Mini-games based on board games

 
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KaVir



Joined: 11 May 2005
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 02, 2006 3:24 pm    Post subject: Mini-games based on board games Reply with quote

This is somewhat related to the card games thread, but the style of game and its usage is likely to be very different, so I thought it might be easier to separate the two threads.

One of my players occasionally challenges other players to chess (using some sort of online chess game). He mentioned that it would be very cool if we could have something similar within the mud - and I know there are other muds which already have that option. Once again, however, I don't feel that such a game would be really appropriate within the mud "as is", because it's not really part of the game itself. It could, however, be used to represent something within the game world, such as large-scale battles, or even political maneuvering.

Board games often tend to require many more turns than card games. You could reasonably expect players to stay online for a full game of poker or blackjack, but a game of chess is likely to take a lot longer, and strategy games with several players are going to require even longer still. With a reasonable playerbase you might well end up with a lot more players than you'd have in a typical real-life board game, so I could see games taking many hours to finish.

The difficulty then becomes in deciding how such long-duration games should be handled. There are various online strategy games that handle this by assigning turns based on real-life time (eg 1 turn per real-life hour) and allowing players to spend them whenever they wish - that would be one option, although it wouldn't work for chess-like games. Another option would be to require players to make their move within, say, 24 hours - although that could result in extremely long games, and could cause problems for players who lose access for a few days while on vacation (unless the games were team-based - which could make an interesting use for clans).

For games where the moves represented political maneuvering, each move could represent a shift of power, and it wouldn't matter so much if the games took weeks or even months to play - in fact the game wouldn't even have to be winnable at all, as long as players could join at any time without having to fight their way up some sort of huge ladder. For such games the goal would be to keep yourself in a better tactical position than your opponent/s, rather than simply 'beating' them. I guess you could achieve the same sort of thing with regular battles as well, by rewarding players for holding on to land or objectives rather than 'beating' people (and then assigning limited resources).

On the other hand, for something like chess it might be worth going for a "quick blitz" style of game. The difficulty lies with players who lag or lose their connection, but I guess you could just chalk that up to tough luck (depending on the importance of the game). The limited time would also make it less practical for players to use third-party programs to help them, although you could achieve the same sort of result simply by making the game slightly different from normal chess - perhaps basing the starting pieces on available units, having a board which represents the terrain being fought on, give the players varied amounts of thinking time, etc. Of course this starts to turn the game into more of a war game, so it would really be a matter of personal taste as to how far you wanted to take it.

Another major difficulty of board games is presentation. For a fairly small board (such as that used in games such as chess and drafts) you could probably handle it with ascii graphics, although visually impaired players would be pretty much stuffed. Larger boards would likely require custom clients, or web-based interfaces, unless the player was only able to see certain parts of the map at any one time.

Having such a game represent the overall gameworld could also be tied in to some of the ideas expressed in the In-game representations of out-of-game activities thread, particularly if each game spanned several months.
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gerund



Joined: 24 Nov 2005
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 02, 2006 10:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Reading your post and then thinking that those with a natural aptitude for chess would have an unfair advantage, given that it might substitute for determining the result of an in-game event. It made me think that perhaps it would be more fair if there was the ability for two players who were to use a mini-game to arbitrate the result of something, to negotiate which game they would play.

That brought to mind the Adept science-fiction/fantasy book series written by Piers Anthony. Exactly this sort of thing happened. Well, the games were not played to arbitrate the result of something, rather for a position on a ladder and for the amusement of rich patrons. But the players made several abstract choices and this randomly ended up with a game being chosen for them to play.
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KaVir



Joined: 11 May 2005
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 02, 2006 11:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

gerund wrote:
Reading your post and then thinking that those with a natural aptitude for chess would have an unfair advantage, given that it might substitute for determining the result of an in-game event.


That would indeed be the case - however I consider such an advantage to actually be a desirable aspect of the game. If there are multiple minigames, each based on different types of game, then why shouldn't a player have an advantage if they're good at that type of game?

gerund wrote:
It made me think that perhaps it would be more fair if there was the ability for two players who were to use a mini-game to arbitrate the result of something, to negotiate which game they would play.


