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TIGSource ForumsDeveloperDesignPlot builder. Game mechanic concept.
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HelpUsObi1
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« on: November 12, 2021, 02:29:14 PM »

I am trying to create the concept of game mechanic, I would really appreciate, and would be very happy if someone can help with advice, an idea or just a feedback.

In short, I want to make a coop roguelike for two people. I plan it to be a half-slasher, a half-quest with a random plot generated, based on the actions of the players.

For now I'm only thinking about the narrative part, that is, how the roguelike game will generate a story based on the player's actions.
I am inspired by the similar system from Moon Hunters game, and also some mechanics from the Sims, and some mechanics from Quiet year board game.


The system consists of traits, encounters and wishes.


   TRAITS

The character of each of the players has a set of traits.

There are 12 of them in total, located on 6 scales.


At the start of the game, the player can choose one trait for the character, this scale gets +2 (or -2). The rest of the bars get the value 0, their value changes during the game, after the player performs certain actions.

All of these parameters are hidden to the player. It means that the player does not see the stripes and their state.



Only the three most developed trait are always visible to the player. This applies to the last three trait that has value of at least +2 or -2, or to the three trait that have the highest positive or negative value. Only these three characteristic that visible to the player participate in calculations and checks.


    ENCOUNTERS

I plan the structure of one game "run" something like this.

One playthrough of the game consists of 5 levels.




In the rooms, players can face encounters, it can be an NPC or some kind of object. By behaving in a certain way during the "encounter", the player can gain trait points.

Encounters are randomly generated, but the list from which they drop depends on a number of factors, including the traits of the players' characters.


For example, if the player is "vicious", in the rooms he will definitely face encounters in which he will be given the opportunity to deceive or rob.

Some encounters requires check of certain traits. For example, only a “brave” character will talk to an NPC that looks dangerous. Only a “skillful” character will be able to fix a sophisticated broken mechanism, etc.

Encounters with check of a traits, that players do not have at the moment are always generated according to the "lock-key" principle. For example, if there in a room was generated an encounter that required a "cautious" trait check, then somewhere in the same room another encounter was generated through which this "cautious" trait could be acquired.


    WISHES

At the beginning of each room, except for the very first one, the players are shown three thoughts that are spinning in the heads of their characters. Each of the players can choose one of the thoughts and turn it into a wish, or choose nothing. The choice of wishes is a player's tool that allows to directly influence the list from which encounters are generated. With the help of this tool, the player tells the game in which direction he wants to develop the story and traits of his character.


For example, the player, at the start of the room, turned the thought “it would be fun to play a trick on someone” into a wish. This means that one of the encounters that will be generated in the room will be the opportunity to play a trick on the NPC. If the player can correctly play this opportunity, then he will significantly develop the "playfull" trait of his character. Etc.

The thoughts that are shown to the player for selection at the beginning of each room are randomly generated, but the list from which they are selected depends on the current traits of the player's character and the situations he encountered earlier.



    CHAINS OF ENCOUNTERS

Situations can form chaines. For example. In the first room, the player got into a situation and helped the NPC farmer pull his cart out of the pit. When the player goes to the second room, and the encounter "robbers attacking npc" is generated there, the game chooses from a possible npcs, an old pal of the player - an npc farmer. The player can intervene in a robbery situation and, depending on his behavior, develop certain trait.
But the point is that in this way a connection is built between two unrelated encounters. From such small episodes, you can develop a more or less global plot.

The player can influence the likelihood of certain encounter chains with the help of wishes.
For example. After the situation with the cart, before the start of the next room, the player sees the thoughts of the character. The player decides to turn the thought "I wonder how the farmer is doing?" in the wish to "find out how the farmer is doing." In this case, in the next room, the game is guaranteed to find a place for the npc farmer in one of the encounters.



What I am thinking about now and what help is needed with.

In theory, this mechanic should work and allow the player to build a kind of plot constructor. But, obviously, it will need balancing, polishing and/or remaking. At the moment I'm trying to make a paper prototype of this game in the form of a board game to test with a couple of friends, in order to undestand how it all plays and if it is playeable at all.

So, my main task is to come up with a list of "wishes" and "encounters" that are associated with certain traits and that can be assembled into a system. This is where advice would come in handy. Or ideas about how you can actually come up with such things effectively. I would really appreciate help on this.

I also wonder if such a game needs some sort of permanent framework for the global plot. If so, I wonder what would this plot be like in order to organically fit into the gameplay. This is where advice would also come in handy.
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michaelplzno
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« Reply #1 on: November 14, 2021, 06:23:12 AM »

Seems like the system here is to limit what wishes the player can choose based on a random roll at the beginning of the game: I would imagine every player would have their own set of favorite wishes and encounters they enjoy the most based on their real personalities, why would limiting the player's ability to choose what they want serve anything other than an arbitrary constraint you think is fun to design as a designer?

