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Cooperative Hero and building game

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Garwyx
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Joined: 10/28/2014

Hey guys, I've been working on my first game for about 2 months now and the first version has been up and running since a few weeks. However, I'm considering to change the game from a competitive setting, where the first one acquiring 100 points wins, to a cooperative setting, where players have to prepare to face a final challenge. This sounds more drastic than it actually is, but let me first explain the current system. I have included a picture of the current board. Explanations are down below.

Current Game Idea
In the current game, players pick a Hero (warrior, wizard, etc) and start exploring a world of hexagonal tiles. They can fight monsters and excavate artefacts to gain reputation, and along the way acquire items and spells and getting stronger (there are 3 levels for Heroes, monsters and artefacts). Players can choose to adventure together, making them stronger but diminishing the reward of each fight.
At the same time, every player has a settlement board, which enables him to develop a settlement. Players can build Lumber Mills, Quarries and Banks to acquire Wood, Stone and Gold, respectively. In addition, they can build an Academy, where new Items and Spells can be researched.
The game features one Boss and one Major Artefact; opponents of considerable strength that can be taken down solo in many turns or together in less turns. Taking them down solo gives instant victory whereas fighting together gives a lot less Reputation.
Players can also use their settlement to build a Wonder. This takes a long time but will grant players instant victory.

There are two major problems with the current game. First, the game involves many steps per turn but I want the game to be smooth to play. Therefore I considered getting rid of the whole Settlement Board, because it involves quite some additional steps but the reward for the player's Hero is marginal. Second, since there are only one Boss and Major Artefact, once a single player engages either, the other players cannot and therefore need to wait for the first player to either win or die. I could simply put in more Bosses and Major Artefacts, but after a major reevaluation with the people I'll principally play the game with, we think we want to change focus to cooperative rather than competitive play. Therefore, find my new ideas below.

New Game Idea
Players all play a Hero that lives in the city centrally located on the board. After a set number of turns this city will be attacked by a huge monster (e.g. a dragon) and players have to prepare to defend the city.
To do this, players can do three things. First, they can develop their Hero by slaying Monsters. This will give them Experience (= leveling), powerful Items (swords, armour, etc) and Spells. Second, they can build Lumber Mills, Quarries, Banks and Academies to gain raw materials, which can be used to fortify the city (build walls and siege weapons, hire troops). Third, players can go out to find artefacts, which will increase the Reputation of their city. I haven't thought of a proper way this might help the city, but I am thinking about boosts in Morale of fighters or help from nearby cities and villages.

Your opinion
I love to hear your ideas on this game. I want to give players the choice to either fight monsters, discover artefacts or build. By working together and dividing tasks, players can make sure their preparations are optimal.

Game Board Explanation
This is the board of the very first version. Each faction (humans, orcs, etc) has a major city, which is the starting position of each hero. Villages are where players can buy spells and items and hand in quests. The red circles with spade and pickaxe are tiles where artefacts can be found, the large yellow ones are for major artefacts. Red circles with a sword are Monster tiles, the large Dragon tiles are for bosses. In the beginning of the game all artefact and monster tiles feature level 1 opponents, these are replaced with subsequent levels after they've been defeated.
Players roll 3 dice (D4 at level 1, D6 at level 2 and D8 at level 3) and add their movement bonus (generally 3) to decide how far they can move. Each Terrain Type has a certain movement difficulty, which is indicated in the top left of the map (I think water will be impassable in the next version).

Zag24
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Joined: 03/02/2014
Multi-player solitaire?

It sounds as if the right approach would be to have (at least) one player doing each of the three approaches. If there are exactly three players, then they won't be interacting at all, just each trying to strengthen their 'leg' of the defenses before the big bad shows up.

This has two effects: If one of the tasks is perceived as boring by any group, one player will feel as if he is 'stuck' doing it, and no have fun. What's funny is that this task might vary group to group. (A big part of a game being fun is that the players have decided that it is fun.)

Second, since they aren't really interacting, they are just playing solitaire. Sure, since it is coop, they are rooting for each other, but it's still just solitaire.

