Game mechanic

‚ÄčI am interested in Negotiation as a game mechanic. 

In games, negotiation has been used to gain an items, allies and other valuable assets by convincing either other players or non-player characters to trade, lend or give their resources to the player’s cause. When playing against the compueter, this can range from simply giving the right answers in a conversation tree, to a complex web of hidden values that include a npc’s values and willingness to trade, the player’s charisma and negotiation skill, environmental and political factors and more. 

I think experimenting with a multiplayer game, in which players have seperate, set goals, but have to work with (or against) other players to complete them could be very interesting. 

I found this forum thread while researching negotiation as a game mechanic and found it helpful: http://forum.unity3d.com/threads/game-mechanic-negotiation.304900/

Some games that have inspired me are the demon negotiations in the Shin Megami Tensei series and the way the player character’s gender and allignment can affect the way npcs react to them in the Knights of the Old Republic series. 

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Morality Dilemmas

A Father’s Agonising Choice

You are an inmate in a concentration camp. A sadistic guard is about to hang your son who tried to escape, and wants you to pull the chair out from underneath him. He says that if you don’t he will not only kill your son but some other innocent inmate as well. You don’t have any doubt that he means what he says. What should you do? 

This was the dilemma my group was faced with. Obviously it is  a tough choice for anyone, but a father would likely have an especially hard time killing his son, even for the sake of another innocent life. 

Looking at it objectively, there are 4 people involved in this scenario. You, the guard – likely with other guards as backup – your son, and the other innocent prisoner. The options available to you are simple – kill your son or refuse to. 

  • As a group, we also considered attempting to attack the guard and killing yourself as options. 

The methods for these actions are pulling out the chair to kill your son, saying no to the guard to refuse, hitting or attempting to strangle the guard (as you likely do not have anything to use as a weapon), or biting through your tongue to kill yourself. 

The attack attempt was immediately discarded as a viable option, as the guard (and his presumed backup) would likely be armed and in better condition (well fed, trained and strong) than a concentration camp prisoner. The attack would fail, and if you were not killed in the process, then you would be faced with the same dilemma as before (or the guards would kill any combination of you, your son and the innocent as punishment for trying to defy them).

Killing yourself wouldn’t actually solve anything. You would be dead and have no influence over the fates of any of the other prisoners. At least you wouldn’t have to choose to kill your son? 

With the last two options, it can be boiled down to kill one person or watch two die. Your son does not survive in any version of this scenario, but your choice can affect the life or death of the other prisoner. With this in mind – and assuming the goal is to preserve as many innocent lives as possible – the most ethical option is to kill your son. While your son would die and you would likely be overcome with grief and regret at your hand in it, the bystander would survive for another day. 

Of course, looking at it from another point of view, being dead could be preferable to being alive in a concentration camp, in which case the more ethical solution would be to refuse to kill your son, then attack the guard or kill yourself after the other prisoners are both dead. 

Layoff analysis

Layoff
Short summary: 

  • A single-player match 3 game where the matched workers are fired and sent to the unemployment office.

 Player intention: 

  • Players can choose which workers to swap/lay off

Feedback 

  • Standard match 3 feedback – characters that are matched disappear, characters above move down to fill the gaps, and new characters appear from the top of the screen
  • Matched characters appear at the bottom of the game screen – in the ‘unemployment office’, and the player’s score goes up

Story: 

  • You are an Executive who is firing workers in order to save money for your company. Each worker has a backstory, which you can choose to take into consideration when making matches – or you can ignore it entirely

Objectives:

  • Depend on the player
  • Basic goal is to get as high a score (save as much money) as possible
  • A sympathetic player may try to avoid firing workers who are good at their jobs or are depending on their income

Rules/Mechanics:

  • Setup: Start the game, look at tutorial if needed
  • Progression of play: switch two adjacent characters together to make a line of three or more in a row or column
  • This causes the matched 3-5 characters to disappear from the play area and appear in the ‘unemployment office’, characters from above to fill the spaces, and the score variable to increase. 

Resources/resource management: 

  • Characters – maneuvering them (by switching) towards a favorable or unfavorable outcome
  • Character back stories – choose if and how to let information affect match decisions

Information: 

  • Hidden – next characters that will replace old ones from the top
  • Public – the board, characters back stories types and positions, score

Sequencing: 

  • Turn based – player moves, system reacts to player action, player chooses next move, etc. 

Player interaction: 

  • N/A, single player

The sense of empathy is mostly generated by the story and character back stories seen during play. By giving each character a unique backstory and situation, they seem more real and relateable, which causes the player to think about the consequences of their actions and the consequences they would have in real life. By showing matched characters at the unemployment office, it aims to increase the sense of guilt for firing the characters from their jobs. 

Personally, I did not find myself feeling a particularly strong sense of empathy – reading the characters back stories did not make me feel much or any guilt at matching them.