Saturday, November 26, 2005

melissa pic

Friday, December 17, 2004

FINAL POST Interview Q's

The final title for my game is Frisco Wars. That was the original title, but it went through some progressions only to come back to its first name. I had wanted to change it, but people in the class had quickly grown attached to the name, so I felt an obligation to keep it.

Frisco Wars has players controlling their gang members as he /she tried to take over the whole of the San Francisco peninsula. All they have to fight with is what they find in the neighborhoods they conquer and can only get around by using the less-than-totally-effective MUNI bus lines. The game play itself has players moving units in and out of the hospital, choosing and slapping down their weapon cards during combat, and engaging in a good amount of trash talking.

This game is much in the same vein as Risk, a game I have played very often and gotten very excited about on more than one occasion. Risk is one the board game that I always get the most emotionally invested in each time I play. Partly because each game requires such a huge investment of time and energy, but also because if you lose you feel at least to some extent that it is because your opponent was smarter than you. You can always look back on a game and see the dozens of wouldda couldda shouldda’s. Even if three people ganged up on you, you still feel you had a chance to beat them before you made one “wrong move” and it all came crashing down.

That is the key idea behind Meaningful Play; the idea that your actions affect what happen to you in a game. Zimmerman says that: “Meaningful play in a game emerges form the relationship between player action and system outcome; it is the process by which a player takes action within the designed system of a game and the system responds to the action.” In Frisco Wars I tried to heighten that feeling of control over your own fate by eliminating the random nature of the dice-based combat in Risk. Instead you can choose which weapon you will use when, and try to guess which weapon your opponent will use.

Frisco Wars is a game for four to six players, and can go on for at least as long as a good game of Risk. It can be played in any indoor environment big enough for the numbers of players plus a flat area for the board. It is a good game to play with a bunch of geek buddies on game night between episodes of Adult Swim and playing on the Xbox. It is not some game you can pick up and play for five minutes then leave, or something to be taken into a public place and played with a bunch of strangers. You play with people that you know to varying degrees, and try to use your knowledge of them to your advantage. While it is a good game to play to get to know someone, it is best when you already have an equal understanding of your opponent’s mental processes, and a long history, to turn a simple game into a diehard grudge match.

At first I had not intended to add the bus lines to the mix. It was originally going to be a game just like Risk, with neighborhoods for territories, and that was really the only change. Now the game is much more unique. There are bus lines true to the City, a police presence that can be called upon, collection money to be earned and items to be bought. Also, instead of being a faceless General of some nameless army, you are Carlos, leader of the hombres fighting against Elmira the cat lady and her crazy cohorts, and Sky Earthen with his Hippie warriors. This allows players to be more consumed by the Magic Circle and take on the role of a colorful character they’ve no doubt seen on the street instead of playing in the place for some ancient Commander.

During play testing I realized that even though there are alot of rules, I don’t have to hold back on making it deeper. Good game can be simple games, but complicated ones work, too...its just more difficult. Infact some of the best games are one that take a while to learn and have rules ontop of rules, yet are still balanced. (ex: Magic: the Gathering) There is almost a sense of pride for being able to play, when people watch and are stumped as to what is happening and how we know what to do. But again, it only works if all the rules are balanced, and the more rules, the easier one of them can be totally unfair. I was worried that with so many rules it wouldn’t make sense to players, and the game would be unbalanced in some unexpected way. Although it does take a while to explain all that is going on, once people begin to play it all seems to make sense to them, and there weren’t any major elements that were out of whack. So after I saw that making it complicated wasn’t necessarily a bad thing I was able to add elements that play testers had suggested, such as the police and money.

I was defiantly influenced by the idea of the Magic Circle when designing this game. The Magic Circle is something that most people who play games are aware of, but can’t really explain unless they’ve heard the term before. The Magic Circle is the boundary between the people playing the game and the real world. Inside the boundary, certain actions and behaviors are allowed that aren’t acceptable outside the circle, and those actions and even objects take on a new meaning and value inside the circle. Outside the Magic Circle a bolt is a bolt, and if you lose it you don’t care unless its the last bolt to put up a piece of furniture or something. But inside the Circle that bolt could be your warrior, leader, or even you, and if you lose it it can be very upsetting and you could cry out in anguish and even get angry at a friend. In Frisco Wars as you see units pile up in the hospital you start to get concerned. And when you can’t afford to treat all your units, the coins or bolts or whatever they are die from their injuries and are buried at sea, staying on the board but out of play for you to have to stare at for the rest of the game. Even though they are just coins moving around on a board, if they are in one area, you feel great because you think you may beable to win, but if they are another area you feel terrible and responsible for your gang members death. I want people to get deeper into the circle in Frisco Wars by heightening the role-play ability of the characters.

