cliched dungeon crawl of the choose your own adventures or yore. These allow many of the aspects that you discuss on your page. But opens up the possibilities of, exploration, a mutable ending, replayability. But the world doesn't need another dungeon crawl :)

As far as components go, it would be nice if every Tome/Expansion/etc came with its own preconstructed deck. Sort of like blue moon. And as you continued to play through Books you could add those cards to your deck and customise it further.

Replayability is a big factor for the CCG aspect of your game as well. As much of the fun is tuning your deck to try to do better next time.

I don't want to sound completely negative, but you have been nice enough to offer constructive critisism to me.

I think that you have hit on something, as the paragraph based book game and the Customisable card game are an interesting mix that should make for an exciting game.

TheReluctantGeneral
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Combining the CCG and the choose-your-own-adventure book

Hi again JP. If you read all that then I guess I owe you another CRT test :-)

Jpwoo wrote:
Interesting idea! I do have several points of skeptisism though.

Yeah I know, I have them about this idea myself. That's why I'm testing out these concepts before I invest a large amount of time in it.

Quote:
The joy of the choose your own adventure books , or the Ian livingstone RPG books came mainly from two things, Replayability, and Solo play. And you are discarding both of those aspects.

Point taken about the solo play, but maybe that's something I could accomodate, although I don't think there is much market for solo board games.

I must disagree about the replayability however. You only replay a solo CYOA game if you die before finishing it, or if you comlpeted it without picking up some critical object during the course of the book that would be useful in later books (such as the summersword in the Lone Wolf series). I don't think anyone replayed a CYOA book once they had completed it - they could not wait to get the next book and take their character through a brand new adventure. That is my recollection of playing the Lone Wolf books.

Quote:
If I am with my friends this isn't the type of game that I would care to play. I want to interact with my friends, not with a book. However as a solo game I think this sounds fun.

I think that depends on the level of interaction with the book. I tried to make clear in my write up that the story state (i.e paragraph number changes relatively infrequently compared with changes in 'game state'. Each change of story state, (which will be accompanied by one selected player reading the relevant material to the others), will be accompanied by potentially many rounds of card playing and picking, battles, votes etc. Getting this balance between story state changes and game state changes is crucial to making a socialble game. Does that make any sense?

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But the joy I draw from those big scale political/war games is the ability to effect your own destiny without imposed narrative rails. Imagine you were playing Twilight Imperium, and you finally took the center planet after a long fought war, and then someone reads a paragraph that hands the planet over to someone else. A neat aspect of these games is that they create their own narrative without the need for flavor text.

Yes, I have thought alot about this too. I have to avoid this type of 'Deux Et Machina'. The way I see it though, is that players do not control nations. The narrative, at some point, and due to past narrative turns will determine that war between nations A & B is inevitable. Then players need to determine which nation they wish to win for their own selfish ends, and take action to help their favoured nation. This is the purpose of the player agendas: to quote from the notes:

my notes wrote:
An agenda would be specified in terms of specific required outcomes. For example, an agenda may require that the church votes a particular way on a key subject. The player advancing this agenda must try to use his influence in the church and with other players to ensure the outcome is the right one. Somehow players will be able to record successfully met agenda conditions such that at some point the player can announce the agenda complete and take VPs and other associated benefits. Completion of agendas may make new certain new agendas available, so that after a while a player would become associated with specific types of agenda (for example a player may become hopelessly entangled with demonic agendas….)

Guessing the agendas that opposing players are following should be a major part of the gameplay and players will undertake various subterfuges to hide what they are doing and discover what their opponents are up to.

Agendas can be thought of as sub-plots to the main Narrative. Agendas do not change the narrative flow, rather the direction the Narrative takes determines which agendas are ultimately successful and which are not.

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Somehow I don't think I would be satisfied with a game where a friend and I play for an hour, reading along and enjoying the story, and the only effect that we had on it was who controlled the iron mines, or got to marry the princess.

I agree. I aim to avoid generating this feeling. Question is, is it possible?

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As far as components go, it would be nice if every Tome/Expansion/etc came with its own preconstructed deck. Sort of like blue moon. And as you continued to play through Books you could add those cards to your deck and customise it further.

Originally I had envisaged a collectible aspect to this game. Maybe it will turn out that way - not sure yet.