Garwyx
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Joined: 10/28/2014
Thanks for your valuable

Thanks for your valuable contribution. Concerning the roles, if I want to avoid forcing players in a role, any strategy should be successful. So in a game of two players, both could choose to develop their Hero and use strong Heroes to fight the Boss. Their chance of success should be equal to a scenario where both invest in either city defense or archaeology (artefacts), or a mix (combat with city, combat with archaeology or city with archaeology). Perhaps this is very difficult to balance, but I think it would allow players to choose what they'd like to play.
Concerning the coop/solitaire, that might be more tricky. Players get a bonus if they go out and fight/discover together and if I make this bonus substantial, they will work together. The same could apply for city building (more efficient/quicker building with several players). The benefit shouldn't be too big or all players will choose the same strategy/task. What implementations would you make to have more interactions among players?

Garwyx
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Joined: 10/28/2014
One solution might be to get

One solution might be to get rid of the building and archaeology, having players only fighting monsters. That way players can decide whether they want to team up or go solo but in the end everyone needs to be ready for the Boss. By removing different play styles the game would be a lot easier and still players can choose different combat types. It would, however, not be much different from many already existant games.

kos
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Joined: 01/17/2011
Garwyx wrote:One solution

Garwyx wrote:
One solution might be to get rid of the building and archaeology, having players only fighting monsters. ... It would, however, not be much different from many already existant games.

+1 for multiple strategies.

For me, it was the multiple strategies in the OP which attracted my interest. If you reduced the game to only fighting monsters I feel like it would be just another dungeon crawl.

You can create interdependencies between the strategies to keep them all useful. E.g. fight monsters to gain levels, but then you need to do some archeology to find the high level spellbooks. Or build the city to improve its defences, but then you need to fight some monsters to keep the trade routes to the other cities open. Or do some archeology to gain artefects, but then you need to complete the Wizard's Tower in the city to unlock their full potential.

You can also make the strategies work against the players if they ignore them too long. E.g. if you didn't kill enough monsters, they join the big bad for the final attack. Or if you didn't use diplomacy to convince the other cities to ally with you, they raid your city and/or ally with the big bad. Or if you didn't find the amulet of power then the big bad finds it instead.

Of course, balancing multiple strategies is a lot more work, and the resolution of each would probably have to be simpler to keep the game length down to a reasonable duration.

Another challenge of designing coop games like this is to keep the finale exciting. If it is too random then the rest of the game feels wasted ("We did everything perfectly and then lost because of one stupid dice roll. This game sucks!"), but on the other hand if it is too predictable then it is an anticlimax ("I could have told we were doomed over an hour ago. This game sucks!"). But if you get it just right, it's gold ("That was so close! If only we'd had the Braces of Chain Lighting we would have won for sure. Let's try again!").

One way to reduce the feeling of a multiplayer solitaire (which is definitely a problem, if not designed right), is to put in plenty of actions/abilities which aid the other players. For example, design the abilities so that helping the other players gives a bigger overall bonus than being selfish, and balance the difficulty so that if everybody is selfish they will lose.

I wish you all the best with your design.

Regards,
kos

jrc5639
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Joined: 11/19/2013
Planning

-

Zag24
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Joined: 03/02/2014
What kos said

I apologize that my earlier note came out too negative. I didn't mean that it was a bad idea, but that you needed to work to make sure that the different strategies interacted in interesting ways. kos' note above has some excellent points.

Garwyx
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Joined: 10/28/2014
Absolutely no problem, Zag.

Absolutely no problem, Zag. You made a valid point, the different strategies need to be balanced really well or either some are more interesting to play or more powerful. And like you said the strategy of "everyone chooses one strategy" should not be more powerful as "pick what you like", because the whole idea would be that players can play what they like and every play style is of equal value to the end game.

@JRC: I don't think I would like to implement a balance check after every round. Rather, players have a limited number of rounds to prepare for a final fight.

@Kos: there are so many valuable items in your post, thanks! I will definitely create interdependencies between play styles, such as acquisition of spells only via artefacts and of items only via monsters, monsters not slain joining the big bad, and an important artefact boosting the big bad if the players have not found it.
Like you said it probably has to be kept simple or the game will be of enormous length. Perhaps the big bad should turn up after 15 rounds, if players can get to an artefact or monster every 2 out of 3 turns they can fight defeat ~10 of those, which may give them give a number of spells and items (unless all of 4 players go fight the same monsters, then they have to divide those 10 items over 4 players).

Zag24
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Joined: 03/02/2014
Another idea

Another idea for interaction is that the adventuring players need to feed the building players, possibly at a small opportunity cost to their adventuring.

