Skip to Content

How to make a game without direct opposition interesting

12 replies [Last post]
larienna
larienna's picture
Offline
Joined: 07/28/2008

This thread is for a mobile game, but it could be applicable to a solo board game.


I'll give you a bit of background story to make you understand where the design comes from.

Many years ago, there was a NES game called Overlord also known on the PC as Supremacy. Not to be confused with the recent Overlord game where you control minions.

Overlord

It's a real-time strategy game that has no similarity with Starcraft and it's friends. You basically manage your colony buildings, your transport ships and your combat ships ( which ironically are only used to land troops). Combat is a dexterity minigame.


Many years ago I tried to make a board game out of this game idea. I wanted have a rotating stellar system to make certain planets closer to others for a certain period of time. The game would be multiplayer instead of 2 player and the goal would be to be the first player to make a colony ship with structure, fuel and population.

Deep Space Colonisation Prototype Picture

Unfortunately, it did work very well, I had to handle population and buildings of each planet separately which was pretty annoying because the information was kept secretly. Rotating the solar system was also annoying.


Now due to the real time rotation of the planets which seems like a very good mechanism, implementing the game as a video game made more sense. I was thinking in making a real time mobile game where like in overlord, the user interface is made of various custom panels.

Now, the video game implementation did impose certain restrictions itself. Since in a real time game I might not have the time to do sophisticated AI. Because I have little experience in AI, having to compete with other factions will be removed.

So basically, you are alone in the system, which brings me to the issue: Where is the challenge?

So I thought that maybe what prevents you from automatically succeeding is a series of pseudo random event that can occurs. Pseudo random because your choices could trigger or accelerate/slow down the occurrence of those events.

One thing I thought is that there could be rebels. They could control planets of their own, but they won't necessarily try to expand, mobilize fleets, etc. They will only trigger random events since they are everywhere. But if you keep your colony unhappy, rebel activities will occur much more often.

There could be complication on planets preventing easy colonization, like natives which could be a threat to your colony.

There could be internal politics issues. I thought of having some sort of advisor for each field (security, colony, logistic, etc) where some of them could support the rebels if you do not treat them well (like in Junta). There could also be a traitor in the group at the start of the game, and you have to find it.

Another issue was combat. In another thread we have discussed that it could be interesting to have ship duels instead of fleet battlers. But that would require the game to pause then resolve battle. I might not want the game to be interrupted, so combat would be auto-resolved. But the nature of combat will be much different now as there is no direct competition. It should feel more as assuring security to prevent bad events from happening.

Else player could manage their cargo transportation. I does feel like work, but with the need to escort the ships, and the rotating system which might require more complex planet jumping, handling the Logistic manually could be an interesting experience.

Questions?

So how could I make a solo solar system colonization game without direct opposition interesting to play? Because in the end, it will be very hard to lose, all the complications imposed by the game are just there to make it harder to win.

Does the handling of random events, production and logistic enough? You cannot ask too much because it's a realtime game, and I have seen the concept of random events in many solo games.

questccg
questccg's picture
Offline
Joined: 04/16/2011
Farmville

That's the game that comes to mind... When you say "no direct opposition". And it was SUPER popular for a while. It was an "intermittent" game ... you didn't need to PLAY "all the time". Only when the crops were ready to be gathered, seeds needed to be planted, crops needed to be watered, etc.

You can make it similar in that transports who are bringing troops need to land and eradicate all the alien life forms of a colony (1st Wave) and then you could send scientists who terraform the planet for habitability (2nd Wave) and lastly the colonists themselves (3rd Wave) to occupy the new world.

And you could easily make the game continuous... What I mean is that "X" population are living on Planet "Y" and the Planet "Y" is no longer hospitable to life... Therefore you need to "move" your colonists around to other worlds, conquer new ones, transform some, etc.

It could continue as long as you have colonists to find a home for. But surviving colonists score points, when a planet dies or becomes no longer suitable for life the remaining colonists die and that gives you "negative" points for each remaining colonist. You lose when you run out of colonists...

This could be a cool game. And if you make it "somewhat" intrusive where EVENTS occur and can be sent via e-mail as Notifications to "Log on" to act upon an EVENT... Some good events could be a RISE in population on a planet (for example).

The other aspect is all the timings. Like being able to PREPARE your instructions at 7:30 AM and have timings occur at 12:00 PM and 6:00 PM... Whereby the hours can be timed outside of work... Something like that. Missing some "events" is not crucial ... but could lead to some "casualties" or "losses" of life (for example) ... Like an Alien Uprising on the Planet that kills some of your scientists that are busy terraforming the planet... etc.

I think this would attract some players... That have a DIFFERENT STYLE of game play. The whole "timing" and "planning" and synchronizing, etc. Is very cool... And scoring via a game ladder ... to see HOW FAR you can go in this "universe" with your population... I think it has merit!

I don't know if this is the STYLE of gameplay you were looking at designing. In any case, it's a direction to examine and see if you could make it an "interesting" game you can TIME to play outside of WORK!!!

