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Poll - browser-based game

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I am currently working on a game design for one of my courses. The course will deal with the implementation of the actual game (databases course) so I have complete freedom over what the game will be. The basic idea behind the game is that a (tiled) fighting area is randomly generated, and a random set of gladiators is provided as well. The players then bid to choose a gladiator and place it somewhere in the area. Once all soldiers are placed they duke it out on their own in a deterministic and predictable way. The goal is to accumulate more points than your opponent: when you kill an enemy gladiator, you get as many points as your enemy has spent (in his bid) to choose and play it. (both players get the same amount of points to bid with, and they must spend it all in bids). For instance, if I play 20 on gladiator A, and my enemy plays 30, he gets to use A and I don't. If I kill A with my own gladiators, I'll get 30 points. Now, the bidding and choice process is what's still troubling me. Here are the possibilities I'm considering:
  1. Players bid for gladiators. Gladiators under a tie are split into twins and each player can use one of the twins as if he had won the bid. Then, players bid for tiles on the fighting area (by placing a gladiator, or no gladiator to reserve an empty tile, and some points). Tiles under a tie are not used and gladiators are placed at random.
  2. Players bid for gladiator-tile couples (I pay X to put gladiator A on tile B). Gladiators under a tie are split as above. Tiles under a tile are not used and gladiators are placed at random. You can still play to put no gladiator on a tile.
  3. The tileboard is split into black and white tiles (like a chess board), player one can only use white tiles, player two only black tiles. Players then bid for gladiator-tile couples, with splitting as above.
What do you think of this? Which option do you prefer? Remember that this is not a real-time game, players might not connect to the server at the same time, and thus I want to reduce as much as possible the number of bidding sessions. Also, do you think it would be interesting to add to a player's score the points that he has not spent on bids (he is forced to play all his points on bids, but if he is outbid, he keeps the points), or to let him spend it on upgrades (armor, weapon, etc) instead?

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Each player can create a new game or join an existing game. When you create a game, you can start placing bids. When you join a game, the creator has placed his bids hours, if not days, before you joined it.

This would lead to everyone creating games, and nobody joining any. Besides, I'd like the game to only depend on the strategy used, regardless of who plays when.

Also, I forgot to mention: bids are simultaneous, the other player doesn't see what bids you place until the session is over and you each collect your prizes.

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Also, I forgot to mention: bids are simultaneous, the other player doesn't see what bids you place until the session is over and you each collect your prizes.


What happens to those who bid too low? skip a round?

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Since you are forced to bid your entire starting cash, you can be sure that you'll get at least one piece (and that it'll be a fairly costly one too since you put most of your points on it), so there's no skipping involved.

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I think the system works well, but I rocommend against the splitting. It could quickly become a convention of the game that players will always bid identically so that they both get the full selection of gladiators, for an epic matchup. Find some other way to break a tie. For instance:

All bids are placed blindly, and each player has exhausted his pool of bidding points. The system checks to see who got what, and a tie is detected. BEFORE the system reports specific results, it informs the tied players of the problem ("Attention: your bid for Clovus has been matched"). Then they get to reassign some or all of their points. Another check, and the game begins. Depending on the resolution of the points (I recommend like a thousand points to be bid, to reduce the risk of coincidence), this will be highly unlikely, and the odds of it happening twice are virtually nil.

A bigger concern for me is getting totally boned on the first run of bidding. If there are ten gladiators to be bid on, you each have 55 points, and your bids are as follows:

Gladiator Player 1 Player 2
1 1 2
2 2 3
3 3 4
4 4 5
5 5 6
6 6 7
7 7 8
8 8 9
9 9 10
10 10 1

Then Player 1 only gets one guy, to Player 2's nine men. That's the end of the game right there. Instead, why not limit a player to a share of the gladiators, so that each gets the first five that they win?

Better yet, replace the bidding system with a hierarchy system, so each player arranges the gladiators in order of preference. That way, you're guaranteed to get your #1 pick (unless there's a tie) and you'll just get the five highest on your list that aren't higher on the other guy's list. You might get your first choice and the 7-8-9-10 on your list, but that is as bad as it can possibly get.