That's also an interesting idea, however if there were different types of mini-game then players could of course opt to do that anyway. If they couldn't agree to such a compromise, then the aggressor would be forced to play on his would-be victim's terms (in effect, the challenged gets to pick the type of 'weapon' used for the duel).
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Vopisk



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PostPosted: Tue Jan 03, 2006 3:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've plugged this game before, but I can't help but bring it up again in the context of this discussion. What I'm talking about is Republc: The Revolution.

Basically what it boils down to is you are the leader of a faction trying to overthrow the government, however, each "level" takes place on a city-scale and you compete against rival factions. What makes this idea interesting is that you have certain members of your faction who have certain abilities that they can use to either gain or cause enemy factions to lose influence upon certain city districts.

The game is broken down into turns, abstractly (i.e. one day = one turn, but one day contains a morning, afternoon and night round). So, you position your flunkies in such a way as to plan for other factions trying to lose you influence while at the same time trying to gain influence of your own.

What really makes this idea worthy of a mud (IMO) is the fact that each member of a faction has their own set of skills that they can employ (allowing for different players to have different skills and bring that to the table of their country, clan, whathaveyou). Then, to top it all off, all NPC influencing actions take place in what I can only term to be "combat dialouge". This is a mini-game within the larger game itself whereby you attempt to persuade an NPC to whatever your cause may be (letting you hold a rally, joining your faction, etc...).

This mini-game is played by allotting both the PC and NPC a certain number of points based upon their skill level and allowing them to distribute these points however they choose over four-variables which are represented by different "argument types". After point allotment, the mini-game turns into the actual "combat", which consists of two turns consisting of four rounds each. During each round, the PC and NPC choose one of their argument tactics, whoever has the higher point-value (defaulting to the defender, NPC, in the case of a tie) wins the points for that round. Likewise, their is a total "goal-amount" (in points) that the PC and NPC are both striving for, with the total amount of points available in the game being only slightly more than the higher player's targetted amount. So, as should be obvious, whoever hits their target point amount, wins the mini-game and either your action is effective or ineffective.

To me personally, this mini-game is extremely addictive and I've been known to fire members of my faction for the sheer purpose of being able to initiate a new combat dialouge with a new potential faction member. The combat is always different (I believe with your point total being randomly rolled and modified with your skill level) so you can never be sure what "weapons" you or your enemy are going into battle with. A system such as this could obviously be adapted easily to not only PC v. NPC but also P v. P as well for the purpose of whatever you choose and I think that the above mentioned larger-scale gameplay would be good for political manuevering in a game-wide aspect.

I realize that copyright rules would probably impede one from making a clone of this game in mud form, but I think that it's a step in the right direction if you're going for something that's not only based on character but player skill as well.

Anyway, that's my two cents, something to chew on,

Vopisk
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Zephen



Joined: 15 Mar 2006
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 15, 2006 3:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

While chess is a well known western board game, I don't think it's the best for this sort of idea. The real problem with chess is the extreme variation in playerskill and the large learning curve in improving playerskill which would result in any game between more than amateurs being rather one sided. If it was versus the MUD with a scaling AI that judged your skill and played and rewarded accordingly it may be worthwhile for some people to play. However, I think there's a wide variety of other board games out there that would much better suit boardgame based systems. Here's some examples:


Gomoku: Despite the similarities in names, Gomoku has little in common with Go. It's played on a Go board with each player setting down one piece at a time in an attempt to connect 5 pieces in a row in any direction. This sounds simplistic at first, but can get more difficult the deeper you get and the more skilled players get.

Gomoku is a relatively easy game to learn (especially consider western previous experience with Tic Tac Toe and Connect4) however it does have the downside of having been solved on a 15x15 board with perfect play on the part of black, but that's unlikely to happen in player on player games unless cheating (and chess could have the same thing, Crafty anyone?)


Connect6: A variation of Gomoku which involves players placing two pieces (except for the first turn by black who places one piece then) with the goal of getting 6 in a row. This changes up standard Gomoku a bit and adds a slight bit more complication in winning, but still keeps things relatively simple.


