Ryan Larson
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I'm developing a concept for a game that I would love to play, based around spaceflight and the role of mission control in accomplishing missions. It would be a co-op and would in some ways be like a tabletop version of Kerbal Space Program (which I have not played personally), but with more specific mission control roles for players.

I'm working through some of the concepts about how the experience should feel and connecting mechanics to that experience of the theme, and I've come up against a problem. Part of the concept is that the players plan their trajectory and have to then execute the mission by performing actions at proper intervals. Some of that planning will involve "calculations," probably facilitated by some sort of game component.

Here's the main issue: I want players to feel like they can predict the basic behavior of their spacecraft so they can make mission plans, but I also want some level of unpredictability so that when they go to execute their plan, they have to adjust in real-time for various reasons (the spacecraft is going faster than they thought, they're closer to a planetary body than they thought, etc). Are there games out there that successfully hide some information that, when revealed, players have to react to and make adjustments to their plan without completely derailing everything? I don't want it to be arbitrary and make the team's plans all for nothing (so I'm wary of having a completely random deck of event cards that might turn up an event that's too strong to react to and might break the game), but since it's a co-op I want the game to play against the players and not just be a simple plug-chug-win scenario. Any thoughts?
 
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    Have you considered a bag of chits to specify the severity of an event? For instance, you draw a card from the bad-news deck that says "Trajectory is Wrong" that has five levels of severity. A player reaches into the severity bag and draws five chits, most having no mark at all, some indicating a 1 or a 2. (+0s, +1s, +2s, -2s, -1s could work too.)

    The result would be that most incidents are minor and handle-able, while on occasion you have a real crisis on your hands. Players could adjust the difficulty of their session by what goes into the bag. Or, what goes into the severity bag could be determined by the amount of planning and expenditure that occurs in a prior portion of the game.

    You need to have unpredictability, especially if it's a co-op. There has to be something there to add drama or the game will just be ordinary.

             S.


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Jeremy Lennert
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Just to note: "Hidden information" in this case probably just means "random." If there's no player choosing the result, then presumably the result has to be randomized in some fashion. If the result is random, it doesn't matter whether you generate it in advance and then hide it until you're ready or just generate it on-the-spot when it's needed (e.g. it doesn't matter whether you shuffle the deck at the start of the game, or just when you're about to draw from it).

So there's no reason you couldn't use dice rolls, as long as they can generate the range of outcomes you want.
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Corsaire
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2 or 3 dice can give you a good curve the player can plan towards the middle of. Too flat of a distribution and players will largely plan for the worse outcome.
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Ryan Larson
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Antistone wrote:
Just to note: "Hidden information" in this case probably just means "random." If there's no player choosing the result, then presumably the result has to be randomized in some fashion. If the result is random, it doesn't matter whether you generate it in advance and then hide it until you're ready or just generate it on-the-spot when it's needed.


That's true, I hadn't thought of it that way.
 
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James Arias
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I like this approach, where instead of "straight up random" you have an "uncertainty factor" and/or a "bell curve" of possible results or a "draw pile" of possible outcomes. Lets you have the surprises and unpredictability a la fortunes of war, but still do some strategic planning to mitigate and consequent sense of accomplishment if you succeed.

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Perry Kleinhenz
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Pandemic has a number of mechanics that create predictable randomness. Pandemic cards come out at semi regular/predictable rate. The infection cards are also reused so players know which cities can get infected at any point.
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Ryan Larson
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Corsaire wrote:
2 or 3 dice can give you a good curve the player can plan towards the middle of. Too flat of a distribution and players will largely plan for the worse outcome.


When you say 2 or 3 dice, do you mean you would add the total value of the dice to get the bell curve?
 
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Corsaire
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ryantheengineer wrote:
Corsaire wrote:
2 or 3 dice can give you a good curve the player can plan towards the middle of. Too flat of a distribution and players will largely plan for the worse outcome.


When you say 2 or 3 dice, do you mean you would add the total value of the dice to get the bell curve?


Yes. That way there is a possible known outcome at the <3% on say two six sided dice in rolling two 1s. The player knows they could've planned for it, but took the gamble if they didn't. Three dice obviuosly ramps up the rarity. It's a familiar risk element, and the distributions are cheaper to manage than having cards or such covering a similar distribution of outcomes.
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Graham Muller
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I would add some player agency to this.
Depending on how much resources they commit to the calculation could influence the chance of something going wrong.
That way players can choose to commit many resources early and probably not worry about real time changes. Or focus on other things first and trust in being able to handle the real time changes.
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Robert Manning
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ryantheengineer wrote:
Any thoughts?
Have you seen Leaving Earth?
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Krzysztof Sieja
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It's not precisely what you are looking for, but Catan has the mechanism, in which you set your towns basing on the probability of dice rolls (settling near 6's and 8's is potentially better), but still bad luck might ruin your plans.
[url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tharsis_(video_game)]Tharsis[/url] is an interesting video game (set in space), in which you send your crew to various locations, knowing, what is the problem in given location, how many points you must roll to resolve the problem, and how many dices each crew member is possible to use - so you can plan your actions depending on the probability, but you are never sure, if you will succeed.

Edit: any ideas, why the second link does not work? :(
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gmuller wrote:
I would add some player agency to this.
Depending on how much resources they commit to the calculation could influence the chance of something going wrong.
That way players can choose to commit many resources early and probably not worry about real time changes. Or focus on other things first and trust in being able to handle the real time changes.


That’s why I recommended a bag of chits where you can change the contents via earlier actions.

S.
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Steve
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There are mechanincally novel reliability / outcome cards in the thematically similar game, Leaving Earth. While rockets don't accidentally end up going too fast, they do have a semi-predictable chance of suffering a failure.

The similarly themed Liftoff! simply uses dice to achieve a similar effect.
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Jeremy Lennert
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Kolo_z_Wrocka wrote:
Edit: any ideas, why the second link does not work?

Parentheses in the URL need to be escaped, as described in
https://www.w3schools.com/tags/ref_urlencode.asp

Tharsis
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Ryan Larson
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rmanning wrote:
ryantheengineer wrote:
Any thoughts?
Have you seen Leaving Earth?


I had not until you mentioned it, but I just spent a while reading through the game page and some reviews. It sounds like Leaving Earth has a lot of elements that are similar to my game idea and that would be good points to build off, but a few key differences remain that I think would make my concept unique. Thanks for pointing me there!
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Ryan Larson
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gmuller wrote:
I would add some player agency to this.
Depending on how much resources they commit to the calculation could influence the chance of something going wrong.
That way players can choose to commit many resources early and probably not worry about real time changes. Or focus on other things first and trust in being able to handle the real time changes.


Thanks, that was a really succinct way of describing one of the spectrums of choice I'm trying to achieve. You said it better than I could have.
 
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