For example, if the adventuring player (who is exploring the ancient dwarven mine) spends one turn (or just one action point -- whatever) harvesting the mithril mine that he found, he can send enough mithril to the building player to drastically improve all his ballistae.

Garwyx
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Joined: 10/28/2014
Zag24 wrote:Another idea for

Zag24 wrote:
Another idea for interaction is that the adventuring players need to feed the building players, possibly at a small opportunity cost to their adventuring.

For example, if the adventuring player (who is exploring the ancient dwarven mine) spends one turn (or just one action point -- whatever) harvesting the mithril mine that he found, he can send enough mithril to the building player to drastically improve all his ballistae.

It's a very nice idea if players need things from different "professions". Like you say the builder can be one to acquire food, but he might run low on gold for building, which the archaeologists might supply (artefacts are of great worth ofc), and materials, which both archaeologists and combatants might find. Combatants can find items (tools/weapons, apparel, trinkets and potions) which might also be useful for builders and archeologists (e.g. a hammer can speed up the building process and a brush the digging process), and the same is true for spell scrolls, which might only be found through excavation (e.g. a fireball spell which can help in combat or a scroll with a motivational speech which speeds up building).
The harvesting of mithril you suggest is also cool - I guess you mean that because an adventuring player is in the mine he can easily acquire mithril, whereas it would be an arduous task for a builder just to get there.

Garwyx
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Joined: 10/28/2014
Just a quick question. Would

Just a quick question. Would you guys think it makes sense that heroes gain experience and thus level up from all three activities? A combat-focused player needs to get stronger because the one thing he does in end game is fight the bad guy. Archaeologists and builders, however, contribute to the city's wealth and thus firepower (army, walls and siege weapons). If their heroes get stronger they can also contribute to the end fight. They might not have combat items (weapons, spells, apparel) but other players might have an excess and thus give stuff to them, making them equally suitable for combat as the players that focused on combat from the get go.
It would be a bit weird if archaeologists become great fighters, but I think the city will be a passive element in the end game (contributing basic hits and defense), therefore their heroes might contribute to more fun in the end game.

Zag24
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Joined: 03/02/2014
unnecessary

I think it's an unnecessary complication. Have the heroes improve via items, which the adventuring players can share with the builder players.

Garwyx
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Joined: 10/28/2014
Zag24 wrote:I think it's an

Zag24 wrote:
I think it's an unnecessary complication. Have the heroes improve via items, which the adventuring players can share with the builder players.

Are you saying I should get rid of the whole experience/leveling system?

kos
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Joined: 01/17/2011
Focus on the core

Garwyx wrote:
Are you saying I should get rid of the whole experience/leveling system?

Start simple.
Decide what you want the core of your game to be, and focus on that.
Remove everything that isn't part of the core game.

So if experience/levelling up is part of the core, keep it. Otherwise delete it.

Regards,
kos

Garwyx
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Joined: 10/28/2014
Thanks Kos, since this is my

Thanks Kos, since this is my first game I did not come up with the basic plan at the start, but the whole thing grew at multiple points simultaneously. I think these are the current basics of my game:

- Fantasy world (orcs, dragons, magic)
- After a set/limited time a strong monster will appear and attack the world. Players prepare for this final fight.
- Cooperation-based – working together makes everyone stronger
- 3 paths of play that all contribute equally but differently to the final fight
o Archaeology uncovers powerful spell scrolls and valuable items that contribute to fighting heroes and to the Wizard Tower – a component in the world’s defense.
o Building leads to defence works (walls) and offence works (catapults, etc)
o Combat prepares a hero for a direct fight with the final monster
- Players can switch paths anywhere during the game and play any combination of paths (e.g. 100% combat; 50% combat with 50% archaeology; 70% archaeology with 30% building). However, players get stronger in the path they invest in by acquiring items/spells so there is a trade-off (also time).
- No intrinsic classes, players develop a hero according to their play style
o Players acquire things (items, spells, possibly experience) that makes them stronger at a certain path

Leveling could be a way to progress in a certain but, but it should be incorporated only if it works. I will try and develop basic versions of archaeology, building and combat and see how intertwined they'll become.

Zag24
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Joined: 03/02/2014
Garwyx wrote:Are you saying I

Garwyx wrote:
Are you saying I should get rid of the whole experience/leveling system?