Now there could be a lot of risk/rewards associated with unlocking wishes/using wishes as a resource, but you seem to set it to fate (RNG) that some wishes won't be possible for a given character, and others will be forced on you. You could get a player who likes to attack so they roll the RNG over and over till they get vicious as their stat and so on but why not just let the player choose their stats? And if the player is choosing their stats, why not just let them choose the encounters they want more freely?

Also, you have a lot of stats, and I'm not even sure why you need 10 levels of each stat, just in terms of the scope of the project. If someone has a 1 vicious vs a 10 vicious what does that mean, other than making for a diagram you want to look cool.
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HelpUsObi1
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« Reply #2 on: November 14, 2021, 06:06:26 PM »

Im sorry, but I'm like 99% sure that you haven't read my text carefully enough.
Therefore you criticizing the issues that you made up yourself. They aren't in my text, and aren't part of my concept.


why not just let the player choose their stats?
At the start of the game, the player can choose one trait for the character
Player's traits are not randomly generated at the beginning of the game, in fact I wrote just the opposite. Players can choose any trait they want at the beginning of the game, that way player gives the initial impulse to the story of his character.

some wishes won't be possible for a given character, and others will be forced on you.
Each of the players can choose one of the thoughts and turn it into a wish, or choose nothing.
The wishes selection screen is shown between rooms, not at the beginning of the game. And the player is never forced to select certain wishes. The game offers player 3 wishes. If player likes none of those wishes, player can simply choose none. That is also a choice. And that choice dictates to the game to offer other types of wishes to the player next time.
Therefore the system is not designed to limit the player by random generation. Just the opposite, it was designed to give player ability to influence random generator, by influencing list from which the random generator picks things.

Also, i'm glad you think my diagram is "cool". Yeah.
But if you were giving more attention to the text rather than colorful pictures you would knew that I wrote that trait checks in encounters are "true/false" ones. Not 10 vicious vs 1 vicious. But "is player vicious?" true or false.
Why do i even need 10 grades then? (its 11 by the way)
Because that way the player can acquire new traits more slowly and smoothly. For example, you don't instantly become vicious by doing 1 bad thing. You have to do several similar stuff in order for pattern to emerge.
Also player can have only 3 trait at the same time. It is made in order to create more concrete characters. To focus only on the most important stuff. The grades designed to help to determine which trait is this "most important" compare to others. Also as I wrote in the text (and in the picture, by the way) this grade system is not visible to the player, it's just a way for game to calculate things.



Anyway. I'm not claim that my idea is perfect, just the opposite, it is half baked and requires polishing. Thats why im posting it to get a feedback, and thats why im working on a prototype.

But that kind of critique. From a person who not even read the text, just looked at the pictures, assumed some stuff, and started, in the cocky manner, critique his own assumption, that has nothing to do with the described idea. Let's just say, it isn't very smart behavior.))
And that kind of feedback is completely useless to me, or to anyone else.

Next time, please consider reading text that you criticizing.
« Last Edit: November 14, 2021, 08:54:04 PM by HelpUsObi1 » Logged
Koffi Duck
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« Reply #3 on: November 15, 2021, 06:48:08 PM »

Sounds like a fantastic idea. A game where you can create a story based on a personality system definitely sounds interesting.

I think the main priority you would have to complete is the terms for the end of a game session. The point of the game is to create a story around the interaction of events based on your character's stats, but when would that certain story end?
Definitely the creation of a global-plot would be very beneficial for that, like a treasure hunt or something like that, and based on that main theme/goal, the player can create his own story.

Another thing you should take care of is your main gameplay loop, how mechanics influence others is the main "fun" in what you are relying on right now, instead of making those mechanics interesting on their own as such. I would recommend separating the 3 main system into 3 different categories: resources, events, tools.

Resources would be the Traits.
Traits would be the main progress meter of the game, as it means that your character has changed and is now a different person compared to how he was before.
it will also be the main way in which YOU as a player have the opportunity to solve different events, instead of making the solution of problems depend on YOU as a character (Traits). I would say it would distinguish the other systems quite a bit and also give more freedom to story telling in the game.

Events would be Encounters.
as i said before, not making encounters dependent on Char traits would give much more freedom to the gameplay and story creation of the game, now these are the ends to an objectives, and you have the means to reach them.

