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Subject: Zero-G Movement mechanics? rss

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Justin Hawkins
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So, while working on my NaGaDeMon game (working on rules and getting things translated from "Designer Speak" into "Words other people can understand when I'm not around so strangers can playtest"), and naturally, I had another game idea pop into my head that I couldn't put down for a few hours.

I don't want to give away my idea quite yet, but the basic idea is that you are In Space, moving around as a person (no vehicle), and hoping from thing to thing (an asteroid field, debris from a space battle, planetary rings, even inside a cargo bay or space station with artificial gravity not working). How would you go about making movement reflect the gravity of the situation?


Personally, I'm looking at what happens when your turn ends and you're still in the air (preserving momentum into the next turn), and ways to use tools/objects (jetpack, grappling line, recoil from a weapon, etc) to alter your course. A large portion of the gameplay will simply be outmaneuvering your opponents (either directly in conflict, or indirectly by being more efficient in your own actions). Thoughts?
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Clive Lovett
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If there were no gravity then you could possibly use some kind of vector mechanic similar to Bolide. Depending on how much 'force' or speed you are using to move the drift would be further. If you add gravity then maybe this alters the vector.

Not sure whether this was what you were looking for but hope it helps.
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Jessey
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I had a game that has been on the back burner in part because I wanted to include a similar mechanic. It involved moving through destroyed parts of a spaceship (as in Dead Space). It wasn't so complicated as to require changing momentum vectors or preserving anything between turns (it was solo) -- but the idea was to somehow capture the idea of moving from one piece of debris to another through the vacuum.

I ended up scrapping the idea all together because of the limitations of a 2D board, the mechanics ended up being an elaborate way of saying "all of these distinct and separated spaces are adjacent, or nearly adjacent"

I'm interested to see what suggestions you get, and where this gets to however. You can find the remnants of my idea here:

Bionic: First Contact - Paragraph Driven Solo Adventure - Idea Phase
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Ian Richard
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My first thought would be a momentum system. If you push off of an asteroid, you get force in the direction(s) of your choice, firing weapons applies force in the opposite direction of your shot, etc. Keep in mind that opposite forces will cancel each other out.

Also, this system would require the player to move in a direction based on his current momentum. The only way to alter your course will be to create a force in the direction you wish to move.

This would probably work better with a simpler board... such as square spaces. This means that you would only need to track your momentum for 2 directions (Horizontal and Vertical).


---
For example:

You start your turn against an asteroid with no momentum. You push off with a momentum of 2 Up and 1 Right.

As your next turn begins, you move your piece 2 squares up... and one right. At this point you are horizontally lined up with your target so you want to get rid of the horizontal momentum (1 Right).

In order to offset it, you fire your handgun to the right which has 1 recoil... applied in the opposite direction of your shot. In previous terms this is one force applied to the Left.

One left + One Right (Since these are the horizontal axis) adds up to zero horizontal motion. Your vertical momentum stays the same since no forces were applied.

On your next turn you must move 2 up.
---

Keep in mind this system could be massively expanded uses logic from real world physics. Any square's affected by gravity will apply a constant force every turn.

Partial Atmosphere and air resistance? Your momentum is reduced each turn on these squares.

None of this is tested, but this would be my first instinct for zero-G.

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Martin Gallo
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Sounds like it could be interesting. Zero-G movement has been tried several times with space ships of some sort (Shooting Stars and Hard Vacuum come quickly to mind, there are lots of other examples). What you are looking at is called "vectored movement" and while it is a relatively simple concept to understand it seems to be "clumsy" to represent on a two dimensional map (even tougher in 3-d). The sticking point for most people seems to be that this all involved physics.

First of all, in a zero-G environment something put in motion will keep moving in that direction until stopped or redirected.

Secondly, in the absence of some sort of force to slow that moving object down it will keep moving at the same speed. This is typically friction of some sort. Some sort of thruster could be used to change direction or accelerate/deceleration.

The amount of direction/velocity change is a function of the amount of thrust applied and the mass of the object it is acting on.

