Psychochild's Blog

A developer's musings on game development and writing.

24 November, 2008

Weekend Design Challenge: More gameplay

This week, let’s shift back to talking about gameplay. Two weeks ago, I asked about this topic and it veered off into the realm of themes. Last week we discussed some themes, so this week I want to go back to gameplay and think about what types of gameplay we could have for a board game.

Some thoughts after the jump.

Take, for example, Mrop’s comment about an Ancient Rome setting with a political element. For inspiration, we could look at the classic game Diplomacy, where the direct mechanics are actually pretty simple: you write down movement commands for your units, some of which may depend on sea units to transport them. Attacks can also be made upon enemies. But, the real focus of the game is on the negotiations: who will allow other people to move, who will provide transports to move units, who will betray others? The interactions are only loosely bound by the rules, but they are the more important aspect of the game.

So, based on that setting, could you create a game that focuses mostly on negotiations? What type of game mechanics would you have at the base of the game? Would you want something simple, or some added complexity to mirror the reality of the situation? Perhaps adding a “tragedy of the commons” element as discussed might be interesting.

So, continue some discussion on gameplay mechanics. What is the core gameplay? If you need some structure, pick a theme discussed last week and describe some possible game mechanics. I look forward to some more discussion!

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  1. Regarding the Ancient Rome game with a political setting, check out the board game Quo Vadis. It’s a bit abstract, but really nails the whole negotiating aspect. It’s a really nice well done game.

    Comment by Rohan — 24 November, 2008 @ 8:42 PM

  2. It seems no one wants to comment this post. I guess I could describe a little more in depth what I imagined my Ancient Rome game to be.

    The game board consists of a map of the Mediterranean, with the land divided into provinces, and the sea into zones. As the game starts out, the only legions and fleets available to players are under the command of the Senate, and they can only be moved if all players can agree on where to go next. As the game progresses, the players can invest in increasing their influence in the conquered provinces, eventually creating personal legions. Just like in Diplomacy, even if you now have a few armies and fleets of your own, you still need to coordinate with other players. In the end however, the players must decide if they can use their legions to overthrow the Senate and become Emperor. If they fail, other players will be encouraged to try the same thing. There are of course some problems with this victory condition, since it seems unfavourable to try for victory first. Still I think it is only a matter of balancing and creating convincing rewards for players who dare cross Rubicon.

    Comment by Mrop — 30 November, 2008 @ 8:41 AM

  3. Mrop wrote:
    There are of course some problems with this victory condition, since it seems unfavourable to try for victory first.

    This isn’t necessarily a design flaw. A lot of games have it where attempting victory first is the riskiest. An example that comes immediately to mind is Munchkin. Usually the first person who attempts to win (by gaining the 10th level) gets all bad cards thrown at them. The people after the first tend to have an easier time as the really bad cards have already been used. The game design challenge here is to figure out a way that makes taking the risk worthwhile.

    Comment by Psychochild — 1 December, 2008 @ 8:36 AM

  4. Weekend Design Challenge: Commercial viability

    [...] Mrop, a game based on the politics of ancient Rome. The game focuses on player negotiation to accomplish [...]

    Pingback by Psychochild’s Blog — 1 December, 2008 @ 8:56 AM

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