Cheers @Eric.

questccg
questccg's picture
Offline
Joined: 04/16/2011
Also it needs to be a mobile game...

Since most companies forbid people from logging onto game websites even at Noon (12:00 PM) ... If you have a SmartPhone and configure it to notify you of Events via e-mail... You could get away with checking your messages to see if you need to intervene for 5 minutes or so during your day.

Again using the SmartPhone and logging in via a 4G network (on the SmartPhone) to figure out what is going and if you need to take 5 minutes just to make an "intervention", etc.

E-mail you might be able to access from Work.

But the game itself would need to be on a SmartPhone!

Cheers.

Note #1: A sample EVENT could be an "asteroid" field directly in front of your course to a Planet. You need to re-plot a course to go AROUND it. You starships carrying troops need to be advised to take action... Otherwise you may lose "X" starships and "Y" troops...

Just an idea... Trying to help impart the "vision" for the game. So it would be like Sci-Fi Farmville! (LOL)

X3M
X3M's picture
Offline
Joined: 10/28/2013
No idea...

I had an idea. But it was not what you wanted. I thought of multiple players.

As single player?
Think sandbox. Can a player do preperations to reduce random effects to be negative?

Or postpone negative effects?

questccg
questccg's picture
Offline
Joined: 04/16/2011
Of course... Proper planning is the key.

X3M wrote:
Can a player do preperations to reduce random effects to be negative?

Or postpone negative effects?

Well I for one ... gave an example of the "Asteroid" field. If it is the direct path to the Planet "Y" where the starships are travelling to... Then you would need to login and choose "Plot new course around the asteroid field". It needs to be SIMPLE. Like a Navigation Order: "Confirm new course."

But if you have 3 waves of starships (troops, scientist and colonist) each wave will need to avoid the "Asteroid" field at different times. So this EVENT could be triggered 3 times at different intervals according to WHEN the planning for the launching of starships occurred. So you would get THIS event 3 times according to your planning of launching starships.

I guess some events can be "planned for" like "Attacking Alien Starships", you could have attack vessels along with your troops... Sort of like the Star Destroyers in Star Wars: you can have some kind of Fighter ships to attack the enemy when you encounter them. That could be like: Enemy Starships encounter, prepare to Engage the enemy: "Engage the enemy."

You could suffer damages. But once engaged and defeated, your other starships (Scientists and Colonists) would be free to continue to their destination having "conquered" the enemy opposition... As an example!

Note #1: I picture something like starting the game on some planet (one planet) ... and then something is about to happen to threaten the
population, therefore you must plan to colonize another world.

Now how I picture it on SmartPhone, is a bunch of habitable planets as you "scroll up or down" (down older, up newer) and each planet has a distance in travel distance (hours) and the conditions of each planet. Some need terraforming, other need military support to stop the indigenous aliens, some need to irradiated (from radiation), etc. The key is to identify a few "types" of worlds and from there you can different "requirements" to colonize the various worlds in the Universe.

Something like that. Could be real cool!

larienna
larienna's picture
Offline
Joined: 07/28/2008
First of all, I want to keep

First of all, I want to keep the players in the game bubble. So the game will have an end, and will not interrupt the user's life by sending notifications at different time of the day.

There are some similarities with sandbox games, or production games like for example "World of Kefling" which is basically an RTS where you build stuff but never fight any enemies. But the problem with this game is that there is little replay value.

Quote:
Think sandbox. Can a player do preperations to reduce random effects to be negative?

Or postpone negative effects?

By pseudo random events, I meant that the actions of the players could influence the occurrence of events. For example, if people are unhappy for a long period of time, there is more likely to have riots. If one of your advisor is a traitor, there is more likely to have negative events in his area of responsibility. So the user have a degree of control on the ocurrence of events.

questccg
questccg's picture
Offline
Joined: 04/16/2011
Ladder and Tech-Tree

larienna wrote:
But the problem with this game is that there is little replay value.

The key here would be a ladder combined with a tech-tree. A world-wide ladder would incite a "replay". Secondly a tech-tree would also allow players to further progress in the game. But instead of starting from zero each time, the can "sort-of" continue from some "place withing their own timeline". And that means whatever "technology" you have unlocked would allow you to "sort-of" continue the game with some easy starting waves and then grow progressively more difficult.

The World ladder would obviously allow players to RANK each other before "completing" or ending the game. Scoring would need to computable and there needs some way of scoring more points (versus less — like I said you would lose points for colonist stranded on a planet in danger).

The tech-tree as I already mentioned would allow you to "continue" or "sort-of" resume play after a game ends. Think of this like Tetris and how you play significantly harder levels as you progress further from one level to another. Tetris is the perfect example of making a game more challenging to complete a LEVEL all the while trying to score sufficient points to progress to the NEXT one... And sometimes you lose. And then the game ends with a "Score" (which could be in the World ladder or not).

