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EricTheRed

Digital board game idea

11 posts in this topic

I am working on a video game, currently titled "Galaxy Tactics", and want some input on my ideas. The game is a turn based space conquest game played on a hexagonal grid. It is intended to play like a digital board game where you move pieces around to capture planets and combat the other player/players. I am most of the way through writing up the rules and will post them later when I am done. For the most part, I intended the rules to be quick and simple, but allow for reasonably complex strategy. As it stands now, you could pretty much print a board and some tokens and physically play the game. What I want to know right now is if people think a digital board game like this would be fun to play. Do you you have any ideas to help capture the feel of a physical board game? What about things like game length and learning curve? I think a typical game should take no more than 30 minutes (longer games are always possible with larger boards). I know some of these things you wont be able to help with until I post the rules (comming soon) but maybe you all have some suggestions (including for the title).
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[quote name='EricTheRed' timestamp='1330379148' post='4917164']
Do you you have any ideas to help capture the feel of a physical board game?
[/quote]
I know this sounds stupid, but something as simple as clacking sounds when the pieces are placed down, and a 3D perspective will get a player interested.
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[quote name='pixelgeer' timestamp='1330379602' post='4917171']
[quote name='EricTheRed' timestamp='1330379148' post='4917164']
Do you you have any ideas to help capture the feel of a physical board game?
[/quote]
I know this sounds stupid, but something as simple as clacking sounds when the pieces are placed down, and a 3D perspective will get a player interested.
[/quote]

I don't know about 3D because I am doing the art myself, but it is a good idea to try an convey the physical act of moving the pieces. Doing things like actually dragging the piece with associated sound effects. Also, maybe leaving the piece where you actually set it down (i.e. not automatically center it in a hex) will better capture this.
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Yeah, so it drops slightly off center maybe, or where the cursor lands?
And it's not necessary for 3D, just giving you some options :P
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Honestly, my suggestion for a 'digital board game' is to not make a 'digital board game' or worry about any digital aspects yet. Make an actual board game! Play the board game and see if it is fun. Write up the rules and send them to different group for feed back. If it is fun and people enjoy it as a prototype board game, then you can easily translate that into a fun digital copy and work on useful features.


As for when you move it back to digital, I think you should put some effort into making it look and feel somewhat like a physical object that the user is interacting with, but I really wouldn't suggest trying to make it feel exactly like a board game. You have a computer, actually use it. Include animations, but keep them simple. As already said, sound is a big thing, so mix 'blocky' sounds in with your expected video game type sounds.

Also, don't rule out 3D with simple graphics. Even if your 'pieces' are very simple tokens, basically a short flat coin or something with an image painted on the top, it can still pop with 3D. You don't really need to do huge and complex 3D art work to make a convincing 'board game'. Look at all the 3D artwork that goes into a physical copy of Settlers of Catan. How hard do you think it would be to make the villages, cities, and roads look 3D?


Keep it simple, keep it fun, and polish the hell out of it.
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I second the suggestion to design a board game [i]tout court[/i][i], [/i]without wasting time on details like 3D graphics or special effects; but you can give some consideration to the advantages of computer board games over real ones:[list]
[*]Playing over the network, either by scheduling a virtual meeting your friends (easier than going to the same place in person) or against whatever random strangers happen to be online.
[*]Playing against computer opponents, at least as a learning exercise. Don't make the AI's job too difficult.
[*]Game pieces that would be impractical or expensive in physical form: huge maps, unlimited stocks of tokens, sets of thousands and thousands of cards, etc.
[*]Game pieces or interactions that would be physically impossible: draw front lines and paths on the map, suggest which pieces can be moved and how, forbid invalid actions.
[*]Rules that exceed what players are willing or able to enforce, typically formulas instead of approximate tables and maintaining hit points of units and other massive game state data.
[/list]
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[quote name='LorenzoGatti' timestamp='1330426461' post='4917364']
I second the suggestion to design a board game [i]tout court[/i][i], [/i]without wasting time on details like 3D graphics or special effects; but you can give some consideration to the advantages of computer board games over real ones:[list]
[*]Playing over the network, either by scheduling a virtual meeting your friends (easier than going to the same place in person) or against whatever random strangers happen to be online.
[*]Playing against computer opponents, at least as a learning exercise. Don't make the AI's job too difficult.
[*]Game pieces that would be impractical or expensive in physical form: huge maps, unlimited stocks of tokens, sets of thousands and thousands of cards, etc.
[*]Game pieces or interactions that would be physically impossible: draw front lines and paths on the map, suggest which pieces can be moved and how, forbid invalid actions.
[*]Rules that exceed what players are willing or able to enforce, typically formulas instead of approximate tables and maintaining hit points of units and other massive game state data.
[/list]
[/quote]