Tools to Wishes.
I would say that this would be the biggest change to the game formula that would leave the goal of the game intact, and that is to make the wishes not only quests to complete to improve traits, but also to make the trait to improve and the goal completely random. example:

in a run the wishes would be:
"player would like to eat" upon completion would improve: shy
"player would like to sleep" upon completion would improve: kind
"player would like to fight" upon completion would improve: serious

in another run (for the sake of the example lets say you get the exact same wishes)
"player would like to eat" upon completion would improve: brave
"player would like to sleep" upon completion would improve: smart
"player would like to fight" upon completion would improve: shy

These would be the way in which you as a player progress in the game and how you can win different opportunities to complete different interactions in the game. Now I would say that your main complaint would be "but it doesn't make sense that this would do this" And that is the grace of this system, is the freedom there is when telling a story, between drama and comedy and the ridiculous situations and much more important, the decision falls on the player in the opportunities that the system gives him to decide the story that he would like to create, instead of deciding in between certain puzzle pieces that can create storys designed in the game.

It would leave the gameplay loop like this [Wishes] -> [Traits] -> [Encounters] -> [Story] -> [Wishes] > [Traits] -> [Encounters] -> [Story]

I think that would be my thoughts and feedback on the idea. Based on this, I would say that the creation of wishes or encounters depends on small pieces of real life situations that you find interesting, anything serves to be honest, as long as it is structured with the global-plot of the game. It's like when you decide with your friends to create a story by just saying one word each and take turns with each other.
by the way, creating the prototype to execute the idea and see if it is possible as if it were a board game, I totally recommend it, I have done it in the past and it has worked wonderfully
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HelpUsObi1
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« Reply #4 on: November 16, 2021, 03:18:30 AM »

Sounds like a fantastic idea. A game where you can create a story based on a personality system definitely sounds interesting.
Thanks. Nice to hear that.

Thanks for your feedback.
About global plot, i was thinking in the same direction. I guess such system need some sort of global plot (global plots?) to serve as framework for the encounters. In order to fix the issue you pointed out - determining where the game ends.
Im working on this at the moment.
I think I try to make several global plots, and store them under 5 "umbrellas".

Hunt for a treasure
Hunt for a person
Saving of the person
Riot against the tyrant
Escape from punishment

I'm not sure these all would work fine. But that's a place to start

anything serves to be honest, as long as it is structured with the global-plot of the game.
Yes i think it is.
Also the guy on the other forum gave me an idea to start creating this events based on the structure of the story. I decided to try it, and note which events are similar in different stories, so i can reuse them multiple times.

YOU as a player have the opportunity to solve different events, instead of making the solution of problems depend on YOU as a character (Traits).
That's kinda exactly what i trying to write. Encounters are simple dialogue windows, in which player can choose any variant he wants. So the same encounter can be used to develop diffirent traits based on the character actions.
I guess it wasn't obvious enough from my main post, so i work on the definitions in the future.

Traits only determine a certain percentage of encounters that player is facing. They not determine the way character is acting. The player determines that.

Trait checks (with "lock and key" scenario, when you have a trait check and a means to develop this trait in the same room) designed to give player a sence of progression. "I could not do that before, now i can." Also checks can be used for example to ​limit player 2 from certain encounters that was generated for player 1.

Some percentage of encounters is completely random anyway. So the player should not be locked in a box of his previous traits.

Thanks again for your feedback.
It is nice to hear that someone else is thinking more or less in the same direction as you are.
« Last Edit: November 16, 2021, 03:23:58 AM by HelpUsObi1 » Logged
Koffi Duck
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« Reply #5 on: November 16, 2021, 05:47:50 AM »

Thanks again for your feedback.
It is nice to hear that someone else is thinking more or less in the same direction as you are.

after all the work of a designer is to translate ideas into interactive systems! It can be difficult to put your ideas not only on paper but also in a functional prototype, but that is part of what makes designing games worthwhile.

your idea has a lot of potential and I hope you will be able to develop it, good luck in the future and feel welcome to talk about your game design anytime.
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michaelplzno
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« Reply #6 on: November 28, 2021, 03:04:26 PM »

Im sorry, but I'm like 99% sure that you haven't read my text carefully enough.
Therefore you criticizing the issues that you made up yourself. They aren't in my text, and aren't part of my concept.

I'm sorry I didn't read it carefully enough.
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michaelplzno
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« Reply #7 on: November 28, 2021, 03:38:03 PM »

Quote
Encounters are randomly generated, but the list from which they drop depends on a number of factors, including the traits of the players' characters.

Can you expand on this? Specifically: for example, if a character is vicious, how difficult or easy is it to change their nature? The stats seem tied to the wishes you are allotted. I see that you will grant a player whatever stats they need to complete a level, but it seems like the system you have designed does tend to set a player in their ways pretty staunchly. Or am I mistaken?

Just shooting for the 1% of "helpfulness"





In this TNG, Picard, whom I'll consider the player, is, I would say forced, into choosing a wish from Q. This is simply done by telling Picard that he can sit and do nothing in a small shuttle craft till he engages with Q and "hears him out" The result of this action is a long war that essentially will never be over because the Borg are super popular enemies that will come back forever. It seems like if the player chooses to not take a wish, in your game, they are starved of, essentially, the fun of your game, so I don't see that as a viable option. Hence me using the word "forced"

That is: I think there should be an explicit system for the player to change the direction of the wishes rather than simply abstaining. There is likely a big incentive for a player to play a bad hand rather than opt out of the wish system entirely, no?

