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Multiplying actions for a better realism

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larienna's picture
Joined: 07/28/2008

Big Post

This thread is invoking the idea that multiplying the choice of actions each player has could help the player feels that it's actually happening for real. But before I start the thread, I'll open a parenthesis that might explain a few concepts used in this thread.

To make it easier to read, I'll label each paragraph.

Open Parenthesis

I have not yet finished reading my book's chapter about "mechanics" and it seems to be the most interesting chapter in the book. I would probably eventually post a summary but right now I'll make a mini summary.

The author classify the mechanics of a game in 6 groups:

Space: Defined by the areas that can contain objects in the game. Ex: an hex map.

Objects and states: The various object that takes part of the game and the various states they can have. Ex: Pawns , flippable tokens, etc.

Actions: The actions a player can do during the game to influence the game.

Rules: Conditions that allow or block things OR that indicates how it is resolved

Skills: Skill and experience of the player. ex: in video games and dexterity games.

Luck: Any luck elements that can influence the game.

close parenthesis

Ah! Battletech
I got my hands recently on the 4th edition of the battletech rule book and one of the things that surprised me is the amounts of things you can actually do in a turn. Not in quantity but rather in the amount of options available.

For example: You can walk, run, jump, crouch, shoot, Punch, ram your enemy, club your enemy with a dead mech limb, etc. Probably expansion material add other options. This is very contrasting to euro games that says: "Ok you can do 3 things on your turn: A, B and C".

Compare with RPG
One of the things that makes role playing games more realistic is that you can do anything you want because there is always a game master to manage the situations that the game designers have not thought about. So in board games, it is possible that the immersivity is screwed up because of the limited choices. If you give the player 3 choice, he might not feel like in a real life situation because in real life he would have done something completely different.

Multiply actions
So my idea is that maybe if we increase the amount of choices from 3 to let say 25, it will increase the imersivity of the game. It gives to the player a feeling of freedom. By increasing the amount of actions I mean the amount of choices but not the amount of actions to do each turn. For example, Imagine Puerto Rico where instead of having 7 roles, you have 21 roles, but each turn a player pick up only 1 role. For example, you could have the "pirate" which allows you to ship one of your opponent's good type and you score the points. It's a variation of the captain that does relatively the same thing but not exactly the same way.

Intuition instead of calculation
Since there are many actions available, players will not have the time to calculate the value of every action to determine the best choice. They will have to rely on intuition and previous game experience to make their decisions. Which could be a good thing because it can speed up a bit the game, might make the games less a pain to balance and it will remove analysis paralysis syndromes. With many actions, not all action need to be exactly balanced and some might only be useful in certain situation. So game balance might be easier to do.

Time and complexity
Now the biggest problem of all: Will it make the game too complex and too long. One of the people with battletech: it's is a pain to play because it's complex and long. Multiplying choices complexify the game for choosing the right action to do but each action could be very simple to resolve. In fact you offer the player multiple branch where each branch can be very thin. So it could be possible to keep the game simple.

Impact on mechanic types
Multiplying actions does not change much on the space and luck of the game. Skills (experience in this case) is now more important to the game since you rely more on intuitive decisions. Objects and rules will probably multiply because if you have many actions, there might be now many more states to consider for every objects which mean adding more components to the game.

Breakdown the game elements
If you compare an alphabet with a syllabary. Both allow you to create words. Everything the syllabary can do can be reproduced by the alphabet, but the alphabet can do much more. It can even create the same sound with different letters. What I am trying to illustrate, is that if I increase the amount of actions, I would probably need to work on details to get variety. Which force me to breakdown the elements of the game in smaller parts in order to create similar effects but differently.

Structuring the actions
I though that maybe the action structure could follow an "if...then... else" structure. Players have a choice of actions but according to certain conditions, some actions are available and some are not. For example, if there is a dead mech in his hex, he can decide to club his enemy. Maybe by defining the actions with a structure like this can help the players not to be overwhelmed by the things they can do.

I am not sure if a game like this would be harder to playtest since you would need to test every action in various situation. Again, maybe game balance is less important and all the actions does not need to be tightly even.

So I want to know if you share the same opinion?
I am open to any other suggestion to make sure that raising the amount of actions does not raise the complexity.
If you have example where additional actions improved or reduced the experience of a game, I'll be glad to hear it.

Thank You

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