So, a game with a person jumping from object to object in a frictionless zero-G environment could be done (and could be fun) if you are able to handle the vectors and reaction masses. I think it would be cool because by "jumping off" a rock that rock would also change direction/velocity (and when a person "impacts" an object, their velocity vectors would combine.

Of course, I am an engineer and am not afraid of vectors...
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Tim
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I'll plug my own geeklist, which includes a number of games that feature newtonian principles of movement (generally based on the concept of Bolide, mentioned above).

Games Featuring Vector Movement:
http://boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/70145/games-featuring-vect...
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Justin Hawkins
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I like the idea of vectors, but I figure they might be too complicated for some. Or, rather, they're probably too complicated for the game style/theme I'm going for (as a video game, this would be a cartoon-y third-person game, rather than a gritty physics-simulator). Also, I already planned to use a square grid, where vectors would be more difficult to implement (though a non-grided version of my game idea that did use vectors would be cool...).

I hadn't thought about spending an "action" readying a launch, choosing which tokens you'll follow next turn, but I like it. As-is, if you are in space when a turn ends, everyone will know what your move will be for the next turn. So if your turn ends with "declare your next move by placing movement tokens", then everyone will always know what your move will be on your next turn (while planning what to do on their own turn). Thus, being "in space" basically means your move is picked for you already.

Then I could add effects to cards, so that a "Gun" has an "In-Space: Recoil" option, which means that if you're in space and use it, you get recoil, which would give you movement tokens opposite you're shot (need to limit range, so you don't have "5 Up 3 Right" shots giving you some ridiculous angle to follow when you only move 2 or 3 squares next turn)

I wasn't planning on using partial atmosphere or the like, and was going to keep "gravity" as simple as "you don't have to plan movements while your feet are planted", but I like the thought. Could add in a few "higher gravity" objects that DO project a gravity field (and if that field goes out farther than one square, you can start curving launches by skimming through the edge of a gravity well... ooo, I like it)

Thanks for the input everybody. This is still definitely in the early planning phases (working on my NaGaDeMon game mostly, this is becoming my "productive time off", as it were), but I'll be reading up on other zero-g game mechanics before I get too heavily into development.

As for the base idea, I'm calling it "Asteroid Assassins" for now. Basically, "Ninjas in Space", where you can do anything you would expect a Ninja to be able to do (following Rule of Cool), but in space, with bouncing off asteroids as part of it. Not sure if it will be PvP combat, or a race to take out targets first (shared targets? set characters with randomly drawn targets? etc) I'm tinkering with standard sized square board pieces, with various layouts of space/asteroid, so the map can change a little (maybe with an "exploration" option), but not be so varied the board is hard to make during the game.

That's it for now. Much more, and by the time I reach a stopping point it'll be more well developed than my NaGaDeMon game.
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Brook Gentlestream
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This sounds like an awesome project. I'm thinking of it more like "Ender's Game" though.

I think the easiest thing to do is use hexes, because you're going to want to arc and change direction and maneuver around things at some point, especially if you are going to be using swinglines/cabling.

One idea I have for a stringline is to place double-sided "cabling tokens" on your card when you launch cable with a tense/loose side. As you approach the object, the tokens will be flipped to their loose sides. As you move away, they will change to the tense side. A cable would have no effect at all unless all the counters are on their tense side.

Theoretically, you could have a "net" that used cabling tokens the same way but would have different rules. A tense net would "bounce" objects that hit it while a loose net would capture them. The size of the net "capture area" however would be based on the distance from object to net-tosser. The amount of "loose" tokens would indicate the maximum amount of stuff that could fit in the net.

If you "capture" something you could move away from the object (somehow) to make the net tense again, "bouncing" the objects away in a new direction.


edit: if an object has more speed (plus mass) than the tensile strength of a cable or net, then the cable/net should snap, merely slowing down the restrained object instead of stopping them or changing their direction. I'm not sure if tensile strength should be constant based on the type of cable/net you are using, or if it should go down with the number of tense tokens you have.
Assuming a cable is taught, does its strength change depending on if its a long cable or a short cable? Does anyone here know?
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Brook Gentlestream
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Even though speed is constant in zero-G, that's only for something traveling in a straight line with no interaction with anything. Your units should be continuously losing speed as they bounce around unless they have some means of propelling themselves. In "Ender's Game" this propulsion was provided by muscle power as the soldiers "kicked off" from the walls or other objects, but you could also have jet or steam thrusters, mechanical winches, or arena-objects that provide push/pull to boost speed.