Next time I try and design a game for deployment I will try and pick a game where there is only one or two types of objects to be produced. Most likely it will be a type of card game, where when I work on making it I will only have to worry about making cards, and maybe tokens. It will be easier to keep track of what is done and what needs to be ready for the play testing deadline when you aren’t concerned with a map, units, player cards, hood cards, money, etc. Even though it is fun to make all these things, doing so while taking a full class load is less-than-enjoyable.

Although this is a final version of my game, I am certainly not done with it. I search San Francisco find all the weapons in the game and photograph them. I will try to make a computer version of this game. It would be animated and hopefully able to be played over the Internet. Although it will not have the same feeling of being in a room with your friend now turned arch-nemesis, being able to play on-line will open it up to a larger audience, and having the animations will create a larger appeal than the hundreds of little pieces and cards of the regular version.

I have enjoyed immensely learning about all the terms and elements of game design and be able to try my hand at it. I defiantly plan to continue to design game, and look forward to trying to create many different types of games.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Responce to Beta Testing

Thanks to everyone who suffered through all the rules to play Frisco Wars (that's a working title). It was good to see that even though there is alot to digest in the beginning, it isn't too over whelming for people. I got some good feedback and came up with some ideas on how I will progress from here.

The board we used was never intended to be the final board, but I wasn't sure what I wanted to look to be for the finished product. A replica Muni map? An anchient scroll? Techni-color Candy land? Im still not sure. But I do know that the 'hood names will be more prominant, the bus lines will all be the same color as to be less distracting, and I will include the different rule charts on the outter areas of the map for quick reference. (cop responce, extras cost, weapon pecking order)

I will have to come up with a bunch more mission cards, as people seemed to like the idea of playing to a certian goal better than trying to conquer the whole map. It will also make the game shorter for those people who don't like loosing a whole afternoon to a board game.

I might play around with the idea of adding some action cards that players draw at the beginning of their turn and effect everyone. Examples being: "Cell phones 50% off" "Uh oh, Tsunami" "Free health care" "Earthquake downtown" "Walking dead" etc. I will make some and try to play a game or two with them outside class before the final game play.

I am also going to re-work the gangs to give them more backstory and more ability for role playing.

Friday, November 26, 2004

:: Final Project Post --Pre-Beta Testing ::

I has a chance over thanxgiving break to have some people not from our class playtest my beta version, and I am making some changes according to how that experiance went.

Firstly I realized that this game is alot more complicated than I had originally thought. Even for people familiar with risk-style games, there are alot of modifications and things to get used to. It is even worse if players have had no experiance with risk. Not that this is nessesarily bad, but its just not what I had expected. Roger mentioned in his lecture when talking about all the bizzare and complex looking german board games that they were all infact very easy to learn. For my beta play testing with the class I will include all the elements I have developed thus far, but am open to eliminating them to slim down the game play and flatten the learning curve a bit. I know complicated games aren't nessesarily less fun, but I apreciate the grace of simpler games, and would like to teach people rather quickly how to play the game, so after this class is over there will still be plenty of people willing to play.

I also realize that the monitary element of this game will change alot depending on the number of players. Since income is based on 'hoods controlled, for a 3 player game the average income to start is $2000 per turn, but with 5 players it is only $1200. Im not sure if this is something that will have to be fixed or will add variety to the game types.

There is a problem getting near the end of the game where it is difficult to make a final push to vicotry. Since you are limited in the number of attacks to the number of 'hoods you control (plus any purchased guns) you can only attack 15 or 20 times in a turn, even though you may have 40 units (across multiple 'hoods) you can attack with. One idea to solve this is allowing you to attack once for each weapon you have from every 'hood. But this goes to far in the other direction, making rampaging players to common a scene. Perhaps selling normal weapons (not just guns) would help extend a players attack stamina while the cost of doing so keeping it in check. I'll wait to see what people suggest after our playtesting session before I make any rule changes.

I've also created mission cards, since conquering the entire map is very time consuming. Balancing out the difficulty mission cards will be difficult, and I will have to see how people react to them during play.

Thats all for now. Bye bye.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Responce to Feedback

Thanks to everyone for the great feedback I got both from peoples blogs and in-person.  I got some good ideas that I will definatly try to incorperate in my next version of Frisco Wars.