Another option could be the high-school method of flipping a coin and then taking turns picking guys from the bench, until somebody gets stuck with the guy who can't run, throw or hit. I was that guy. *sniff* You could even have a more sophisticated way to choose who picks first. Base it on win records or a pinochle-style "I'll get at least 40 points if I get to pick first" type of bidding.

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Since you are forced to bid your entire starting cash, you can be sure that you'll get at least one piece (and that it'll be a fairly costly one too since you put most of your points on it),
This is not logical. Possible outcome:

Players A, B, C

Gladiator1 A2 B4 C0
Gladiator2 A2 B4 C2
Gladiator3 A2 B0 C3
Galdiator4 A2 B0 C3

B gets Gladiator1 and 2
C gets Gladiator3 and 4
A gets no one.

Quote:
All bids are placed blindly, and each player has exhausted his pool of bidding points. The system checks to see who got what, and a tie is detected. BEFORE the system reports specific results, it informs the tied players of the problem ("Attention: your bid for Clovus has been matched").


But after the server detected the tie, it would take hours or days before the players go back to change it. And that would make the 'scheduled' time of match not accurate at all.





What are the properties of tiles? Initially there is nothing on the tiles. Why is it meaningful to bid on the tiles?

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Original post by Estok
Players A, B, C


There are only two players in each game. I guess this was not obvious in my first post.

Quote:

What are the properties of tiles? Initially there is nothing on the tiles. Why is it meaningful to bid on the tiles?


Tiles have no property of their own. Consider the case of the chess Queen in a corner. If you put the queen at position Q and block tiles marked with an X, you'll increase the deadliness of the queen by forcing any gladiator within two tiles of it to be in its swiping range.


.X.|
X..|
..Q|
---+

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Original post by Iron Chef Carnage
I think the system works well, but I rocommend against the splitting. It could quickly become a convention of the game that players will always bid identically so that they both get the full selection of gladiators, for an epic matchup.


Actually, no. Players have no means of communicating with each other, and since gladiators are randomly generated it's hard to both think of the same strategy and give each gladiator the same value.

Quote:

Then Player 1 only gets one guy, to Player 2's nine men. That's the end of the game right there.


Yes, that's the end of the game, but Player1 is almost surely a winner because he has 45 unspent points, as opposed to player 2's 1 unspent point. That's either 44 additional points of upgrades that make the gladiator much stronger, or 22 "victory points" he gets, which ends up in an instant-win since player 2 can rack in 10 points tops from killing the gladiator.

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How big is the board? how many gladiators? how do the gladiators acutually fight? what are the movement rules?

Can the gladiators really move like the queen in chess? Or do they still have to move tile by tile?

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The board is 4x4, 8 gladiators are generated from Queen, King, Pawn, Rook, Bishop and Knight (this decision came at a later time after I posted this). Gladiators do not move, however they will instantly kill any gladiator in their range (A gladiator is in the range of another if that other gladiator could take him if they were playing chess). If they have several gladiators in range, they will kill them all. For instance:


123|
..B|
45Q|
---+


I own B and Q, the others are my opponent's pieces. B(ishop) can kill 2, but Q(ueen) can't. B can also kill 5. Q can kill 1 and 5. It can't kill 3 because B is in the way. It can't kill 4 because 5 is in the way. However, if B plays first (the pieces with highest bids on them play first), 5 will die and Q will be able to hit both 1 and 4, and also 3 if B dies.

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So this is not a deathmatch, stale mate can exist.

Since the players cannot see where the opponent is placing the pieces on the board, what kind of strategies do you project the players would use when placing the bids on the tiles?

Suppose you have K B N R and the enemy has Q N N R
(bid values not shown, assume that all the bid values are the same and player 1 will attack first. arrange your pieces intelligently to get the most kills, without knowing exactly how the enemy will the pieces.)


+---------+
| . . . . |
| . . . . |
| . . . . |
| . . . . |
+---------+

How would you go about placing your pieces?