Personally, I think thrusters are the way to go because then you could have "fuel" mechanics. Though the additional fuel will complicate your mechanics: players will expect a unit with more fuel (and thus greater mass) to provide greater resistance to any changes in acceleration.
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Brook Gentlestream
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To prevent a cable from snapping, I suppose one could use super-stretchy elastic "safety cable". This way when you reach the end of your line, rather than getting really tense, it would stretch, slowly stopping you and then tighten, pulling you backward slightly and increasing your speed in the opposite direction to which you were traveling. Game effect wise, the tensile strength of the cable would be increased by some amount. If you had less speed than this strength and all tense tokens, your speed would be reduced to 1 back toward the achor of the cable and you would adjust your movement to leave one "loose" token. Without a way to stop yourself, you would continue to travel back toward where you came from. In some cases it would be desireable to use this safety line, in another cases not.

A net made of this stuff would be much easier to bounce things, but harder to capture things. Depending on your intents, that may be good or bad. There are times when you may want a giant trampoline floating around instead of a net.

Since nets made for capturing have to be smaller, its hard to make a big capturing net without using a lot of cabling to do so. To compensate, you could make a sort of "sticky" net that would make it much easier to capture things even when the net is very tense. For better or worse, such a net would be nearly impossible to use for bouncing purposes. Also it would be a sticky mess and be impossible to carry unless it was all you had because you wouldn't want it to turn into a sticky ball of yarn. For this reason also, you couldn't pack it up and use it again after it was deployed, so it would be a one-use item.

To compensate for this problem, you could make it out a material that was not always sticky, but required treatment, such as a chemical or an electrical charge that would make the net sticky after it was deployed. Since its not always sticky, you could pack it in a much tighter space (or even a net-bomb or net-gun) and use it for bouncing purposes. Once its "sticky mode" is activated, it would become a sticky web and can't be packed up or used for anything else afterward.

I suppose you could also use this idea to make other types of insidious one-use chemical nets or cables, such as those that secrete acid to burn away captured objects, or those that turn into razor wire slicing through things instead of capturing them, or those that harden into a solid object permanently holding anything captured. But one kind of person are you?

Another alternative to chemical nets to solve the problem of capturing things with tense nets instead of bouncing them would be to make the anchors really loose. Assuming modern day technology are better, making pressure-sensitive anchors that can be adjusted on the fly (literally) would be easy. It would be a simple matter to release the cables from both anchors whenever an object enters the net. This would guarantee the object is caught in the net, but the net itself isn't anchored to anything so the speed and direction of the object will be unchanged -- it will just be caught up in a net now. We'll call this a "anchor-free net" for discussion purposes.

There's no reason you couldn't then combine an anchor-free net with a chemical net, beginning the chemical process shortly after the net is released from the anchors. If you made this a "sticky" net, that might also make the net easier to retrieve later. Or you could use the acid net to, well, you get the idea.






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Attack Vector: Tactical

Skirmish scale (1-3 ships per player) space combat game with fast moving, highly realistic, 3-D movement and decision making mechanics.

Mechanically, the game plays in segmented movements (a'la Car Wars) with 8 per turn, and runs most of the decision making in parallel. This game encourages "fly by the seat of your pants", and is more like a first person flight sim than most minis games are. You actually feel like you're doing piloting or ship handling with this game. Most of the actions you do have a delay before you can do them again. Clever use of paper clips on abaci keep the timekeeping elements fluid and simple.

While there's science underlying the rules, it's carefully segregated into sidebars, so that only those people who care about it have to look at it. You don't need to be a science genius to play this game; the back of the box says "We do the scary math, so you can blow things up", and it's true, mostly due to play aid design.
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