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What can you do with a map (strategy)


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#1 Acharis   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3403

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Posted 16 November 2013 - 05:03 PM

Almost all strategies (and all 4x) have a map and units moving on the map and fighting other units.

I look for ideas how such a map can be used/done, but without units killing other units.

 

For the purpose of this discussion let's say it's a map of provinces and you run some sort of a kingdom/country. But that's just for simplification, if you have ideas for a space map for example, say it.

 

 

My random thoughts:

- such game can (and probably should) be asymetric, like you run a detailed country, but the AI is either greatly simplified or just present as an event (invasion forces, rebels). The AI does not need to play by the same rules as played do.

- probably, all/most provinces should be owned by the player or be neutral (no other countries on the map, more like a domestic map)?

- Pandemic boardgame could be an inspiration I guess (spread of epidemy on a map, asymetric gameplay).

- Maybe some economic connections between provinces could be the way to go?

 

 

Below are some videos of assymetric boardgames, watch them if you have trouble imagining how a map without standard units killing each other can be done smile.png

 

 


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#2 Krohm   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3011

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Posted 18 November 2013 - 02:52 AM

Both "Agricola" and "Stone age" are focused on gathering resources. They don't really have a map, as all slots are the same in terms of movement. I think collection of resources is very good concept if we want to not use combat and it sure allows to be expanded with movements.

 

Settlers of Catan features a procedurally built map. There's no real movement but rather "growth" from the cities you control. It is my understanding it has been praised for some mathematical properties I cannot fully appreciate.



#3 LorenzoGatti   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2584

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Posted 18 November 2013 - 05:03 AM

The factions could coexist in the same map sectors and try to assimilate or drive out "enemy" units without killing them.
 
A potentially grim setting: political parties, with leaders, elected officers and groups of activists and supporters as "units", electoral districts within one country as map sectors, player moves that don't include assassination or civil war (e.g. bribery, blackmail, aggressions, essays against leaders, public speeches and propaganda, lawmaking, terrorism against the masses) and relevant events (e.g. elections and important parliamentary votes).
 
A more lighthearted setting: tribes of clams colonizing some rocks, who try to persuade larval-stage mobile clams to join their tribe and settle on a certain rock, try to persuade "enemy" clams to leave rocks and go elsewhere by appropriately silly means like  team-based insult duels, and win by "controlling" rocks.
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#4 ambershee   Members   -  Reputation: 524

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Posted 18 November 2013 - 06:31 AM

When you add a map to a strategy game, you're automatically implying that there's some kind of territorial element to the game. In a competitive setting or an otherwise symmetrical situation, this kind of implies fighting for territory, and as a result you often get map based war games as an obvious consequence since acquisition of territory requires deployment of tokens, and the most effective means to deny the opponent territory is often to forcibly remove their tokens from territory you wish to occupy.

 

I'm unfamiliar with Agricola, but I don't feel that Stone Age is a good example. It does not use a map and instead the game board basically dictates that there are a number of slots that you can occupy - the game can be played entirely without the board as it has no real significance to the actual game mechanics, it's just a visual aid / descriptor of the options. A game like Pandemic whilst asymmetrical is still at it's core much like a war game, though the rules are inherently more abstract thanks to the setting. At it's functional core, you've still got a game that revolves around occupation of territory and the deployment and denial of tokens - it is definitely moving more into the direction you want to go in though!

 

If you wanted to build a very different game, you're going to need to find a philosophy that does not incorporate at least one of those elements - since we already have a map, which implies that territory is important, we'll have to rethink our approach to tokens or otherwise remove them entirely. It's a difficult thing to come up with a concept quickly that isn't derivative of these elements, but have you considered an approach that instead revolves around defining your territorial borders and altering your map as it plays? Consider perhaps a game that involves a number of resource types that are required for continual development towards a victory condition, but you do not have access to them all - instead you'd need to negotiate the exchange of portions of territory with your opponents to gain the resources you require. This in itself is a good core mechanic, and should probably be supplemented with two additional layers; one that dictates player intent (such as using resources to build items to move towards victory or capitalise on resource types), and probably another of hidden strategy with a random element - for example a deck of cards with subtle modifiers.

