Round 3 – Battle Royale Cluedo-Chess

Term Break – Research & Ideas

Research

One of my initial goals for this project was to improve my programming skills. I moved more towards physical artefacts and board games as they are easier to create in a short amount of time with my current skill set. I decided to look at both areas in my research for this round.

I looked at games that use chess pieces and moves in different ways. For the digital aspect, I focused on roguelike-style games specifically.

Really Bad Chess – a fun remix of normal chess, players use random sets of chess pieces which leads to lot’s of new strategies. Queens become a lot less valuable when you have ten of them.

Vuel – a turn-based game where you navigate a procedurally generated world and “stomp” enemies before they stomp on you or your energy runs out. In particular, I liked the way this game uses aspects of both chess and roguelike games. Chess: specific movesets for each type of ‘piece’, capturing/stomping other pieces. Roguelike: procedurally generated level, permadeath (except for money), hunger/battery meter.

Chesslike – more of a puzzle game, players use one or more chess pieces to fulfill each level’s goal, which ranges from “reach the exit” to “capture every enemy piece”. This is like a more complex version of how I was imagining the chess mechanics for my previous prototype would work.

Combat Chess – you pick three characters and weapons to fight with, and use them to fight several enemy characters. I found the movement mechanics in this one very interesting once I understood them. Each turn – consisting of one player movement and attack, and one enemy move and attack – the way you can move changes in a cycle. Turn one, you have a queen’s movements, turn 2 a king’s and so on until you get to pawn and the cycle resets. Any piece/character can be chosen to move on any turn, which means any piece can move in any way. However, the weapons for each character have set ranges, which are also described with chess piece terms – a sword might have a ‘King’ range, where a bow has a ‘Queen’ one, and a mace has the range of a pawn.

Ideas

I began considering things about chess pieces like what makes them unique, what their core concepts are and how those ideas could be translated to other games. I have also started looking at a new permaculture principle, to go alongside diversity – the Edge Effect. With diversity, I am looking at how different piece mechanics can be used together to achieve the game’s goal, and with the edge effect, I am exploring how two different games can be combined to create something new and unique.

Edge Effect – On the border (or edge) of two environments there exists species from both, as well as species unique to that edge area. Vuel is a good example of this in game form.

dav

Some ideas I considered were:

  • Pawns being an item-using class with no innate skills
  • Other pieces being special classes accessed via items (for example, equipping a “Knight’s sword” gives knight movement abilities)
  • King either being a goal – “search for the King’s treasure” – or a hard mode – “play through the game with only king moves” or something similar.
  • Class progression system, where you level up and change class? Possibly something along the lines of start as a pawn -> level up -> choose either bishop, rook or knight -> level up -> queen.
  • Have a team of characters that you can switch between, which have different classes. The party leader/controlled character determines movement ability.dav

 

Week 8 – Clue Board Chess/Roguelike chess

I decided to use a Cluedo board as the base for my physical game. I designed a set of rules for a game where players must explore the board to try and find the joker card in the card piles in each room, then move to the center ‘room’ to win the game.

CBC1 rules.PNG
One of the initial rule sets I created for this protoytpe. I was still undecided on whether to use kings or jokers as the goal cards.

For the battles, rook beats knight, knight beats bishop, bishop beats rook and queen beats everything. If two players have cards with the same suit/class then highest number wins.

One of the biggest problems I had with this was that the joker/king could be near or at the top of a room’s card pile, which would mean a player could find it within the first few turns, and end the game too soon. Also, the way the Cluedo board is set out is very limiting – a player who finds the king card in the hall would have to move only one step to get to the basement, where someone in the corner rooms would take longer. If the player finds a card with no other people near them, they would also have an easy time of getting to the center.

I wasn’t sure how much focus I wanted to put on the ‘chase’ aspect, and from the feedback I got I decided to change it to a battle royale/last-man-standing style game.

dav
While I had several ideas for a chess-roguelike, due to the time constraints, I decided to make a board game instead of a digital one.