Characters -- Before the game starts players will recieve one character card at random.  This will be the type of gang they are controlling.  Each gang will have a number of home-turf neighborhoods, as well as weapon affinties and other special abilites.  Examples of such characters may be: Bums, Hippies, Yuppies, Tourists, Suits, Immigrants, Hookers, etc.  There will probably be between 6 or 8 characters in the final version.

Money -- Several people suggested adding money into the mix, which I had been concidering and will definatly include.  Players will recieve "protection" money from each neighborhood they control (some will give more money than others) which can be spent on new recruits, saving units, bribeing cops, buying weapons and taking taxis.

Unit death -- When units get "knocked out" (they don't get killed right away anymore) they will go to the hospital.  At the end of any turn a player can pay the "hospital bill" to get their units out.  But, if by the beginning of thier next turn they don't pay to have thier units saved, they die and are burried at sea.

Cops -- Players will have the ability to call the cops.  This ability will either be a once-per turn for everyone, or only if your home turf is being attacked, or if you buy a cell phone (I haven't decided how to manage this resource yet).  When the cops come they are 2 units (a number which will most likley escalate as the game progresses, eventually leading to a van full of swat team members will assault rifles a la GTA) with 1 Gun, 1 Hand cuff (E), 1 Night Stick (B), and 1 Badge (S) weapon card that are randomly used by the person who called the cops.  Any units lost to the police will go to Alcatraz instead of the hospital.  These units "bail" will cost 3x more than the hospital bill, but will work in the same way.  It may be possible to bribe to cops to fight against the person that called them, or just to go away.

(?)Taxis / Limos -- I am concidering including the ability to hire a taxi or limo.  This would allow you to "drive" to any neighboring neighborhood not nessesarily connected via Muni, and attack.  A taxi could hold 3 or 4 units and would cost 3 - 5 money tokens, and a limo could hold 6 or 10 units and cost alot more money.  This is just an idea and might not work, but I was wondering about the ability to sneak attack when I came up with this element.  I'll see if it is needed after the next playtesting.

Hopefully I can get some of these elements together for this weekend and play test it with the normal Risk-party crew.

Feedback for Elliot

1 -- I am giving Elliot feedback on his SFAI Balance Challenge.

2 -- It is a game of mental and physical skill, remeniscint of those old Nick shows like Legends of the Lost Temple and Guts. (those were my favs!)

3 -- The core mechanics are skating, thinking, writing and using the computer.

4 -- The game switched between figuring out problems and racing around a course.

5 -- As it is SFAI Balance Challenge is a game, since there is are cleary defined rules and an obvious way to tell who is the winner. The time penalty element with the math part could be fine tuned, but otherwise players actions have a clear effect on their position in the game.

6 -- The idea of lusory attiude is really interesting in this game. On the mental tasks you try your hardest to get the right answer, but then you have to try and stay ontop of this tiny board with little wheels while going as fast as possible over a windy course -- even though it would be so much easier just to run to the next stop.

7 -- I would give the rules a 10. Although what the rules are may need to be refined a little the way they are presented, and the overall gameplay is easy to understand.

8 -- Jacob decided to skip the math problems altogether and since Calvin tried them, but was unable to get any, Jacob came from behind and won.

9 -- I was surprised by the observers interaction with the players. Fans could mess with opponants during mental stages and root them on during pyhsical stages. It made it fun to watch.

10 -- Like I said above I used to love those challenge games on T.V. so I really like your game. I think it would be good though if you intersperced the mental and physicall challenges even more. Instead of having a thinking stage and a pyhsical stage, what it you had a stage where you would skate to a checkpoint, where you would have three math problems that would complete before continuing on to the next check point, where maybe you had to assemble a small puzzle or something. And as for the time penalties with the math problems, I would suggest making a skipped or wrong answer worth +15 sec, but if you get it right you add 15 sec to your opponants time. Then you'd want to complete the problems to screw your opponant as well as save yourself. I definatly like that there is a part of the game that is not timed, just to set-up who gets first pick. Like in Halo when we do FFA first to decide what the teams are for the real games. Anyway, your game is definatly fun and I can't wait to see how well (or poorly) I do!

Friday, November 12, 2004

Feedback for Leo & Calvin

1 -- I am giving feedback on the Lonley City game designed by Calvin and Leo.

2 -- The prototype was an anaolge version of the final game which is going to be played on a computer (PC) and is a stratigy/puzzle game.

3 -- The core mechanic for the game will be clicking the mouse and thinking about the plot and characters, trying to figure out what the hell is going on (I love those games).

