Ben Pinchback
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As easy as it sounds, movement has been a big problem lately for my design team:

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Since Fleet (Coming soon) has its sponsered Kickstarter rolling out soon, we've began serious work on some other related and non-related designs. One of which we are particularly excited about is very simple at it's core:
Move here, pick up x, y, or z, and deliver it there if that place wants it. There's obviously some other things mixed in like payment, supply, demand, terrain, but as easy as it sounds nothing has hung us up more than movement. We've probably gone over every conceivable scenario from Tikal style "count your movement/action points", to single space movement, roll and move, cards to move, all of those pluss buffs for extra movement, etc.... Makes my head want to explode. Especially since we designed our (what we think is slick) supply and demand / price system in like 5 minutes and it's been the same for weeks and months now. Something as simple as moving a guy from point A to point B, but without making every player count out loud, 1, 2, 3... no 1, 2, no... 1, 2, 3, 4... where was I? Oh ya, 5!

As funny as it sounds, I think the idea that will save us is going to be.....

"Remove movement alltogether!!" Woot.

There's probably a reason why movement is reserved mostly for wargames. Ya, punt movement and go back to the old Euro well of just making connections to deliver stuff. Connections are clean and offer many possibilities. We're probably influenced by too much Hansa Tueueeutonica and Steam, but those games rule and so do connections..... ya. Connections.

Anyone else stumped by something simple? Or not simple?
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I have several "designs" going on concurrently. Why? Well it never fails that out of the blue I'm struck with what seems like a complete game, an epiphany almost. Everything about it makes sence and it works, or so I think. I try and pursue it to see where it leads me. As you've said, more often then not some little thing becomes a huge hurdle. Since I'm in no rush I have the luxury of being able to put it off and focus on other things and invariably a solution will present itself. Is this a full proof method, not by a long shot. Sometimes a fix will create new problems, it's enough to drive one mad.

This probably wasn't any help to you but at least you'll know that you're not alone when it comes to stumbling blocks with game design.

Best of luck!
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Ian Hedberg
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Why not have movement from place to place simply cost income, thematically used to buy fuel and other supplies? You'd probably still need to limit the number of moves to a small number per turn, to prevent players from finding some method of gaining more income than they lose by movement and thereby generating infinite income in one turn. If you want to have a spacial arrangement, you could have a board full of places connected by lines, with the income cost to move along each line written on it (and perhaps secretly equal to the physical length of the line multiplied by a constant and rounded). Or you could have a stargate-style FTL transport system, in which it costs X fuel to activate a stargate, allowing you to travel from any place to any other place. If you go with the stargate system, you can have places be cards.


I don't have any unsolved design problems right now. I used to have some in the game I'm currently finishing up (Expedition: Battle for the Silt Sea. Visit the thread! whistle), but I managed to eventually find satisfactory solutions. I'm also working on a new game, but it's new, so everything shake is problematic.
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James Hutchings
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My problem is that designing a game is too hard. My solution is to put it off.
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Final scoring. playtesting various scoring schemes.
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James Hutchings
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OK, here's a serious one.

I want to design an 'RPG but a boardgame' game, in the tradition of Talisman or Star Explorer

My first problem was that the most interesting parts of RPGs are the least easy to represent in a board game, and vice versa.

That is, I'm sure half the people on this board could whip up a system for generating characters, generating monsters and traps, having the monsters and traps hurt the characters and so on.

Most efforts at these sort of games seem to be not much more than that - a not-that-original take on the random dungeon tables in the first DM's guide, back in 1979.

Boardgames seem to be far less good at what D&D used to call 'specials' - the encounters that can't be fit into treasures, monsters or traps.

The solution that occured to me was having a 'choose your own adventure' format for special encounters.

However this made the next problem worse, which is how to have meaningful strategy.

With a standard set of rules for monsters, for example, it's easy to imagine that you could learn to say "OK they have combat of 10, but their morale is only 6, and if I Terrify them I can send them two rooms over into Ted's party who won't be able to deal with them, so he'll have to retreat, but the Magic Mirror is heavy so they'll have to leave it, then I can send my Scout over..." and so on.

But how do you have strategy in a choose your own adventure, other than the 'strategy' of learning what all the encounters do?