Checkers: An old standby, easy to learn and quick to master. Not a huge amount of tactical variation in the standard game, but there's many variants that open up a wide range of further tactics while keeping things still simple enough to master within a few hours.


Connect 4: Although you'd probably want to give it a different name for legal reasons (one use I've seen is "Vertical Tic Tac Toe") this can be a nice tactical game with very simplistic rules to learn and still a lot of player skill involvement.

Fox & Geese: This one in particular brings up a few fun situation ideas that could be used in MUDs, such as a Hero versus a large army, or a player breaking out of prison. With two highly skilled players or a highly skilled computer this game can take quite a long time to get anywhere though, but I can think of a few solutions.

Reversi/Othello: Another interesting board game which can take on a huge level of depth in play, but is very easy to learn the fundamentals. I could see this one in particular being used for Large Scale Battles, either as the actual battle of the war, or perhaps as a mental warfare/propaganda campaign between troops. Encourage and discourage as many deserters as as possible and strengthen your army to ensure you have the upper hand when the war itself starts.


Anyways, I've got many many more I could list, but I'll leave it at that for now. There's tons of great board games out there that could be applied, and many of them could easily fit just about any situation imaginable. There's a lot of the games I've mentioned here and more on a shareware game platform known as "Zillions of Games". The games themselves and many of their variants are available in the evaluation version. I believe the website is www.zillionsofgames.com

Can any of you think of good ways these games could be used in MUDs? I'll be replying here with my own ideas in a day or two.
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KaVir



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PostPosted: Fri Mar 17, 2006 8:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
While chess is a well known western board game, I don't think it's the best for this sort of idea. The real problem with chess is the extreme variation in playerskill and the large learning curve in improving playerskill which would result in any game between more than amateurs being rather one sided.


I think you can take away a lot of that advantage simply by using chess as a baseline. You could create your own pieces, use subsets of the standard pieces, adjust the rules, adjust the size and shape of the grid, add special terrain features to certain grid locations, and so on - all of these things will increase the tactical options of the game, and wipe out any advantages players might have from memorising opening chess moves.

Of course you'll still have a huge advantage if you've got the sort of mindset that's good at playing chess, but there are ways to limit that as well - add a random element, for example, so that attacking an enemy piece simply gives you an advantage rather than taking it outright. You could also base the available pieces of external factors, so that an army with lots of resources would have more pieces. I'm not sure if you've ever played (or even heard of) Mighty Empires, but it provided a similar sort of approach - you could move armies around the board, and when two met their point values would be used to build armies, with the battle being resolved using the Warhammer wargaming rules.

You could even combine it with some of the other games you mentioned, such as "Fox & Geese", allowing a player's "king" to escape from battle by reaching a certain point on the board. In this way it wouldn't just be about winning and losing, but also about degrees of winning and losing - if I can get my king from the board, then I'll have lost the battle but not the war. Equally, if your army is three times the size of mine, but I managed to destroy half of it before being defeated, then (assuming those losses impacted your resources) I might even consider that a victory in the long-run.

At this point it really has little in common with chess, yet it should retain enough similarities that most players would find it pretty familiar, which should help with the learning curve. If you say "the knights move like knights in chess" then most people will understand it, and you could then introduce the additional pieces as variants to standard chess pieces.
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Zephen



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PostPosted: Sat Mar 25, 2006 7:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That is an interesting way of going about a board game, I must admit. However, I don't know how well it'll fit beyond, say a basic quest or a set of puzzles. In many situations it could get rather complex to balance due to the sheer complexity of chess. I wouldn't really advise going down this route unless you had very strong knowledge on chess gameplay algorithms to begin with or an active interest in researching them. Changing around the goal doesn't necessarily make the game less complex. However, if you do end up making a game otu of it, I'd love to try it.

While playing a game of Gomoku earlier today I came across a concept that would very easily fit into social warfare. It's a rather elaborate idea so rather than bog down this post, I'll give it the benefit of its own post later. I believe it shows the merits that looking at many games rather than narrowing the field can have in coming up with concepts like this. I've been plotting out a lot of ideas along these lines for (slightly) educational games for a while now.

