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#5139403 Steampunk industrial turn based strategy

Posted by on 16 March 2014 - 04:15 AM

I'm sorry it took me so long to reply, and more so because of what I have to say ..


I'm not a fan of management sims, so if you ask me what the point is, I'll say there is none. They're a simulation (more akin to toys than games) of bean-counting (as much fun as a stick in the eye). A fan would probably tell you that the point is to make the little people do your bidding (maybe not in those words). Essentially, the aim of the game is to "build a thriving nation", which, to me, means that there is no clearly defined goal, or it is too subjective to be definable, and that's the first thing I'd want to set straight, although, come to think of it, I vaguely recall elections which you had to win to keep playing, or something like that. Honestly, my experiences with these "games" have been that unmemorable.


On a more constructive note, looking objectively at your own experience of this type of game in the wider context of game design, have you found the play experience, and in particular its conclusion, satisfying? And if so, what did it satisfy? I think that that will give you your answer.

#5137109 Steampunk industrial turn based strategy

Posted by on 07 March 2014 - 05:39 AM

I think one island is OK if you start with one province on it and expand to fill more. Maybe allow the player to manage land by selecting the hexes to form the new province, and calculate cost of expansion based on number of hexes, constitution, etc.


The second option sounds fine too, and it might even be nice if the AI expands (as above), and you have the opportunity to establish provinces on the other islands if you're quick enough, and willing to soak up the initial cost. The advantage of these provinces would be reduced costs when trading with other nations on the island (no need for ships).


My feeling is that, at the moment, there's no sense of "tangible" progress, and no motivation - all you do is make the little numbers change. That might be fine in multi-player games, because competition with other players provides the motivation, but in single-player, you need something (like expansion) to drive gameplay.

#5136286 How to design spaceship missile combat?

Posted by on 04 March 2014 - 06:03 AM

Mostly re-iterating on what ferrous said, I would do something like :


- Give each player a number of tokens/coins/bottlecaps/buttons/cookies/whatever-you-have-on-hand to represent missiles in their arsenal. Paperclips would work well, because you can keep them in your pocket, and then clip them on the edge of your opponent's sheet when they're in flight. You could also use marks on a separate sheet of paper, but tokens of some kind can be nice, and if each missile can do devastating damage, you don't need many of them.

- Create a common "in flight" area (could be on the table, in your left hand, whatever), where missiles are placed when they're launched.

- While there are missiles in flight, players have the option to allocate any number of fighters to shooting at them.

- If missiles remain at the end of the round, each one has a chance to do pretty serious, but not instantly crippling damage, so that you have the option to let the missile through instead of allocating fighters to it. You could expand on this with critical hits on various systems, etc.

- After resolving, missiles in play are removed from the game, so there is a limited supply.


I don't know if you have much experience with making physical games, but I would also suggest that even if the game board can be easily rendered in pencil, making up a nice set can give a game a lot of appeal, and can also be a very satisfying part of the process.

#5134090 Looking for game ideas using a 24x24 LED matrix

Posted by on 24 February 2014 - 06:35 AM

I like that maze idea. It could make good use of tilting and screen buttons, with a rapid blinking LED indicating your position on the active screen, and slower blinking for the other screens (and when they're shown on the active screen too).


It's a real pity you can't have multiple players competing. Would it be possible if they took turns?


Also, what are the dimensions of the device? And can it be placed to face up or forward? Or does it have a specific orientation?

#5134082 Co-Op has started to vanish

Posted by on 24 February 2014 - 05:59 AM

Perhaps what you're seeing is co-op moving house to places like Global agenda and Firefall, where it becomes the (or at least a) central theme. It works better that way, because it always seems to feel a bit tacked-on if gameplay isn't designed around it. The trouble is that if you take what is essentially a single-player game and allow players to co-op, the whole dynamic of the game changes; Players' focus moves away from the game's story to the other player/s as they work to maximize their effectiveness as a team. This can be surprisingly challenging (at least in part because most players are woefully undisciplined, no matter how fervently they believe they're a highly-trained warrior), and having played through the game solo already won't exactly help keep their attention focussed elsewhere.