As a side-issue, the requirement to have only one 'piece' really makes strategy a lot harder - and if you allow multiple pieces which can split up, it becomes a lot less 'RPG-like'.
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apeloverage wrote:
OK, here's a serious one.

I want to design an 'RPG but a boardgame' game, in the tradition of Talisman or Star Explorer

My first problem was that the most interesting parts of RPGs are the least easy to represent in a board game, and vice versa.

That is, I'm sure half the people on this board could whip up a system for generating characters, generating monsters and traps, having the monsters and traps hurt the characters and so on.

Most efforts at these sort of games seem to be not much more than that - a not-that-original take on the random dungeon tables in the first DM's guide, back in 1979.

Boardgames seem to be far less good at what D&D used to call 'specials' - the encounters that can't be fit into treasures, monsters or traps.

The solution that occured to me was having a 'choose your own adventure' format for special encounters.

However this made the next problem worse, which is how to have meaningful strategy.

With a standard set of rules for monsters, for example, it's easy to imagine that you could learn to say "OK they have combat of 10, but their morale is only 6, and if I Terrify them I can send them two rooms over into Ted's party who won't be able to deal with them, so he'll have to retreat, but the Magic Mirror is heavy so they'll have to leave it, then I can send my Scout over..." and so on.

But how do you have strategy in a choose your own adventure, other than the 'strategy' of learning what all the encounters do?

As a side-issue, the requirement to have only one 'piece' really makes strategy a lot harder - and if you allow multiple pieces which can split up, it becomes a lot less 'RPG-like'.


Play Tales of the Arabian Nights and see if that helps.
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ropearoni4 wrote:
apeloverage wrote:
OK, here's a serious one.

I want to design an 'RPG but a boardgame' game, in the tradition of Talisman or Star Explorer

My first problem was that the most interesting parts of RPGs are the least easy to represent in a board game, and vice versa.

That is, I'm sure half the people on this board could whip up a system for generating characters, generating monsters and traps, having the monsters and traps hurt the characters and so on.

Most efforts at these sort of games seem to be not much more than that - a not-that-original take on the random dungeon tables in the first DM's guide, back in 1979.

Boardgames seem to be far less good at what D&D used to call 'specials' - the encounters that can't be fit into treasures, monsters or traps.

The solution that occured to me was having a 'choose your own adventure' format for special encounters.

However this made the next problem worse, which is how to have meaningful strategy.

With a standard set of rules for monsters, for example, it's easy to imagine that you could learn to say "OK they have combat of 10, but their morale is only 6, and if I Terrify them I can send them two rooms over into Ted's party who won't be able to deal with them, so he'll have to retreat, but the Magic Mirror is heavy so they'll have to leave it, then I can send my Scout over..." and so on.

But how do you have strategy in a choose your own adventure, other than the 'strategy' of learning what all the encounters do?

As a side-issue, the requirement to have only one 'piece' really makes strategy a lot harder - and if you allow multiple pieces which can split up, it becomes a lot less 'RPG-like'.


Play Tales of the Arabian Nights and see if that helps.


Alternatively, simplify your system. No boardgame with fixed parameters will ever be able to compete with the group imagination of an RPG, so my advice is not to even try...
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MarkEA wrote:
I have several "designs" going on concurrently. Why? Well it never fails that out of the blue I'm struck with what seems like a complete game, an epiphany almost. Everything about it makes sence and it works, or so I think. I try and pursue it to see where it leads me. As you've said, more often then not some little thing becomes a huge hurdle. Since I'm in no rush I have the luxury of being able to put it off and focus on other things and invariably a solution will present itself. Is this a full proof method, not by a long shot. Sometimes a fix will create new problems, it's enough to drive one mad.

This probably wasn't any help to you but at least you'll know that you're not alone when it comes to stumbling blocks with game design.

Best of luck!