Some thoughts:

It seems undesirable that the board is symmetrical: not only you have to guess the pattern, but also the orientation of the enemy's placement. How about the players take turn to bid on the tiles, and after the tiles are bid, the players can then place the pieces?

Actually, instead of bidding, just have them take turn claim a tile. While doing this, you would have an idea of what strategy your opponent is attempting, and you can defend against the strategies. There seems to be more interactions this way.

For example, after the two had already claimed the tiles, but before placing the pieces:


+---------+
4| . 1 . . | Player 1 is you. You have K, B, N, R
3| . 1 . 2 | Player 2 is the enemy with q, n, n, r
2| . 1 2 . |
1| . 2 2 1 |
+---------+
a b c d


Now it looks possible that the enemy is going to put the Q at c2, and R at b1. The enemy's Q can target three of your positions, the R can target all four of your pieces, the knights can target 2 pieces and 1 piece respectively.

For your pieces, d1 can only be attacked by a queen d2 and a rook at b1. However, as long as the knight at C1 does not die, the rook cannot attack your d1. Your most vulnerable positions are b2 and and b3, where both are targeted by three enemies. However, if you can kill the enemy queen and rook, your rook at d1 will guarantee victory. But is that likely to happen?

Since you are player 1, you will attack first. Thoughts:


+---------+ +---------+
4| . N . . | 4| . N . . |
3| . B . n | 3| . R . n |
2| . K q . | 2| . K q . |
1| . r n R | 1| . r n B |
+---------+ +---------+
a b c d a b c d
placement 1 placement 2

which configuraion is better?

For placement 1:
K x r K x q K x n1 N x n3
q x R r x K q x R r x K
K x n1 R x n3 K x r B x q
n x N r x B q x K r x B
K x q R x n1 N x n R x n
n x K r x R r x B r x R
Draw r x N r x N r x N
Lose Lose Lose

placement 2:
K x n1 K x q K x r N x n3
q x K r x K q x B r x K
R x r R x r N x n R x r
q x R n x N q x K q x B
N x n3 R x n N x q N x q
q x B n x R n x R n x R
N x q Draw Draw Draw
Win


Do the rules seem manageable for a strategy game?

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The problem is precisely that I would want to avoid as much as possible the need for multiple intervention. Turns in this game will never happen in a simultaneous way so it might take days or weeks for the opponent to respond, and you'd just lose track of what was going on or what you were thinking.

However, you have an excellent point that the initial board layout is too white. I guess randomly allocating tiles to players might give the players more data to base themselves on, for instance giving each player 8 tiles out of the 16.

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To stick to the low transaction version, you can also have this variation:

1) Initially, the game randomly assigns the two players 4 to 6 tiles EACH on the board, but not 7 or 8. It is because a complete partition seems to introduce too many possibilities.


2) 8 pieces are randomly generated. Possible pieces inlcude K, Q, B, N, R. Pawn is not availble. There are no properties for the pieces except there range of attacks. The pieces can be classfied conceptually like this as follow:
[max # of attacks, max # of unblockable attacks, max # of blockable attacks, pieces that you are invulnerable to if they are your target, pieces that you might be invulnerable to if they are your target]

Q = [11,8,6,----N,K]
K = [ 8,8,0,----N,-]
R = [ 6,4,4,---BN,K]
B = [ 5,4,2,--R-N,K]
N = [ 4,4,0,QKRB-,-]



3) The two player will analyze what pieces are most valuable for the given tile assignments. The player will consider what pieces the enemy is most likely to bid on, and devices a bidding strategy so that you get the pieces you want or that the your enemy don't get their strongest pieces. The result of the bidding will give each player 4 pieces.

An alternative way is to get rid of bidding and allow the game to assgin a set of pieces for each players to select. However this eliminates the entire original concept of having bids. If you want to keep the biddings I would suggest a different combat system. Currently there are already sufficient strategies so that bidding is not necessary from the gameplay perspective.


4) After the players got the pieces, they will pieces them on the board and submit the placement.


5) Due to the limitation of transactions, the players will not get to play through their strategies. The AI will duke it out. And the outcome of the game is declared.

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