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Robo_Pi

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HI, I'm not sure what this forum is all about so I hope I'm at the right place.

I have decided to create a new "Board Game".  Does that fit in with this forum?

The type of game I would like to design is a cooperative game where all the players work together to try to overcome the problems presented by the game itself.  I already have quite a few ideas of how I would like the game to be.  For example, I have an idea for the board design, how the players would move around the board, what the strategies would be, and how the game can be won or lost.  But this is just an overall brainstorming idea, not a working model.

For additional information, I can point to an existing board game called "Darkest Night" which is somewhat similar in many ways to the game I would like to design.  Of course there will be major differences as well.  But understanding how "Darkest Night" works will help to give an idea of how my game should end up working.

Darkest Night Review

My game will ultimately be more complicated, but no point in getting into that here.

My Question:

How do I go about creating a mathematical or structured model of the strategy and points system of the game?  Having an idea is one thing, making the idea work is a whole different beast.

The game itself will be a board game, no computer involved.  However, I can see where writing up a computer simulation of the game could be helpful in terms of figuring out how to weigh the actions taken by the players when presented with various situations so the points system works out in a meaningful way allowing the game to be won if a realistic strategy is played.

In other words, I need to create some sort of flow chart or algorithm to help me determine how to set up points systems that make sense and work out well.

I have programming experience using Visual C#.  So I could write a simulation program using that.  However, at the current moment I have no clue how to even begin in terms of a flowchart or algorithm outline.  That's what I need to get started.  Once I have a well-defined flowchart or algorithm then I'm home free.  I can work with programming in all the details using that overall structure.

So how to I set up a game strategy structure?

Like I say, if I had an algorithmic model of the strategy used for Darkest Night, I could expand on that.  But I don't even know how to design something like Darkest Night.

Thanks for any suggestions, and I hope this is the right forum for these questions.

James

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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4 hours ago, Robo_Pi said:

How do I go about creating a mathematical or structured model of the strategy and points system of the game? ...

In other words, I need to create some sort of flow chart or algorithm to help me determine how to set up points systems that make sense and work out well.

Try a spreadsheet. Then prototype the game and get some friends to help you play it. It will probably take several play sessions to determine imbalances that need adjusting.

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3 hours ago, Tom Sloper said:

Try a spreadsheet. Then prototype the game and get some friends to help you play it. It will probably take several play sessions to determine imbalances that need adjusting.

I never thought of using a spreadsheet.  I suppose that might be doable.

However, that's not really my problem at this stage.  My problem is in not understanding how to set up an initial structure.  Even a spreadsheet isn't going to help until I have an overall flowchart or algorithm to model.

I have some vague ideas.  I guess maybe what I'm actually asking for is some sort of an example flowchart or algorithm for an existing game so I can get an idea of how it was done for that game.

I think a good place to start would be to try to model that Darkest Night game I referred to in the OP.  Once I have that modeled then I can expand on that for my game model.  I was hoping to find an example flowchart so I don't need to reinvent the wheel.

Just as an idea of what I'm talking about the game kind of goes like this:

  1. Player turn = start box at top of flowchart
  2. This leads to an event  they create by picking a card = input box of flowchart
  3. This leads to them choosing from a list of possible actions = process box of flowchart
  4. The actions they choose determine the points they will change = decision box of flowchart
  5. This leads to a result = update value points of important game parameters.

(there may also be random numbers from dice rolls involved in the above process)  In fact, figuring out the mathematics of what how to weight dice rolls for a given game situation will be a bit part of this game algorithm.  At least that's what I'm thinking.

Then you move on to the next player's turn.

Of course the above is an extremely simplified flowchart.   The actual flowchart will contain quite a bit of decision loops because determining the points they will affect due to the actions they choose will depend on the current state of the game.  Also, a given turn may involve more than one event and action occurring (however, I think that can all be handled by embedded subroutines.  So the actual "flow" or "code" for the above algorithm will end up becoming quite involved. 

I think the above algorithm would work fairly well for the Darkest Night game I mentioned.  I guess I should try to model that game first.  I can see the need for subroutines in that game too, because some events cause other events to arise, so that represents a subroutine that needs to be taken care of before returning to the original event.

It's going to be complicated to be sure.  But I think I can handle the embedded subroutines caused by events occurring within events.  I can structure those so they all need to be cleared before returning one level up.  So subroutines won't be a problem.

I guess I'm kind of answering my own question here by proposing the above flowchart as a place to start.

My reason for making this post was to obtain a working example of a completed game flowchart.  That way I don't need to invent this thing from the ground up.

But I'm not ready to go into a spreadsheet, or program coding just yet.  I'm still at the stage of trying to create the overall structure.  Only then can I start typing things into a spreadsheet or program code.

I guess I should just take some time drawing out flowcharts until I can "see" the big picture.   I can already see where I will need to be adding a lot of internal decision loops.

Anyway, thanks for the suggestion of the spreadsheet.  I never thought of using a spreadsheet.  That might be interesting.