Just some additional ideas. You seem to be hinting on POOR "replayability", I am demonstrating that if the game is like "level progression", it can be entertaining but you will always be avoiding some type of "crisis" from one (or more planets — again with difficulty).

questccg
questccg's picture
Offline
Joined: 04/16/2011
Aside from LOSING

The END-GAME would be completing the "Tech-Tree" to 100% (all items unlocked or researched). That combined with losing to insufficient colonists or population ... would be the primary goal to "ultimately" WIN the game...

Not sure about scoring. Like in Tetris. If you complete "X" levels and score 1,000,000+ points... If the game would "resume" at some level "X-Y", how would that affect scoring?! TBH I'm not sure. For one thing, if you have a couple "quick" levels maybe you can score 100,000 to 250,000 points and then the game gets harder so the levels are worth more points (for example).

The key is "X-Y"... You don't start from Level 1... You continue from your Tech-Tree and you get the opportunity to earn points quickly during the first few levels of your "new game".

Something like that. Cheers!

Note #1: There are a couple of possibilities. One is you go back to an earlier level and have some easy rounds to ease you back into the game. The other idea is you start from the level you lost on however there is some "lowered pressure" to it. The point is to FINISH this level much quicker than the time you LOST playing it. For the moment I can't think of any "smarter" ways of resuming the game...

I'm sure these basic ideas will give you more things to consider and hopefully help you resolve any "replayability" issues!

questccg
questccg's picture
Offline
Joined: 04/16/2011
Mobile game YES — Board Game NO!

larienna wrote:
This thread is for a mobile game, but it could be applicable to a solo board game...

I terms of the Levels, World ladder and Tech-Tree ... These are all concept that lend well to a "Video Game". So a Mobile SmartPhone game is good but a PC version or X-box Arcade title is also realistic.

I don't think you can implement these things in a "Board Game". If there are LEVELS, it makes it difficult to "RANDOMIZE" *NEW* levels.

What this makes me think of is Atari Games: no end, just progressively more and more difficult. Some Atari Games did have an ending once you solved them... But most like River Raid, Pitfall, Pole Position, etc. did not have endings(!?)

Those games just became more difficult such that in some circumstances the game was "impossible" to beat.

Note #1: All of those Atari games had "Timers" in which you had a limited amount of time to "complete" a LEVEL or GAME. So it made it all about going as quickly and "perfectly" to try to reach a new HIGH score... Things like crashing into a car in Pole Position caused delays and I believe you were only allowed a certain amount of crashes before losing the game.

Anyway you probably get the idea.

let-off studios
let-off studios's picture
Offline
Joined: 02/07/2011
RimWorld

A sandbox, open-world strategy game that refers to players' actions for events but also allows for completely random encounters is the video game RimWorld:

https://store.steampowered.com/app/294100/RimWorld/

I strongly recommend you have a look at this game and see what they do in terms of developing a robust ecosystem of random events, but also events linked to player actions/inactions, planning, strategy, and pursuit of goals.

I find it a fantastic - and, at times, tough-as-nails - game to play. Even if you factor in that you can pause the game action, certain situations can be extremely challenging.

Better yet, there is a slavishly devoted fanbase for this type of game, much like with Dwarf Fortress.

larienna
larienna's picture
Offline
Joined: 07/28/2008
I think I heard of this game.

I think I heard of this game. Not a huge fan of RTS (warcraft style) games. It's ironic since I am trying to build something realtime myself. But there is a couple of RTS games that I could handle like Overlord cited above, Age of Booty was OK since you controled only 1 ship.

I don't really want to make a continuous game. I try to use the "Play and forget" philosophy. So making shorter replayable games is more what I am aiming for.

One idea that I thought is to detail a bit more the planet colonization process by adding an exploration layer. A Bit like Robinson Crusoe and probably First Martian. You could explore around your settlement to find new resources, threats, and it creates situations you need to deal with.

The objective was originally to colonize the system and be the first player to build a colony ship and send it out to colonize another system. The objective could remain the same, but if I am going more toward a sandbox exploration route, maybe there could be points awarded for finding stuff. Or maybe there could be multiple scenarios and objectives like in Robinson Crusoe.

X3M
X3M's picture
Offline
Joined: 10/28/2013
You know. I consider

You know. I consider Transport Tycoon to be some sort of RTS. But without the conflict.

See an opportunity.
Invest in it (one opportunity at a time).
Get something in return from it at random times and random amounts.

That way, a player builds up an emperium of economy. Needed to get the endgoal.

Of course you could get the player to choose the speedups on several things. Economy, building of economy. And the building of the spaceship.

larienna
larienna's picture
Offline
Joined: 07/28/2008
All sim something game could

All sim something game could fit into the sand boxing category.

Many of those games have different objectives on each map, which I am not sure this is what I want. I am not sure if each scenario will require the building of an interstellar colony ship to win. That is what will currently put an end to the game.

Still, I could mix that objective with different scenario. For example, the rebels who are hindering your progress. A supernova, that gives you time pressure to get out of there as soon as possible. Unless you have pressure to reach your goal, you could delay your objective and explore the game as a sandbox.

I think this could be an interesting solution to offer 2 ways of playing: sand boxing vs complete your objective.

Syndicate content


forum | by Dr. Radut