 

I feel like I've just described a weird variation of Catan....



#5 Acharis   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3403

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Posted 18 November 2013 - 02:24 PM


The factions could coexist in the same map sectors and try to assimilate or drive out "enemy" units without killing them.
Generally, I want to break from the Risk mechanic (you have a map and units, move the units, there are enemies units, they kill each other). A good example is Twilight Struggle with its influence tokens. Technicaly, it could be said it has units that fight other units, but... those infuence tokens work so different way it does not feel like Risk at all (while it has the territory, some sort of moving to adjacent territory and some sort of killing other tokens if you have more nerby; yet it feels completelly fresh and different).

 

[...]
Well, I want all kind of ideas at this point, for sure. But I would slightly prefer if this discussion gravitated towards assymetric single player game. Pandemic would be the best example, the "AI" is driven purely by random cards and has completely different kind of "units" and overall play by completely different set of rules than the player. In addition I would like it to feel like if the player was running a country/kingdom/empire.

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#6 TechnoGoth   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2621

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Posted 18 November 2013 - 02:49 PM

What if the map is the solar system?

 

Each planet has a special feature and two resources.  Earth has food and water and is the home of humanity, Mars has gold and titanium, and has alien ruins.  

 

The player can only control their agents and they control them by moving them to different planets.  Each agent is different and gives you one of each resource on a planet but can also do something special.  The explorer when put on mars can find alien artifacts or tech, the engineer can build a colony or upgrade one that's there if you have the resources.  The businessman can transform a ship into a trade route or generate 3 gold from the ruins doing prevents them being used for 3 turns. 

 

The map is the evolving interplanetary empire and the player can only move agents about and spend resources on building things.  


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#7 mippy   Members   -  Reputation: 1002

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Posted 19 November 2013 - 03:14 AM

I like map games that are not too complicated. Settlers of Catan is a good example, and if you want a space related idea then a hexagonal tile with a system on it could be fun to use. As Khrom said it results in procedurally built maps. 

 

  • Maps can have points which if you control them, you will get a buff of some form. Like a beacon or control tower. It does not have to be resources. 
  • You can have a system where multiple political power markers can be used in the same tile, to indicate the political power. 
  • The tiles does not have to be owned by the players, they can be "influenced" to result in power. 
  • If a tile is a planet, then perhaps they can have a resource/event "card" stack from which you draw resources each time. If you have promised to help them then you would have to send aid. If you don't then the ai of that planet would throw you out. If you help them then you would get more resources. If the drawn card is not a event but a resource then you can keep it.
  • The political power markers could mark the resource distribution between the players. 
  • You can make clusters of tiles and more remote ones. Perhaps you could have a inner circle which it is cheap to travel to, while the outskirts are more expensive. A bit like how power grid does it with the transaction costs. 
  • In addition to the planets you could have homeworlds and motherships/core fleets that could be moved around. 


#8 ambershee   Members   -  Reputation: 524

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Posted 19 November 2013 - 04:10 AM

Well, I want all kind of ideas at this point, for sure. But I would slightly prefer if this discussion gravitated towards assymetric single player game. Pandemic would be the best example, the "AI" is driven purely by random cards and has completely different kind of "units" and overall play by completely different set of rules than the player. In addition I would like it to feel like if the player was running a country/kingdom/empire.

 

 

 

Have you considered a game that revolves around the day-to-day management of the nation in a Simcity kind of styling? Rather than focusing strictly on the dramatic, take the opposite approach and build a game that incorporates many elements of the mundane; building up energy and transport infrastructure, handling civil services and projects (health, education, emergency services). Your 'deck of cards' could simply take the form of random events and challengs, such as a natural disaster, or a sudden change in mood in the populace.

