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Subject: Figuring Out Objective Mechanics rss

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Michael Winger
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I am working on a mystery/exploration game. I want there to be multiple scenarios for the players to play through. I don't want to reveal the exact scenario until the players have done some exploring.What are some good ways to do this?

My first idea is that there will be clue cards in the deck that players draw from. Once two clues are drawn, you consult a table for the order they were drawn in, and it tells you which scenario to start playing.

My problem with this is that player hands are not revealed, since each player has a hidden personal goal to complete, and someone could potentially be playing as a traitor. As rare as it might be, it is possible that a traitor player could horde all the clue cards, and make it impossible to reveal the scenario. It could be ruled that clue cards must be revealed I suppose? Perhaps I should scrap the personal goals and traitor mechanic?

I'm really not sure where to take this, and any help or advice you can offer will be appreciated.
 
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Warren Fitzpatrick
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The only game I know that does this (reveal the scenario during the game) is House on Haunted Hill (or something like that). I played it a few times and it had a "to beat" number you used through the game. Once you failed that role, the game switched from exploratory to survival or beat the big bad guy.

What's your goal in using the clue to scenario route? Does the traitor fit the schemes? Could you simply instruct the Traitor that they must reveal clue cards? (They may cheat, but that's true of many games) It's hard to answer this w/o knowledge of what happens in the game, but perhaps I gave something. Give us more and someone will be bound to help out!
 
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Michael Winger
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I am very familiar with betrayal at house on the hill. This game plays similarly. Players move around, turning over room tiles to explore a facility. They need to uncover some kind of hidden evil and defeat it to win.

I want the scenario to not be known right away, and I also want it to be random, but based on gameplay elements.

I'm thinking that I will just rule it so clue cards must be revealed. If someone cheats, so be it. They won't be invited to play again, right?

I just wanted to try something other than the clues, because it feels very similar to the way betrayal works.
 
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Harv Veerman
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Another game that does this is Legends of Andor.

Basically, it has a "time track", and when certain points on that track are reached, more info about the goal of the scenario is revealed.
 
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Michael Winger
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That seems like an interesting mechanic. I tracked down a couple rules books, and I still can't quite grasp when the legend cards would be revealed, or what kind of information is on them. In addition, it seems like you still have to pick a legend to play through at the beginning, so you still know what the objectives will end up being when the game starts. I do like the concept, and it's something that could work once I do some more research.
 
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Harv Veerman
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Regniwekim wrote:
That seems like an interesting mechanic. I tracked down a couple rules books, and I still can't quite grasp when the legend cards would be revealed, or what kind of information is on them. In addition, it seems like you still have to pick a legend to play through at the beginning, so you still know what the objectives will end up being when the game starts. I do like the concept, and it's something that could work once I do some more research.


There is a "time track" marked with the letters A to N, a marker moves from A to N during the legend, when certain events occur. The cards have letters on them, so for instance card E will be read when the marker reaches E on the time track. Card E could hold the goal, so from A to E you are "just" preparing, from E to N you are trying to fullfill the goal.

In short, this is it.

Not doing justice to the elegance of the mechanich here, IMO.
 
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Michael Winger
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I just watched rahdos run through of the game. I like the idea, but I'm not sure if it works for my game. Not having the board revealed makes setting things up ahead of time tricky. I do like the idea of a round tracker that triggers events at certain times. I am going to read more about the game and see what I can draw from their system.
 
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Jeremy Lennert
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I have not played Andor, but I think it uses a predetermined deck for each scenario (no shuffling), so you have to pick the scenario in advance, and after playing it once you'll know what's coming.


I had a design at one point with branching scenarios where you would get increasingly specific clues as the game went on. You'd start with a very general clue (A1), which could lead to either of two more specific clues (B1 or B2). If you got B1, that could lead to either C1 or C2; if you got B2, that could lead to either C3 or C4, and so on. So even if you've memorized all the scenarios, you can't tell exactly which one you're playing until the end, though each new clue narrows down the possibilities. The clues can even introduce scenario-specific rules gradually, as long as you make sure that the specific rule being introduced applies to all of the scenarios that you could eventually get from that point.