Designing multi-player games is very different from designing single-player storylines (See what I did there?), so if you're looking for multi-player, single-player games are probably the wrong place to look. That doesn't mean that more couldn't be done in the hybrid multi-player storyline area, but co-op mode really has to be tailored to a multi-player experience, which often results in something that looks more like an MMO, and after all, since AI is a factor, wouldn't you and your buddy rather team up against the great unwashed than face the same old bunch of brainless NPC mobs?

#5133491 Looking for game ideas using a 24x24 LED matrix

Posted by on 22 February 2014 - 04:53 AM

The game of life is a good idea. In fact, I'm always disappointed when I see one of these things not running it. They just seem made for it. You could expand on it, and have four simulations which affect their neighbours, like a kind of Alife-within-a-Alife.


I like the take on asteroids too, and a twist on snake might be cool, where each square has a different special rule.

#5133088 Looking for game ideas using a 24x24 LED matrix

Posted by on 20 February 2014 - 05:28 PM

So it can only be controlled by one device at a time?

#5132945 "Tower defence" war mechanic for a turn based strategy

Posted by on 20 February 2014 - 06:20 AM

I would go one step further, and give each hex a resource value which contributes to the province it belongs to.


I am a little worried though, that there may be no way to "win", and all you can do is "not lose". Why do you want combat without expansion? A huge part of the industrial revolution was about travel and colonization, often by means of massive ships.

#5132943 Steampunk industrial turn based strategy

Posted by on 20 February 2014 - 06:08 AM

How you feel about the map?

I feel OK about it, but I like hexagons. If I didn't, I'd be annoyed that they exist without a purpose.

I also want it to be procedurally generated so I can play more than once.

The giant leaping spider bots button needs to be more obvious.


- Assuming the internal province stuff is relatively rich/complex, do you find the current 12 provinces enough? Maybe add more?

This seems like a game balance question, and there is no game yet. It's impossible to say without knowing what they're for.


- How you feel about the island surrounded by endless sea? Is it OK? Or maybe I should add some other islands around it, even if with very limited interaction (like owned by AI nations but no option to conquer)? If yes, how important adding these you feel is?

Personally, I feel a bit bad about it. It feels isolated, and accentuates the feeling of having no aim or impact. More islands are only useful if you can interact with them in some meaningful way.

Also, possibly irrelevant, but if you give me an island, I want a boat.


- Overall, what was you experience regarding interacting with the map?

It was fairly smooth and intuitive, although scrolling at the edges of the window was unnecessary since the whole map fits in the window, and especially annoying because it continues when the mouse is outside of the window.


- Does the map require zooming? And minimap?

No. Zooming might be nice, because it's interface customization, which helps with comfort and convenience (You could zoom out so the island is small enough to fit in the right-hand side of the screen, beside that huge build interface, which could probably be smaller), but I can see no reason to have a minimap.

#5132294 "watch out" UPDATED 2/17/2014

Posted by on 18 February 2014 - 05:27 AM

I'm sorry, but that's completely illegible. Try copying it into notepad, editing out the stray code, links, and formatting, and updating your post.


If that seems like hard work, think of it this way : A large organization might spend months or even years, and millions in currency on R&D and market research. Compare that to the effort it takes to create a reasonable and respectful post which accomplishes the same for you.


And please try to remember that a good idea will not be improved by adding coloured italics. You will attract a more profitable class of reader if you aim your material at grown-ups.

#5132178 Steampunk industrial turn based strategy

Posted by on 17 February 2014 - 05:30 PM

Assuming that you can only be attacked and lose land, and cannot retaliate or expand by means of a military, I think defensive-only military conflicts in a game which includes military conflict as a territorial mechanic would be kind of a silly restriction. If you have other options, why not that one?


For an aim, it would be nice to have a variety of options to choose from, maybe even as a choice of win conditions before you start a game. The obvious way to do this is using the ducks-in-a-row method employed by many solitaire games : Reach 0% unemployment, 100% fulfilment, or what-have-you in all regions, or establish trade routes, diplomatic relations, etc. with all neighbours.


You could also use an actual "main goal" (again, why not choose from a selection, to reflect the play style you want for this session?) Reach the moon, build a world capital for trade, culture, etc. Building a set of scientific colleges (botany, zoology, chemistry, astrology, etc.) would fit nicely with a steampunk feel. The level of outside influence or competition you want will probably determine which of these are more likely to suit.


