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Starting a game with no communication?

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CEN7272
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Joined: 10/16/2014

The game I am currently working on finds players in parallel universes building teams of physicists and engineers in an attempt to cooperatively build a device that will stabilize the portals that allow them to communicate. As they work on parts of the device in their local world and attempt to link it to the other players' parts of the device they do irreparable damage to either their local world or the entire multiverse. If the device isn't completely built and activated with links to all worlds before the multiverse's damage threshold is reached the portals will close and all hope of inter-world communication will be lost forever...the game is over.

My initial desire was to start with players having no communication and gradually gaining communication levels by completing parts of the device. My thought was something like this...First they gain the ability to communicate strategy with no actual cooperation, then they gain the ability to figure out the total local and multiverse damage that has been done and later they can share all data and help with the devices of other worlds.

The issues I ran into involved managing varying levels of communication among the players. Then I just wasn't sure if people would stay engaged in a game that started out solo and wasn't necessarily interactive until the end phases. Currently the game is in very early play testing with a version that starts with players having full communication but still need to advance their portals to allow coop work on parts of the device.

I'd love to hear your thoughts. Have you played other games that include periods of little to no communication...were they fun? How was the concept executed?

ruy343
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Joined: 07/03/2013
Thoughts:

I really like this idea in general, but I can already tell that execution will be difficult. If you can make this work, though, it would be pretty cool.

A great game where communication is limited by nature of the game is Hanabi, which I recommend as you get started. It's pretty cheap, and I bet you'll enjoy it.

Some things that you could do is limit the number of words that can be said, depending on the progress of the machines you have. Another option is to allow for one send/receive signal: they raise a card/token/whatever you're using to represent a machine, and players can either raise a blue or red card (didn't want green for colorblind people). Essentially, it's a way to get input, but only one one possible option per turn. Over time, you could ask multiple questions in that format, or be able to send more words as you go on.

It would be cool if you had a little visual shield that hid what you've done from other players too, that way they can only know so much. perhaps every end-of-round, you can update the universe destruction counter?

It would also be interesting to make the communication dependent on the number of players, meaning that there is a cost associated with contacting more worlds. You maybe can maybe only contribute your words on specific players' turns until they get around to making a connection between your two worlds stronger. Just a thought...

questccg
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Joined: 04/16/2011
No conversation is DEFAULT

In any games where players play AGAINST each other... Early on in most cases there is very little conversation (about the game). As players play the game and some *mess up* an opponent, you might see some "grumbling" or complaining or some "I'll get your back" sort of banter.

Only fully cooperative games where the outcome is either all players WIN or all player LOSE, do you have early conversations about what to do at each and every player's turn.

But the norm is usually a quiet table, especially if things are hidden from opponents. Just take a game of "Clue", as an example. The only time players talk is when they utter an accusation. Otherwise players keep secret from their opponent's hopping to win the game first!

CEN7272
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Joined: 10/16/2014
ruy343 wrote: A great game

ruy343 wrote:

A great game where communication is limited by nature of the game is Hanabi,

Ordered! Thanks for the heads up.

ruy343 wrote:
...limit the number of words that can be said, depending on the progress of the machines you have. Another option is to allow for one send/receive signal: they raise a card/token/whatever you're using to represent a machine, and players can either raise a blue or red card (didn't want green for colorblind people)...

I like the idea but the catch is that I don't want anyone else to see the answers to the question if they don't have the appropriate communication levels. Along these lines, I thought about making the game card based so you could just pass the other player your cards but that would change other things I like about the game.

ruy343 wrote:

It would be cool if you had a little visual shield that hid what you've done from other players too, that way they can only know so much. perhaps every end-of-round, you can update the universe destruction counter?

Good call! :) I think this may be the way to keep some of the mechanics I really like but balance the amount of information being shared.

ruy343 wrote:
...You maybe can maybe only contribute your words on specific players' turns until they get around to making a connection between your two worlds stronger. Just a thought...

I like the idea of communicating on specific players' turns

CEN7272
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Joined: 10/16/2014
questccg wrote:In any games

questccg wrote:
In any games where players play AGAINST each other... Early on in most cases there is very little conversation (about the game)...
...Just take a game of "Clue", as an example. The only time players talk is when they utter an accusation. Otherwise players keep secret from their opponent's hopping to win the game first!

Interesting point. I guess I hadn't really thought about that.

questccg wrote:
Only fully cooperative games where the outcome is either all players WIN or all player LOSE, do you have early conversations about what to do at each and every player's turn.

This is the catch, as it stands I'm thinking that in effect, this will be a full co-op game. In the end they all need to work together for the win condition. Yet I would like to keep their initial independent actions in place to impact the decisions they need to make once they are able to communicate later in the game.

ruy343
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Joined: 07/03/2013
Pacing:

After reading the article on pacing posted today by GamesPrecipice (great article, btw), and thinking about your design: once you reach a certain point in communication, you'll be able to have everything you need to make wise decisions. What the game needs, beyond just setting up communication, is a central goal or perhaps even a timer. Perhaps each player has some resource that needs to be exploited, but you can't use them all alone. Perhaps there is an alien threat that needs coordinated military help, but you can't coordinate your attacks without help (maybe you can send ships one round, but they don't arrive until later, once everyone reveals their ships' destinations - thus maintaining secrecy).

I just feel that while yes, the destruction of the fabric of the universe presents a challenge, after a while, because it's a static counter, communication will develop to the point that you can beat it easily.

Another thought: maybe you can have different stacks of cards that could be used to communicate. Level 1 cards are just yes/no, level 2 represents a resource, level 3 represents something you can do with resources, etc. etc. etc. Just a thought.

CEN7272
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Joined: 10/16/2014
Something is definitely missing

Thanks for your thoughts and I'll check out that article.

You are the second person to suggest that the destruction of the Universe isn't enough of a challenge so I'm going to take another look at it. In the few play tests I've done so far there definitely wasn't enough of a challenge. I thought I might just need to lower the Damage Threshold but maybe that isn't enough. Early on I dismissed the idea of resource management...I don't even remember why. Perhaps I should reconsider.

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