4 -- When playing the game players begin to get confused, which leads way to understanding as theydiscover bits of the revealed story and put them together.

5 -- Although the prototype was just a small amount of what will be in the final game, and therefore didn't have a win senario, people still understood how the game would be played. There was a set of clearly defined rules for interacting with objects and movment throughout the game world. I might suggest there being a limit to what a player can carry, and including more useless objects, so that players have to pay closer attention to clues as to what they should carry, instead of picking up everything the see. The note saying need to wear red and then in another room finding a red beanie was great. (I like that the clues and objects were seperated so that players have to remeber clues they've seen for some time) But maybe if you looked in a hamper and saw: "soccer socks, an old blue sweater, and a red beanie" it would require players to be more on top of whats going on to realize the beanie's importance.

6 -- The best defined game element is probably the rules. Also the ability for players actions to affect their outcome. If you grab something important, you may be able to get somewhere that you wouldn't be able to without it. Like I said above, perhaps making finding those objects more difficult would increase the impact of that ability.

7 -- I'd say the rules are a 10 of 10. Players know there are certain things you can do (look, grab, talk, etc to people and objects, and move) and thats it. Players know what they are capable of and what to be looking for.

8 -- When playing these sorts of games players can either play detective and try to figure everything out from the get go, or play pack-rat and grab everything worth anything. But developing a stratigy isn't as important as paying attention to the plot and the setting, and keeping track of all the info.

9 -- I was surprised at how well the game translated to paper. But I can't wait to see the graphics you guys come up with.

10 -- When the premace of the game was revealed I was surprised and worried by how "normal" the setting was (no space ships, nothing in the past or future, no nuclear winter) But then as we learned about the "dream state" part of the game, and that it would be somewhat site-specific to school and such, I saw where you were going with this. If it's too normal it won't be alot of fun, but it sounds like you guys are making a trippy game. Can't wait to play it!

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Feedback for Q

1 -- I am giving feedback to Q for his game called C-Walk.

2 -- The game is played with cigarette boxes and is a game of skill.

3 -- The core mechanic is "pushing" and "tapping" the cig boxes.

4 -- C-Walk is all about flipping cigarette boxes. The rules are simple, but this opens up room for emergent play and players quickly expand the performance of play. Since players weren't bogged down in learning alot of rules, they began to perform as they were playing, each move extracting a reaction from both the players and the audience.

5 -- Although very simple, C-Walk does have all the elements of a game. There is a cleary defined set of win senarios, and players actions definatly affect the outcome. Players can even adopt stratigies, playing defensivly and moving away from the sides of the playing field, or aggressivly and going for the total knock out move. The rules defining the action were somewhat vauge, and had to be created as the game was played. The core mechanic of flicking instead of pushing was tested, and found to ruin the gameplay experiance.

6 -- The fact that their was multiple win/loss senarios (first to 3 or with tko wins, or first one out of ring loses) that added depth to the game, and allowed for come-backs.

7 -- The rules were a 7 out of 10, simply because of the unclairty of the core mechanic, which could only be resoved during play-testing. I think that since this game is so close to completion already, Q should spend some time making the presentaions of rules fit the game. There were several suggestions in class about ways to incorperate the rules into the world of smoking (matches, a packet that fits on the cig pack) and of making a video. A video that was an over-the-top "how to be the best C-Walker" would be fun, especially if Q included some more of his special moves.

8 -- Like I said in 5, there was a certian amount of stratigy that players could use. Although mostly a game of skill, how aggressive players are affects the game play. I would definatly suggest developing more special moves, like Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, to make the game play more unique. Players could come up with their own signature moves.

9 -- The biggest surprise was the audience participation. People got very involved while watching, and would call out moves and suggestions. Everyone watching got into the game, cheering and jeering the players. This element of the game helps expand the ice-breaking quality of smoking.

10 -- I think this game is very open to Moding. Since it is so simple in its current form, I would definalty suggest making several alternate versions for multiple players and different enviroments. Perhaps even a massively multiplayer quick-fire version, where whenever you get on top of a players box, you get one of thier cigs right away. If you get ontop of two players at once, you get one from each. Maybe another version to be played on a staircase.

Q -- Great game. Since its almost done, think about Mod's and how you are going to present the rules. Definatly concider sending rules to prisons/prisoners and distributing to public...this game could catch-on. Even though I'm not a smoker, I understand the social role smoking plays, and this game only builds on that role. Very cool.

