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Game Design?

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26 Re: Game Design? on Tue Feb 09, 2010 4:29 pm

In my (uncompleted) rule suggestion there should be early interaction (2nd round).

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27 Re: Game Design? on Tue Feb 09, 2010 7:39 pm

I put up a longer rules set proposal here:
http://phylomon.forumotion.net/phylomon-f1/rules-set-with-diagrams-phylomon-as-map-building-game-t9.htm

It's got diagrams.



As to the design, is direct combat something we really want? I'm inclined to say "no". Pokemon, when you boil it down has you capturing endangered animals and then pitting them in gladiatorial games for the amusement of humans. I think that's the wrong message to send kids, and as soon as you get into direct critter and critter combat, you get back to that general idea of gladiatorial fights for human amusement.

Consider for a moment if we replaced having Bear fight Wolf with Doberman Pincher fight Pitbull and you see why direct creature on creature combat is problamatic. It's kind of borderline creepy with fantasy creatures but you can make the argument its not REAL, but once you add REAL animals it becomes a game of real violence and bloodsport.


Direct creature on creature combat should be a big NO as a mechanic.

Resource competition or predation should be just fine since its oblique violence. it's necessary in context, its not purely for entertainment purposes. it's a fine line, but I think an important distinction since we're using real creatures.

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28 Re: Game Design? on Tue Feb 09, 2010 7:51 pm

This is a somewhat minor design note for card design. Around 7-10% of men and around 4% of women have some form of colorblindness. When picking colors for resources, keywords, icons, etc keeping this in mind is a good idea! If color is going to be used to tell things apart, it needs to work for those that are color blind!

Here's a handy tool that lets you input an image file and see what it looks like to those with colorblindess:
http://www.vischeck.com/vischeck/vischeckImage.php

There's also a download for Photoshop so you can use it right on screen to see what happens.

For an example, here's what Uno looks like.

Normal:
http://images.boardgamegeek.com/images/pic223837_t.jpg

Deuteranope (a form of red/green colorblindness, the most common type)
http://images.boardgamegeek.com/images/pic223836_t.jpg


That's not that bad, but some existing games become totally unplayable due to this. Having up to 10% of kids in a classroom unable to play because they can't tell apart the colored icons is bad!

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29 Re: Game Design? on Tue Feb 09, 2010 9:33 pm

fenrislorsrai wrote:I put up a longer rules set proposal here:
http://phylomon.forumotion.net/phylomon-f1/rules-set-with-diagrams-phylomon-as-map-building-game-t9.htm

It's got diagrams.



As to the design, is direct combat something we really want? I'm inclined to say "no". Pokemon, when you boil it down has you capturing endangered animals and then pitting them in gladiatorial games for the amusement of humans. I think that's the wrong message to send kids, and as soon as you get into direct critter and critter combat, you get back to that general idea of gladiatorial fights for human amusement.

Consider for a moment if we replaced having Bear fight Wolf with Doberman Pincher fight Pitbull and you see why direct creature on creature combat is problamatic. It's kind of borderline creepy with fantasy creatures but you can make the argument its not REAL, but once you add REAL animals it becomes a game of real violence and bloodsport.


Direct creature on creature combat should be a big NO as a mechanic.

Resource competition or predation should be just fine since its oblique violence. it's necessary in context, its not purely for entertainment purposes. it's a fine line, but I think an important distinction since we're using real creatures.

You know, I've always have problems with that "bloodsport" aspect of Pokemon. LOL. Granted, Pokemon never show any blood, and they just "pass out" after losing a battle, but still, the concept is really the same. O_o Why would you train a cute Pikachu to battle? That's like training a pomeranian to attack or something.

I really like the resource competition idea, in my opinion. It's also realistic, and you can avoid inane creature on creature battles like, oh, I don't know, chinchilla vs. sloth. Razz that'd be an exciting battle.

