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Flicking game, AI movement mechanic

5 replies [Last post]
Joined: 09/20/2010

I've been thinking about designing a flicking co-op adventure game, think catacombs without the DM. Obviously there will be other things to make the game different, but thats the easiest way to explain my basic idea.

The problem is, if there isn't a player whos role is specifically to control the NPC, then how are the NPC's controlled?

I've had some ideas like;

Have the players flick their characters, but NPC's move a predetermined way, like move towards the closest character and then a specific amount like 2" or so, and if they end close enough they attack him.

Have the players flick their characters, but at the end of the turn, they have to flick X amount of NPCs. But if they fail the attack, an event or something else bad and random happens.

The main problem with this is that the players can basically just move the NPC towards the completelly opposite direction and just take the chances with the event/other bad stuff card.

One way to fix that is having the player to flick the NPC towards the nearest character, IE setting their flicking finger in 180degrees from the direction of the nearest character.

Another way could be to have the NPCs not move at all, but then I don't really know what their point would be..?

Could also make the board gridded, and have them act like the monsters in Castle Ravenloft/Wrath of Ashardalon

These are some of the ways that I've been thinking about. Got any better ones, or expand the ones I listed?

I'll try to ask any questions if I didn't explain myself well enough :) Thanks for taking the time to read.

Joined: 04/14/2009

A long, long time ago my buddy made a paper and pencil war game. I don't know if we ever fleshed everything out, but I DO remember that we each had a tank or two. When you got close enough, you'd stand your pencil at the tip of the gun on your tank (with the pencil lead on the paper of course). You'd hold the pencil there with your index finger on the eraser and with your other hand you'd flick the pencil and try to draw a mark that hit your opponent's tank. If the little mark your pencil made hit your opponent's tank, he'd take damage depending on where the "flick" hit him. Sometimes he'd blow up..sometimes he'd just take damage and retaliate. The concept was fun and we had a blast trying out combinations and messing with terrain, etc. Your post brought up fond memories! I'm interested in this.

I'm assuming you'd have a flat board and your characters would be disks with your character's face on 'em? (or something similar)...anything that'll slide across a board. For prototyping I'm thinking you could use poker chips or wooden disks with labels on 'em.

I've always loved "build as you go" board games where you place tiles or something that makes a different board each time you play. When I was reading I kept thinking of a Scrabble type mechanic where you get different tiles to make up the sections of the board. To avoid having to create a zillion tiles, perhaps you could create a board that has many features already on the board. However, there are other locations that are blank...this is where you could put the special tiles.

So...the NPC's would get a turn just like the players. Simply grab a tile and the NPC places it. Or perhaps there's a deck of cards and when it's an NPC's turn it grabs a card and does whatever the card says..."Move one space ahead." or "Grab a tile and place it on a blank space closest to the nearest player to you." You could have a specific deck for the NPC's or it could be the same as for the players.

What happens to the flicking mechanic? Well...if you flick your character and it hits (or lands) on a special tile, the player takes the consequences (or the benefits) depending on what that tile was.

Hmmm...I see a problem, though. Flicking is difficult to get right (at least for me). On the one hand, I can see how it would add some "randomness" which might be fun, but it also might be frustrating. What happens if a players flicks too hard and multiple locations are hit? Only the last one applies? What if one of your tiles is a "Bottomless Pit"? Seems to me if you hit that, you're won't matter where you landed. <--this could be written into the rules though.

Co-op, eh?

So there's no winner? Any players that survive win? I guess that's not so bad if the games are quick, but most of the time I hate it when I have to sit out and wait for a game to finish...UNLESS....I guess if a player dies he could become an NPC? Hmmm... Then the NPC's would be controlled by people.

So everyone starts out on an adventure together. There's a cave-in. They're trapped. The goal is to escape. But there are monsters in the catacombs. They want to kill the players.

What if it's a co-op team game? Adventurers vs Monsters? Now you don't need NPC's. Everyone is a player. Perhaps there are special tiles where players change sides? (Hypnotize, Gas Cloud, Gibbering Gazer)...all these things screw with a person's (or monster's) mind and make 'em change sides...maybe it's temporary...maybe it's permanent.

Gotta go back to work...lunch is over. I hope this is helpful. Good luck!


Joined: 09/20/2010
I guess I should have said

I guess I should have said semi co-op, since in the beginning the players are the "good guys" but during the game they receive cards which may or may not convert them (if they get enough of the convert cards). For more info about this look up .

This means it can't be team vs team from the getgo, since then it'd be unfair fo....... hold on
One possibility COULD be that players start in different teams, and then during the game both sides might turn on each other, so you don't know who's on what side anymore?

This is why posting here is great, it makes you think about something you've already thought will never work :)

Not sure if that'd work, but at least thats another option to think about.

But basically the main idea before posting here was that the players all start as the good guys, and then during the game slowly turning and causing paranoia.

I feel this COULD work pretty well in a flicking game; since mistakes like friendly fire could happen pretty easily, but is it a mistake? or is it on purpose?

InvisibleJon's picture
Joined: 07/27/2008
Reward players for behaviors you want to encourage...


Before seeing that you have a "hidden traitor" element (in that players can secretly "change sides" during play), I was going to suggest using a "ruler" to move monsters, with monsters moving a set distance toward the closest PC.

"The Goblin moves 1 inch, then 1 inch, then 1 inch."
"The Ghost moves two inches, ignoring obstacles"
"The Giant Frost Toad moves 3 inches, then 1 inch."

...The does not work so well for a "hidden traitor" game because it removes the element of "Did you make a mistake, or were you trying to get me?" that you're looking for.

I recommend creating strong rewards for players who do a good job of controlling the monsters. Some options:

* Players never find items instantly. Instead, they need to "earn" loot points. You get loot points every time you successfully attack with a monster. You use loot points to "purchase" item cards that you gather during play.
* You can take a similar approach to any good stuff they want to play or do. Ex 1: If the Magic User wants to cast a spell, she'll need to charge up her mana pool with mana points (that you only get from making successful monster attacks, or *very slowly* over time). Ex 2: If {character} wants to use {special power}, he or she will need to spend {special points} that they start with a limited supply of and only regenerate slowly over time but are also rewards for successful monster flicks.
* Players gain XP from being attacked -- significantly more than from attacking monsters or killing them.
* The player who flicked the monster gets a benefit from making a successful attack with the monster, like XP equal to the damage the monster deals.
* (I like this less) The player who flicked the monster gets punished if the monster does not make an attack (loss of XP or hit points?).

In short: To make players do what you want them to do, make it so appealing to do it that they'll have little choice but to do so.

Joined: 09/20/2010
Thanks, sounds really good to

Thanks, sounds really good to have plsyers individually gain bonuses for doing well. These are some great ideas to consider. I'll have to try it out and see how it goes.

The main problem is going to be that missing will have to be so bad that the players just wont shoot them in the complete opposite side of the board and really have no way to be attacked by them. However that also makes it harder to hit then aswell since you need to hit them to kill them.

suf's picture
Joined: 07/26/2010
Use ideas from RftG robot

I like the way they've implemented the RftG robot for solitaire play. You've got these dice used to decide what the robot action is. I'm thinking for your game the options would be something like "flick towards closest enemy", "move 3 inch towards closest enemy and attack if the enemy in within 3 inch" or "draw an encounter card" if you have some of those. This would make the robot more unpredictable so players don't abuse the predictable movements. Maybe different robot "units" use different dice. You could also replace dice with cards.

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