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Subject: Players controlling enemies in a Co-Op game? rss

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Scott Arnone
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So, I'm just curious what people think on getting players to control enemies during a Co-Op game? Or some other sort of GM-free control scheme?

Games like Castle Ravenloft just have monsters attack the nearest PC, and after that, its just roll to hit. And that's kind of boring.

The thought I had was to assign some sort of points for enemies dealing damage to PCs. "Danger" or "Threat" or something. And then, when the enemy is killed, the PCs get the accumulated points (maybe just the player controlling said monster, or the whole party. Dunno?)

And then the points could be used to progress, to get better loot, to determine a "winner", or maybe to even actually defeat certain encounters.

Do you think something like that could encourage players to play the enemies intelligently?

What are some other methods of GM-free combat that you guys have seen out there that goes somewhat beyond the traditional "attack closest, use pre-determined ability"?
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Josh Bodah
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As far as movement goes, I kind of like the way it's done in Arkham Horror where different monsters move different ways based on some randomizer (card draw in this case)

As far as making NPC combat more interesting, there either needs to be an algorithm for calculating what happens (e.g. who gets attacked) or there needs to be a randomizer that decides. I think the best way to make combat more interesting is to have events happen during combat. Anything that forces players outside of their comfortable norm is good. To use Arkham Horror as an example again, Yig (a boss) slowly makes attribute rolls harder for the players as the fight goes on longer.

Personally, I'm not a big fan of dice combat as it feels like I'm not making meaningful decisions. I think some kind of card combat that incorporated hand management would be more interesting. I think Mage Knight is supposed to do something like this.
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Barry Figgins
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That sounds like Dungeoneer. It's not cooperative, but it has phases where players accumulate bad-points (Peril, I think) which other players then spend to summon and move monsters.
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Boaty McBoatface
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No, in my experiance anything that gives an arse a tool to be an arse breaks a game. Also it removes the co-op ellement and makes it competative. If you going to do that why not just go down the Munchking quest route?
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jumbit
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InkSplat wrote:
Do you think something like that could encourage players to play the enemies intelligently?

Sounds like a recipe for king-making and grudge-holding to me.

When you play a co-op, you're playing *against the game*. What you describe is a competitive game where players play their own pieces as well as enemies.
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Buddha Meeple
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In Mansions of Madness controls all the monsters - do you think of something like that ?
 
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John "Omega" Williams
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You still in the end end up with the monsters appearing then moving towards a target. Except now the targets may not be even.

Sounds good on paper. But in actual play it just doesnt really work as hoped. And the chance for things to go wrong go up.

One of the better co-op systems in an abstract manner was oddly enough RuinsWorld where the monsters had a rolling range AI built in. Very abstract, but it worked nicely.
 
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Herc du Preez
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As soon as you have players making *choices* for monsters it is no longer co-operative. The monsters require some sort of AI/System (or random roll) to create a co-operative game.

Besides Arkham Horror, also see how Dungeons & Dragons: Castle Ravenloft Board Game does things.

My 2c.
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Brian P Lewis
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Gears of War has a AI Deck, Each monster type has a set of AI Cards.
Each mission an AI deck is created by shuffling each monster type that is available in that missions AI cards along with some event AI cards to form a deck.
On the monsters go an AI card is drawn and the instructions followed.
These range from move in for a close combat attack, move into cover and fire, fire and nearest player, move and fire and many more.
This way the players dont know each monster turn which monsters are going to activate and what they are going to do.
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John "Omega" Williams
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Something I have toyed with several times is an AI "Attack pattern" deck or table. Draw or roll to see what the opponents do. I've used simplified versions of that for other games. But would like to do a more elaborate version some day.
 
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Josh Bodah
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tqboz wrote:
Gears of War has a AI Deck, Each monster type has a set of AI Cards.
Each mission an AI deck is created by shuffling each monster type that is available in that missions AI cards along with some event AI cards to form a deck.
On the monsters go an AI card is drawn and the instructions followed.
These range from move in for a close combat attack, move into cover and fire, fire and nearest player, move and fire and many more.
This way the players dont know each monster turn which monsters are going to activate and what they are going to do.