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30 Re: Game Design? on Wed Feb 10, 2010 1:26 pm

rawrchiteuthis wrote:I think there should be an element of resource competition in Phylomon. There are a limited amount of resources for any given animal, and if you can't eat/mate/etc., the creature dies. At the same time, there's the threat of predation, natural disasters, evolutionary mechanisms at play. It seems like the last two should be random - a chance hit of a 20 sided die.
Maybe. Do we want Phylomon to involve more equipment than just the cards? If the answer to that question is 'yes', how much additional equipment should be involved?
One could argue that in the absence of dice, the inherent randomness of card-decks is a good-enough source of unpredictability to keep things interesting.
I feel like allowing a player access to a card like "Ice Age," would be a bit overpowering.
For Event cards with a literally global effect, it might be appropriate to include an explicit note to the effect of "Whenever a Card X is in play, no other instances of Card X may also be played". Sort of artificially restricting the supply, as it were.
Having environmental changes be random would add a chaotic element to the game, which could be fun in that it would force people to change their style of gameplay. Phylomon becomes not just a "My creature's bigger than yours," type of game, but a game where strategy and quick-thinking are just as important as building the best deck.
Hmmm... I like your goal, but to what extent might a focus on "strategy and quick-thinking" be counterproductive? Given the commercial track record of Pokemon, it would seem that my-critter-is-bigger-than-yours is a nontrivial part of that game's success, hence it would be prudent to think about it before we de-emphasize my-critter-is-bigger-than-yours in Phylomon. It would also be prudent to do some playtesting, the better to see how well or poorly different philosophies play out with kids...
Though the point of phylomon is to teach others as much as possible about an animal, I feel that characteristics shouldn't be mentioned unless they are inherent to gameplay. Having multiple characteristics or stats to keep track of can be overwhelming, so we'd want to narrow them down to the most important - probably 3-4, tops. If there is going to be an online component, we could easily link the creature to its wikipedia page if they wish to learn more about the animal.
Try this on for size: Each Phylomon card contains all the bits of info which are needed for every version of the game -- but the most prominent bits of info are those which are only needed for the Basic Phylomon System. As a practical matter, I suspect this means that the cards in the initial release of Phylomon will only include the minimum Basic-System-only data; each expansion set which introduces a new level of complexity, can be accompanied by new editions of all the existing cards which include the 'extra' info needed to implement that new level of complexity. Since we're letting everybody download card-images for free (the latest set of images fer shure, and perhaps all images?), I think we should be able to get away with this plan.
I think it would be nifty if every Species card had URLs to the relevant Wikipedia and/or TOLweb pages printed on it. We may or may not want to do likewise for Biome cards, and perhaps even Event cards?
So far, I think the idea of biomes is a great idea, but I'm afraid it could be inherently limiting. If people build decks based on different biomes, how will they be able to play against each other?
From a gameplay perspective, I don't really see the problem here. No matter what CCG you're talking about -- POKEMON, MAGIC: THE GATHERING, etc -- players can, will, and do construct entire decks around specialized tactics, right? So I don't see that a [biome]-specialized Phylomon deck is any more of a problem than a [tactic]-specialized deck in any other CCG.
If someone is focusing on the Antarctic region, or an "Ice" deck, a person with a "Savannah" based deck should not be able to play against it, since creatures of those biomes would not normally interact with each other. Magic gets around this by just letting different colored decks interact freely, but I'm not sure that would fit our purposes. However - if we went with Cubist's idea of the overall story, biomes would not be a huge issue, since we'd just be testing animals out in a controlled setting?
Pretty much, yeah. We are conducting experiments; we can try exotic combinations that would never 'really' occur in a state of nature.
I like the idea of having to build an ecosystem. In this instance, a part of it could be cooperative play. Each of the players have to build the groundwork of the ecosystem - plants, decomposers, etc. Only until they've built a feasible ecosystem does the "battle of the fittest" begin.
Start out simple: For the Basic Phylomon System, the goal is to create a viable single-predator/single-prey "ecosystem". Yeah, this two-species model leaves out lots of the complexities of any 'real' ecosystem, and that's okay. Such a two-species model can still display some of the complex, even counter-intuitive, behavior that we see in Nature -- and at the same time, it should also be simple enough to be easily picked up by children. As for the additional complexities of plants and decomposers and so on, those can be introduced in expansions to the Basic System. Each such addition to the Basic System adds a little more complexity, and makes the game a more-accurate portrayal of a real ecosystem.
Key point: Start off simple enough for anybody to learn and interesting enough that players want to 'go deeper' into greater levels of complexity.