 

It'd take considerable research to build up your mechanics properly, but the net result could be pretty solid.


Edited by ambershee, 19 November 2013 - 04:11 AM.


#9 Acharis   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3403

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Posted 19 November 2013 - 05:33 AM


Earth has food and water and is the home of humanity, Mars has gold and titanium, and has alien ruins.
The agents part is OK, but there is a problem with planets like these.

 

I was observing how these map games works and the best maps have these properties, I think:

- the distance and neighbours concepts are very important

- you try to control areas (clusers of planets/grids), not separate planets/grids

- there are natural choke points, you want to control these

- an average planet near you is better than good planet far away

 

In short if it can be implemented as a drop down list (you have planet X and planet Y and the only factor you take into account is their resources, not their position or relation to other planets) then it's not a good map system.

 


Have you considered a game that revolves around the day-to-day management of the nation in a Simcity kind of styling?
Well... I'm not sure. There could be a part of it, or an element, I guess... But, overall, dramatic struggle is kind of more fun I suppose :)

On the other hand I like management of a kingdom/empire...

 


Your 'deck of cards' could simply take the form of random events and challengs, such as a natural disaster, or a sudden change in mood in the populace.
I think these should affecrt the map. Like you have this random thing, but it puts some "disater markers" on the map, and these spread/move around over time. I mean, these should use the map somehow, not be just some "overall global events", more like "local map events".

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#10 Dragonsoulj   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2015

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Posted 19 November 2013 - 06:31 AM


Almost all strategies (and all 4x) have a map and units moving on the map and fighting other units.

I look for ideas how such a map can be used/done, but without units killing other units.



For the purpose of this discussion let's say it's a map of provinces and you run some sort of a kingdom/country. But that's just for simplification, if you have ideas for a space map for example, say it.





My random thoughts:

- such game can (and probably should) be asymetric, like you run a detailed country, but the AI is either greatly simplified or just present as an event (invasion forces, rebels). The AI does not need to play by the same rules as played do.

- probably, all/most provinces should be owned by the player or be neutral (no other countries on the map, more like a domestic map)?

- Pandemic boardgame could be an inspiration I guess (spread of epidemy on a map, asymetric gameplay).

- Maybe some economic connections between provinces could be the way to go?

 

I've skimmed through a few of these replies and have a suggestion:

 

- Create a map (be it nations, planets, whatever) that fits whatever generation you want -- one region can be rich in certain resources while another can be almost dry, the distances can vary, and nothing has to be symmetric.

- The goal of the game can be to conquer/control the map or some other set goal (control all ice regions, have a monopoly on mining, etc.)

- To control or take over a region, you have to have the greatest influence, and hold that influence for a set time limit (which is affected by how much influence you have: control requirement = baseline requirement of nation + current influence of controlling party = influence * time)

- Influence is gained by the things you do for your region(s): ensure you have plenty of housing, have some form of entertainment to keep the populace happy, keeping a stable economy, advancing technology, etc.

- Natural disasters and diseases can exist and be a side enemy, where your region(s) have to have adequate health care technology or some way of combating the disasters, like seismographs for earthquakes to detect and prepare.

- Potentially you could have rebels/raiders that pillage your region(s) and you must protect yourself with law enforcement, walls, or something of that sort. This avoids actually have battles and units killed, and gives another way that influence can be affected: well protected areas have a happier populace and a safer atmosphere, while areas constantly pillaged are less happier and more likely to defect, if you will.

- With multiple nations/planets/regions you can incorporate a distance element where influences only spread so far, mostly by word of mouth. Technologies like radio broadcasting, mail, or perhaps having missionaries/ambassadors could increase the distance your influence stretches.