It was originally for a computer game, but one could imagine a board game with a clue booklet with numbered sections, where each section ends with instructions like "When it's time to generate the next clue, flip a coin. If it's heads, go to section 117. If it's tails, go to section 82."

Of course that makes the scenario design tricky (they need to be grouped at several hierarchical levels).
 
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You could make the traitor reveal one clue every time they draw a second. It would allow them to sort of 'steer' toward (or away from) specific scenarios.
 
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Michael Winger
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Antistone wrote:
I have not played Andor, but I think it uses a predetermined deck for each scenario (no shuffling), so you have to pick the scenario in advance, and after playing it once you'll know what's coming.


I had a design at one point with branching scenarios where you would get increasingly specific clues as the game went on. You'd start with a very general clue (A1), which could lead to either of two more specific clues (B1 or B2). If you got B1, that could lead to either C1 or C2; if you got B2, that could lead to either C3 or C4, and so on. So even if you've memorized all the scenarios, you can't tell exactly which one you're playing until the end, though each new clue narrows down the possibilities. The clues can even introduce scenario-specific rules gradually, as long as you make sure that the specific rule being introduced applies to all of the scenarios that you could eventually get from that point.

It was originally for a computer game, but one could imagine a board game with a clue booklet with numbered sections, where each section ends with instructions like "When it's time to generate the next clue, flip a coin. If it's heads, go to section 117. If it's tails, go to section 82."

Of course that makes the scenario design tricky (they need to be grouped at several hierarchical levels).


I think I have a system figured out. I really liked the round tracker+legend cards idea, and I think I have found a way to merge it with the clue system to come up with a unique way to generate different gameplay experiences each time.
 
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Magnus Carlsson
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One idea might be to have a deck of clue cards, let's say 21 cards. They are divided into 7 types with three of each kind. When you setup the game you shuffle the deck and then when you find clues you draw them (revolutionary!!! )

The thing is that when you draw a clue it will contain a mission to accomplish. The second time you draw a similar clue the mission will be upgraded. You can choose to have a finite set of clues be drawn (7?) or simply draw clues until some other timer kicks in.

The result will be that for each type of clues you will get a specific mission, but as you progress it can be intensified. You can get games where you actually draw one of each type having 7 easy but very different goals, or in one case you draw 3 of two kinds having two hard goals but nothing else.

Example:
One red clue - Shut down 2 portals
Two red clues - Shut down 3 portals and throw away the key.
Three red clues - Shut down 4 portals, throw away the key and kill the gatekeeper.
 
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Michael Winger
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grimmymail wrote:
One idea might be to have a deck of clue cards, let's say 21 cards. They are divided into 7 types with three of each kind. When you setup the game you shuffle the deck and then when you find clues you draw them (revolutionary!!! )

The thing is that when you draw a clue it will contain a mission to accomplish. The second time you draw a similar clue the mission will be upgraded. You can choose to have a finite set of clues be drawn (7?) or simply draw clues until some other timer kicks in.

The result will be that for each type of clues you will get a specific mission, but as you progress it can be intensified. You can get games where you actually draw one of each type having 7 easy but very different goals, or in one case you draw 3 of two kinds having two hard goals but nothing else.

Example:
One red clue - Shut down 2 portals
Two red clues - Shut down 3 portals and throw away the key.
Three red clues - Shut down 4 portals, throw away the key and kill the gatekeeper.


Stringing together clues to make them form something coherent is where I'm running into problems. I don't want the players to have to reference a huge appendix every time they find a clue. I just can't seem to come up with a good way to tie random clues together that doesn't feel like I'm ripping off other games too much.
 
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Magnus Carlsson
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In't it possible to have the actual mission text on the cards/clues?

