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Joining and leaving a game

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lucasAB's picture
Joined: 07/26/2008

I'm trying to figure out how player's can join a already-started game, and leave when they have played long enough. I would like to create a game that could support 2-8 people, and could include players joining, and leaving the game as it progresses.

I'm thinking in terms of a online computer game. A server lasts forever, and players join, and leave whenever they want. I don't think I will be able to create a mechanic that can support this, I think the game would have to include a game master or something like that.

Do any of you have any ideas? I think this was discussed previously, but now BGDF has more members, so we can discuss this here.

Zzzzz's picture
Joined: 06/20/2008
First anything is possible.

First anything is possible. Second why would one want or desire such a game? And if the game is *long* enough that it will use this leave/join mechanism often, do you really have an audience for such as game in the first place?

With that side and thinking VERY abstract, the initial thought would be to consider some in game mechanic (or set of mechanics) that represent a pseudo player. The in game mechanics used by actual players playing, would influence or modify this pseudo player *stats*.

Upon a new player wanting to join, they would take on the same characteristics as the pseudo player. When leaving, just take away that players current *stats* etc and continue play. If another player happens along and wants to join, you still have this pseudo player representation to use as their starting point.

And with that silly rant, I do not see this being fun or entirely feasible in all games. Taking on some extra book keeping (unless you get really good with integration of the pseudo player and your already desired game mechanics) is not often desired by a majority of players. But on the other hand, the easier you make the method to represent this pseudo player the more likely players will embrace the overall idea.

Joined: 07/27/2008
Auto pilot


Ive designed a 2-n players racing game that uses dumb cars with auto-pilot. If a player needs to leave the game (this has never happened by now in normal games, so good news for me! It only happened in playtesting) he can select an auto-pilot type for his car. There are several types of auto-pilot: Conservative, agressive, reactive,...

As the driving mechanic is very simple, auto-pilot works really well. But it would be hard to develop an auto-play for a complex game.


bluesea's picture
Joined: 07/28/2008
The theme will help greatly

The theme will help greatly in leading you to the solution.

If it is a political(ish) game, then each player must allocate a certain percentage of political alliance with say four other countries. When they leave the game, each of the countries that has an alliance gets an equivalent percentage control over the departing player's country. Or the wealth and influence of that country is simply divided up amongst the allies on a percentage basis and the departed player's country is divided up into regions.

A new player joining this type of game structure could enter the game by somehow earning influence in a region and taking over another player's region.

So, once you find some themes that interest you for this game, then we can start to figure this out.

fecundity's picture
Joined: 07/28/2008
The only game I can think of

The only game I can think of that handles this smoothly is Fluxx. All of the strategy is pretty short term, so there is no real benefit to being in from the beginning or waiting until later to join. With a tabletop game, you don't want serious bookkeeping when a player quits or joins, lest the game bog down for the other players.

For a computer game, you could have a more complicated mechanism for quiting or joining. One problem: If a player could quit and then join as a new player with some starting allowance of resources, there might be some incentive to do so for any player who had fallen just a little bit behind.

MatthewF's picture
Joined: 07/22/2008
The core problem I see is

The core problem I see is being able to win after walking away, so here's my idea:

Winning is determined by a ratio of points:turns. This would only work in a game where you're not likely to be super-lucky in a short period of time. You'd also need to be able to get out and restart at any time.

So, at a gathering of gamers (like at my weekly game night) when I show up, there are 4 people playing a game that will last another 50 minutes, 3 people playing a game that will last another 20 minutes, one person waiting for a game, and an unknown number of people showing up here and there throughout the evening. I and the other waiting person start up The Filler Game. We lay out the variable board/tiles/whatever (variable is key), and start taking turns earning points, simultaneously tracking our turns (via the board or whatever). After 5 minutes a new person shows up and joins us. After 20 minutes the other game ends, and two of those people and two of us playing the filler start up a new game of something else, so we record the score and number of rounds scored by the two who left. The other guy joins us in The Filler Game for another 30 minutes, until the first-mentioned game ends, when some from The Filler Game and some from the first game go start another. People keep showing up and leaving, etc.

Every time someone leaves we record their ratio. If desired, any player can stop his count and restart, but must always save his score when he leaves the game. At the end of the evening whoever had the highest score-to-turns ratio (simple division, use your cell phone!) wins!

lucasAB's picture
Joined: 07/26/2008
Some ideas

MatthewF has given me some ideas. Let's say some players get together to play this game. The game is point-based, so by building cities, achieving alliances, and winning battles, players can gain points, which in the end will make them the victors. A score board, or score track keeps track of how many turns one nation has had. When a new player comes into play, he places one of his tokens on turn one, and begins by placing a few cities/units. Each turn, players play action cards, or make actions some other way to earn points. At the end of a player's turn, he advances his token on the turn track one square.

At the end of the game, if player A has 160 points, and it took him 20 turns to obtain this number, he only got an average of 8 points a turn. But if player B got 100 points in 5 turns, then he has an average of 20 points per turn. Player B is the victor!

When a player leaves, his cities/fleets/soldiers/tokens are frozen and await a new leader. His token on the score/turn track is moved back half, so when the new player arrives he may take over for these variables(maybe some of you have different ideas for leaving, but this is what I have for now).