Hmm very interesting, I'll have to check that out
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Mike L.
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Sorry I can't see a good way to make a coop game have a balanced Danger/threat concept.

As for other ideas, I have created a monster AI system for my GM-less dungeon crawler that attempts to give monster's some variability on who and how they attack. The idea is that during the monster turn for each type of monster in combat you roll a d20. You then reference that monster's card which tells you how that type of monster attacks this turn.

For instance, a roll of 10 may say: melee, highest STR. Which means the monster will make a melee attack against the character with the highest STR within range of the monster's movement.

Or for the same monster on a 15 it could say: range 2, lowest Dodge. This means the monster will do its best to move to a range of 2 from the hero with the lowest dodge and make a ranged attack.

By having individualized actions for each monster type, I have found that the monsters can act very different from one another. It also forces the heroes to take different strategies when taking on different groups of monsters. For example a cave troll may be mindless and attack the closest hero with high damage attacks, whereas an assassin may break the line and go after your lower defense characters.

I am sure there are plenty of variants to this idea, that would make for an interesting game. Good luck.
 
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Brook Gentlestream
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In Dungeoneer: Tomb of the Lich Lord, each player accumulates points of Glory as they explore the dungeon, but also points of Peril. Peril is effectively a resource that opponents can spend to play cards that hinder you.

In Survive: Escape from Atlantis!, after every players turns they roll a die to determine which monsters (if any) act and make all decisions for that monster on their turn.

In The Isle of Doctor Necreaux, the only co-operative game in these examples, the party takes damage and as a group must decide how that damage is distributed and how the party (or one individual member of the party) will lose some ability because of it.

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Wynand Louw
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This is an interesting question that set the gears in my mind turning. I have a friend who is so obsessed with descend 1st ed he plays long campaigns against himself, and I know of several BGG users who play wargames solo. So this "playing against yourself" in a coop may be workable mechanic from a proven psycological point of view: referring to solo wargamers.
So here is how it may work: The team's victory depends on how difficult they make it for themselves in order to win. Playing a monster intelligently against your teammate increases the amount of VP's the team earns at the end. Stupid monsters dont generate vp's when they are killed. So all you need to do is to devise a way to assess the skil the monster is played with in order to caculate the Vp,s he generates when he is defeated.
 
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D
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hiimjosh wrote:
As far as movement goes, I kind of like the way it's done in Arkham Horror where different monsters move different ways based on some randomizer (card draw in this case)

As far as making NPC combat more interesting, there either needs to be an algorithm for calculating what happens (e.g. who gets attacked) or there needs to be a randomizer that decides. I think the best way to make combat more interesting is to have events happen during combat. Anything that forces players outside of their comfortable norm is good. To use Arkham Horror as an example again, Yig (a boss) slowly makes attribute rolls harder for the players as the fight goes on longer.

Personally, I'm not a big fan of dice combat as it feels like I'm not making meaningful decisions. I think some kind of card combat that incorporated hand management would be more interesting. I think Mage Knight is supposed to do something like this.


"As far as making NPC combat more interesting, there either needs to be an algorithm for calculating what happens (e.g. who gets attacked) or there needs to be a randomizer that decides."

I don't think randomization is really necessary. You could have players hit points put them in red zones when in low health, ahve certain enemies with a opportunist icon or something that indicates they must target players in the red zone if they legally may before they can target others. Things like that. Triggered reactions to player status and actions. Damage dealt would be a good means of determining agro like in video games - making that player the preferred target even before the opportunist bit, etc. Monsters in a similar red zone of health could use a second set of if then else conditions to indicate retreat or timidness or berserk rage or what have you. These are not difficult to keep track of.