Red clue

1. Find one fruit
2. Find two fruits and plant a tree
3. Find two fruits, plant a tree and create a bird house.

Then you don't need the external reference.

A strange idea flew into my mind:
What if the clue cards actually contain parts of things

Red clue | Red clue | Red clue
1. Find one | 1. fruit |
| 2. Plant one | 2. Tree
3. Create | | 3. a bird house

So for a mission to actually be true you need both parts of the same number (and there can be missions divided into three parts or just single)

Regarding the ripping part I wouldn't be so scared for that. From a legal perspective mechanics can't be "protected". And I doubt that you create an exact copy of a whole game. You probably will add your touch to it! So get inspired with pride, I think that in the end no one will say: Hey it's just like "Other game". If you dig really deep you will find that almost all mechanics are already used in some game, it's all about combining them and putting them into a context.
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Michael Winger
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grimmymail wrote:
In't it possible to have the actual mission text on the cards/clues?

Red clue

1. Find one fruit
2. Find two fruits and plant a tree
3. Find two fruits, plant a tree and create a bird house.

Then you don't need the external reference.

A strange idea flew into my mind:
What if the clue cards actually contain parts of things

Red clue | Red clue | Red clue
1. Find one | 1. fruit |
| 2. Plant one | 2. Tree
3. Create | | 3. a bird house

So for a mission to actually be true you need both parts of the same number (and there can be missions divided into three parts or just single)

Regarding the ripping part I wouldn't be so scared for that. From a legal perspective mechanics can't be "protected". And I doubt that you create an exact copy of a whole game. You probably will add your touch to it! So get inspired with pride, I think that in the end no one will say: Hey it's just like "Other game". If you dig really deep you will find that almost all mechanics are already used in some game, it's all about combining them and putting them into a context.


I want the cards to contain actual mission text, and that's where my problem is coming from. How do I randomize it, but also make things coherent? Clue 1 needs to fit with clue 2 needs to fit with clue 3 etc. I like your color coded idea, but I feel like a system like that would lack depth. I suppose that is a trade-off you have to make when randomly generating things. More brainstorming it is. Thanks for the advice.
 
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Magnus Carlsson
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Just to clarify, don't know if you understood:
In my example, I tried to show that there are three red clues in the game. Of these 0-3 are actually used/found. Depending on the combination you will end up with different missions. If you add a multiple of these you should end up with a fairly random setup but still have some depth. If you have 5 different sets (total of 15 cards) and you draw 5-6 of these each game you should have something like 15*14*13*12*11 possible combinations.

But I think that before I try to give you some more ideas/feedback it would be good if you tried to explain what you are aiming for. Number of players, playtime, complexity? Do you see that it's scenario based with a finite number or should it be endlessly replayable?
 
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John Breckenridge
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Okay, how about something like this:
1. Each player has two tokens in his color.
2. There's a place somewhere with two spaces on it, A and B
3. Each clue card has an A or B on it and a specific codeword (and anything else you want on a clue card).
4. When a player finds a clue and there is no token in the space for that letter, he can place one of his tokens in that letter space.
5. When both letter spaces are full, those players reveal their codewords, which combine to name the scenario. For example, if the blue player's token is in the B space and red claims the A space, red can then say, "I have ethereal, what do you have?" Blue can then give out the codeword from any B clue he's holding, so he says, "Monkey." This means the scenario they're now playing is "The Case of the Ethereal Monkey" so they find it in the scenario book and proceed.
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Dave Schroeder
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Depending on your general game mechanics you could have each clue card have an objective (the first one drawn becomes the objective) and a modifier.

First Clue: objective: close 2 portals, modifier: enemies move 1 faster
Second Clue: objective: gather 4 doohickeys, modifier: portals take 1 more action to close

So your objective would be to close 2 portals, but they would take 1 more action to close, and each clue would add something. It would set the objective on the first clue, but you could structure the modifiers such that they would force a meaningful change into how you go about completing it.
 
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