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Subject: Mechanism Help: NPC movement rss

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Kevin Jeffrey
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My current WIP is in the concept stage. I was struck with a decent idea at work earlier this week. While I have a lot of the game mechanisms worked out I have been struggling with one.

The gist of the game involves thieves (players) committing robberies each round in one of the numerous city blocks. The thieves are trying to gather the most loot by game's end, and avoid being arrested by the police (NPC). [This is a very simplistic take on the game.]

I'm struggling with the movement of the NPCs. I was thinking of a card based movement, like the monster in Fearsome Floors. Draw a card, move that many spaces forward, "looking" each way on each movement space, moving towards the closest thief within sight, or continue their patrol.

Does anyone have any other ideas or game examples with NPC movement? I can only think of the Fearsome monster and the thief from Settlers of Catan that move and interact, to a certain degree, with the players.
 
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John Breckenridge
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In the real world, the police would probably be patrolling the neighborhood along a usual route. Something similar to how the slave catchers move in Freedom: The Underground Railroad could work. There are five of them, each with its own path; a randomly chosen one moves forward or backward along its path at the beginning of a turn, and each of them will move closer to anything that intersects its path.
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Kevin Jeffrey
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That is a perfect example, I haven't played Freedom yet.thank you very much!
 
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Jon Moffat
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Yeah, paths are a good idea, and you can randomize how fast they move.

another idea would be to just have a deck of "police search block x this turn" cards and draw a set number. You can always reshuffle them or draw through as you see fit.
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Victor Cobar
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I have a similar problem with a game I am developing. Right now we are doing dice rolls to determine the direction they are moving. I am looking for a better way to handle this. I was thinking having a "patrol" path that they will always follow. What have you play tested?
 
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Kevin Jeffrey
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I haven't finished creating my prototype yet, so no play tests at the moment. My rules are coming together, and I'm considering the path and dice roll mechanic like Freedom The Underground Railroad.

I also had a more simplified idea where my map is divided into 4 or 5 Districts, each District is divided into 4 or 5 zones. I'll have a deck of cards that have District patrol movement cards like "move one zone clockwise", "move to the diagonal zone", "move two zones counter clockwise". On each player turn, one of these cards are drawn and affects each police position.
 
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Matthew P
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I'm not sure that they are much different from the already mentioned things, but check out the States of Seige series from victory point games such as Zulus on the Ramparts! Dawn of the Zeds (Second edition). They are solo games that have NPCs encroaching on your position.
 
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Kevin Jeffrey
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I'll definitely check out the Victory Point games, which just reminded me of Darkest Night. The NPC end boss moves based on a die roll combined with a status check. Each location has three roads leading to other locations. Each road also has two dice faces, if the NPC gets a D6 roll of a 2 or 5, the NPC moves to one location, a 1 or 4 to another, and so on. The NPC only moves like this if the status check fails.

The status check doesn't fit my intentions. However, each zone which moves the player to another zone, within a District, based on the die roll could work.

Thanks for the Victory Point Games suggestion.
 
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Games like Pandemic and Forbidden Island might offer some ideas. In Pandemic numerous location cards are flipped and occasionally reshuffled - depending on how many locations exist this could work. Forbidden Desert flips cards (so less random than dice) to determine which direction and how many spaces the storm moves.

Given your description however, I think path based movement is probably the best - games like Ninja and Nuns on the Run both have playable characters that move on a path and then are allowed to move off of it when certain things happen. Even with NPC this would work. The NPCs would move along a path unless something occurs to distract them from it - noise or sight for example - perhaps other NPCs can call for help as well - they would then move off the path. Depending upon the complexity of the game a simple algorithm could decide what happens. For example:

While moving along the set path the police officer hears a noise to the left. The officer then moves x number of spaces and performs further noise/sight checks at x intervals. These could be prioritized - if the officer sees something he moves in that direction rather than towards the noise. If the officer hears something and sees something moves toward sight first. After investigation officer returns to route the quickest way possible.

Depending upon how movement works you could take that into account as well - sound/visibility levels determine how fast an officer moves towards a place and how long they will keep moving towards a place. If an officer hears an explosion in one direction and breaking glass the officer moves towards the explosion.
 
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