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MrProper

Square or Hex board?

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MrProper    107
I'm in early stages of game development, focusing on game design and I've already got stucked. Game is turn based with 2 players.

I can't decide whether its better to use square or hexa game board. Both have its pros and cons. I've also made small list of them. Feel free to correct me or add some new.

I feel like Hex board might be good choice, but on the other hand you can't go wrong with good old square board.

Square:
+ classic
+ 8 surrounding tiles
+ easy to understand
+- harder to master
- old, looks boring

Hex:
+ cool
+ strategy part seems more fun to me
+ board feels bigger
+- looks more complicated then square, but I believe it's way easier to master
- 6 surrounding tiles
- harder to understand
- people aren't very familiar with this option

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kauna    2922
[quote name='MrProper' timestamp='1311067415' post='4837280']
I'm in early stages of game development, focusing on game design and I've already got stucked. Game is turn based with 2 players.

I can't decide whether its better to use square or hexa game board. Both have its pros and cons. I've also made small list of them. Feel free to correct me or add some new.

I feel like Hex board might be good choice, but on the other hand you can't go wrong with good old square board.

Square:
+ classic
+ 8 surrounding tiles
+ easy to understand
+- harder to master
- old, looks boring

Hex:
+ cool
+ strategy part seems more fun to me
+ board feels bigger
+- looks more complicated then square, but I believe it's way easier to master
- 6 surrounding tiles
- harder to understand
- people aren't very familiar with this option
[/quote]


Hexagon board isn't hard to understand in my opinion. It is used in many many board games.

One pro I can imagine for hexagon board is that :

- moving in any adjacent tile moves you equal distance. In square map moving diagonally moves you ~1.4 times the distance compared to moving horizontally or vertically.

For storing a hexagon board in memory you can imagine it as a square board. When drawing it, you'll just need to offset every second column half tile.

Cheers!

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sunandshadow    7426
I do personally find the math of hexagon boards difficult to understand in a game with complicated stats (like terrain types give different movement penalties, some spells require a clear line of sight, some spells hit hardest at a particular distance from the target, some spells hit multiple tiles in a particular pattern, etc.) My two favorite tactical turn-based combat systems use square grids. Hex grids aren't bad though, they seem to work pretty well in empire-building games and RTS games where you don't have to calculate each turn to find the mathematically best move.

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krez    443
[quote name='kauna' timestamp='1311069827' post='4837295']
moving in any adjacent tile moves you equal distance. In square map moving diagonally moves you ~1.4 times the distance compared to moving horizontally or vertically.[/quote]
This is the main difference I think.

With a square grid, you have to consider whether or not diagonally adjacent spots are adjacent (e.g. if you can travel / melee attack diagonally), and if so, whether or not it should be penalized or count as farther than a horizontal or vertical movement. Neither is wrong, but you have to account for it one way or the other.

With a hex grid, all adjacent spots are definitely adjacent, and all distances are obvious (no worrying about diagonal spots being somewhat farther). On the other hand, one of either horizontal or vertical movement is impossible without "zig-zagging".

It really depends on how you want the game to feel. Both options can be made to work well and look good, I wouldn't worry about hexes confusing players or squares looking boring.

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Acharis    5979
As a player I like squares a bit more because I know the distance instantly (with hexes I have to click on a unit, I never have a clue how long it will reach if the destination is further than 2 tiles :D). But I like hexes too in heavier wargames (WWI & WWII). But if I were to find hexes in a simple RPG tactical battle game I would feel annoyed and cheated.

Additional cons for Hexes:
- AI movement might give you troubles (check Civilization V design notes, they said they had a lot of trouble with it)

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Tiblanc    560
[quote name='Acharis' timestamp='1311329905' post='4838834']
Additional cons for Hexes:
- AI movement might give you troubles (check Civilization V design notes, they said they had a lot of trouble with it)
[/quote]

Do you have a link for this? I'm curious why it gave them trouble. The SRPG I'm working on originally started with hex tiles and the only thing that changed was the functions to get neighbors tiles and affected tiles when using area of effect skills. The AI remained the same and works just as well with square tiles.

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Frank Taylor    191
Square

The format is very portable. For example, square-grid board classics such as [url="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tic-tac-toe"]Tic-Tac-Toe[/url], [url="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chess"]Chess[/url], [url="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Checkers"]Checkers[/url], [url="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battleship_%28game%29"]Battleship[/url] can easily be played over a chat client by labeling the rows/columns. You can fix appearance and boring which are both subjective anyways.

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MattRix_175550    100
Here's a great post by Jason Kapalka (creator of Bejeweled) from PopCap where he talks about how hex board can be confusing to casual players: [url="http://www.gamasutra.com/php-bin/news_index.php?story=21701"]http://www.gamasutra...php?story=21701[/url]

There are some interesting points there, and I especially like how they got around the daunting-ness of hexes in Bookworm by using hex mechanics, but displaying them as square tiles.