I think one of the major things that draws me to game design is the challenge to make something simple. It's easy to design something decent and complicated, but very difficult to design something simple yet great. That challenge is why I enjoy consternating over seemingly simple things. Can it be made simpler and better?
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The Loneliest Banana wrote:
Why not have movement from place to place simply cost income, thematically used to buy fuel and other supplies? You'd probably still need to limit the number of moves to a small number per turn, to prevent players from finding some method of gaining more income than they lose by movement and thereby generating infinite income in one turn. If you want to have a spacial arrangement, you could have a board full of places connected by lines, with the income cost to move along each line written on it (and perhaps secretly equal to the physical length of the line multiplied by a constant and rounded). Or you could have a stargate-style FTL transport system, in which it costs X fuel to activate a stargate, allowing you to travel from any place to any other place. If you go with the stargate system, you can have places be cards.


I don't have any unsolved design problems right now. I used to have some in the game I'm currently finishing up (Expedition: Battle for the Silt Sea. Visit the thread! whistle), but I managed to eventually find satisfactory solutions. I'm also working on a new game, but it's new, so everything shake is problematic.

This is a very good idea and we tinkered with something close where you could spend money for extra movement. We both enjoyed it but thought it got a little out of hand. Now, having to spend money to claim a route or to move the whole way like you said isn't bad.
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ropearoni4 wrote:
Final scoring. playtesting various scoring schemes.


This is also where I usually hit a roadblock.

In my opinion, finding the right scoring mechanism can also make/break the game... this would be the place where you can allow for win-from-behind. If un-attended, many WIP games tend to favor a "run-away leader" ... which can make a game rather boring / frustrating.
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Stormtower wrote:
ropearoni4 wrote:
Final scoring. playtesting various scoring schemes.


This is also where I usually hit a roadblock.

In my opinion, finding the right scoring mechanism can also make/break the game... this would be the place where you can allow for win-from-behind. If un-attended, many WIP games tend to favor a "run-away leader" ... which can make a game rather boring / frustrating.

100 percent agree. It's really frustrating when your game mechanics work and you just can't finish off how to score it. We've had this conversation a lot lately, "ok it sure seems like Blue did the best and should win......"
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bno70_1 wrote:
"Remove movement all together!!"
Sounds to me like you already have an obvious solution. If this….


bno70_1 wrote:
Especially since we designed our (what we think is slick) supply and demand / price system in like 5 minutes and it's been the same for weeks and months now.


…. Is the core of your game. Extra rules pieces and mechanics can sometimes get in the way. Maybe you don’t need a board. Maybe players don’t need to move.
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Kirk Monsen
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Movement is a cost which allows some turns to be more valuable than others. The question is, how many turns of inaction do you want in a row before players do something which progresses the game?

Is the benefit of skipping several turns (by moving further) greater then the benefit of skipping a few turns (moving closer).

-Munch "movement is a commodity like money or time" Wolf
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Joe Mucchiello
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My perpetual problem is time to spend with game design at the front of what I'm doing. Over the course of a week, I have little time where I can say "Now I am designing a game."

Solutions involving cloning or time travel seem to create more problems than they solve. And it's not like I can just lock my kid in his room and ignore him.... hmmm..... Nahh.
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Biggest current problem (current game, approaching gold): Clarity. Bringing the rules to light in an easy-to-understand manner, where I'm not over- or under-explaining things. Not easy for an English major.

Biggest upcoming problem (next game, breaking out of alpha): Gradually increasing difficulty as a game progresses.
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I have created a solitaire board game called The CDC: Biosafety Level 4. I don’t know if I have problem yet, but here is what it could be: After multiple plays the player may create a system where they could start beating the game more often then they lose. Ideally I would like the win percentage to be around 20%. I haven’t had enough play tests under my belt yet, but my Mother played it during the Winter break and won 2 games out of 4 in a single session.

So when the player first learns to play the game, I expect them to lose often because they haven’t figured out an optimum strategy yet, but after a dozen plays I might need to create a way for the player to tweak the difficulty level to keep it challenging.


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ropearoni4 wrote:
Final scoring. playtesting various scoring schemes.


I feel your pain. "What" is being scored is often at the forefront of the game design (i.e. what are players working towards). Getting the actual scoring system working in way that is balanced and creates the kinds of incentives you want among players is tough!

With Hegemonic, we've tested dozens of variations on the scoring mechanism before finding one that works really well.
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Oliver Kiley
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Opie wrote:
Biggest current problem (current game, approaching gold): Clarity. Bringing the rules to light in an easy-to-understand manner, where I'm not over- or under-explaining things. Not easy for an English major.


