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Subject: Solo Variant Mechanics rss

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Stan Strickland
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We are in the process of producing a solo variant version for our new game. Are there any mechanics you could recommend to implement in a solo variant? If so, could you give any example? Also please feel free to mention any mechanics you don't like in a solo variant. Thanks!
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Jake Staines
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It's kind of hard to answer that question without the faintest idea of what the game in question is! Could you provide some details as to how the non-solo version of your game plays?
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Chris Snyder
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I love solo game design. In fact, all my design ideas start solo because I prefer games of that type.

Some people think solo variants should try to mimic the multiplayer game experience as much as possible, and incorporate some kind of AI or randomizer that simulates another player. Is that what you're going for? Same game experience, but only one player? Or would a more drastic rehaul be needed to make your design solo playable?

The things I most look for in a solo game experience:

1) Win/lose endgame conditions. I'm not a fan of beating my high score.

2) Variability without being too random. I like having a different experience each time and hate to win/lose based on die rolls/card draws.

3) Intuitive gameplay. I don't want to have to consult rules and charts during the game to make sure I'm doing it right.

4) Meaningful decisions. This is true in every game, solo or not.
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Stan Strickland
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Bichatse wrote:
It's kind of hard to answer that question without the faintest idea of what the game in question is! Could you provide some details as to how the non-solo version of your game plays?


Here is a link to the game page Tau Ceti: Planetary Crisis. Here is a brief overview of the non-solo game play.

After the initial tile placement phase is complete (setting up the modular hex system), game play beings which consists of approximately 9 rounds, which are further broken down into 4 phases; Action, Battle, Consume, Enlightenment.

Each player will take on the role of one of the alien races in the game - each being the ambassador and star ship commander of their race. Your goal is to become the most powerful relic in the Tau Ceti Authority, which is achieved by earning the most Galactic Points (GPs). GPs are gained by controlling resources (influence), gaining knowledge, resolving crises, having large amounts of money, winning battles, and holding certain cards at the end of the game.

As the game begins, you are equipped with your own starship, unique skill sets, and an interface which you will use to control and manage your star ship’s systems and resources. You can research a variety of factions, which will increase your production of resources, and expand your influence. You can sell resources for money or use them to upgrade your starship systems, giving you more control, power and abilities such as; stronger shields, faster propulsion, more accuracy in battle, teleportation, enhanced cognition, etc. Dare to venture out into the interplanetary cosmos where you will encounter cosmic energy, radioactive asteroids, dark matter, and time warps! As you traverse the system, you are free to explore new sectors to gain knowledge, take on interplanetary missions to earn money, and travel to the forbidden planet "Nummar" to acquire exotic technologies.

In the final phase of each round, players engage in Enlightenment, where a random crisis could affect a resource on one of the planets, thereby disrupting the entire interplanetary economy. Pandemonium may set in as players struggle to retain stability and control over their resources and influence. The less influence you have, the higher probability your planet will be affected by a crisis. Antidotes and knowledge cards can be used to resolve crises, and players will be challenged to determine whether crises are naturally occurring or alien initiated.

Interplanetary battles may occur as anxiety builds, and those with the best weaponry, defense upgrades, and skills will have the upper hand. Who will rise to victory in the end, and gain the seat as leader of the Tau Ceti Authority?


Thanks for any input you might have.
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Stan Strickland
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snyderman wrote:
I love solo game design. In fact, all my design ideas start solo because I prefer games of that type.

Some people think solo variants should try to mimic the multiplayer game experience as much as possible, and incorporate some kind of AI or randomizer that simulates another player. Is that what you're going for? Same game experience, but only one player? Or would a more drastic rehaul be needed to make your design solo playable?

The things I most look for in a solo game experience:

1) Win/lose endgame conditions. I'm not a fan of beating my high score.

2) Variability without being too random. I like having a different experience each time and hate to win/lose based on die rolls/card draws.

3) Intuitive gameplay. I don't want to have to consult rules and charts during the game to make sure I'm doing it right.

4) Meaningful decisions. This is true in every game, solo or not.


Thanks Chris for the input and feedback, that really helps!
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Albert Hernandez
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Here's a thread on the topic over at the 1 Player guild. You may want to browse or part there for more input.

Need help on what makes a good solo variant
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Stan Strickland
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fractaloon wrote:
Here's a thread on the topic over at the 1 Player guild. You may want to browse or part there for more input.

Need help on what makes a good solo variant


Thanks Albert! I will check it out!
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John "Omega" Williams
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There is no single mechanic to make a game solo.

Each usually needs to be tailored to the unique favtors of play for the individual game.

Some common aspects though are the following.

1: A way to randomize the AIs reactions so it is not doing the same thing every time. Unless that is a factor you want.

2: Patterns or responses for the AI to what the player is doing. Or how the AI itself is playing.
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Stan Strickland
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Omega2064 wrote:
There is no single mechanic to make a game solo.

Each usually needs to be tailored to the unique favtors of play for the individual game.

Some common aspects though are the following.

1: A way to randomize the AIs reactions so it is not doing the same thing every time. Unless that is a factor you want.

2: Patterns or responses for the AI to what the player is doing. Or how the AI itself is playing.


Thanks Omega! That is pretty much we are thinking now. We really appreciate your input. We believe we are heading in the right direction. Because of the type of game we are developing, we need to keep certain dynamics and mechanics for the solo. We plan to randomize the AI's reactions, adding as much variability as possible. We don't want the randomness to come from dice rolling, etc, but more of something like a computer program. The player will be presented with specific tasks and multiple options to complete them. We want the solo player to anticipate certain forthcoming actions from the AI although some will be unexpected.
Thanks again so much!
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John "Omega" Williams
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When I was working on the AI for my old solo space empire builder game way back the things I puzzled out first were how to get the AI opponents to be different. Explore different sectors, research different things. Do they negotiate or do they attack?

The solution I used for that and another empire builder game was to have a set of personality, research and "tactics cards and deal them out randomly to each faction as they were encountered.

So you could get species A who likes to trade, researches mostly shields, and uses a forking pattern in combat.
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Stan Strickland
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Omega2064 wrote:
When I was working on the AI for my old solo space empire builder game way back the things I puzzled out first were how to get the AI opponents to be different. Explore different sectors, research different things. Do they negotiate or do they attack?

The solution I used for that and another empire builder game was to have a set of personality, research and "tactics cards and deal them out randomly to each faction as they were encountered.

So you could get species A who likes to trade, researches mostly shields, and uses a forking pattern in combat.


That is a great idea! We have incorporated some of that already with the different aliens. Each have their own strengths and abilities. As we develop the Solo we are trying to incorporate as much of the regular game as possible. I think we have come up with a very cool concept that will be unique to our game. Thanks so much for your input. It really is helping.
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Nate K
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You've already gotten plenty of great advice, so I'm a little late to the party, but I would like to point you to an article about solo play that may be useful to you: Designing Tabletop Games for Solitaire Play
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Stan Strickland
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kurthl33t wrote:
You've already gotten plenty of great advice, so I'm a little late to the party, but I would like to point you to an article about solo play that may be useful to you: Designing Tabletop Games for Solitaire Play


Nate,

Thank you for your advice and for attaching the article. I just finished reading it and feel it has great advice on every angle. I really appreciated all of the pros and cons of each mechanic from a variety of games. I am excited about our solo model because I believe it has a lot of the good and solid mechanics mentioned. Thanks again so much!
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