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Making solitaire games non-puzzle-ish by removing failure

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larienna
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Most solitaire games feel like a puzzle. The main reason is that you are trying to play a game against a system. To make sure you do not lose the game, you try to make the optimal decisions. Analyzing which solution is the best could feel like a puzzle as there is most of the time 1 optimal solution. There is no place for sub-optimal strategy as this could cost you the game.

I had an idea for another approach where the game has an objective to win the game, but there is no way to loose. Failing certain actions or your whole plan will only set you back for some time to make you stronger later. So eventually you are going to win the game, it's just a matter of how and when.

You could have a scoring mechanism to grade your success, or a achievement mechanism to try various path. Or how much time it tooks to get a specific score.

I did not see that many game that using this structure. One game that passes in my head is Nemo's War where you are not in a race against a system. But there are risks, and you could actually die and lose the game.

The concept I am proposing also have some similarities with Sandbox games.

The whole idea is to allow players to make sub-optimal choices for the fun of it. Which is impossible when you are racing against a system or against other players.

Do you think such game could work?

Do you know games that has a similar structure?

wob
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a game you cant lose seems as

a game you cant lose seems as bad as a game you cant win, to me at least.
if i were playing a competitive game (or a co-op) and at the end "everybody wins... yay were all great" it would make me feel cheated, like none of my choices mattered.
i recently heard about "hard" and "soft" incentives in games.
hard incentives are things your encouraged to do because they get you closer to winning (or stop you losing). getting vp, eliminating your opponent, controlling so much of the board.
soft incentives are things that players want to do, but dont necessarily contribute to winning. trying all the smash up combos, getting a card because you think the art is cool (even if the card is rubbish). they are the side quests (to steal from video games), collecting all the coins in mario doesnt help you win but you still want to do it.
i would try to add more soft incentives rather than trying to make a no-lose game.

let-off studios
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Time Limit

This kind of game seems like it would work, and would be attractive to a specific audience. However, I think there should be a strict time limit, number of turns, number of resources, etc. so that there is a definite end to the game. The player doesn't lose, but there's a limited amount of time/actions to take before the game is over and they need to score themselves.

Agricola has a similar structure to what I'm thinking of, as well as a lack of a complete failure state ("beggar" tiles notwithstanding). But I would adjust it so instead of a certain number of turns, there's a pile of stuff/resources the player needs to work their way through in order to succeed but also to end the game. For example, players have X amount of cash, and can buy raw materials, production facilities, etc. So it's a matter of doing the best with what you have - and any unforeseen events that might cross the players' path.

Maybe each turn is a year of age, and certain types of actions are only available when other criteria are met and/or the player is X years old (either younger or older)?

I've not seen Nemo's War so I can't comment on the comparison, unfortunately.

Juzek
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To me, a sandbox game is

To me, a sandbox game is rewarding when
I see something new, or when I can look back on my accomplishments. (Or better yet, show them off to people). It seems like a board game is a tough place to have so much information it's always something new. (Unless you write a whole book of scenarios like Betrayal in the house on the hill)

With the typical game where it gets packed into a box, it is hard to build a lasting accomplishment. You might be able to pull off some sort of legacy sandbox game that is better able to record the cool things the players do.

larienna
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Maybe I could illustrate with

Maybe I could illustrate with an example: This is just one of the possible idea.

The game first starts as an adventure game where you wander around the kingdom fullfill quests, gaining power, gaining rank and influence. Eventually, you'll be powerful enought to try taking over the kingdom either by military force, by marrying an well positionned noble and assasinating the opposition, by destroying the kingdom and ruling on a land of ashes, etc. The game ends when you are king, no matter the path to victory.

There could be scenario that changes the behavior of the game, giving you new opportinities and new ways to take advantage of the situation. For example: An uprising, allowing you to chose sides defend the kingdom to gain rank, join the rebels to support the uprising so that they crown you king, or let the ennemy fight each other then attack when both sides are weak.

There will be not any way to lose. You could end up wounded permently, jailed, or exiled. Buy all those events are there as a temporary failure to make you stronger afterwards.

Aging could be a way to make sure the game ends eventually.

let-off studios
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Game Book

Would you consider making a choose-your-own-adventure book of some sort? Maybe a Twine game, or TyranoBuilder?

This may be a way to keep the scope manageable.

questccg
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I just wanted to ADD...

That "TradeWorlds" has an expansion called the "Adversity AI". It's designed to simulate an opponent. Can be a solo AI (for 2 players) or more (as an extra player when there are less than 4 players).