Yes to this as well. It's hard finding the right balance. Over-explaining can increase confusion or make a simple concept sound more complicated than it is. Under-explaining can cause problems with not fully understanding all the implications of a rule. Tough choices indeed.
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ropearoni4 wrote:
Play Tales of the Arabian Nights and see if that helps.


I've never played it, but a lot of the reviews (even those that like it) say that it doesn't have a lot of strategy.
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PS I've played the recent Sid Meier's Civilization: The Board Game board game, in which you get a randomly chosen civilisation and the corresponding leader as your 'character'. However the differences between the civilisations didn't feel that large, which is realistic, but not what I'm looking for in my game. Maybe a fantasy version of that, with more detailed characters and more 'personal involvement' (eg the leader is the one who slays dragons and is at the head of the troops) would allow what I'm trying to do.
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Scott Nelson
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apeloverage wrote:
ropearoni4 wrote:
Play Tales of the Arabian Nights and see if that helps.


I've never played it, but a lot of the reviews (even those that like it) say that it doesn't have a lot of strategy.


But it has the choose your own adventure stuff you were looking for, including wandering monster tables, very akin to D&D. Next to AD&D questbooks of the late 80's and Steve Jackson's Socery books, Tales is the closest thing to playing a round of D&D, minus the dungeon crawl.
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Parallel solitaire is a bug, not a feature, but I don't know how to squash it.

I've been toying around with approaches to a fantasy adventure board game, ideally the beautiful offspring of Runebound and Magic Realm. My goal is to provide an open-ended, go-anywhere do-anything shape-your-destiny experience, and there are apps for that. The problem is, what fun is it to have someone shaping their own destiny sitting next to you, if they don't have a reason to care about your great deeds and vice versa?

It seems to me that fantasy adventure board games typically wind up at one of two arrangements: (1) full co-op, either with all players (Defenders of the Realm) or all the players except one (Middle-Earth Quest), or (2) parallel races to the goal (Runebound, Tales of the Arabian Nights) with minimal-to-zero reason to notice the other players. All of these can be fun! but I'm looking for something that is not at either of the full co-op or parallel race extremes.

I don't have a good answer yet, but I'm trying to take a clue from the old Magic Realm system of individualized, non-identical victory conditions. Because the players in MR were after different things, it made sense for them to sometimes cooperate and at other times conflict, naturally, without being put into a co-op or compete frame directly by the rules. I'm also thinking of (i) tilting the combat system to reward temporary teamwork, (ii) trading in information as a finite resource, and (iii) include quests that specifically require some sort of player interactions, even short temporary races.

So, a number of angles, but no grand solutions yet.

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One of the things I'm struggling with in my current design is how much to keep in. There are plenty aspects of space travel and space combat that I could model in the game, but I'm not sure how detailed I want it to be. Will players really want to juggle 3+ kinds of weapons? Do shields need to be separate from armor, even though their effect is the same? Do I want fighters, or just capital ships?

At the moment, I'm leaning towards cutting out as much as possible and keeping the game streamlined. I figure that cool modifications to ships can be added later via cards--they don't need to be included in the main rules.

I'm also trying to get space combat to be quick and dirty. You make one strafing attack against the enemy, assess how much damage you've taken and whether or not another run would be worth it, and then either loop around for another attack or make a subspace jump.
 
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kurthl33t wrote:
One of the things I'm struggling with in my current design is how much to keep in. There are plenty aspects of space travel and space combat that I could model in the game, but I'm not sure how detailed I want it to be. Will players really want to juggle 3+ kinds of weapons? Do shields need to be separate from armor, even though their effect is the same? Do I want fighters, or just capital ships?

At the moment, I'm leaning towards cutting out as much as possible and keeping the game streamlined. I figure that cool modifications to ships can be added later via cards--they don't need to be included in the main rules.

I'm also trying to get space combat to be quick and dirty. You make one strafing attack against the enemy, assess how much damage you've taken and whether or not another run would be worth it, and then either loop around for another attack or make a subspace jump.


Cutting “features” is challenging, especially when you are trying to create a simulation. Too streamlined and you lose aspects that could make your game stand out from the others. There are plenty of space combat games out there, so you really have to juggle to come up with the right combination of mechanisms to make it a hit.
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