I don't know why I didn't think of this. I wish more online computer games were like this, winning is based on a kills to death ratio, not most kills! If I get 50 kills for 2 deaths I'm the best player, but if someone gets 82 kills with 60 deaths then he's a trigger-happy idiot! Thanks MatthewF for bringing this idea to my attention, I have a feeling I will be using this in the future(I hope you don't mind!).

MatthewF's picture
Joined: 07/22/2008
lucasAB wrote:At the end of

lucasAB wrote:
At the end of the game, if player A has 160 points, and it took him 20 turns to obtain this number, he only got an average of 8 points a turn. But if player B got 100 points in 5 turns, then he has an average of 20 points per turn. Player B is the victor!

Exactly what I meant by ratio... yay!

Thanks MatthewF for bringing this idea to my attention, I have a feeling I will be using this in the future(I hope you don't mind!).

Please do! I only hesitated in posting it because I like it so much that I want to use it myself, but I realized that I'm already so swamped that I might never get to it, and I'd much rather have a game out there that does than have it sitting in my journal! :D

bluesea's picture
Joined: 07/28/2008
MatthewF this is really good.

MatthewF this is really good. Let me play Devil's Advocate for a minute:

The thing that comes to mind as a possible hitch in this system is that whatever the game is that issues this system must allow equal opportunity and quantity of scoring no matter the number of players. I think time must come to play in this.

I presume that one of the reasons to be able to come and go in a game is that people have lives and may need to come in and get out in a fixed amount of time (lunch hour, early morning before the family gets up, the 1/2 hour before your wife gets home when you should be preparing lunch...I've said too much).

So the turn to point scoring ratio is fair only if, given a minimum amount of time playing the game, each player has the same chance to score. Does this make sense? If the game is not designed like this, then you might find that players start logging on to play at times when they know that the scoring opportunity is best, be it a two player game because their turns go faster, so more turns over a given time period which is conducive racking up more points in a certain amount of time. Or possibly a six player game because they know that there will be more opportunity to trade, thus more opportunity to score bigger in a turn. They'll figure it out if they play long enough.

Ok I have to get to the kitchen!

lucasAB's picture
Joined: 07/26/2008

I was thinking this game would be for those nights that you have 30+ people come to your home. Some will want to talk, others will want to play volleyball, and some will want to challenge each other in a game of skill. A game like this could support up to 6 people, and with some people coming and going, you could have 12 unique people join and leave.

Also, I thought this game would be a big hit at board game conventions, where there are people coming and going, all wanting to fight some battle, or win in the stock market.

This game doesn't have to rely on the coming and going of others, you could have a long(2 hour) game with 4 players, but the game is also capable of having players join, and leave.

These are just some ideas, so if you want to criticize them, or comment on them, be my guest!

Mitchell Allen
Mitchell Allen's picture
Joined: 08/09/2008
Dealer is Shuffling ...

After reading this thread, it struck me that the mechanic is just like a Blackjack table!

Players "buy in" and keep their "chips" until the end of the night. Depending on the theme, there could be more than one winner or, the winner is the one with the most "chips" at the end of the night.

The chips would be your metaphor for decentralized bookkeeping. Whether or not your in-game assets are maintained is entirely up to your design. (I like the idea of the pseudo-player, alas, with multiple players joining, that would require multiple pseudos. The need for extra placeholders might outweigh the benefits of the decentralized bookkeeping.)

As I wrote this, I remembered a very cool concept from Orson Scott Card, the Author of The Worthing Saga. Thankfully, he has a table of contents so, if you go to the chapter titled "Breaking the Game", you can read about a futuristic game of Risk, which he called "The International Game". (too bad, 'cause I can't find any discussion on the web that's NOT about Olympic Basketball, LOL)

Essentially, the players would wake up after some years in stasis, take a turn at the game and then go back to sleep! :) That's one heck of a join/leave cycle.



Joined: 07/24/2008
joining and leaving the game.

We used to attend pub euchre games that used a mechanic to allowed one player to take over from another at the end of a round.

To start with the four players had a coaster with their name on it next to them. When one wanted to leave they would turn the coaster face down and then someone else would put their coaster face up next to it.

There was problems with this though.

The remaining partner wasn't always comfortable with the new player's style of play.
We couldn't have "best of three" games. each round was a game in itself.
Players were perceived as replacements rather than participants.

On the upside there was always a echure game in process, and it was a good way to meet new people.

the pub stopped holding the games after three years (management change) but it was fun whilst they lasted.

larienna's picture
Joined: 07/28/2008
Games which comes into my

Games which comes into my mind that allows come in an leave the game:

Shadow over camelot: The main reason is because the numbe rof black cards is proportional to the number of players so adding players has no influence to the balance of the game.

Munchkin: This game is so chaotic that you can catch up pretty easily and win if you want.

Chronology: if you push your luck a lot, you might progress faster than the others.

Vinci: Even if troops were modified according to the number of players, we just changed the number of troops that came in when the number of player changed.

Stock Ticker: The players does not influence the stock market, they only depend from this central component. So adding removing players has no influcence on the game.

There are various ways to do it.

Fixed setup what ever the number of player: In other words, puerto rico is really a bad "come and go" game.

Possibility to catch up easily: If players could catch up the leaders easily, then it could worth playing.

Non strict turn sequence: Having a game which does not play really strictly (ex: cards can be played or discarded any time like in muchkin) it makes it easier for players to come in and play.

P.S. [out of topic] where is the information regarding text marking for posting on this site. For example, I can't see how to make bold or italic characters.

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