 

 

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For those, I'd work through them by playing and understanding other games similar to what you want.

You've already got the one game that you are using for comparison.  Does that game use flowcharts?

Many of the more complex tabletop games use tables, either with each player tracking their data on their own paper, or with sliders on the board, or with other elements. 

As one example out of many, consider the game Pandemic, a well-known game, which has the data as part of the board. There are 7 steps for the infection rate, 9 steps for the outbreak counter, four indicating when cures have been discovered and when diseases are cured. The game designers decided that rather than keeping the information on paper or a spreadsheet, it was easier to play using a token that moves along the path.  I'm sure when they were designing the game they experimented with many options, and they were probably notes on paper rather than something printed on the board at first.

 

Some good advice I received years ago is to start writing the game manual early.  As soon as you start to figure out the steps, also spend time trying to explain it to players.  If you can explain it in one or two pages, great.  If it takes a large manual that isn't necessarily a deal-killer, since games like D&D have fairly large manuals, but it means you've got a large barrier to entry.

Play lots of similar games and read their player manuals.  Figure out what they did and how they solved the issue.  Usually someone else has already found great solutions to the problems you've got, so broad exposure to other games while paying attention to their solutions can be useful in your own projects.

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40 minutes ago, frob said:

You've already got the one game that you are using for comparison.  Does that game use flowcharts?

Many of the more complex tabletop games use tables, either with each player tracking their data on their own paper, or with sliders on the board, or with other elements.

The is no flowchart in the game I'm using for comparison.  As you suggest data is kept track of using sliders on the board, etc.   That's how the players will keep track of things on my game too.

However, as the game designer I need to have a flowchart in order to design the game.  The players will never see my flowchart or even need to know that it exists.  Everything will be taken care of for them by what the playing cards tell them to do.

I need the flowchart to help me figure out what to put on the playing cards to instruct the players on what they need to do.   Once I have created the game, the flowchart will no longer be required.

I just created a flowchart of my game.  It may become more complex than this, but thus far I think I have the bulk of it covered.  This flow chart is what happens during the course of one player making a single move.

It starts with a player, who has already chosen to be a certain character.  Which character they have chosen to be will play a role in how their actions will be evaluated.   Since there are 8 characters the flowchart begins with the condition of 1 of 8.   That will be determined by the player's character. 

A second piece of information required is their location during that turn.  There are 9 locations they could be at. So that's 1 of 9 possibilities that will affect the results of their actions.   Then they will chose an event from the event deck.   The event will be one of 4 types and one of 6 classes.   So that will be determined by the event they happen to chose by random.

Next they will need to choose a solution from the solutions deck.  The solutions offered to them will be 1 of 4 types and 1 of 6 classes.  The players themselves may not be aware of any of this mathematics.   But for me as the designer, these numbers help me to work out the probabilities when I'm designing the events and solutions cards.   I'm the one who needs to create those cards.  The players merely pick them from the deck and do whatever the cards say to do.   But I'm the one who needs to figure out what to tell the players to do.

Finally, based on the event encountered and the solution chosen a result will be determined.  That result will tell the players how they need to change the value of the world characteristics of the world they are playing in.

Improving the characteristic of the world they are in is the goal of the game.  The players job is to chose the best solutions to the events they encounter.  My job as the game designer is to create event and solution cards that actually make sense.  That's why I need a flowchart.

And I can hardly play this game with anyone until I  at least have some sort of preliminary event and solution cards made up.   Without the events and solutions there is no game to play.   Obviously I can start out as basic as possible to get thing started.   And I do intend to do that.  But I need to have some sort of understanding of what I'm doing.  This flowchart looks like it might be a good place to start.

I've attached my flowchart I created in PC paint.  I hope it shows up in this post.  I can't find a preview button for the post.  So I'll just submit this reply and hope for the best.

 

 

 

 

 

 

FLowChart.GIF

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7 hours ago, Robo_Pi said:

I need to have a flowchart in order to design the game.

Okay. You can do that. Work the way that works for you.

7 hours ago, Robo_Pi said:

I've attached my flowchart

Okay. You designed how a turn works. Now can you make your prototype and start testing your game?

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45 minutes ago, Tom Sloper said:

Okay. You designed how a turn works. Now can you make your prototype and start testing your game?

That's going to be the time consuming part to be sure.

I didn't think it was going to be this easy to create a meaningful flowchart.   When I created this thread I had no clue where to start.  Ironically when it came time to explain what I needed, that explanation itself produced the flowchart.  I guess one of the best ways to try to figure something out is to try to explain the problem to someone else.

Anyway, yeah, I'm way further ahead now than before I started this thread.  I didn't have a flowchart when I started.  Now I do.

So now I can move forward.

Thanks for letting me explain my problem.

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1 hour ago, Robo_Pi said:

That's going to be the time consuming part to be sure.