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31 Re: Game Design? on Wed Feb 10, 2010 10:21 pm

Cubist wrote:Maybe. Do we want Phylomon to involve more equipment than just the cards? If the answer to that question is 'yes', how much additional equipment should be involved? One could argue that in the absence of dice, the inherent randomness of card-decks is a good-enough source of unpredictability to keep things interesting.

True. And if we want this to be a thing you could print it out straight from a website, having odd-sized dice might be too much to ask. We could have seperate decks to draw from - a Creature deck, a Random Event deck, or Resources deck. If there are "rounds," it could be that you can only draw a certain amount of cards from each pile at the start of the round (unless you get a card like 'Draw from this pile at any time') I'm unfamiliar with the Pokemon set up, but Fluxx has a really fun way of changing gameplay rules.

Hmmm... I like your goal, but to what extent might a focus on "strategy and quick-thinking" be counterproductive? Given the commercial track record of Pokemon, it would seem that my-critter-is-bigger-than-yours is a nontrivial part of that game's success, hence it would be prudent to think about it before we de-emphasize my-critter-is-bigger-than-yours in Phylomon. It would also be prudent to do some playtesting, the better to see how well or poorly different philosophies play out with kids...

The "my critter is bigger than yours" is definitely the most accessible and easily digested version of a card game. The problem comes in when it becomes sort of ridiculous "my blue whale killed your ferret," sort of playing. In the pokemon world, all of the animals can exist in the same environment (or does the arena create an alternate, all environment criteria is met here kind of thing? I might be over thinking that...)

Try this on for size: Each Phylomon card contains all the bits of info which are needed for every version of the game -- but the most prominent bits of info are those which are only needed for the Basic Phylomon System. As a practical matter, I suspect this means that the cards in the initial release of Phylomon will only include the minimum Basic-System-only data; each expansion set which introduces a new level of complexity, can be accompanied by new editions of all the existing cards which include the 'extra' info needed to implement that new level of complexity. Since we're letting everybody download card-images for free (the latest set of images fer shure, and perhaps all images?), I think we should be able to get away with this plan.
I think it would be nifty if every Species card had URLs to the relevant Wikipedia and/or TOLweb pages printed on it. We may or may not want to do likewise for Biome cards, and perhaps even Event cards?

The only problem I can see with including a LOT of information in a card is that it would be overwhelming for children. Simplicity is key when dealing with children, though we could have a "scaled up" version for adults, wherein additional information can be provided on the back of the cards. So, the front would be most basic, quickest gameplay, whereas the back of the cards would provide additional information and how it can be added to gameplay.

I think it would be nifty if every Species card had URLs to the relevant Wikipedia and/or TOLweb pages printed on it. We may or may not want to do likewise for Biome cards, and perhaps even Event cards?

It would be really fun to do it for event and biome cards. Especially if we had event cards that had specific events - K/T extinction - get rid of 80% of all species in your hand Very Happy

Pretty much, yeah. We are conducting experiments; we can try exotic combinations that would never 'really' occur in a state of nature.

That's true. The way to get around this is to assume that the creatures aren't fighting on their own turfs, but instead an arena of sorts that allows for cross-mingling of different biomes. Your storyline idea would overrule this issue really easily.


Start out simple: For the Basic Phylomon System, the goal is to create a viable single-predator/single-prey "ecosystem". Yeah, this two-species model leaves out lots of the complexities of any 'real' ecosystem, and that's okay. Such a two-species model can still display some of the complex, even counter-intuitive, behavior that we see in Nature -- and at the same time, it should also be simple enough to be easily picked up by children. As for the additional complexities of plants and decomposers and so on, those can be introduced in expansions to the Basic System. Each such addition to the Basic System adds a little more complexity, and makes the game a more-accurate portrayal of a real ecosystem.
Key point: Start off simple enough for anybody to learn and interesting enough that players want to 'go deeper' into greater levels of complexity.

