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Guard Dog Mechanic

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jhobbs
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Joined: 06/17/2011

Hi everyone at BGDF! This is my first post to the site, so hello.

I'm currently working on a game that features a guard dog (possibly two) in a backyard. The backyard will be a open space made of non-linear interconnected spaces. Given the right circumstances, the players can heighten the dog's awareness from his doghouse and he'll give chase to the players. If caught, a player will be sent back to the main base losing any items in possession. Essentially, when the dog is on the board, everyone is trying to get back to base with their points/items intact.

Where I'm running into trouble is how exactly the dog(s) should work. As the spaces are non-linear, there's no easy progression the dog can follow to wipe out any players. My first thought is to let the player with the least amount of points take control of the dog, which seems fair. I also thought about maybe having a "leash" radius mechanic, where it can only reach so far on the map, but this makes a safe area that might ruin some of the chance of the game.

Has anyone found a good way to deal with a "Guard" type element, that, when provoked, has to fairly chase after all (or almost all) players without being played by another extra person?

Maaartin
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Joined: 05/15/2011
A simple idea

I suppose by "non-linear" you mean "one-dimensional", i.e., that the fields are not arranged in a line, so you need to choose the direction when chasing the players, right?

jhobbs wrote:
My first thought is to let the player with the least amount of points take control of the dog, which seems fair.
This may be fair, or it may ruin the game. I think without some playtesting nobody can say.

There were some discussion about automatic zombie movement mechanic recently. maybe it could help. With only one dog (as opposed to many zombies) you can use a more complicated algorithm.

My idea: I'm assuming you play on a rectangular or hexagonal board or alike. The dog could run as follows:

Target selection

  • Is there a player closer to the dog than all the others?
  • If so, chase her.
  • Otherwise, let the player with the least amount of points chose one of the players closest to the dog as the target.

Direction selection

  • Is there a single direction for the dog decreasing the distance to the selected target?
  • If so, move the dog in this direction.
  • Otherwise, let the player with the least amount of points chose one of the two possible directions.

This is actually very trivial to perform, the dog chases the nearest player in the obvious direction with ties solved by the player with the least amount of points.

jhobbs
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Joined: 06/17/2011
I like this idea of having a

I like this idea of having a chain of priority. Right now, I'm thinking:

-Dog must pursue the player closest to doghouse. In case of tie, the controller's choice.

Should the dog change his focus once a player has returned to the safe zone, or should he switch his focus during the chase depending on who's closest to him at the end of every turn? It seems like he could/should switch focus, but I'm worried it may fracture his chances of getting the players. We'll see in playtesting how this works out. It could also again be the controller's choice.

Thanks for the suggestions!

Maaartin
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Joined: 05/15/2011
Focus and controller

jhobbs wrote:
Dog must pursue the player closest to doghouse.
Really the doghouse and not the dog? However, both may be fine. You could also use the other as a tiebreaker.

jhobbs wrote:
Should the dog change his focus once a player has returned to the safe zone, or should he switch his focus during the chase depending on who's closest to him at the end of every turn?

I also considered the version with the focus, but decided to describe the other 'cause it's simpler (you don't need to track the selected target player).

jhobbs wrote:
It seems like he could/should switch focus, but I'm worried it may fracture his chances of getting the players.
Probably, but you can counter it easily (make the dog faster). This could lead to an interesting co-operative strategy based on letting the dog run forth and back.

jhobbs wrote:
It could also again be the controller's choice.
You could also use randomness as the tie-breaker. While I hate luck-based games, I can live with a small bit of randomness.

However, I wouldn't do it. Instead, in case there are multiple players having the least amount of points I would choose one of them at random.

jhobbs wrote:
We'll see in playtesting how this works out.
Sure, nothing but playtesting is the final judge.

Kamiya
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Joined: 06/21/2011
Some input from a friend

I showed a buddy of mine this problem, here is what he wrote:

"A guard dog would have several states they could be in.
Sleeping, Resting, Surveying, Patrolling, Searching, Chasing

Each state would have and Activation Point, Current Point and a Culmination Point.

Activation Point: the situation that makes the current State the guard dog is in active.
Current Point: guard dog continues current activity looking for situations that would move it to the Culmination Point.
Culmination Point: guard dog achieves the goal of its current activity and selects a new possible Branching State.

State examples:
Sleeping: Activation: Loud noise or scent / Current: Add one point to Sleep / Culmination: If Sleep > 4 points pick new mode.

Surveying: Activation: Wakes from Sleep, Resting or Loses Scent / Current: Stays in one place scans 180 degrees in front of current facing direction for 6 tiles. Add one point to Surveying / Culmination: if surveying > 5 points pick new mode.

Patrolling: move around the board random
Searching: Lost/picked up new scent and heads to closest player the dog is facing at half speed.
Chasing: sticks on currently chased player, moves at full speed to player. Player can try to use special maneuvers to make guard dog lose scent.

After chasing player for period of time, guard dog must rest.
After 3 rests dog must enter sleep mode."

jhobbs
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Joined: 06/17/2011
Focus

Maartin,

For the doghouse/dog confusion, this is mostly at the beginning of the game. The dog starts at the doghouse and may be stationary until provoked (there may be different levels of provocation).

And I agree, I don't think he should stay "locked in" one player; it makes the most sense that he charge whatever is closest to him.

jhobbs
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Joined: 06/17/2011
Cool ideas

Kamiya,

I like some of these ideas, especially the idea of different states of patrolling, but it might be a little more complex than the general feel I'm going for. I'm aiming for a somewhat younger age group, so I'm trying to keep it interesting but somewhat basic.

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