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Ender's Game ... Game


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#1 KylHu   Members   -  Reputation: 152

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Posted 22 June 2012 - 08:39 PM

First and foremost, this is an idea for a game that I have no intention of making. I'm not looking for anything here other than an interesting discussion, because I love to discuss ideas even if nothing comes of them.

The idea is for a game based on the zero-g battle game that is played in the novel Ender's Game.

Here's how the battle game in the book works. (If you've read the book, feel free to skip this paragraph.) The battle game is a tactical training game that takes place on a space station and is used to train gifted children (up-and-coming commanders and generals) to think tactically in a zero-g environment. There is an arena of sorts with two "gates" on either side where opposing teams jump through to battle each other within the arena space. Each team wears mock space suits and carry harmless laser guns that are used to "freeze" (lock in place and prevent the usage of) certain parts of the suit (e.g., getting your arm shot and frozen meant not being able to aim and fire, getting your legs frozen meant not being able to kick off of walls, etc.). Generally, the goal of the game is to freeze the whole of the opposing team (at least to the point where they pose no threat) and then send one of the winning team's members through the enemy gate, which signals victory. The whole thing takes place in zero gravity, so maneuvering is next to impossible -- you kick off of walls or parts of geometry in the room called "stars" and once you're headed somewhere you're not stopping until you hit something and kick off again. This is a pretty basic description, but I think I've covered the important bits.

Surprisingly, no one has made a video game version of this yet (aside from a bad Newgrounds version and a failed attempt by the Infinity Blade guys). But recently my brother and I conceived of a version of the battle game that is true to the spirit of the books: a turn-based strategy game where both players take their turns and perform their actions simultaneously rather than one at a time. It would probably be a mobile/tablet and/or PC game.

Here's how my game idea works: You and a friend each have your own "army" (team). The two armies come out of their respective gates a "platoon" (group of five or so depending on balance) at a time -- first turn you each have one platoon, next turn you have two each, etc, until your whole army is in the arena. The arena would be a 2D, top-down view like a lot of sports games. Sure 3D makes more sense given the material, but it would complicate things significantly, so 2D it is.

You determine what your units do by dragging straight lines from your squad members to walls/stars (you can't stop in midair -- zero gravity! Physics!) or enemies -- one line for movement (say, a blue line) and one line for attack (a red line, if you choose a specific target). When each player has picked their targets and/or has chosen where their units are moving to, each player hits the ready button. Then, the units for each team play out the moves they were given all at the same time.

And yes, since you don't know for sure where your enemy is headed until you're both moving, you might screw up and jump somewhere you don't want your squaddies to be, or attack someone who doesn't end up being a threat or who ends up behind cover or out of range. The trick is tactical thinking: Where do you think the other player is going to go? Who will they attack? What's their strategy?

Pretty simple, neh? Well, to make the game more interesting it would probably have to be more complicated than that.

Here's the more advanced version: Not all units would be the same, and you can determine sections of enemy suits to aim for (legs, arms, or head, which can prevent movement, stop them from attacking, or lower their accuracy), and chance to hit a target would go up or down depending on factors like target size, distance, your unit's accuracy, whether or not your unit's head or arms are frozen, etc.

Units could have different stats or tactics -- some are small and harder to hit but are younger and less experienced so have less accuracy -- and vice versa; some deliberately travel feet first which makes their head and arms harder to hit but their legs easier to hit, potentially losing movement to hopefully gain some more hits; some might travel in twos -- one using the other as cover, effectively making for one unit that's difficult to hit for the price of two regular units (there would be a limit on amount of units, of course), etc., etc. For each platoon that enters the arena, you determine which types of units they'll be made up of. If the game were to take liberties with the source material, different weapon types could be added as well.

Another idea is for different modes, such as one where the only goal is getting someone through the enemy's gate. Another is for a playback at the end of a match to view the match being played continuously, without the pauses between moves, like how it would look "for reals".

And, a potential single-player version: There could be a campaign for this game as well, though obviously not required. The campaign could involve gaining new unit types over time, fighting alternate match types (two teams vs. one, for example), and levelling up specific stats of your individual units based on how they're used through the campaign. Very RPG-like -- you could choose your army and platoon names, color of outfits, even unit names perhaps. I consider the FFX Blitzball minigame similar to what this would be like.