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I don't want to sound completely negative, but you have been nice enough to offer constructive critisism to me.

isn't BGDF great? :-)

Kaltros
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Re: Combining the CCG and the choose-your-own-adventure book

"Mechanism
The Tome is a choose-your-own-adventure style paragraph hopping book which details key events in the game world and defines how players can influence the outcome, and the results for each outcome.

Okay, that makes sense. You'd need to have several primary plot-lines available for each mode (by "mode", I'm guessing that players can choose their method of influencing the game-world; ie, war, corporate influence, political maneuvering, terrorism, et cetera) so that the game has replay value, yes?

"Story Cards acompany the Tome and may be won and lost by players depending on event outcomes."

I'm with you so far.

"Players aim to maximise their profits or minimise their losses by intelligently anticipating and reacting to reacting to events rather than determining the main course of event themselves. However the tome provides multiple story arcs depending on major event outcomes so as to retain a sense of participation."

So when the earthquake strikes California, there could be a series of repurcussions that are influenced by player hands, but if nothing in their hand is applicable, the Tome tells them where to go?

TOME sez: Corporate (negative): Investments in this area are FUBAR. Beg for government subsidizing to prevent bankruptcy, turn to page 500.
If you have a Political Favor, turn to page 550.

TOME sez: Terrorist (positive): Chaos amid the populace makes movement and resource acquisition easy. Advance plans to attack forward by 1 phase and turn to page 12.
If you have a plan currently in execution, turn to page 402.

Is that more or less correct?

"Players have their own faction specific, event-independant decks which they can construct before the game, and which provide a means of influencing event outcomes, when combined with story cards.

This is the 'short' version of my idea. I'd love to hear what people think before posting the detailed version..."

Sounds interesting. That Tome is gonna be huge, ja?

TheReluctantGeneral
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
Re: Combining the CCG and the choose-your-own-adventure book

Kaltros wrote:
Okay, that makes sense. You'd need to have several primary plot-lines available for each mode (by "mode", I'm guessing that players can choose their method of influencing the game-world; ie, war, corporate influence, political maneuvering, terrorism, et cetera) so that the game has replay value, yes?

Not quite. It's a multi-player game and players have access to basically the same strategies (military, political, commercial). The Tome describes an event and the effect it has on the gameworld. It may then present several possible outcomes, and describes how players resolve which outcome is selected. Different players will prefer different outcomes so they compete with each other (say by fighting a battle) to find which outcome is chosen. Then the tome is turned to paragraph specified for that outcome.

Quote:
TOME sez: Corporate (negative): Investments in this area are FUBAR. Beg for government subsidizing to prevent bankruptcy, turn to page 500.
If you have a Political Favor, turn to page 550.

Close, but not quite. Because there are _multiple_, competing players (this is the point you seem to have missed) it is more likely to say (sticking with your chosen theme):

***

"The senate will set the level of relief funding. The following proposals for relief have been made:

1) 1 Billion $ relief funding, funded by cancelling the DELTA GREEN military project. If this outcome is selected, the player holding the DELTA GREEN CARD must discard it, and turn to para 301.

2) 5 Billion $ relief funding, funded by cancelling the DELTA GREEN military project (see above) and withdrawn from the TKS oil field development. 5 cash chips should be removed from the TKS Story Card, and turn to para 455.

3) 10 billion $ relief funding, as above but additionally rasied by emergency tax, causing the holder of the President of the USA position to loose 10 influence points. Turn to para 188.

Outcome is selected by a Player Influence Contest in the US House of Representatives. Neutral influence points will be cast ni favour of option 2.

***

Clearly, the player holding the 'President' Card is not going to vote for option 3.

Quote:
Sounds interesting. That Tome is gonna be huge, ja?

No too big - I'm hoping about the size of one of the old choose your own adventure books. Note that each paragraph takes seom time to play as players play their own cards, fight amonst themselves, move units etc. The whole 'campaign' representing say a couple of centuries of gameworld time migthbe in four volumes.

filwi
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Combining the CCG and the choose-your-own-adventure book

Awsome idea! Unfortunatelly I have to agree with Steiner - in the form you describe here it would not work. And as you've stated; it would be too easy to cheat.

Therefore I don't think that a tome is the correct idea (although it is very cool, visually). What if, instead of a tome, it would be a subscribable online service. Each player has a given ID, both ID's and passwords are necessary to confirm a game outcome. So Andy and Bert play the first scenario. Then they get to check the net, login each on their own (could be from the same computer, first one has to login then the other) and report the outcome of the battle. They then both get new storyline input, each tailored to their faction:

Andy: "Lord Kask seethed. He knew he should never have married that Swemmish shrew..." Lose 6 florins etc.