I know not all of those points apply to a strategy game, but it's definitely worth considering.

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Acharis    5979
[quote name='Tiblanc' timestamp='1311334664' post='4838857']
[quote name='Acharis' timestamp='1311329905' post='4838834']
Additional cons for Hexes:
- AI movement might give you troubles (check Civilization V design notes, they said they had a lot of trouble with it)
[/quote]

Do you have a link for this? I'm curious why it gave them trouble. The SRPG I'm working on originally started with hex tiles and the only thing that changed was the functions to get neighbors tiles and affected tiles when using area of effect skills. The AI remained the same and works just as well with square tiles.
[/quote]No, I don't (maybe it was in the game manual's designer notes?) It surprised me too, a company of the Firaxis level complaing about troubles with switching from squares to hexes...

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blutzeit    1650
One of the main differences is how you measure distance. With hexes you have approximately the familiar [url="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euclidean_distance"]Euclidian distance[/url], but with squares you'll have to use the so-called [url="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taxicab_geometry"]Manhattan distance[/url]. If the squares/hexes are small then the difference will be small too, but otherwise squares might penalize diagonal movements compared to hexes. But that also depends on how you design the game rules.

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Acharis    5979
Games almost never use Manhattan distance (it would happen only in games that allow movement in 4 directions, but almost all allow 8 direction instead). So it is [url="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chebyshev_distance"]Chebyshev distance[/url] which is 1/2 of Manhatan distance cost and less than Euclidian for moves not in stright lines.

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greentiger    162
[quote name='MrProper' timestamp='1311067415' post='4837280']
I'm in early stages of game development, focusing on game design and I've already got stucked. Game is turn based with 2 players.

I can't decide whether its better to use square or hexa game board. Both have its pros and cons. I've also made small list of them. Feel free to correct me or add some new.

I feel like Hex board might be good choice, but on the other hand you can't go wrong with good old square board.

Square:
+ classic
+ 8 surrounding tiles
+ easy to understand
+- harder to master
- old, looks boring

Hex:
+ cool
+ strategy part seems more fun to me
+ board feels bigger
+- looks more complicated then square, but I believe it's way easier to master
- 6 surrounding tiles
- harder to understand
- people aren't very familiar with this option
[/quote]

What are the design goals? Personally I prefer square boards for two reasons: it's "traditional" for SRPGs to use square boards and because even though it is not as realistic, it can produce more tactical options especially if units can't move or attack diagonal squares (assuming a range and area of effect of one square).

o x o
x x x
o x o

vs.

x x x
x x x
x x x

(if that makes any sense).

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Dragonsoulj    3212
If you are worried about the distance issue between square and hex boards, you can use a D&D approach. First diagonal is 1 square, second diagonal counts as 2, third counts as 1, ect. This way you still can calculate accurate distance, and it is easy to explain.

My choice: Hex. I like the look and the way most hex games have played for me.

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FLeBlanc    3141
I've never played a hex game before, but I very much like the idea of it, especially not having to worry about diagonal neighbors. Diagonal movement in square-tile games has always bugged me.

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Orymus    156
I prefer square, never got into many games just because they were hexa, I think I just don't like the aesthetic of it, with no regard to actual gameplay impacts. Besides, I still consider Chess to be one of the most interesting games and it was on a square grid, so, to me, an idea would have to be 'undoable' on square and REQUIRE hexa to use it.

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ImmoralAtheist    118
[quote name='Orymus' timestamp='1316638095' post='4864363']
I prefer square, never got into many games just because they were hexa, I think I just don't like the aesthetic of it, with no regard to actual gameplay impacts. Besides, I still consider Chess to be one of the most interesting games and it was on a square grid, so, to me, an idea would have to be 'undoable' on square and REQUIRE hexa to use it.
[/quote]

Chess is designed around using a square board. There are no health bars. The pieces have rules to how they can move. It is a completely different scenario.
Of course you could make use of the imbalance of a square board in the strategy game, but I don't think I've ever seen that.

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FLeBlanc    3141
[quote name='Orymus' timestamp='1316638095' post='4864363']
I prefer square, never got into many games just because they were hexa, I think I just don't like the aesthetic of it, with no regard to actual gameplay impacts. Besides, I still consider Chess to be one of the most interesting games and it was on a square grid, so, to me, an idea would have to be 'undoable' on square and REQUIRE hexa to use it.
[/quote]

[url="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hexagonal_chess"]Hexagonal chess[/url]

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TheBuzzSaw    143
I definitely favor hex. The zig zag "problem" is one thing you have to work around, sure, but I find it a mere annoyance compared to the issues with squares. Squares primary advantage is that it is simple to understand and built art around. However, it is difficult to address the distance problems. With squares, you either have to allow diagonal movement (faster than the other directions) or disallow it (now you're down to 4 directions as opposed to hexagon's 6).

Everyone else has pretty much said all this... but I vote hex. :)

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