- With the influence idea, you can incorporate various sides, so it is not just one entity trying to maintain control, giving a force to work against without having actual battles, and this could even allow other players to play, and gives more variation to your game: nations could have different play styles, where one is more directed at technology upgrades, another prefers using missionaries, and a third goes for disaster and disease protection.

 

EDIT: Control Requirement equation adjusted.


Edited by Dragonsoulj, 19 November 2013 - 06:32 AM.


#11 Acharis   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3403

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Posted 20 November 2013 - 05:17 PM

More, give me more text to read, pliiiz :)


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#12 Dragonsoulj   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2015

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Posted 20 November 2013 - 07:42 PM

Well, think of things you can do in strategy games. Of course you have the battles, but you have also have:

  • Resource Gathering (including Wealth)
  • Popularity
  • Diplomacy
  • Aggression
  • Trading
  • Research
  • Technology
  • Population
  • Buildings/Infrastructure
  • Politics
  • Resource Acquisition (Finding a resource on a map, perhaps like an animal or a piece of technology)

Build off of these or think of more. Perhaps you have competitions you participate in every year for control of something based on your nation's skills (where technology and resources could play a major part, even research).



#13 Acharis   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3403

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Posted 21 November 2013 - 06:16 AM

Well, my primary concern is the location of a province/planet in relation to other provinvces.

 

Check this very simple wargame http://www.kongregate.com/games/uunxx/hex-empire?acomplete=hex+empire Notice how the gameplay changes when you select another (randomly generated) map. Also, how replayable it is... The strength of the design of that game comes from the relation & distance of one hex to another. The underlying map block is really simple (empty land, port, city, water, and a special case of a city - capital).

 

I think (and also some people above mentioned it as well) that influence system might be the answer. Some sort of radiating of influence over neighbour tiles. Also not just binary 0/1 contol of terrain, but a degree of control (like: minimal, weak, average, strong, full). It could also use "political power makers" or "player agents" (as mentioned above by others) and maybe "deck of cards with disasters".

 

 

 

Something like this kind of mechanic comes to my mind right now:

- you run a space empire, everything on the map is either yours or neutral (no AI controled empires, purely assymnetric)

- you spead your "good" diplomatic influence, every planet that was exposed to it long enough joins your empire

- there are rebel events that spread "bad" influence, these reduce stabilty of planets they affect

- you can put some "political markers" or other "agents" on certain planets to stop/slow/revert the spread of bad influence (preferably in choke points)

- planets are divided into areas (systems/sectors), a sector share some properties also there is a domino effect within the sector, if there is a lot of bad influence even unaffected planets start behaving rebelious and where there is a lot of good influecne the bad influense spread is slowed within the sector

- you can build some infrastructure (bases?) that would spread your good influence

- there can be various paralell influences, not just good/bad, it could be rebels influence, support for the usurper to your throne, stability & loyalty, certain ideals/virtues (like if people believe in economy or are warlike or spiritual or cultural, these could affect hoew the planets are developing) etc.

- various agents can affect various influences at once, for example if you send an army (with pacification order) on one planet it will start reverting rebel influence but it will also spread unhappiness.


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#14 Dragonsoulj   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2015

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Posted 21 November 2013 - 08:48 AM

Just for clarity's sake:

 


purely assymnetric

 

You do mean that the map isn't like a balanced mirror image/reflection of itself, right? That it is an irregular shape?



#15 ambershee   Members   -  Reputation: 524

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Posted 21 November 2013 - 09:05 AM

I believe he's referring to the mechanics of play. Player A does not play by the same rules as Player B (which may be a computer), yet they are at odds with one another.



#16 Acharis   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3403

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Posted 21 November 2013 - 01:25 PM

That one: "Player A does not play by the same rules as Player B (which may be a computer), yet they are at odds with one another."

 

Or to clarify even more, the player and the computer (since player B would not make sense in that particular case) play by different rules. Actually, "AI" could be just random events and primitive mechanics (like spreading disease/influence over land).


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