I don't get the impression that it is Puzzle-ish. But the AI is very "aggressive" and forces the human players to not "lag behind too much" else wise they will lose the game and the AI will win. The AI always does something to the player or "banks" credits to go ahead in the overall score.

Usually you play to a score of 100 credits (The Tradewars Scenario). But this is not 100% true in all circumstances. There are other scenarios and the AI can play those too.

So I wouldn't say it's PUZZLE-ISH, it's more "hardcore" smart play with little room for errors. By take note that even with the more competitive AI, I was still able to defeat it on my first try... Even with it's sort of "chasing" feeling you get trying to keep up with the AI.

Would you consider this a PUZZLE??? I don't. PUZZLE-ISH??? Not sure TBH. There is not one path to victory, both the player and the AI can have multiple ways of winning the game (by elimination or by scenario objective)...

larienna
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Quote:Would you consider

Quote:
Would you consider making a choose-your-own-adventure book of some sort?

That is what I first thought, encounters could come from an adventure book using variables of the game: Weather, Terrain, Type, etc. That would point you to a paragraph that you must read resolve and get rewards.

But the rewards you receive afterwards can be used for a greater purpose later like overthowing a kingdom.

It might be easier to implement as a video game, using board game components for exploring the design instead of trying to make an actual working board game.

In both scenario, it's still a solitaire game with a lack of constant treath.

let-off studios
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Computer Text-Based Games

larienna wrote:
It might be easier to implement as a video game, using board game components for exploring the design instead of trying to make an actual working board game.
That's why I was suggesting some computer-based text game formats. They can track lots of information behind-the-scenes, allowing player to develop relationships with other characters, collect inventory, suffer damage, etc. It can be public information or secret/non-obvious, allowing for all sorts of interesting dynamics that - if tracked in a tabletop version - might either be unwieldy or reduce immersion, particularly for such a world-spanning, epic game you describe here.

X3M
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I can think of only 1 game

Minecraft

You complete objectives for rewards.
These rewards make the game easier.

But all you do is build things eventually. The goal could be, complete all objectives. What order they are done in, is the only variation. And some rewards make some other objectives easier to complete.

wob
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what could work is a series

what could work is a series of full games.to use your example...
game 1: you quest and gain money, reputation etc. your standard dungeon crawl
game 2: you try to become king. depending on your wealth, reputation, health etc from game 1 you will have a different path open to you. so if you quested well and honorably (hard to do) your ascension to beloved king will be easier. if you quested without mercy you open a path to tyrant. if you failed at questing (but lived) your rise to power will be very hard.

i would give a way to play game 2 without buying game 1 (stand alone rather than expansion).
you could also expand the experience either way ie. game 0: build up your hero ready to quest
game 3: now you are king, you must conquer other kingdoms.

you could also make it cyclical, playing over generations (then it wouldnt matter as much if you die) ie you quest and become king- you are born into a kingdom and must now quest-

let-off studios
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Toys

Been thinking more about this. May as well just buy a big box of LEGO bricks and be done with it, already. I think that meets all the original criteria here.

Having multiple opportunities to make sub-optimal decisions does not mean there is more than one "optimal" solution. Beyond metaphorical and storytelling applications of this kind of playset, there's very little here beyond puzzle (which does have an end state) or toy (which is constantly reset).

I'm reminded of Train, which has strong metagame applications.

https://venturebeat.com/2013/05/11/brenda-romero-train-board-game-holoca...

larienna
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I agree, that this kind of

I agree, that this kind of design is closer to the wanderer type of video games which seems to have a lot of similarities with toys.

questccg
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AI Deck can allow for pauses in the battles, no?!

larienna wrote:
...The whole idea is to allow players to make sub-optimal choices for the fun of it. Which is impossible when you are racing against a system or against other players...

I think this depends on the AI, no? Like I said, if there are "down-times" on an AI's turn ... this could be possible.

Take for example my WIP called "SpellMasters".

You can look at the "book" I am writing for the game at:

http://www.questccg.com/shared_info/Monster.pdf

If we examine the first "monster" it's an Angel. In it's AI Deck there are two (2) "6"... What this means is that whenever a "6" is drawn, the AI monster guards and waits for the player to react. It's like a PAUSE button on your control pad. The more "6"s the more likely that Monster will take "time-offs" and create a room for the players to "breathe"!