Week 9 – Clue board chess V2

The new rule set I decided on was very similar to the original, in terms of how the battle and movement system worked. The main changes were the lack of joker/king cards and the goal changing to “defeat all other players”. The players’ hands also serve as their ‘health points’ – when you have no cards in your hand, you lose. I also added a limit to the hands, as otherwise players may run around collecting cards and avoiding battle, which would be boring and extend the game for too long.

Chess pieces coloured.png
Temporary player counters I created in place of tokens.

I did a solo playtest with the revised rules, which was interesting, if lengthy. I decided that a smaller deck would probably be necessary to shorten the game time, as no one really ran out of cards in their hand until the room piles emptied out. There was also no incentive not to use pawns, as class cards are losable and the board is small enough that there is no real advantage gained by changing class. For this reason, I changed the pawn’s movement to one square per turn instead of via dice rolls.

Another issue was that players would only use Queens in battle until they ran out, making it more luck of the draw than strategy. Later in the game it became more interesting, but it inspired me to try changing the rules for class matchups a bit.

dav
Some ideas for different combat rules. Instead of simply winning or losing based on class, cards would get a boost or reduction to their number depending on who they face. The rook-bishop-knight cycle was kept, but against the queens there would be class-specific criteria, such as “knights with a number that is a multiple of three lose two points” or “a rook with an even number gains a point”. This would make queens less overpowered.

Week 10 – MESH Open

During this week I constructed materials for my game.

Pieces

I initially planned to create sets of pieces for each colour using modelling clay, but after my first two sets came out too wobbly to stand, I decided it was too time consuming to continue with.

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I found small wooden cubes at a craft store, and decided to paint them with the six colours and draw symbols for each piece on the sides. In addition to being easier and quicker to make, this made it so instead of switching pieces each turn, players would just rotate the dice so the correct side faces up, making it simpler to keep track of.

Cards

dav

I made a small set of cards, with different images for each class, and different colours for each number. I also added “King’s” cards for the rook, bishop and knight classes, which could beat the Queen when used as I hadn’t finalised the revised combat rules yet.

Board

While I would have liked to completely redesign the board, I only had time to block out the rooms. I would probably make the rooms smaller, and do something with the dead-end hallways.

board.jpg
Game setup with three players.

While no one actually played my game at the MESH open, I did get some interest. I also did a two person playtest later, which went fairly quickly. It did seem to be a bit difficult for a player who is being hunted by another player to escape in a one-on-one situation, and some of the rules I had weren’t very clear.

Reflections and Permaculture

I think this could have worked better in many ways. The board definitely needed to be redesigned, and the rules need work – both in being written and playtested.

While I tried to incorporate diversity in the game, playtesting revealed a tendency for players to stick with one class until they were beaten. A possible solution for this may be in the board design – make areas that are only accessible through a narrow hallway (queens or rooks), a diagonal stretch (queens or bishops) or by navigating around or over walls (knights).

The edge effect is definitely there to some degree: from chess there are the pieces/classes and their respective movements; from Cluedo, the board, use of cards and concept of moving from room to room; and unique to this game are the cards and how they’re gained/used, the battle royale goal and the battle system.

If I were going to continue this project, I would probably look at other games and how they can be combined with chess, rather than staying with Cluedo.

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Week 4 – RPG magic team card game

I created a quick prototype card game to test this week. The basic concept is focused on the MDA aesthetic of Fellowship and the Permaculture principle of Diversity.

The core idea I had was a card game where three heroes have to fight monsters by casting magic spells. However, each player/hero can only control one aspect of the spell – one player controls the amount of power, one the element/type of spell, and one the aiming/accuracy of the spell.

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RPG TEAM MAGIC CARD FIGHT GAME – the prototype/work in progress rules I created. For the prototype, I decided to use a standard deck of cards and a few dice (d6 and d20) as they were what I had on hand.