That's a good call. Simplicity is always best - allow people to easily get an idea of the game mechanics and then move on from there.

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32 Re: Game Design? on Fri Feb 12, 2010 12:56 pm

What if we do need more randomness than we can squeeze out of of card-decks?

Candidate source for randomness: Standard six-sided dice. These are bog-standard game components, used with Monopoly, Yahtzee, Backgammon, or any of a vast number of other common board games; it's not unreasonable to supposed that pretty much everybody has at least a few six-sided dice lurking around their home somewhere.

Candidate source for randomness: Coins. Pretty much everybody has some coins in their pockets... and hiding under seat cushions... and yada yada yada. One coin is good for heads-or-tails binary choices; if you want to divide probabilities up more precisely than that, use 2+ coins and count the number of heads which come up.

Table of results for two coins:
0 heads (0h) -- 1 // 25%
1 head (1h) -- 2 // 50%
2 heads (2h) -- 1 // 25%

Table of results for three coins:
0h -- 1 // 12.5%
1h -- 3 // 37.5%
2h -- 3 // 37.5%
3h -- 1 // 12.5%

Table of results for four coins
0h -- 1 // 6.25%
1h -- 4 // 25%
2h -- 6 // 37.5%
3h -- 4 // 25%
4h -- 1 // 6.25%

Table of results for five coins
0h -- 1 // 3.125%
1h -- 5 // 15.625%
2h -- 10 // 31.25%
3h -- 10 // 31.25%
4h -- 5 // 15.625%
5h -- 1 // 3.125

Table of results for six coins
0h -- 1 // 1.56%
1h -- 6 // 9.37%
2h -- 15 // 23.44%
3h -- 20 // 31.25%
4h -- 15 // 23.44%
5h -- 6 // 9.37%
6h -- 1 // 1.56%

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33 Re: Game Design? on Tue Feb 16, 2010 7:01 pm

I saw the card game PowerSharks! at the museum the other day.

http://www.powersharks.com/buy.html

The deck contained:

Extinction events
Species
Power Ups

Power Ups were card like "Pack Attack!" which gave a x2 modifier to all your cards on the table. I was thinking we could integrate those kinds of cards with the randomness factor. So, you put down pack attack, you want to find out the strength of the attack. Using dice or coins, you would then add whatever number you got to the strength modifier. So, you could have generally weak attacks or blow your face off attacks, all based on randomness (and the base strength of the species, possibly).

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34 Re: Game Design? on Wed Feb 17, 2010 7:47 am

rawrchiteuthis wrote:I saw the card game PowerSharks! at the museum the other day.

http://www.powersharks.com/buy.html

The deck contained:

Extinction events
Species
Power Ups
This Powerup notion is interesting and seems like it could be useful for the game. Stupid question on how to implement Powerups: Separate type of card unto itself, or a subset within the larger category of Event cards? I can see arguments for both positions, so I really don't have any preference one way or the other...

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35 Re: Game Design? on Mon Feb 22, 2010 4:51 am

Sorry I've been away for a while, but now am slowly getting back into this forum. Reading through, there seems to be three main threads of attributes that keep coming up. One is related to predator/prey relationship or basic food chain principles. The other is in relation to habitat, as in the environment that the organism can best thrive in. Both, in many ways, also pertain to the map building suggestion as resource type cards. Anyway, just to start maybe fine tuning things a little bit, I'm going to start a few new threads so that we can think a little more specifically on how these attributes might be denoted on the card (i.e. as a number, with symbols etc.)

Looking good though. There's a few different media outlets interested in a story about this program once the website is live (which is still looking good for early March - if not, I'll at least pass on a link to the beta). O.K. setting up new threads in a few minutes...

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36 Re: Game Design? on Mon Feb 22, 2010 4:25 pm

Cubist wrote:
rawrchiteuthis wrote:I saw the card game PowerSharks! at the museum the other day.

http://www.powersharks.com/buy.html

The deck contained:

Extinction events
Species
Power Ups
This Powerup notion is interesting and seems like it could be useful for the game. Stupid question on how to implement Powerups: Separate type of card unto itself, or a subset within the larger category of Event cards? I can see arguments for both positions, so I really don't have any preference one way or the other...

