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Tricky design dilemma

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Thursday, Feb 2

Okay so I tested out the scoring with special systems like I said I was going to yesterday. Man am I glad I did, uncovered two bugs that would have ruined play immediately for anyone testing. One bug added on points when planets exploded into systems that didn't exist (off the map), while another didn't give proper points for placing a planet in space dust and nebula special systems. So that's all cleaned up now.

After that I started work on the Imperialism game type. In this mode you can't place planets willy-nilly about the board - you can only do it in your territory, which is defined by map tiles shaded your color. The victory condition is to control either 25%, 50%, 75% or 100% of the board. However when I finally sat back and thought about it - a small map contains 16 systems (tiles). 25% of that is 4 systems. When you place a planet, you gain control of that system plus the 4 adjacent to it, which means the first player who places a planet wins the game, which would always be Player 1. Doh! So then I thought well maybe I could have the game limit the victory options depending on map size. Large maps, which have 81 systems, could support the full range of victory options, whereas small maps would only allow 75% and 100%.

But then I thought again and realized that to control 25% of a large map, which is roughly 20 systems, all players would have to do is place planets on the board until they controlled however many percent - and 25% or 50% could possibly be acheived without any of the players actually fighting each other! Well that certainly doesn't make much sense now does it? Booooorrrinng.

So I finally thought up of a solution - instead of controlling, say, 25% of the map a player must control 25% of all other player's territory. This forces players to attack each other.

Confusing? A little - took me many an hour to puzzle it all out but I think I finally got it. Here's an example. You have a 4 player game (map size does not matter, that's the cool thing, but for this example we'll say we're on a large 9x9 map). Blue has control of 16 systems. Red has control of 7 systems. Yellow has control of 25 systems. Green has control of 12 systems. It's Blue's turn, which means he needs to make a dent in 44 systems. Let's say he's already taken over 12%. He manages to take over 3 of Yellow's planets and 2 of Red's. That's 11% worth of damage that gets added to his control percentage while 7% is taken from Yellow's control and 4% is taken from Red's. No player can fall below 0% however. So now Blue controls 23%. But next turn Red (looking to make a dent in 74 systems) takes Blue down a notch by taking over 4 of his planets and 3 of Green's. That's 9% of damage - 5% from Blue and 4% from Green.

And so it goes. The basic idea is that players are attacking each other, which is the whole point of the game, and so it's all good. I'm not sure how much that explaination helped - you're not trying to go after the strong guys like in Equilibrium for the most points, here you're just looking to take over as many planets as possible faster than anyone else in order to reach that percentage goal.

So yea that's as far as I got since I had friends over for a movie nite - watched Van Wilder. God I forgot how hilarious that movie really is. Good stuff good stuff.

So tomorrow I'll implement this scheme and see how it turns out actually playing it. Should be intersting.

Till then...
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The abstract idea sounds interesting, but I'm not sure I understand your explanation at all. How did you come up with the percentages?

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The percentages come from the total number of other players holdings. So in the first example where blue does 11% worth of damage that's from taking 5 out of 44. So as the number of other player's territories increase, your percentage decreases since it's indicative to your hold over them. I guess I should have mentioned that everyone starts out with 0% and this doesn't change until you start taking over other player's territory. Then you'll start to gain percentage towards the victory goal and lose it when the other players expand territory and thus decrease from the progress you made in conquering them.

I know the idea behind this is confusing but luckily players won't need to actually know all this crap about percentages and whatnot since the game calculates and displays it for them. All they need to know is that their goal is to take over all other player's territory. How much they need to take over is controlled by the victory conditions (25%, 50%, 75%, 100%). So it's actually rather simple in execution, the underlying mechanics however are a bit complex.

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I got the 11%, but not the others. Toying with it now, I see the 7% that yellow loses is 3/44, but that doesn't make sense because yellow went from controlling 25/60 to 22/60 (~42% to ~37%, a loss of 5 %pts), or alternately lost 3 of 25 (12%) or any number of other things, but the number 44 only makes sense for blue IMO and applying it to other colors just makes things confusing.

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...but the number 44 only makes sense for blue IMO and applying it to other colors just makes things confusing.

Right, because from the Blue player's point of view he has 44 systems that represent the amount of territory he needs to control. In other words if we take the numbers I started with, then Blue has 44 systems to take over, Red has 53, Yellow has 35 and Green has 48. These numbers are from adding up the other player's territory, so Blue gets his number by adding Red + Yellow + Green. So for each player the amount of percentage they get from taking over another player varies because to them the amount of territory they have to control is different.

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Yes, but the amount a player loses is based in the attack player's perspective which is very strange, because it means the points you lose depends on which player took your planets.

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It does seem weird but you have to remember that players aren't after one or two specific opponents, they're out to conquer 25% of the occupied systems on the map, which encompasses all players. Therefore the percentage is taken out of all occupied systems that don't belong to that player. If I drew percentages from each player individually then a player could win the game simply by always going after the one player with the smallest number of territories, and hence gaining the most percentage per system takeover. In taking percentage from the whole boards, players won't be driven to attack the weak but the strong. Well, taking over any player's planets would cause the same percent reduction but you would want to damage the strongest player by hitting them with the biggest percent loss by taking over as many of their planets as possible.

BTW Extrarius I really value this feedback - you've made me see this concept much more clearly than I would have while implementing it and have probably saved me quite a few hours of gameplay testing. Ratings++ for ya [smile]

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