You pretty much hit all the reasons why I wanted to create a digital board game. A game would also hopefully take less time than a physical version as the accounting is automatically managed and things like dice rolling can be sped up. A digital game is also much cheaper and easier to distribute. That last part is the main barrier to people trying to make their own board games. The quicker game play increases the audience as not everyone has 3 hours to sit down for a game of axis and allies, and enforcing (and clearly presenting) the rules of the game helps new players. With all these advantages there is a disadvantage. You do loose that physical connection with the actual game. That is what I would like to avoid.
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Here's a pretty good read about some guys who built a mmo scrabble board game in a 48 hour competition. http://www.startupmonkeys.com/2010/09/building-a-scrabble-mmo-in-48-hours/

Uses mongoDB's "geo spatial" indexing to store insanely huge maps and only renders whats in view to each player.
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[quote name='EricTheRed' timestamp='1330379148' post='4917164']
Do you you have any ideas to help capture the feel of a physical board game? What about things like game length and learning curve? I think a typical game should take no more than 30 minutes (longer games are always possible with larger boards). I know some of these things you wont be able to help with until I post the rules (comming soon) but maybe you all have some suggestions (including for the title).
[/quote]

I think what makes digital board games fun to play is that people know what it feels like to play the game in real life. Chess, for example, is fun to play digitally because people know what it's like to really play the game on a board. Same with other digital remakes like Checkers or Chutes & Ladders or something. Plus, with a game like Chess, it's so complex, making it digital is great because the complexity of the game is a turn on.

If you want to capture the feel of a board game, play board games. Play them all and take note of what you enjoy and what you're feeling and what you notice. Like pixelgeer said, just slapping down the piece makes a great feeling to him. What makes a board game feel great to you?

As far as learning curve, if you want a game that has a fast learning curve, then that's fine. Nothing wrong with that. Just make it good enough so people want to play it.

Just my thoughts. [img]http://public.gamedev.net//public/style_emoticons/default/smile.png[/img]
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[quote name='pixelgeer' timestamp='1330379602' post='4917171']
[quote name='EricTheRed' timestamp='1330379148' post='4917164']
Do you you have any ideas to help capture the feel of a physical board game?
[/quote]
I know this sounds stupid, but something as simple as clacking sounds when the pieces are placed down, and a 3D perspective will get a player interested.
[/quote]Thanks, pixelgeer, now I feel like getting going back and getting hooked on Puzzle Quest again. :P
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Tried Vassal http://www.vassalengine.org/ ? It's the most popular digital board, so it is worth checking why people use it.
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[quote name='Acharis' timestamp='1330691855' post='4918564']
Tried Vassal [url="http://www.vassalengine.org/"]http://www.vassalengine.org/[/url] ? It's the most popular digital board, so it is worth checking why people use it.
[/quote]

I have used Vassal for Warhammer 40K, back before Gamesworkshop stopped Vassal from distributing the module. A lot of its popularity comes from its flexibility. Vassal always seemed a little rough around the edges to me. This was probably largely due to the fact that the engine has no real understanding of the actual rules of the game, and can therefore not do things like only allow you to move a piece 6 inches. This is more like a real board game, but also not as slick. To the casual player, this makes things a little hard and less fun.

Perhaps (somewhat sarcastically) I should really get the feel of a board game and add full 3D physics. Then when you throw dice on the board, you can knock over a bunch of the pieces and argue with the other players where they should be put back to.
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