I can see either way, as well. A "Swarm" card may be well played in an Insect deck as a power-up. However, we could also use it as an individual event that wipes out half of all living things out on the table.

I think it just depends on how deck specific we want to get. Do we want to have themed decks, like in Magic (Insect, ocean, etc.) or have a free for all kind of thing? Species specific powerups would be a great addition to themed decks, but otherwise they should probably be an addition to the Events deck. What are your thoughts?

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37 Re: Game Design? on Mon Feb 22, 2010 10:11 pm

I'll definitely agree that oddly shaped components are a no-no. Most people don't see ten sided dice.

Six sided dice are pretty common, but still not universal. two sided coins offer a pretty good option. (both also frequently end up bouncing off the table)

However the easiest randomizer may be playing rock-paper-scissors which only requires you have hands and is pretty easy to deal with. It's got 3 choices, but if you replay ties, has same odds as the coinflip without requiring equipment. Various live action roleplaying games use this method, and to simulate greater difficulty just require winning additional bouts.

I've also seen some games use "the bomb" to simulate a "superpower". It's thrown as a thumbsup symbol (bomb with fuse). Bomb beats rock and paper. Scissors beats bomb. (it snips the fuse off)


Another possibility is incorporating a tiebreaker right on the card. The CCG Doomtown, which was themed as a Wild West game, used a system like that. Every card had a suit and value, like a normal playing card. When characters fought, you drew a poker hand from the top of your deck and the skills of the characters let you draw additional cards. You then trimmed down to five cards, compared poker hands.

Poker hands are probably a bad idea since it requires A) remembering the value and B) people will yell about teaching kids to gamble.

However, using a tie breaking mechanic that works along lines of "flip up top card on deck, compare the number printed at X. Highest wins, If there's a tie, flip second card, etc. Then reshuffle card into deck" would probably work just fine as a randomizer.


However, I favor rock-paper-scissors as a tie breaker/randomizer for kids games because it adds a kinetic element. letting them move their hands and arms around quickly should help keep more restless kids involved in the game. They have an active element to blow some energy off and aren't just sitting still. They won't be wiggling in their seats if they have an active component involved. For tactile learners, the movement may also help them remember more of what they're learning.

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38 Re: Game Design? on Sat Feb 27, 2010 7:20 pm

Okay, I'm going to throw out a number of ideas somewhat rapidly without much reading (because I am in a hurry) so forgive me for any repetition. I welcome twisting the ideas around and making them actually fit things.

1. Reproductive capacity vs. nom nom nom capacity: The larger and more predatory, the slower the reproductive rate should be (also taking in to account the likelyhood of reaching adulthood). Non-predatory animals should have fast reproductive rates to compensate for the fact that they are weaker. Perhaps if there are some kind of health point like system, a T-Rex starts out with lots of points and a slow rate of replenishment (or replenishment that is dependent on consumption of prey), whereas the bunny starts off with few points but replenishes a large number of them each turn as they are quite prolific.
1A. This would lead in to the idea of habitat being potentially detrimental to a creature, removing a number of 'health points' with each turn because of an unsuitable environment.


2. Interesting fact of the day: blood sucking parasites are no match for reptiles because they get shed off each sloughing cycle. Thinking along those lines, being a parasite would be quite powerful (think of those ants that get their minds controlled by the parasitic fungus that makes them go crawl as high as they can get to spread around the spores) but would require a host. Some species are more resistant to parasites than other species. Primates and cats have grooming behavior and reptiles shed away the external parasites relatively often. Parasites latch on to a host and control them while depleting that host's 'health' with each turn.

3. Why couldn't environment play a part more as an arena of sorts? Perhaps arenas/biomes could be randomly chosen or you could challenge someone else to a battle in a specific arena and picking what sp. to use would be all part of the strategy. The only problem here is that you wouldn't get to have an octopus vs. a cougar or something equally (delightfully) absurd.



Last edited by delirium on Sat Feb 27, 2010 7:31 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Because I am forgetful.)

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