I disagree about dice rolling and decision making, it is simply that your choices are not guaranteed to succeed and you must take into account the probability of their success, weighing last ditch efforts with more reliable ones. "Do I use my normal arrow attack and damage him some or try to make some sort of called shot at the ogres forehead and drop him" sort of thing

sorry to necro this thread. id rather necro old thread about the topic i want to read and discuss about than start a new one unnecessarily .
 
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D
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jumbit wrote:
InkSplat wrote:
Do you think something like that could encourage players to play the enemies intelligently?

Sounds like a recipe for king-making and grudge-holding to me.

When you play a co-op, you're playing *against the game*. What you describe is a competitive game where players play their own pieces as well as enemies.


I think the problem more so becomes you give the players incentive, and the means, to make stupid decisions for the enemy so they all win. On the other hand you can not provide reward to them or you give incentive to do exactly what you said, which is another problem in another direction. I think what is best is a strict script of conditional effects. If-then-else and case statements are the only real way of handling things neutral to player desires. Adding it to a deck gives it a bit of a fog on the enemies next actions which makes it seem a little more real.
 
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Joseph Larson
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Avianfoo wrote:
As soon as you have players making *choices* for monsters it is no longer co-operative. The monsters require some sort of AI/System (or random roll) to create a co-operative game.

That's not true at all. In Drzzt the players make a lot of the choices for the monsters, but you often make the monsters make the choices that make the best sense for your characters, like having them spawn the furthest away from the player they can. Of course the monsters still move according to rules, so players don't make all the choices for you.
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Jeremy Lennert
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Avianfoo wrote:
As soon as you have players making *choices* for monsters it is no longer co-operative. The monsters require some sort of AI/System (or random roll) to create a co-operative game.

Several people seem to have expressed this general sentiment, which seems very strange to me. Surely if all the players have shared victory and defeat, that makes it cooperative, no matter who controls what?

I think the issue is more that, as long as the players' goal is to win the game, they're going to exploit whatever choices you give them to maximize the odds of that happening. I mean, you can write the rules to tell the players that they're "supposed" to choose actions for the monsters that make things as hard on the heroes as possible, but I believe that's a bad idea for a few reasons:

1) It punishes players for skillful play: the more clever they are at controlling the monsters, the worse they'll do at the game, whereas a player who is really bad at controlling the monsters will do well at the game.

2) People usually suggest it because they want to simulate the experience of playing against an intelligent adversary, but even if players follow the instructions, it doesn't do that very well: if the same player is controlling both sides, he's going to be ridiculously good at anticipating his opponent's actions and ridiculously bad at noticing and exploiting his opponent's mistakes. It's really not that similar to playing against a real opponent.

3) In my experience, a substantial fraction of players are just deeply unhappy at the prospect of playing against themselves, so you're excluding all of those people from your potential playerbase.


So if the heroes control the monsters, they're probably going to control them in such a way as to help the heroes win. Giving the heroes extra loot based on how much damage they deal will only change how the players control the monsters to the extent that it changes which action maximizes the heroes' odds of winning: that is, players will try to maximize the monsters' damage only insofar as the loot they earn from that extra damage is more valuable than the health points they lose.

I could imagine a game where the heroes basically can't ever die, and more damage = more loot, so the heroes want to be damaged. In which case the players will control the monsters to do as much damage as possible, but they'll also control the heroes to receive as much damage as possible, because we've already established that's how they win. I'm guessing that won't be any more palatable to you.

I could also imagine a game where monsters must spend a certain number of action points each turn, and every possible way of spending those action points will hurt the heroes, but the heroes get to try to choose the least-hurtful way for the monster to spend them. That could be pretty fun if the list of options available to the monsters were well-designed. But it's still not going to be anything like playing against an intelligent adversary (and will require that the monsters are governed by rules that are wildly different from what you'd probably use if they were controlled by an intelligent adversary).

And of course you can have a game where the players aren't allied, but then it's no longer cooperative (at least not in the usual sense).

But I don't think that giving heroes extra loot for taking more damage is going to help solve the problem that I think you're trying to solve.
 
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