I did several test playthroughs by myself and found that the game was interesting, but it didn’t really have feel I wanted. Discussing the idea also brought to light some issues. Some parts of it – in particular the damage calculation – may be a bit too complex, while others – such as the “no discussing your hands” rule – would be too easily broken with no incentive not to. In particular, every playthrough I did assuming the players knew each other’s hands lasted only one turn before the enemy was defeated.

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In the first test round, it took five turns for the “heroes” to win without knowing each other’s hands. Every other round was won almost instantly, due to teamwork.

I plan to do more research on card games, cooperative card and board games and asymmetric game design. I think the main issues I need to resolve for this idea are simplifying the rules and giving players individual goals in order to stress their teamwork.

Week 3

  • What is my play thing?
    • Some sort of role playing game
  • What is the platform or media you are using?
    • Paper, unity
    • Cards and dice? At least for prototyping?
  • Who are the participants or users?
    • Rpg players?
    • Probably going to playtest with people I know, uni students, or possibly gamedev meetup people?
  • What do you intend the users to experience when interacting with your work?
    • Feeling like their choices matter
    • Feel like they have a relationship with the npcs?
  • How will you convey your conceptual and thematic intentions?
    • Gameplay

My current ideas take a lot of inspiration from live action role playing games, as well as Wild Streets games like Outpost 31. One idea is a game where everyone is given a set role and goal in the game, and a bunch of actions they can perform to try and reach that goal. The roles would be given out randomly, and to make things a bit more interesting, each player also has a personality/goal that determines how they should act

Title

Attitude 1

2

3

4

5

6

Hunter

Get food

Sell things

Kill threats

Provide for my people

Hone skills

Fun

/hobby

Guard

Protective

Wants peace

Wants Power

Lazy

Follows orders

Collects debts

Shopkeep

/crafter

Make profit

Create useful things

Collect rare items

Trade things

Create unique items

Caring, gives discounts

Inn/Bar keeper

Gossip

Make profit

Alcoholic

Safe place

Secret keeper

Doesn’t care

Healer

Helpful

Only heals allies

Seen too much

Pacifist

Potion-maker (needs ingredients)

Tradition/duty

Mercenary

/Adventurer

Make a profit

See rare sights

Meet new people

Exploration

Knowledge

Fighting

 

Week 2

Personal goals:

  • Explore systemic game design
  • Improve my skills with game engines and programming (specifically Unity and C#)

Goals for the semester

  • Create unique play experiences
  • Explore choices with cascading/lingering effects
    • Not morality systems or obvious choices

Some definitions:

  • Systemic game design
    • Games where multiple systems interact to create more complexity/randomness
    • Examples: Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Far Cry
  • Unique play experiences
    • Where any given playthrough will not be the same as another – can be through open world, randomisation, choices, etc.
  • Morality system
    • Aka “Karma system”, where the player’s actions affect a value that swings between good or evil, which then affects how the other aspects of the game work – npcs may shun an evil player and help a good player. Tends to be very binary.
  • Obvious choices
    • Especially in conjunction with morality systems, when choices are obviously right or wrong, or good or evil. Both choices can be valid, but it will be very obvious which one has which result.
    • Example: Bioshock, saving or harvesting the Little Sisters.

Rapid Ideas

Crazy 8s round 1 – 8 minutes to come up with up to 8 ideas

  1. Roguelike dungeon game where you can interact with anything
    • things in the game world would have materials/properties assigned to them, which would affect how and what the player can do with them
    • eg. wooden things – like trees, signposts, houses, etc. – would be cuttable (with enough strength) and burnable among other things.
  2. Kingdom Hearts ‘Dive to the Heart’ style intro
    • symbolic choices that affect character build/game progression
  3. Real life RPG
    • players are given goals/roles
    • pretty much just D&D/LARPing
  4. Multiplayer RPG where players have different roles
    • players are playing different types of games depending on their character type
    • examples:
      • an adventurer has a standard adventure-RPG game
      • a shopkeeper/crafter has a game like Weapon Shop de Omasse
      • a mayor/king has a city builder game
      • a barkeeper/food seller has a cooking/restaurant game, with possibly rumor mill or quest board mechanics for the former
  5. Visual novel???
    • I’m not actually sure how this would work, I just wrote it down
  6. Fetch quests with multiple solutions
    • Again, items have qualities assigned to them, and the goals of each quest would be somewhat vague – instead of “find me [this specific item]” it would be “find me something [shiny/sharp/round/that I can throw]”