Feedback for All

I was surprised by how different and fun everyone's games are. I thought I'd post a couple of thoughts I had on monday's prototypes.


Cihan: I think the diplomacy aspect is really neat, and would work best if players didn't share their answers. I found that if the other two players put false, I'd put in a true since it didn't matter. You definatly have a fun idea here, the key is goning to be in the questions and the board. I'd say think alot about what kinds of questions you'll ask, and think about losing the yes/no questions, since they only confuse things. Go for more abstract and bizzare ones, because I think there could alot of interesting emergent gameplay when people start attacking or defending players answers. Perhaps making politically charged or personal quesions so that players have an emotional stock in their answers.

Lauren: The idea of a real-world RPG is very cool. Like I said in class I think it'll work better if everyone is given a basic "sketch" of the world they are entering. We should know basic info on every player, basic ideas on some of the interactions, and then a full bio on you, your target and who targets you. It's already going to be difficult, and I think it would be more enjoyable and get people more motivated if the knew what the world they were trying to fit people into looked like. As for a win senario, perhaps there can just be a monderator that a player can approach and silently expalin thier theory to if they think they have it.

Kwansoo: I've already told you my ideas, so um... *melee attack* ...boyakasha!


Jacob I like the idea behind the game alot, and think it would be a great way to meet and get to know new people. The key is going to be in what the tasks are. I thought some of the tasks were really interesting, especially the ones that interacted with the other tasks going on.



Leo & Calvin


Monday, November 08, 2004

:: Final Game Post #4 ::

Frisco Wars! Okay, so here are the rules for my game so far. I haven't thought of a creative way to display them yet, but hopfully I will.


Map -- There is one map, broken into 29 neighborhoods. There are several bus lines that run through the neighborhoods, distinguished by their colored routes and numbered bus stops. Players may only attack using bus lines, and may only travel one stop at a time.

To Start -- Players are delt neighborhood cards at random, and begin placing their units on those neighborhoods.
If 3 players -- 10 cards, 20 units each player
If 4 players -- 8 cards, 15 units each player
if 5 players -- 6 cards, 12 units each player (one run/gun card each)

Attacking -- Players will have cards representing the neighborhoods the controll. Each neighborhood has a unique weapon symbol on the bottom. These are the weapons that a player will have at his or her disposal, and a player can only attack a territory as many times as the number of weapons the have, or the number of men on each space, whichever is lower. (example: player one has twelve neighborhoods, each with one weapons, giving him twelve weapons. If he attacks G.G.Park from Inner Richmond, where he has fourteen units he can attack up to twelve times. If he attacks Marina from the Presidio, where he has ten units, he can attack it up to ten times.) If you eliminate an enemy in a neighborhood, you move the men you used to attack in the new neighborhood, and take the neighborhood card from your opponant.

Weapons -- are designated by one of three classes: Blunt (B), Sharp (S), and Entaglement (E). These weapons work on the same principle as rock-paper-scissor; blunt beats sharp, but losed to entaglement, which loses to sharp. Attacking and defending players turn over cards similtaniously one at a time during combat. Defender wins ties. There are also 5 Run'nGun cards. On offense, it is a gun card, that wins against any card, except a run card. On defense, run cards will keep you from losing a man that round.

Recruits -- At the begining of every turn a player get a number of new units, or "recruits," equal to the number of different bus lines that they occupy.

Post-Combat Movment -- After you are done attacking, you may move your men anywhere on a bus line in their neighborhood as long as they don't pass through and area you don't control. You may only move men on two bus lines per turn.

Win senarios -- There are multiple ways to win: either defeating all your opponants forces, completing your specific mission(s), or by controlling the 4 major bus lines: the 19, 22, 38, and 43.

Stuff to look forward to -- There will be missions, such as gaining controll of a certain bus line or type of neighborhoods. There will also be unique character types, with "home turf" areas, "weapon skills," and other special abilities.

Sunday, October 24, 2004 is an Alternate Reality Game based around the Halo Universe and timed with the release of Halo 2. After seeing the web address flash on-screen at the end of a Halo 2 theatrical trailer, people (now players of the game) visit the site to find what appears to be a buisness' site that has been hacked.

The entire game is based around players uncovering and deciphering imperfect information hidden in the site. There is almost no information made easily available to the players, beyond giving them (rather subvertly) the location of the game (the site url -- infact the game doesn't have a real name, other than "the ilovebees game"). Even the objective of the game and how to play it is not given to players. This makes for a very unique experiance, but also a very frustrating one.