It doesn't have to be. Rough and dirty is okay, as long as it works. Hand-draw the board (if there's a board). Get some toy soldiers to use as pawns (if you need pieces). If you need money, get some play money at the Walgreens, or cannibalize a Monopoly set. The cards (if you need cards) are the time-consuming part. Write on some index cards for starters. Once you get started, it goes quickly, or you lose track of time and somebody has to drag you away to eat and sleep.

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1 hour ago, Tom Sloper said:

It doesn't have to be. Rough and dirty is okay, as long as it works. Hand-draw the board (if there's a board). Get some toy soldiers to use as pawns (if you need pieces). If you need money, get some play money at the Walgreens, or cannibalize a Monopoly set. The cards (if you need cards) are the time-consuming part. Write on some index cards for starters. Once you get started, it goes quickly, or you lose track of time and somebody has to drag you away to eat and sleep.

I already have a rough board drawn up.  That's the first and easiest thing I did.   I also have figures I can use for the players.  Other tokens and markers are also easy to create quick and dirty.

The hard part, and most time-consuming part will indeed being making up the cards.   In fact, that's the reason I needed to create this flowchart. I'm still not done.  I also need to create a meaningful quantitative relationship between the events and solutions.  That is the heart of this game.  The problems will always be one of four categories I call "type".  I'm still working this out conceptually and may potentially need to add more types, but I think I can make it work well with only four types.    Note: The players themselves will have no clue about these "types".   These "types" are only something I need to be aware of as the game designer.

Example of the four types:

  1. Physical
  2. Logical
  3. Ethical
  4. Emotional

Every "problem" I create on an event card will fall into one of these four types.  Then they pick a solution card that offers them four possible actions they can take to solve the problem at had.  Each of those solutions will reflect one of these basic types.

If they choose a solution that is of the same type as the problem then will score high points.  However, if they choose a solution that is not of the same type as the problem, then they will either gain only a few points or possibly lose existing points.   Exactly how I'm going to make this work out on a board game with just cards is still not clear.  It may not even be possible.  This game might ultimately need to be a computer program so the program can figure out whether the type of solution matches the type of problem.  I'm still unclear on how, or even if, this can be done using a board game and just cards.  I'm sure it could be programmed into a computer game.  But trying to design cards with enough information on them to instruct the players on how to tally points might be formidable.

It's not going to help to try to prototype a game by trial and error if the game is impossible to implement with just a board and cards.

So I guess this is also my major concern and why I'm trying to figure out a complete flowchart scenario.   The flowchart I've come up with thus far makes the overall structure of the game pretty clear.  And that was certainly helpful.  But it still isn't helpful in terms of exactly how I will need to design the cards to properly instruct the players on how to score their actions. 

The "Calculate Results" box of my innocent-looking flowchart is not so innocent.  I can see how I would calculate the results using a computer program and all the known information up to that point.   But explaining to the players how to score their results on paper cards is not so clear.   Especially when they aren't even supposed to be vividly aware of the four types.  After all, if they were openly aware of the four types they would ALWAYS choose a matching solution.  That wouldn't be much of a game.   So the "type" of problem and solution has to remain somewhat hidden from them.  They have to either guess or just realize from common sense which solution best matches the problem at hand.  That's the whole point of the game.  The better they do at this, the higher they score.

This game just might not loan itself to becoming a simple board game without the assistance of dynamic computer analysis.

I just don't know the answer to this question yet.  However I'm starting to suspect that it might not be possible to do what I would like to do via a simple board game without computer assistance.  Only time will tell on this one.

Here's a rough sketch of the board.  I know this game would be possible as a computer game because the computer would know the "type" of problems and solutions and could then score from that information, but I'm not sure it can be played as a board game without extremely complex instructions on the playing cards.  I can't just tell the players, "If the problem and solution are the same type then score points, otherwise deduct points".   I need to figure out some way to make things work out without the players knowing anything about "types".   And I'm not sure if this can even be done with just game cards.  It may be literally impossible.  

This is what I'm trying to figure out with flowcharts.  Clearly I'm not done with the flowcharts because I haven't actually made a flowchart on precisely HOW to score things.  When I do that I may be able to see clearly whether or not this game can be done without computer assistance.  It may ultimately need to become a computer game just to work.

In fact, having just explained all of this, I'm starting to guess that this will only be possible as a computer game.   In order to score actions too much information will need to be known that the players themselves simply won't know without revealing the "secret" of types.  Once they know that "secret" it's no longer a challenging game because at that point they would just always chose solutions that match the type of problem at hand.  How can you lose when  you already know which choice is best?

It's going to have to be a computer game.  Surely.  As a computer game there would be no problem as the computer could figure out the score without the players necessarily understanding why they are getting the scores they are getting.

 

38102018011_45faa0d710_b.jpg

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16 minutes ago, Robo_Pi said:

But trying to design cards with enough information on them to instruct the players on how to tally points might be formidable.

Writing out 4 solutions on a card is a lot more space-consuming then adding "x1" "x2" and "x3" to these instructions to make the rewards differ.

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