Crazy 8s round 2 – for this round I focused on different ideas that could work in idea #4

  1. Players have different goals
    • defeat the overlord
    • make a profit
    • defend the town
    • rule the city/make the city prosper
  2. Players have different roles
    • adventurer, shop keeper, crafter, inn keeper, healer, guard, mayor/king
  3. Quests require a group of different roles to complete
    • possibly they have different goals as well, but they need to travel together due to differing skill sets
    • eg. crafter knows what the item looks like, adventurer can fight off the enemies and scholar has a map/is doing research
  4. Negotiation/haggling with other players
    • for: intel, items, alliances
  5. Petition the king/mayor character for things
    • building upgrades
    • resources
  6. Give quests to the adventurer
    • If a shop keeper needs a specific item, they can ask an adventurer to find it
    • Mayors can ask adventurers to guard the city/defeat enemies that are attacking the city
    • Travellers (nobles, salesmen, etc) may request an adventurer escort
  7. Role playing
    • players are given different personas/personalities to act as
  8. Friendliness/animosity
    • ally shopkeepers give other players discounts, enemies refuse to haggle

Presentation I have made about my initial ideas and goals.

I am using HacknPlan for my project management

Ideas

I am interested in systemic game design, specifically the ideas of interconnectedness and unique play experiences.

I found that several of the Permaculture Principles mentioned in the brief are very similar to how systemic game design works.

  • Relationships
    • Elements assisting each other
      • Systems interacting to cause chain reactions
  • Functionality
    • Elements perform multiple functions
  • Goals
    • Each important function is identified and supported by many elements
  • Diversity
    • Things are placed together to benefit each other

Aotea Project of Things – Weeks 10-12 – Reflection

In this reflective statement I will provide a quick summary of the project, analyse and critique the ideas and methods we used in our project, reflect on my personal feelings and reactions towards them, and discuss the future possibilities I see for the Aotea Project of Things.

Our project started off with several ideas, the favoured one being creating an interactive display that would educate people with the history of Aotea Square, and in particular its Taniwha. We eventually moved away from this theme due to concerns about it controversial nature (for example) and the lack of correspondence from the Iwi that we reached out to, focusing more on the general history, and the Hauora connections – physical, social, spiritual, and mental and emotional – to the area. As our thematic ideas shifted, so did our physical ones. We had been focusing on the idea of having the Hauora pathways (series of interactive installations related to one of the walls of Hauora) lead towards the center of the area (informed by our practical research into the ways Aotea Square is used, which I discussed here), which would hold a central piece – originally the Taniwha. After we made the paths our main focus, we also decided to make the project a collaborative one – instead of making the path artefacts ourselves, we would create a set of guidelines for local artists and interaction designers to follow. We created a website to act as a medium between us and the potential designers and several example artefacts to illustrate our guidelines.