Bert: "Lord Rogs had burried his beloved daughter in Ogumian blood and had the gold to show for it. And yet it didn't feel satisfying. He... "
A) goes after Kask's head.
B) allies with Lord Zompf of Luria then goes after Kask's head.
C) sends assasins after Kask.

This would be more work to produce and the computer would have to keep track of what cards each player has as to not generate outcomes that require cards a player does not posses. It would also be hard to demonstrate for a potential publisher. But once made I think it has the potential to generate a truly fanatic following, fanatic enough to make Magic players pale - and perhaps even match Magic's revenues.

TheReluctantGeneral
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
Combining the CCG and the choose-your-own-adventure book

filwi wrote:
Awsome idea! Unfortunatelly I have to agree with Steiner - in the form you describe here it would not work. And as you've stated; it would be too easy to cheat.

It's interesting you fixed on the cheating problem. I became aware of this at the outset, and mentioned it right at the beginning of the thread, but until now no-one else mentioned it. It's a difficult problem to overcome in an elegant fashion. The only elegenat solution to my mind is to have tomes that consist of causally connected events in pre-sealed packs, such that when you buy one, you don't know what it will contain. But this requires a narrative mechanism which is basically a story generator, which has drawbacks in the quality of the narrative, as discussed by myself and jwarrend in the 'Narrative Mechanics' thread.

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Then they get to check the net, login each on their own (could be from the same computer, first one has to login then the other) and report the outcome of the battle. They then both get new storyline input, each tailored to their faction:

[snip stuff about online 'tome' generator'..]

I had the same idea, and see the same drawbacks in actually selling the idea to either publishers or players. Again, you are the first poster to point this out.

The scheme you suggested is a bit of a hybrid between the boardgame and the online game that is difficult to work out, although having said that many people are happily playing boardgames like tikal at spielbyweb.com.

Perhaps this style of game is indeed best implemented using some of the power of the internet. The branching narrative complexity issue would certainly be eased by having the tome effectively generated on the fly. It would also reduce production costs.

Narrative elements in games have always been rather restricted, even though they have massive gameplay enhancement potential, and I'm interested in using online mediums to solve this problem.

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But once made I think it has the potential to generate a truly fanatic following, fanatic enough to make Magic players pale - and perhaps even match Magic's revenues.

In my more optimistic moments I'd agree, but I am still phased by the potentially wierd mix between face to face board game and computer game and the marketing problems that might ensue. I sometimes end up thinking that the whole project would be better implemented as an online only game, which I can't help feeling would miss alot of the potential of the idea.

Anyway, thanks for your insight - right to the heart of the problem!

TheReluctantGeneral
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
Combining the CCG and the choose-your-own-adventure book

Here's a thing I forgot to mention in response to Filwi's post...

I had been considering that the game might consist of two things - a set of cards and a basic rulebook, plus a downloadable 'tome generator', which would generate a unique storyline for a given game based on a carefully designed set of possibilities. Players could log on, enter their id numbers etc and any game parameters required and hey presto, they get a printable tome/codex they can take to the gaming table. That should solve the problem of cheating.

It also opens up other possibilities. If the storyline editor is also made available, would be GMs can design their own storylines for their friends to play, or to upload to a website where players can share campaign scenarios, creating a whole new metagame. That's gotta be a hook for all those frustrated GMs out there...

The basic software for such a generator ought to be fairly straightforward (there would be no need for any whiz bang graphics beyond a series of still images, which would be needed for a non-online solution anyway).

The key component would be a 'constraint solver', of which various implementations can be found for free online, as well as a well established 'industrial quality base' - I know that such software is employed in my own profession (google for 'specman elite'), but also I believe they are used in internet search engines.

The constraint solver is inputted with all the various constraints to ensure narrative integrity, and will then generate a random narrative engine (see my design notes for details) incorporating narrative branching that provides a unique storyline which is internally consistent, and then passed through a formatting engine providing the random paragraph numbers and so on.

In fact this type of software environment is likely to be required to generate new tomes anyway - the question is whether to make the story generation engine available to players. If it were made available, the requirements on quality, robustness and user interface design would increase dramatically, which would make the whole project that much more scary.

Unfortunately such a project is almost certainly beyond me given the resources of time and expertise I have myself, at least at the moment.

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