In most video games players can guess at what the revealed story will be in atleast general terms. It is mostly likely that you (the hero) will defeat the evil enemy and/or save other good people. With an ARG like ilovebees players have no idea what there play will reveal. The only way to advance in ilovebees is to try and find information hidden in scrambled .jpg files, hidden text, and cryptic messages. Player have no idea as to their progress in the game as they are playing it, because the site changes periodically, with changing dates and information. The end is never clearly in site. It seems clear though, that no one person can "beat" ilovebees on his/her own.

An intersting element of ilovebees is that the designers made it so that emergent play is required for players to succeed. There is nothing to guide players through the game or let them know if they are on the right track, and therefor they must find a way to put the peices they find together. The players need to network and share their findings to succeed. So a good deal of the actual gameplay happens on message boards created by other players. People go to ilovebees to collect data, and bring what they've found and interprated to a message board and together with other players develop or squash ideas. So instead of players playing against each other, they are working together to crack the game.

As the ilovebees game progressed the site will change and offer new clues. One version had a grid of numbers that I speculated had some mathimatical meaning, and I tried shortly to find patters, but couldn't figure it out. I visited a message board and some people realized it was GPS coordinats, (I was way off) and were able to translate them into locations that the posted, and people who lived in those areas went to the places at specific times to recieve phone calls from Halo characters. They then recorded there conversations and posted them back on the message board for all other players to hear. It just shows how nessesary the player-created system is to the success of the game.

The problem with making the goal, outcome, and reward so ambiguous was that the game designers (who ever they may be...) didn't realize what the players/fans would expect. Instead of waiting to see what would happen, the players began to speculate and rumors began to fly. Because the release date of Nov. 9th seemed so far off, and people were getting extremely excited about Halo 2, a great deal of people thought that the countdown to Aug. 24th was a countdown to an early release of Halo 2. When this turned out not to be true, im sure many people were let down.

Also, with such an ambiguous "finish line" the effort required to continue play is enormous. While the incentive is also great because the game is so unlike any other, if you don't get totally involved/obsessed, it is easy to fall away from the game. And since the game changes in real time, you can't walk away for a week and expect to come back and pickup where you left off or understand what is going on. In short: it is definatly not a casual game. While playing I found it very easy to get lost in all the different theories and scattered information. At first I felt great sense of acomplishment when I discovered hidden text on the various pages, but after a while I got lost in the story and eventually stopped playing.

However, I'm sure that we will all soon be learning much more about the ilovebees game...

Thursday, October 21, 2004


Meditative Visitor Mr. Roboto
1) Each Player takes 3 white stones and 3 black stones.
2) Players hide any number of black and/or white stones in their right hand.
3) Whoever has the most white stones is the Robot.
4) Nobody wants the white stones except the Robot.
5) If someone picks up a white stone by accident, everyone must put thier collected stones back.
6) If the robot collects all the white stones before everyone else, the robot wins, and vice-versa.

The game has some elements that could be used to make a playable game, but right now it doesn't make sense. The first problem is that rule 1 and 3 somewhat controdict each other. There also aren't any instructions on how players pick up stones after they first decide who the robot is.

Here is an idea for an alteration, that somewhat resemble witch hunt:

1) 3 black stones and 3 white stones per player are placed in a bag (4 players = 12 white and 12 black stones).
2) Each player takes 6 stones from the bag without looking.
3) Player look at thier stones without showing others. Any player with 3 or less white stones is a robot*.
4) Players stand facing inward and each round players chose one stone to put into their fist and place their arm in the middle so no one can see the stone.
5) Players then go around in order, and can ask any number of other players who still have their stone what color it is (the answers can be lies or truths). Players can then chose one person and take their stone**.
6) The robots try to collect all the white stones, while the other players try to collect only black stones and keep the white stones from the robots.

*I'm not sure what the specifics for rule 3 should be, and it would have to be worked out as it was played. (More white than black stones. Any even number of white stones...?)
**Another idea would be that players trade stones, making selection more important. ("do i chose to put a white stone in even though im a robot whoever trades thinks im not a robot?")

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Play testing, anyone?

I wanted to make a game that didn't have any fancy rules or gimics, and was just a simple two player game with very basic game play but that relyed totally on stratigy. Kind of like Fivestones, if anyone has that on their phone.

This is what I came up with, but as the few people who have played it can agree: its missing something. I don't want to make it to complicated, but if anyone would like to test it and finds any changes like changing the map or movment, maybe adding teleport locations, let me know.

