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Exploration vs Tedious Setup

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Druski's picture
Joined: 11/21/2014

So I am working on a game where exploration is a major, but not the only component. The game is a co-operative scifi game where all the players are crew on a starship. A major element is that the 'map' is randomly generated for replayability and exploration.

Right now there are several elements to randomly generate the map. First, there are a number of 'sectors' (think of them as levels; progress to the next one, things get harder) that need to be crossed. sectors are different boards, randomly selected each time you reach a new one. Each sector has its own theme, bonuses and hazards. On each sector is a series of locations with multiple paths to choose from to reach the end of that sector.

The locations are the 2nd random element. On each location is a facedown card/tile/token which indicates what you found there. Here's where my problem comes in: assuming a sector has 20 or so locations (less than half of which will actually be reached, but many may be scanned ahead of time to allow the players to choose where to go) How do I retain my sense of exploration without making them shuffle out 20 cards/tiles/tokens 5 or so different times during the game?

I feel that tiles and tokens tend to be more difficult to shuffle and then set on a board without accidentally revealing what they are, plus they tend to be a lot less organized; yet they are easier to pick up and allow for a smaller surface area, (as these sectors are a secondary, not the primary, game board). Cards, on the other hand, would be much easier to shuffle and setup/deal out; but are annoying to pick up off of a flat surface, particularly if you have 20 of them laying in an organized manner and you're trying to pick up one in the middle.

I have considered not placing cards/tiles/tokens on these locations at all, and instead when you arrive, you draw one randomly, but I always feel that this belittles the sense of real choice. As in, it didn't matter which location I chose to go to, I would've randomly picked whatever I got anyway. Instead, when they are already present-but-face-down, I feel a lot more anticipation like: 'whats behind door #1, 2, or 3?' (and with the intended ability to scan the path ahead, I feel like it is necessary to have them present on the board for the sake of player choice).

To summarize, I am looking for a mechanic/game piece to allow for these locations to be setup randomly, be physically present on the board, and are easily cleared to make way for the next board (which also needs to be setup).

DifferentName's picture
Joined: 09/08/2013

Escape: The Curse of the Temple has some fun tile laying exploration. Say you're in a room with two unexplored exits. You explore one and place the tile in that space, but you don't go there yet. Moving into a room is a separate action from laying it down, so you can go to the newly explored room when you're ready, or see what's in the other room first. Also, I enjoy shuffling it's 20 or so tiles.

I wonder if part of what makes the randomized tile laying work in escape is that it makes you go back to the center a couple times during the game. So when you explore, it's not just which tile happens to get laid down, but also where you put it, and how far away you're getting from the center. If you never returned to the center, I can see how drawing a random tile would feel less like exploring. I think anything that makes it feel interconnected, finding a way back to previous areas for one reason or another, might help to give the feeling of exploration.

For a sci fi game, I can also imagine special methods of exploring that might allow you to explore more distant locations using special devices. This could be fun as a rare ability so exploring still feels like a challenge, but that you have cool tools to help you explore. I'm thinking of hand held scanning devices, ships in orbit scanning for life signs, or like the little robots that fly around in Prometheus to map out the area.

Joined: 04/17/2012
Maybe if you draw cards

Maybe if you draw cards randomly but with following addition:

Every tile has one or more symbols/colors on it:
You draw cards randomly from deck. On every card are few symbols and near them effect. If you card and tile share symbol, that effects trigger

so for example:
tile X has red and yellow symbol

you draw a card with following effects
blue - gain xp
green - gain +1 speed this round
red - take 1 dmg
gold - gain 2 gold

so for this example you gain 2 gold but your ship takes 1 dmg.
You still donĀ“t have that "what is behind the door feeling?" but at least get some more randomness

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