On the whole, I think our ideas have potential, but the methods we used and our execution of them leave much to be desired. Our group followed a rough plan for each week – we would meet and discuss ideas and such in class, work on tasks individually, meet again before the next class and use that class to either present or discuss our ideas to/with an outside source – usually Ben. The main issue we had was that our communication skills were lacking, but each stage of our cycle was problematic for it’s own reasons as well. In our first meeting, discussions were often unbalanced, with quieter members of the group having little opportunity to share ideas without being overruled by the more extroverted ones, or just drowned out entirely. I feel this hurt our project quite a bit – the first and only time I tried to bring up my concerns with the current idea (see here) they were immediately dismissed. Our individual tasks were often ill-defined – during several weeks, half the group would be given a specific goal, while the rest would be told to “just work on whatever” – which left me feeling like I had no real purpose in the group. This was somewhat remedied once we began working on the website and example projects, as our project managers began to make sure every person had a task. Our meetings outside of class were often sparsely attended, with often only two people showing up on time. Aside from causing us to have less face-to-face time to discuss our designs, I believe that our group’s morale began to drop as a result of the lack of motivation displayed. Aside from these, we also had issues with our communication outside of our meetups – we began by using Slack for the first half of our project, but several members experienced issues receiving notifications from the app, partially causing some of the issues described above. When we moved to using Facebook Messenger, we still had a lack of proper communication. With both messaging systems, the main use was coordinating meetings – which often failed – and clarifying requirements for week starters and presentations. Discussions about design decisions were almost exclusive to physical meetups, meaning anyone who did not attend was uninformed. In a study done by Curtis et al. (1988), many of the designers felt that face-to-face communication was vital for a project, and a lack of communication lines between groups that did not directly work with each other “hindered understanding requirements” and “buried the design rationale”. If our group had spent more time working together instead of separately and had proper discussions instead of ones where the most assertive overruled everyone else, we may have iterated our ideas faster and moved on to more successful ones quicker.

Another problem with our method was the lack of early prototyping, and the lack of focus in most of our prototypes. In my research on prototyping I have found that prototypes that fulfil a specific goal or set of goals work best to find problems in a design, that they should be able to generate feedback and insights into the design and they should be iterated early and often (Menold et al., 2017). I have also found that they can cause several problems in the design process, even as they help it along. For example, the sole prototype we made in the first half of the project was a small, physical version of the Taniwha Seesaw idea. It did not have any real purpose other than creating a physical version of what we already had on paper. It was not to scale, and not made of any materials that we wanted to test – we merely wanted to see the water flow from one ‘tank’ (tic tac container) to the other. I believe this is an example of “prototyping [leading] to premature commitment to a design” (Bichelmeyer & Tripp, 1990). Many of our later ‘prototypes’ were more designed as visual aids rather than tools to test an idea or theory, with the exception of our website. Even then, I feel we should have created it earlier and spent more time testing than designing – due to how late in our project we began testing, we only had a small number of testers, and no time to iterate on our designs. I felt that the rushed nature of those designs was quite evident in the feedback we did get, as many people struggled to navigate the site, as well as the fact that the individual pieces created by each member of the group for the site were not fitted together well.

Like I mentioned before, I believe the concept we ended up with has a lot of potential, and I am considering continuing on with the project, with a greater focus on coherency and accessibility for the website. I believe a good method for not only testing the website, but also generating example works would be to ask designers (possibly students from AUT) to access the website and try to create an idea that fits the criteria for one of the paths. Ideas that work well for the project would indicate that the website is successful, while failures would give insight as to what is being miscommunicated.

References:

Bichelmeyer, B., & Tripp, S. (1990). Rapid prototyping: an alternative instructional design strategy. Educational Technology Research and Development, 38(1), 31-44. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02298246

Curtis, B., Krasner, H., & Iscoe, N. (1988). A field study of the software design process for large systems. Communications of the ACM, 31(11), 1268-1287. https://doi.org/10.1145/50087.50089

Durie, M. (2017, May 18). Maori health models – Te Whare Tapa Whā. Retrieved August 16, 2017, from http://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/populations/maori-health/maori-health-models/maori-health-models-te-whare-tapa-wha

Field, M. (2011, June 10). John Key: ‘I don’t believe in taniwhas’. Retrieved August 21, 2017 from http://www.stuff.co.nz/auckland/5125859/John-Key-I-don-t-believe-in-taniwhas

Menold, J., Jablokow, K., & Simpson, T. (2017). Prototype for x (PFX): a holistic framework for structuring prototyping methods to support engineering design. Design Studies, 50, 70-112. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.destud.2017.03.001