The goal could simply be to drag your nation, kicking and screaming, into the modern age. They'd bitch and moan about all the changes, but they'd be pleased with the outcomes, so you'd be trying to make the transition as smooth as possible by capitalizing on advancements to make up for loss of jobs and ways of life etc.


Collecting points may initially seem uninteresting, but there is no reason why it should be. Key to success with this goal is making the points represent something interesting or valuable, more like achievements or medals. For example, your nation could have mad inventors who write to the king asking for funding for projects. You, as the king, decide, which of these are likely to succeed or fail (based on the inventor's region of origin and its available resources, availability of supporting technologies, etc.), and fund the right projects, which, upon completion, will give you a victory point. As the project progresses, you receive further instructions, requiring you to meet various randomized mini-challenges to keep things interesting, but you can, of course, push resources in the right direction, research technologies, free up labour, and draw in investors, to indirectly influence the chance of success. Failure of the project would probably cost you a VP, but there may be ways to mitigate the loss. Maybe you even score on multiple tracks. Let's say a successful project to build the first airship would give you an industrial point, but if you publicize it and gain foreign investment, you could gain a cultural point as a bonus. Going for the bonus point comes with a risk, because if the project fails, you will lose both industrial and cultural points. Now points are not just a score, but a reminder of a challenge successfully met.


It would be nice to be able to build networks based around companies (or "societies" or whatever) which arise spontaneously as a result of the right combination of resources and abundance of enterprise. For instance, a region with a good supply of steel and coal, and a certain level of throughput within the kingdom would result in the rail company being set up. That would allow you to access the railway infrastructure interface, which would allow you to increase the flow, both domestic and international, of trade goods and resources. Similar systems would work for electricity, gas, airfields, etc., each of which would bring improvements in some area (resource flow, access to technologies, citizen wellbeing, etc., even tourism and renown). This might be a nice way to give some focus and distinction to individual regions if only one company or utility can be run from each.


Maybe the projects come up as challenges from other nations, as in "Your neighbour, France, challenges you to a race across the Atlantic" or "British build 100MPH car!" and you have to do it bigger, better, faster, etc.


Or you could commission the projects yourself. The challenge then would be to take enough out of the country to complete the project, without upsetting the population, disrupting trade, etc.


I may have got a bit carried away there. I'm not very good with the aim-of-the-game question, but I think if you look at the big achievers in the industrial revolution, and try to isolate what made them winners in whatever sense you deem most enjoyable, it should give some clues as to what a player should be expected to do in order to win in a game about industry.

#5132100 Steampunk industrial turn based strategy

Posted by on 17 February 2014 - 12:57 PM

It's kind of difficult to know what to look at, since you haven't really asked a specific question, but here are a few random thoughts anyway ..


Honestly, I'm having trouble picturing what the aim would/could be in this scenario. I seem to have a nation with several regions or provinces, each of which has been assigned resources (randomly?). Editing the map seems to have no impact on these, so my immediate instinct is that there should be an underlying resource map, and the borders of a province determines what resources it encompasses. From there it might be nice to place individual buildings, so that it becomes a challenge to make the best use of available land, but that still doesn't provide an over-arching goal.


Neighbouring kingdoms could add some diplomatic relations, trade, etc., and if they're on the map, you could fight over borders. Otherwise, I'm not sure how you'd work warfare into this, unless it was possible to have a civil war, and certainly defence-only warfare would be quite dissatisfying.


By "cool inventions", do you mean that you would unlock more industries? I don't really see how else this would work right now, or what they could contribute to the game, other than eye-candy. If you're fighting over borders, at least you have a reason to research and build weapons, which makes good fuel for industrial advances.


A lord (duke, or what-have-you) to govern each province might be a good way to give each area individuality. He would give some feedback about how his province is doing, and probably have strengths and weaknesses which would further affect the performance of his lands, and influence how you distribute land. I'm not sure what purpose the various regions have otherwise.


Getting back to the aim of the game, the most obvious approach would be to add multi-player, since players will automatically compete for whatever numbers they can get their hands on, but this doesn't appear to be part of the plan (?).


