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BoardGameGeek» Forums » Gaming Related » General Gaming

Subject: Zero Player Game rss

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Quantum Jack
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I have worked on a design for a game where the players collectively take on one of 3 roles. In any event, the roles not covered by players are filled in by card draw and/or dice rolls. This made me realize I had the beginnings of a no-player game. Just let the automation run all 3 roles.

My game is in a very rough state, and is not what I want to talk about here. Are there any existing games that can sort of "run" on their own, no player involvement? Let the in-game elements play out in some natural way and just see what happens?


Does there exist a game, right now, that can be a zero player game, and wwould you sit down and "run" such a thing?
 
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James Johnson
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My first thought is that it doesn't sound like much fun because there would be no decisions to be made.

An example would be playing all sides of the card game War by yourself.
 
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G.Daddy.Slim
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the closest I could come up with, would be a sports simulator videogame, where you pick 2 teams and the game runs the stats through an algorithm and introduces variables and randomizers to affect the result.

I would think that for board games, the least interactive you could get, without the help of some sort of computer to introduce random elements into a game would be rolling dice and moving pieces about the board in accordance with a set of rules. Even then, there would likely be some level or interaction to setting up the game stats, in order to make it interesting.

The other type might be a game which plays out like one of those cell-life simulator.. where you setup a grid with dots.. and the dots multiple or die off, based on a set of rules on their relative position to the other empty or full cells. And there would still be interaction, at setup and while moving the pieces around..

To answer your other question.. would I play or "sit down and run" that type of board game.. absolutely not.. the best part of board games to me, is the interaction with people.
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Mauricio Montoya
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Or basically what chutes-and-ladders or candyland are. The humans around the table are just doing what the dice/cards say each turn and making no decisions about it, your only function is to move the pieces a set amount of spaces, no more and no less.

Sure, a complex automa or card AI has more variability and it may work if you are given options instead of set outcomes (at this point it would be a choose your own adventure-like experience, and that can work), but if it boils down to being there just to move the pieces and do the game's bidding, then it would be just as boring as those old roll and move games.
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Russ Williams
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Quantum_Jack wrote:
I have worked on a design for a game where the players collectively take on one of 3 roles. In any event, the roles not covered by players are filled in by card draw and/or dice rolls. This made me realize I had the beginnings of a no-player game. Just let the automation run all 3 roles.

Does there exist a game, right now, that can be a zero player game, and wwould you sit down and "run" such a thing?

Sure; various existing games include bot/AI-type players. In general, any game which provides for bot/AI players could in principle allow for all positions to be run by bot/AI players.

E.g. in principle you can have bots play all 4 factions of Fire in the Lake (and other GMT COIN Series games), and I did so once just to see how it went (and to practice using the nontrivial AI algorithms for all 4 factions).

Similarly you could play Power Grid with the Power Grid: The Robots expansion and have robots play all sides (but a human player occasionally has to make some decisions for some robots, so it wouldn't be 100% automatic).

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James Palmer
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Conflict of Heroes with the Solo expansion could be played "0 players". The Solo expansion comes with A.I. cards, and you could easily let the A.I. play both sides in the game, and make no decisions yourself. Some people have done that, just to see the A.I. in action, and to see how the battle plays out.
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Bruce Nettleton
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We could get into a philosophical discussion about the definition of a "game," but in the spirit of the original post, I can envision a collection of deterministic rules that might result scenarios that were still interesting or surprising enough to entertain. As an example, you might do a quick Google search on John Conway's "Game of Life" (not the Milton Bradley version!)

I remember, as a boy, playing a solitaire card game called "Clock" in which the cards play themselves out deterministically, usually to a losing conclusion. There was absolutely no decision space, but it was still entertaining (to some degree) to see if you had "won" or not. In my opinion, that would be the same as your "zero player game," because the "Player" has no agency in the outcome.
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Quantum Jack
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COIN series sounds like the closest to what im talking about. I think the difference between this typee of activity and something like chutes and ladders, is that the game should be playable as an actual player with decisions, then just step back and let the AI be a player, chutes and ladders offers no choices even if you try!

Like I said, it was a side effect of a game feature (that pparallels the COIN games more than I had thought about before), not an actual purpose. It seemed like an interesting topic for discussion.

For reference, I WOULD run the simulation if the game was int#resting. And I have played video games in a similar way. Practice runs in league of legends, just to see which lane will get pushed with no player interaction. All AI teams in a fps. I like simulators almost as much as I like "true games" (to use richard garfield's term, orthogames).
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G.Daddy.Slim
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pastorbln wrote:

I remember, as a boy, playing a solitaire card game called "Clock" in which the cards play themselves out deterministically, usually to a losing conclusion. There was absolutely no decision space, but it was still entertaining (to some degree) to see if you had "won" or not. In my opinion, that would be the same as your "zero player game," because the "Player" has no agency in the outcome.


hmm... is that the card game where you flip cards face-up one at a time, with the top 4 cards visible. face-up cards are removed from based on the following rules:

If the 1st & 4th cards are the same suit, remove the 2nd & 3rd cards.
If 1st & 4th cards are the same number, remove the 1st, 2nd, 3rd & 4th cards.