Idea-- You and your opponant are space miners trying to collect the most ore from the two planets in your system. However, you're stationed in one of the most unpredictable asteriod fields in the quadrant, and are faced with sparatic asteriod collisions. Survive the asteriods, defend your base, and collect the most ore to win.

The Map

Gameplay-- You each begin on your base (3 or 6), and can move one space at a time. If you are on a planet (1 or 8), you mine 1 ore into your hold. You can stay on a planet as long as you like and continue mining 1 ore per turn, but you must sucessfully return to your base to deposit it for it to count. First player to have 5 ore wins. The trick is that at the end of every players turn an 8-sided die is rolled, the resulting number representing where a rouge asteriod lands. If you are struck by the asteriod, you lose all cargo in your hold and are knocked into the center "safe zone." (Also, you cannot move to a space occupied by the asteriod.) Another trick is that if you sucessfully make it to your opponats base, you can collect one ore directly from thier stash (either into your ship's hold or directly into your base...I can't decide which). Also, if "rammed" by an opponant (he enters a space you are on) you are knocked into the center "safe zone" (but do or do not lose your cargo? I'm leaning toward not).

Suggestions thus far
-- Make the map 4x4 or 5x5.
-- Including barriers between certain spaces, while allowing people to move diagonaly.
-- Including teleports.
-- Hexaginal spaces (instead of square).
-- Include 3 or more players, perhaps teams.

Basically I think the idea is too simple for a final game project, but is something that I'd like to finish as an exersize anyway. Let me know what you find, or if you'd like to play test it with me.


Monday, October 11, 2004

:: Final Game Post #3 ::

The Not Anti Un-Destructive Game: Since all of my ideas for final games involve rather regular Core Mechanics, I will go back to something brought up earlier in the semester that would be --perhaps-- a little more interesting to talk about.

On one of the first days of class we talked briefly about how the majority of games were based on destructive principles (killing, wrecking stuff, etc.) and that there should be more constructive games. It's an interesting idea because for the most part games are considered a waste of your time and playing them is never associated with doing something productive. So, what if the Core Mechanic of a game was being constructive? Uh, I'm not sure. But I hope it come up with something good soon so I can go to bed.

Let's see, um.... okay, well I've always liked Junkyard Wars and other shows where people are given an objective, some materials and a time limit. It's fun to see people who know alot more about stuff than you do build something that works out of a bunch of stuff that does absolutly nothing.

So this game will be between a handfull of teams with 2-4 somewhat constructive/creative players on each team. The teams will be given a vauge build objective that can be interprated in different ways (like "make a vehicle" or "make something that works") and each team will recieve an equal amount of monopoly money (or any fake $). Each team will have a brief period to discuss there build ideas, so for this inital part of the game, the Core Mechanic will actually be contimplating and discussing.

There will be one "store" which is a collection of parts and supplys each with price tags on them. After teams discuss their ideas each group will take turns buying items from the "store" (it'll be more like a draft than a survival-of-the-fitest one-day sale at Macy's). If one team has an item that another team really really wanted, they could buy/sell amoung each other (scalping is welcome). So for this phase of the game the Core Mechanic is bartering ...I guess.

So now the teams will take what they've bought and within a set time period will have to construct whatever the build objective is. This would be where the Core Mechanic was construction. And since it is a "game" and not an "activity," at the end of the time limit they will present their build to the judge or panel of judges who will score there build on the following terms:

Achieved Build Objective :: 0-10
Materials Used in a Creative Manner :: 0-5
Created an Aestheticly Interesting Object :: 0-5
Use of the color Pink :: 0-5

The team with the highest score wins and --if this show were to be televised-- the reward would have to be the destruction of their opponants creations. Ya gotta give the people what they want to see.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

The Game of World DominationTM

Risk is an entertaining board game for many reasons. It combines elements of stratagy, luck, and a healthy does of psycoligy ("What are you attacking me for? Look, you have to kill him, or you're done! Don't come after me...I'll just kill you.") Risk also has alot of back-and-forth could seem someone is all but done for only to turn in his cards for 50 men and romp straight through his opponants. It is equally true of someone who seems to have the game in the bag, but his power only draws the attention of his enemies who all converge and run him over.