To give another example, Mancala is another old game I've been thinking about recently and could very neatly fall into a MUD environment. The gameplay is simple, centering around the movement of "seeds" within your pits, it's largely a mathematics game with a bit of tactical skill. One application I immediately thought of with MUDs was psychological warfare with Large Battles, or just in general. You sow a little dissent in one unit, or village (pit), and it moves along the lines to the other villages. You have to be careful though, if you sow too much dissent it might backlash to your own troops and have them deserting to the other side. Just a quick example, something more definative could easily be thought up given a bit more time.

In essence, I believe that board games in general have a lot of potential in developing new forms of gameplay. They're old, they're mostly public domain, and a lot of them require a bit of intellect but have a relatively low learning curve. However, I think the mindshare of Chess may lead some people to focusing on it in particular and running into a situation where it's used in place of something better. If you've got a hammer, everything's a nail.
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Vopisk



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PostPosted: Wed Mar 29, 2006 1:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think that you've hit the nail on the head in some areas Zephen, but miss it in others, and I'll elaborate as I go.

Firstly, the learning curve in chess is not steep, all one really needs to know is that piece X can only move in Y way. Once you know how you are able to move the pieces, you can play it. The difficulty is in mastering, or even becoming marginally adept at playing the game, much like Texas Hold 'Em Poker, a minute to learn, a lifetime to master.

Now, if we're merely basing our game-system on chess but elaborating and expanding the ruleset by a large margin, it becomes less chess and possibly easier or more difficult to master. In many ways, and I think quite arguably, chess has been a forerunner and inspiration for many games that have come afterward, as aside from card games, it is one of the eldest of board games.

If you take for example your standard turn-based strategy game, you'll see that your pieces can only move X distance per turn and it may be impossible for that unit to pass certain types of terrain. I don't think I need to point out how this can be directly compared to chess.

Furthermore in the strategy game genre, if we look at such games as Age of Empires, et al. In speaking of Age of Empires explicitly, the third iteration of the game, The Age of Kinds, offered a "regicide" game type, where the entire goal of opposing forces was to "kill the king". Once again, quite a distinct relation. However, almost every strategy game I can ever remember playing involved in some way or another, for that matter almost every game I've ever played, consisted of having one or more "players/characters/whatever" that could not die as a condition of victory.

What has changed in these games from the original chess is that now we've assigned values for defense and attack (in some cases to a severe degree) that now determine if piece X can kill piece Y. This to me emphasizes the point that chess is still and has always been a viable basis for creating a game situation. In keeping with this line of thought, having played countless strategy games, video games, card games, board games, table-top games and yes, games of chess, I can tell you that very rarely, seldom, if ever, has an opponent's tactics been the same twice in a row.

This is owed in large part to the chaos element that is involved. Chess algorithms only work to the extent that two master chess players will both devise a tactic for the game that they will attempt to follow, "seeing four moves ahead" as the saying goes. However, it is said that there is no defense against chaos, the disorganized and sloppy tactics of one who has not mastered the game and plays solely off instinct. Perhaps this is why guerilla warfare in the real world has also always been deadly effective and never succesfully stopped by a rigorously organized and structured standing army.

However, I am not writing this post merely to solely criticize your point, you were quite correct when you said such an adapted system as Kavir mentioned would probably take an eternity, if it were not impossible, to balance. However, I think that far too much emphasis is placed on balance and in the long run only results in games in which, it doesn't matter which tactic one chooses, as they always stand an equal chance of winning.

"balance" can be achieved through sheer diversity in my opinion. If there are enough different methods of strategy and units to put on the front lines, balance will take care of itself. Perhaps one player will decide to focus on subversive tactics and mindgames against the opposition's army while the other goes for brute strength in numbers while the other chooses to utilise a small number of highly trained and deadly effective warriors. These things don't need to do "equal amounts of damage" or even "opposite but equally dispersed types of damage" or whatnot, and as I have seen far too many MUDs succumb to this lazy man's method of balancing, I'd rather not see it from someone who actively participates in an advanced game design forum.