As you remove cards, the top 4 face up cards are always exposed..

So, while matching the same number removes more cards, the same suit will allow you to dig down into the face up cards.
 
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Brian McCue
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Quantum_Jack wrote:
Are there any existing games that can sort of "run" on their own, no player involvement? Let the in-game elements play out in some natural way and just see what happens?


Submarine has a solitaire scenario in which the player commands a submarine against an automaton convoy and another one in which the player commands a convoy against an automaton submarine. I combined them, and learned the rules of the game by playing through the resulting zero-player scenario.
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Bruce Nettleton
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glouie wrote:
pastorbln wrote:

I remember, as a boy, playing a solitaire card game called "Clock" in which the cards play themselves out deterministically, usually to a losing conclusion. There was absolutely no decision space, but it was still entertaining (to some degree) to see if you had "won" or not. In my opinion, that would be the same as your "zero player game," because the "Player" has no agency in the outcome.


hmm... is that the card game where you flip cards face-up one at a time, with the top 4 cards visible. face-up cards are removed from based on the following rules:

If the 1st & 4th cards are the same suit, remove the 2nd & 3rd cards.
If 1st & 4th cards are the same number, remove the 1st, 2nd, 3rd & 4th cards.

As you remove cards, the top 4 face up cards are always exposed..

So, while matching the same number removes more cards, the same suit will allow you to dig down into the face up cards.


Seems like we always called the one you describe "Accordion." You can find the rules for Clock Solitaire at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clock_Patience.

IIRC, the game you describe is similar, though, in that there are no actual decisions for the player.
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Timothy Young
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Quote:
...would you sit down and "run" such a thing?


I suppose if someone I trusted convinced me that watching the AI in action provided a unique and interesting experience that couldn't be achieved any other way I might consider doing what you're asking. But I'm hard pressed at the moment to imagine what that experience would have to be like in order to convince me to do it.

Like others have said, tabletop gaming is all about the social experience for me. This is why I have no interest in solo gaming. And let's be honest- what you're describing is solo gaming without any decision making.
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Stuart
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Something like this could be done as a storytelling game, where a narrative unfolds before the player (maybe from a deck of cards or dice rolls). Or rather spectator, as the player would have no input.
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John Prewitt
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I play solo a lot and don't mind this type of scenario, though I'd be bored if I couldn't "do" anything, but I've played games as both sides (Psycho Raiders for example) and it's fun to see the game unfold... but I still am making choices for both sides.
 
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Cornixt
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Any game could be run with zero players as long as you set up a sequence of how a player should behave in any possible scenario. Simple games with limited choices or few decisions are easiest, so solitaire games or many mass-market games, all the way up to something like Go.
 
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maf man
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well its just a simulation then. The "game" part of it I would assume would be the set-up. Not entirely sure who this would attract but I certainly can't be a nay-sayer as I freaking love the PC graphic engine simulations.
 
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Chris
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That's not a game; it's an algorithm.
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Ryan Keane
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COIN is what first came to mind as a game that is designed for players, but has bots with complex decision trees to try to simulate a non-player. In theory, they can be played with all 4 bots.

Various other wargames have official or fan-created bots to play one side, so that you can play against the bot, rather than playing both sides solo. Again, in theory you could play both sides as bots - I think this could be good for testing a bot design to see if the bots actually play to win or lose in a reasonable amount of time, or are too turtley.
 
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Russ Williams
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Triboluminous wrote:
That's not a game; it's an algorithm.

I would say rather that it is a game, which happens to have non-human algorithms playing all sides.

E.g. I would say that the game of Chess is still the game of Chess, whether it's played human vs human, or human vs AI, or AI vs AI.
 
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Adam Phelps
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Ludvig Stigsson
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T. Dauphin
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Title Bout
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If you play the basic game. The advanced game adds strategy cards.
Otherwise, after setting up the two boxers, you flip cards to compare 'random' numbers to the boxers' stats to see what happens. You control nothing--except the speed at which you flip the cards.

 
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I Need More Coffee
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Snail's Pace Race is kind of a zero player game for children. All players are controlling all the snails with no player holding ownership of any particular snail. The game is thought of as an example of game play where outcomes are independent of the players and nobody feels like they were the loser or winner. It's a weird concept but I find it intriguing.
 
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A "zero player game" is essentially a mathematical model. Conway's game of life, Markov chains, climate models, planetary accretion models — it would fall into the same general category.

Such systems can be interesting or fun to watch. Fun doesn't come only from making decisions. The task of iterating such rule systems should probably be left to computers, since the procedural aspect is merely rote.
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Nicholas
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Churchill

According to one of the reviews, the designer even suggested that players might try running a game bot vs bot vs bot.
 
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