The system works because those AI Decks get injected with "Wound" cards and drawing a Wound card on a turn, means that the "Monster" takes some form of Damage. The more Wound cards, the more likely the players will hurt and eventually defeat the Monster in question.

But the AI Deck is purposely designed for each Monster as I see fit... Sometimes it's a personality issue other times it's a Monster flaw perhaps, no?

In any event some games could have an AI that doesn't always need to make the player FEEL like they are forever chasing or combating the opposition.

What's your take on this???

larienna
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I have been thinking about it

I have been thinking about it and I think there is 2 key elements to make it works:

1- Have multiple layer of depth.

This is almost having 2 game in one. In the example above, it could be described as adventuring first, conquering later. In Uncharted waters new horizon, you have the trading/piracy first, and the investment/influence/quest later.

2- Make all components the same.

In order to increase the flexibility of the game elements, they need to be all the same. For example, I could use 1" square tokens to represents everything, from units, to characters, to special locations and quest. If For example I make characters as cards, I will not be able to place them on the board because they could be too big. But as a token, I can.

The other component I could use is cards. I could remove the map, and instead make an abstract map out of card and put unit, characters, locations, etc on cards. The map would be more abstract and would be less tactical, but could be more convenient for a solo game as no complex AI is required.

let-off studios
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Universality & Immersion

larienna wrote:
2- Make all components the same.

In order to increase the flexibility of the game elements, they need to be all the same. For example, I could use 1" square tokens to represents everything, from units, to characters, to special locations and quest. If For example I make characters as cards, I will not be able to place them on the board because they could be too big. But as a token, I can.

Your second element reminds me of what I admire so much about game sets like the Piecepack, a classic deck of playing cards, or even the game 504. The symbology and representational nature of the components is very strong.

The use of cubes or tiles in one game can be completely different from one another, yet based on the strength and clarity of that representation in that specific game, there's less chance of confusing rules or ways to play from one game to the next. Even using dice and tokens in different ways can represent a multitude of game spaces, winning conditions, and applicable mechanics.

As long as you are clear and deliberate in how the universal tokens and other components are used, your game can still stay compelling, consistent, and evocative of theme.

larienna
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I have been un-dusting a old

I have been un-dusting a old game idea that tried to implement my theme above using deck building mechanism. The idea was that you had 7 stack of cards organized in a hex shape representing the map, and when you explored an area, you could draw a card as an encounter. You had instructions on the card to resolve and acquire the card. Plus instructions to use the card as a resource for the rest of the game.

The first issue is that there is way too many information on a single card to be playable.

The second issue was that the game is composed of 2 aspect: adventuring and commanding. Which asked to play 2 different games into the same game

Third, it's overwhelming to design all those cards. It's hard to start with something small and progress from there.

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1. Now the first new idea is trying to separate the acquisition method from it's function as resource. So I thought of using a kind of adventure book to give you situation to resolve and acquire resource cards. Then you will draw or search for the appropriate card reward and put it in your deck.

For example, instead of having the bandit card with the conditions for meeting and resolving the bandit encounter in addition to the resources they give me once in my deck. The adventure book will tell me I meet bandits, and if I convince them to join me, I add a Thug card in my deck. Now the Thug cards is a standard card and many story events can give me this reward including from a random unit draw reward.

That should make the story machine generate more permutation than if both elements are bound together. It also make partial design easier, I could even reuse cards from Rune Age for improvised playtesting.

Locations would not have decks anymore, the deck would be separated by types (Units, characters, etc). And story book will spawn cards in the right location.

2. The second solution would be to unify both the adventuring and command action resolution with the same cards from the same deck. For now, there will be 3 resources: Military Strength, Magic Power and Influence when used for command actions (I could add gold/mana). But to make sure adventuring use the same system, I could reuse those values as Physical, Mental, Social. I could justify that if I have thug units following me, I could use some thugs in the group as henchmen for adventuring, or I could command the whole group for raiding cities.

The whole idea is to prevent having to play 2 different games and still make thematically sense. I will have to stretch the theme a bit, bit it could work. I could even make some cards be more efficient for adventuring or for commanding. Players might chose to do an adventuring or a command turn according to the cards in their hands.

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This is what I have so far. But as with all my other design, I am always scared it will fail due to either:

- The fitting the elephant in the shoe box syndrome
- Or the limited possibility space that prevents the creation of many special abilities.

The good side for now, Is that I could quickly prototype a game using Rune Age cards and see how the flow works.

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