However, I must agree with you again that perhaps the best strategy in implementing this type of system is not to use a sole game as an inspiration, but instead draw upon many different games to enhance and deepend the level of play involved.

It is my opinion that if one of these board games were to be used and converted into some method of MUD game, it would be far preferable to not simply allow it to be some ridiculous mini-game that players participate in purely to cure their boredom, but perhaps a rather large part of the game itself, or at least a large part of a particular aspect of the game.

Finally, in furthering this idea of using chess as a staging ground. What if one were to superimpose a chess board over a Risk! board? Thus, our squares are not merely black and white, they represent chunks of territory that players, cities, kingdoms, etc... can control and have dominion over. In turn, these chunks of territory output a certain type of unit or resource that the player needs in order to further their goal. Then, we can also mix the winning condition rules to state that should any particular kingdom gain complete control, or assassinate all of their competition, they "win" so to speak. However, let us not forget that civilian uprising is always a present danger, a tactic used quite effectively in the Shogun: Total War series.

Anyway, that's my twenty-five dollars and two-cents worth, something to chew on,

Vopisk
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martin



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PostPosted: Tue Dec 01, 2009 3:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Two games that could be used:

Go - even easier rules than chess, and I think (I don't really play) it scales well: normally, the board size is 19 x 19, it could easily be played on a 5 x 5 grid for a shorter game.
Go revolves around position, dominance, capturing and holding ground, and could simulate a classical battle, or a more subltle conflict.

Backgammon - has an element of chance built in, and could maybe be scaled down to a shorter playing field with less tokens. Could simulate a race, or similiiar duels.
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shasarak



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PostPosted: Wed Dec 02, 2009 10:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Monopoly and Cluedo (Clue) spring to mind as good candidates.

On the question of game length - I don't know that it's necessarily a problem to allow a game to last many real-life days, with the state saved between sessions and strict enforcement of turns with arbitrary length. Have players log off, think about their next move for as long as they want, then log back on and make it.

A simple variation on Magic:The Gathering or Pokemon might be a good candidate for a MUD - players magically summon creatures which then fight each other using standard MUD combat rules. (This adds an interesting element of chance compared to chess - it's not guaranteed that any given piece is able to "take" any other, it depends on their relative strengths in a more wargame-like way).
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KaVir



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PostPosted: Thu Dec 03, 2009 11:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

shasarak wrote:
Monopoly and Cluedo (Clue) spring to mind as good candidates.

Cluedo is a very interesting idea - I wonder how easily it could be adapted for a real-time "murder mystery" quest? Perhaps the players could move around as normal, but only ask a maximum of one question every X minutes. Information-sharing might be a problem though.

shasarak wrote:
On the question of game length - I don't know that it's necessarily a problem to allow a game to last many real-life days, with the state saved between sessions and strict enforcement of turns with arbitrary length. Have players log off, think about their next move for as long as they want, then log back on and make it.

The Travian browser game I've talked about before is heavily based on another very similar game called Tribal Wars, which in turn was based on the The Settlers of Catan boardgame. They replaced the typical turn-based approach with real-time movement and resource accumulation, and I think I'd be tempted to do the same if I were adapting a board game to a mud environment.

In situations where thinking and planning is required, timed and simultaneously-executed turns can also work well. But I'd be hesitant to do this for games that could require hundreds of turns.

shasarak wrote:
A simple variation on Magic:The Gathering or Pokemon might be a good candidate for a MUD

Agreed, and MtG was actually mentioned in the Mini-games based on card games thread.
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MECHFrost



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PostPosted: Sat Dec 12, 2009 8:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ravensburger Labyrinth came to my mind when I saw this topic. It's basically an ever-changing maze where the players must collect items.

There could be a team with two players, one outside of the maze who moves the walls, and one inside the maze who collects the items. The player who is inside the maze could get bored though. So an interesting twist would be that the player who moves the walls doesn't know exactly where the other player is, and the latter must describe where he is to attempt finding his exact position. Walls move automatically after a certain amount of time for the game to be decently fast-paced.

Alternatively, it's just a good idea of maze.
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