Yes. I'm saying exactly that. The bookkeeping for it is not worth it for a board game. It's rather a pain in a role-playing game (and I've played LOTS of those), but it is a necessary evil there. In a board game, you can easily support the advancement purely in the gear upgrades, and that's plenty.

questccg
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Joined: 04/16/2011
Need a CPU? Got a CPU! ;)

Zag24 wrote:
Garwyx wrote:
Are you saying I should get rid of the whole experience/leveling system?

Yes. I'm saying exactly that. The bookkeeping for it is not worth it for a board game...

OR you can design a board game using "Golem Arcana's" technology such that the experience and leveling system is take care of via the CPU. F-ck that technology has so many applications...

See this thread: http://www.bgdf.com/node/15329

I think this is more FANTASY than reality - but maybe someone can partner with the stylus and printing technology. I'm sure they will want MORE games that use their technology. Could be it's own CATEGORY (maybe)!

firstcultural
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Joined: 09/11/2014
One thought I had on

One thought I had on cooperative games with multiple roles and multiple victory conditions is to have each player want to choose a particular path to victory as it lets them be the hero and get the glory of making the critical dice rolls.

For example, if the group decides to focus on fighting monsters, the warrior has a more fun experience and plays a crucial role, while a builder might feel their talents are going unappreciated.

As long as its feasible to easily shift course, this can create a situation where everyone is working together but there's competition for different approaches.

Garwyx
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Joined: 10/28/2014
Zag24 wrote:Garwyx wrote:Are

Zag24 wrote:
Garwyx wrote:
Are you saying I should get rid of the whole experience/leveling system?

Yes. I'm saying exactly that. The bookkeeping for it is not worth it for a board game. It's rather a pain in a role-playing game (and I've played LOTS of those), but it is a necessary evil there. In a board game, you can easily support the advancement purely in the gear upgrades, and that's plenty.

Thanks. I think I will indeed not incorporate leveling in the first system. I'll make it as simple as possible and can go from there.

@questzzg: although that's a really cool thing, I don't think it's wise to incorporate something that novel into my first game.

@firstcultural: I'm thinking of ditching the classes and work in a The Elder Scrolls way: players start off equally (or have very slight bonuses based on their race) and develop according to what they play. At least for an early version working without classes is easier.

Garwyx
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Joined: 10/28/2014
The game now has three facets

I figured out the third element of the game, thus the basics are there.

1. Combat. Players can fight (groups of) monsters, which gain them gold and items. Item cards are drawn from a stack of random item cards and include weapons (hand items), apparel (clothing items) and trinkets (accessory items). There are items for all three game facets, but items can only be acquired through combat and shopping (see below).
2. Labyrinths. Archaeology is replaced by a Frogger-like minigame. Players have to traverse a treasure room/tomb of which the walls move unpredictably. At the end they will find a scroll, which they draw from a stack of random scroll cards. Scrolls include health and mana increases (upgrade then discard) and spells for all three game facets. Scrolls can also be acquired through shopping.
3. Alchemy. Players can harvest several herbs at the non-dungeon tiles in the game. The player rolls 3D10 for the terrain type he is in, which gives him specific herbs. Every terrain type (e.g. forest or mountain) has a specific subset of herbs that can be found there. There is a potion list with the requirements and effects of all potions. Players can create potions (pick the specific card) when they pay the right herbs. There will be potions for all three facets of the game.

Villages in the game sell items and scrolls (perhaps also potions). When a player enters a village he draws both an item and a scroll card, which he can buy for a fixed amount. The ones he does not buy are either put back into the deck, which is then shuffled, or discarded (I have not decided yet). Since there are no levels for the items and scrolls and drop-chance is independent of monster-difficulty, all items and spells will all cost the same.

When players enter a dungeon they draw a card, which depicts what they encounter. This can be either monsters or labyrinths, and the card also shows what kind of monsters or labyrinth they face.
Once they complete this, they can go to the second out of three levels of the dungeon, which will be more difficult. Because players gain more items as they progress, they can face the second and third level easier once the game progresses (or if they're in a group).
Since items and spells are drawn randomly from single stacks, I do not know how to increase the reward on second and third levels. Suggestions?

Please let me know what you think.

Garwyx
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Joined: 10/28/2014
Feedback

Does no one have any comments on the three-path game I'm currently at?

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