Back Story-- Depending on how you choose to look at it, Risk has either no back story at all, or one of the largest of any game I know. At first look I thought there was no back story at all... the game designers only present you with a map of the world and say "go conquer it". No reason why, no real time frame given (depending on the version being played the peices are often reminicent of the 19th Centuary) ...but overall there is no real plot line that you are continuing. Or is there? Thats when I thought that the back story is assuming a communal knowledge of world history. Because of the use of the map and the games tag line: The Game of World Domination, the backstory (one could chose to argue) is all of modern time. The way the game is designed sets-up (although never says explicitly) you are one of the worlds great generals trying to take of the globe. You are playing the part of a great conquerer comming somewhere after the Mongolian Invasion and before Bush.
Revealed Story-- There isn't any revealed story in Risk. What you see is what you get. Even in the computerized versions there are no plot twists or narration to the game play.

Performed Story-- From the very begining players take on roles as conquering generals. "I am so going to take Australia from you!" "Ha! But you can never take Africa... it's mine!" And the role playing only gets better as the game goes on. Players may not even intend on playing the roles, but the game forces you into it (the Core Mechanic of Risk is moving little army men on a map...real world generals move little army men on a map -- its hard to escape your role). The only exception I can think of is my mom and little sister. They are not world dominating generals, nor do they wish to be. I was foolish enough once to insist we all play a game, and because they really don't have any agressive tendances, or much of an interest in playing a game where you take over the world, they never really stepped inside the Magic Circle and accepted there roles as blood-thirsty crusaiders. Needless to say: it wasn't any fun at all. Infact, I think we stopped after only a few rounds.
Story of Play-- Any game of Risk will have many back-and-forths that make for alot of fun. Someone may start with Europe and part of Africa, but in their conquest to America someone from Asia comes and steals it away. But even more fun than that are the alliances and treacheries of a game. I can recall one game I played with two friends in high school. Because it was an odd number of players we decided no alliances should be made...but after a few rounds I began to notice a trend in the other to players game play, and when I caught them passing a peice of paper a hearty chase insued with some unintentional physical injuries being exchanged. It was a good game.

RISK 2210:
There many versions of risk and they often have a more developed back story since the premace is either not as self-explanitory or is perhaps based on a movie like the (rather lame) Lord of The Rings Risk. This is the blurb about Risk 2210 on the Hasbro site:
In the year 2210, the world is at war.
As the leader of a warring faction, you control the destiny of your people. On the Earth, in the great underwater domed cities beneath the oceans, in orbit, and even on the Moon, you must marshal your forces, send forth your troops, and hire the right commanders to crush your enemies. Build alliances if you dare, but be wary of whom you trust. Energy is the currency of the 23rd century; spend yours wisely and you just might conquer the world--and beyond.

I've never played this version, but it sounds fun. There are additional "territories" in the oceans and the moon is a seperate "continent". So basically they came up with a little back story to explain the map changes.
Has anyone played this version?

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Interactive Killer Robots

The game of robots-built-to-kill-other-robots (such as those seen on Robot Wars and BattleBots) is one that people seem to find either totally awesome, or completley lame.

The basic idea is that a team of people build a robot that will enter an arena and try to kill another robot. Depending on what version the team is playing, the arena will be different. Battlebots is played in a plexi-glass box that has a group of un-seen arena controllers who deploy/activate several traps, such as buzz saws in the floor and/or a giant sledge hammar in the corner. Robot Wars initally had a obsticle corse theme, but quickly turned to a death-match forum, with two "house bots" (controlled by un-seen people), who get to kill any 'bot that strays into their "patrol zone." Either way it is played, the game is all about interaction.

The most fundimental (and fun-to-watch) interaction is that which occurs between the two human/robot teams fighting in the death-match arena.

Using CRAWFORD's model for interaction: Each team first "listens" to the other team by observing the enemy robot ("He's got a big spike and is headed right for my 'bot..."). They then think about there responce ("...I gotta get outta the way!") and speak via their robots movment and attacks.

Using MEADOW's outline for interaction: Players first observe the arena as well as the other teams robot ("Its got a big spinny thing on the side"). They then explore the abilities/limitations of the surroundings or the enemy 'bot ("I bet it isn't even that strong...oh crap it is!"). Then they modify their actions ("I'm gonna stay the hell away for that spinny thing!"). And eventually there is a reciprocal change ("Well, if he is afraid of my spinner, maybe I can chase him into the buzz saws...").

I can imagine there is also an interaction between the build teams and the arena itself. As people build new a better 'bots for the obstacles and enemies, the arena is changed to make it safer, more difficult, or more destructive.

Now I don't think that there is an interaction between the human and his robot, since the robot is just an extension of the person (since it only does what he says), and doesn't really "speak" back to the controller. But I'm not totally sure about let me know if you think different.