Well, that's about it. I certainly have more ideas but this covers the meat and potatoes of it. What do you think? If you're a fan of Ender's Game, does this seem to do justice to the source material? What would you change, or add? If you'd like, I could draw up a rough example of how the game would look/play like.

And, lastly, I apologize for the exceptionally long post.

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#2 Legendre   Members   -  Reputation: 963

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Posted 23 June 2012 - 09:49 AM

How is this different from an RTS?

#3 Dragonsoulj   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2008

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Posted 23 June 2012 - 10:37 AM

From the sounds of it Legendre, each player takes time to choose their actions, then the actions commence, there is a pause to choose the next actions, then the actions commence. It is not one solid real-time game.

#4 Mratthew   Members   -  Reputation: 1444

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Posted 23 June 2012 - 10:54 AM

A bit like Fallout 3's turn based game play elements in the Ender game's battle room. I'd go isometric view and make the gate the main objective. I'd also explore the idea of uncovering "hero" units in each team, like a level up for a squad but it is simply a realization of a squads ability based on putting that squad in a situation it will excel at, that way a commander can focus squads on achieving certain tasks (firing on the go, speed, cover, etc). I like the idea.

#5 eugene2k   Members   -  Reputation: 237

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Posted 24 June 2012 - 06:57 AM

A bit like Fallout 3's turn based game play elements

It's called phase-based

#6 Legendre   Members   -  Reputation: 963

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Posted 24 June 2012 - 09:02 AM

From the sounds of it Legendre, each player takes time to choose their actions, then the actions commence, there is a pause to choose the next actions, then the actions commence. It is not one solid real-time game.


*facepalm* I missed that little detail. Thanks for explaining.

#7 KylHu   Members   -  Reputation: 152

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Posted 24 June 2012 - 02:03 PM


A bit like Fallout 3's turn based game play elements

It's called phase-based


That's right, "phase-based" is what I was talking about, though I didn't know that was the technical term for it (thanks for that morsel of info, eugene2k!)

I'd go isometric view and make the gate the main objective. I'd also explore the idea of uncovering "hero" units in each team, like a level up for a squad but it is simply a realization of a squads ability based on putting that squad in a situation it will excel at, that way a commander can focus squads on achieving certain tasks (firing on the go, speed, cover, etc). I like the idea.


Yeah, in regards to the campaign concept, I figured that's how advancing certain platoons and units would go. As for making the gate the main objective, the game would have to be balanced around being able to defend the gate and preventing players from just chucking all their units straight to the gate from the get-go. Things like having stars always be blocking the straight-line path to the gate so it takes at least a couple turns to get there, giving the other team time to defend the area, or even requiring three or so units go through the gate to win. Or you could need to have more units in the enemy gate than the enemy team has in yours, which is why you want to make sure you don't throw, say, five guys in the enemy gate but have none left to defend against their six non-frozen guys who could all go in YOUR gate and win that way. Defence would be very important, not just blindly throwing guys at the gate.

This is why I thought different modes would be interesting -- a mode where the goal is just freezing the other team, one where getting one through the gate is the goal, another where you want to end up with more units in the gate than the enemy, etc.

#8 tim_shea   Members   -  Reputation: 460

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Posted 25 June 2012 - 04:08 PM

If you haven't played Frozen Synapse, it's definitely worth the (5?10?) bucks it costs. It's far from a great game, but it's a very interesting realization of a concept that I have long wanted to implement. Frozen Synapse adds walls and weapon types to your concept. Strangely, even with the strict tactical framework, games sometimes devolve into "shoot more bullets than the other guy", but I choose to believe that's a failing of the game, not the concept.

#9 aattss   Members   -  Reputation: 372

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Posted 26 June 2012 - 11:57 AM

Ender's Game wasn't that much about the actual battle than it was about society and the characters themselves.

#10 Mratthew   Members   -  Reputation: 1444

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Posted 26 June 2012 - 10:45 PM

Doesn't mean the combat room wouldn't make a fun casual game. Although a game based on the Sci-fi The Player of Games would make a far more interesting game design to put together (not to change the topic).

Edited by Mratthew, 26 June 2012 - 10:48 PM.





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