Competing for inventions could be the main goal, with something like a permanent bonus for the first player to discover a technology, and incentive for other players (although I'm sure you could make this work in single-player too) to spy on them for bonus research points toward this invention. This seems to me like a nice dynamic, providing plenty of motivation for conflict, and options for how to react to or avoid it, as well as a good excuse to throw in whatever cool technologies you want for players to fight over.


This could work on an international scale, or with each player controlling a region, and the NPC king redistributing land, titles, etc. based on your successes, but then your territory is pretty small, so you kind of get stuck with a role (limited resource allocation) based on which region you start out with, which might suck.


I think if you decide on what the aim of the game is, most things will logically fall into place from there. It could just be collecting points - Settlers of Catan gets plenty of mileage out of it, so why not?

#5130491 Interesting 2D Level Design

Posted by on 11 February 2014 - 03:33 AM

I think I have similar aims to yours, so I have a few thoughts which may be useful.
To my mind, what gives the sense of adventure in Overgrowth is a combination of dynamics (both physical and conceptual - freedom of movement and travel, as well as every object being a potential threat or opportunity) and immersion (view distance and naturalistic artwork).
Otherwise it combines familiar themes from 2D games (button combos from fighting games, and use of vertical space from platformers), which are easy to replicate. This may be an important part of what gives it a sense of adventure - using familiar techniques in a new kind of setting. I think it is essential (it is clearly an important aim in developing Overgrowth too) that it puts you in the boots of an explorer, who may be defined as an individual with knowledge of a range of relevant subjects and experience in survival and problem-solving, who seeks unknown environments and experiences.
Given this, it seems that the thing to do is to give the player a familiar toolset (running, jumping, fighting, hiding, crafting, etc.), and put him in a new environment.
Here are my ideas :
- Ditch the platform. Use more organic polygonal shapes for your levels, to create a more varied, lifelike, and engaging environment. Ditch the moving platform too - an explorer does not wait for a platform to descend and take him to the top of the mountain - he devises his own means. Note that if the player has tools which allow him to deal with any situation (when used intelligently), we have much less to fear from procedurally generated terrain, which can offer some useful surprises.
While we're here, ditch the map. It tends to detract from immersion. A very wide level gives a much more seamless experience, with portals allowing access to other levels if necessary. Assuming we want crafting, vehicles make an interesting mid-game goal, although they should be treated cautiously.
- Peek ahead. As alluded to above, give the player the ability to see into the distance, but not in detail. Perhaps even force this by having the camera zoom out if the player stands still (or some similar cinematic mechanism), but limit this ability, so that, for instance, you can see far-off terrain, but not objects. Assuming that exploration is in itself the goal, the player must be enticed with the promise of revelation, which boils down, in mechanical terms, to seeing distant terrain, buildings, caves, etc, but not their inhabitants or contents. Consider rendering only visible or discovered objects, as in a stealth or fog-of-war scenario, or in some other way concealing enough to leave a few surprises.
Another way to do this might be to use carefully planned backdrops which depict the area ahead in the distance.
- Grow and change the world without necessarily waiting for the player's direct involvement, to provide a continuing challenge, and prevent boredom. Cycles of day and night, seasons, population growth, etc. can be easy to implement, and may be particularly important in a 2D environment, which naturally feels less life-like than in 3D. On that note, don't skimp on organic elements - consider how many people talk to plants, compared to how many talk to crates.
- Think carefully about rhythm, and allow the player time to take stock and make plans - the balance between fighting monsters and smelling flowers should provide something for everyone, or narrow down the target audience.
- Reward exploration with new and varied encounters. Give the player genuine discoveries. If all I discover is that wherever I go I get attacked every 15 seconds, I can assume that that's what will happen to me over the horizon, and have no need to explore, because I already know what lies ahead. Similarly, allow the player options for interaction (chop down the door, pick the lock, find the key, get the guard drunk, etc.).
Visuals are also very important, of course. Put plenty of effort into blending artwork and ensuring a sense of depth. Awe-inspiring vistas are great too, but stay away from photo-real graphics, which always look surreal and awkward. Even fairly simple stylized graphics tend to work better if they are unified.
I hope that some of this is useful (I'm sure it has been for me), and look forward to hearing what you have.