Does that help? I'll stop replying if I'm just causing irritation (anyone is free to say plzno and I disappear to the 9th dimension where I belong)
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HelpUsObi1
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« Reply #8 on: November 30, 2021, 04:41:36 AM »

The player influences the list from which the encounters are generated.

For example.
A certain number of generated encounters is determined by the traits that player's character already have. At the start of the game, the player directly chooses one starting trait, so it affects that part of the list.
A certain number of encounters is determined by the wishes that the player chooses. This is another way to directly influence the plot.
And a certain number of generated encounters is determined from list of leftovers, purely by random. So the player always has somewhere to go from the previously established path.

And the most important. Encounters is an opportunity to get different trait depending on players actions. So in one encounter player can act differently and get different trait.

As for the question of how easy it is, for example, for an vicious character to become kind.
Please note that at the beginning of the game, the player does not have the opportunity to maximize the character's trait scale. If he chooses vicious, the Vicious scale will be set to -2. Thus, in order to lose the Vicious trait, the player only needs to play the role of a good person in encounter just once.
But if the player continues to do evil deeds, it will become more and more difficult for his character to become kind.
Thus, the player determines his character traits by his playstyle.

To be honest, I'm pretty sure this concept can work because it's based on several mechanics that already work well in other games. Some adjustments will be required, but the basic concept itself is a solid foundation.


What gives me a headache is the need to create a huge pool of different encounters and situations.
Not sure if I can handle this task. And without a large list of all kinds of encounters, this system will not work good.

I'm trying to categorize some common story arcs, types and situation. But as for now I have not discovered efficient way to write a big number of such modular story fragments.
« Last Edit: November 30, 2021, 06:42:50 AM by HelpUsObi1 » Logged
HelpUsObi1
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« Reply #9 on: November 30, 2021, 06:53:24 AM »

I came across the game Wildermyth in which there are good implemented mechanics, very similar to the ones I described.
Here is the talk by one of the authors of that game.
Looks like a usefull information for anyone interested in procedural storytelling.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1114&v=A5BGDbLFRrE&feature=emb_title
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michaelplzno
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« Reply #10 on: November 30, 2021, 02:45:47 PM »

Got it: one scenario I think would be good is that one character compliments the player and tells them that if they are smart they will be able to paint a fence, only a stupid person would disagree. The player then has the choice to attack the person who said painting is fun or paint the fence for them. If they paint the fence, the player gets kindness points, but no money. But if they attack the person who talked about painting the fence they get a lot of money and can burn the fence down for vicious points.

That's my one pitch for an idea for an encounter. But I'm open to writing more... FOR MONEY.
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HelpUsObi1
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« Reply #11 on: November 30, 2021, 09:45:35 PM »

Got it: one scenario I think would be good is that one character compliments the player and tells them that if they are smart they will be able to paint a fence, only a stupid person would disagree. The player then has the choice to attack the person who said painting is fun or paint the fence for them. If they paint the fence, the player gets kindness points, but no money. But if they attack the person who talked about painting the fence they get a lot of money and can burn the fence down for vicious points.

That's actually a good idea. Based on Mark Twain's work I suppose))
Problem is I don't only need encounters, but also a way to systemize them, to make them modular.
And I'm not ready to pay money for ideas, but I might pay for actual writing job at some point.
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michaelplzno
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« Reply #12 on: December 01, 2021, 08:54:23 AM »

I'm not sure what the distinction between "systemizing" "making encounters modular" and just writing a bunch of stuff is. It seems like you just need a lot of writing, particularly since you have so many stats. But also, it would be pretty easy to write different choices for an encounter that go for different stats, making each encounter work for multiple wishes.

For my original fence idea you could have:

  • +1 nice, paint the fence
  • +1 vicious, burn the fence/attack the guy who asked for free work
  • +1 shy, ignore the guy when he asks you to pain the fence and look at the ground and walk away
  • +1 brave, demand to get paid for your work
  • +1 sloppy, paint the fence really poorly

etc.

Then when you generate an "encounter" you can just show some of the options relevant to that character. But again, at the risk of being unhelpful, I think boxing a player into their 3 most salient traits will limit the fun. There are times when a nice player is gonna really want to choose something that is off brand. Imo, you should let the player choose what they want to do.

Again, I'll go with the brave option and say if you want any real number of encounters, you are gonna have to pay someone to produce those rather than simply tom sawyer someone into writing them for you.

Edit:
Even in your example in your OP about bandits attacking there could be many options for how to deal with it:
  • +1 nice, give the bandits all your money.
  • +1 vicious, kill the bandits and burn their ship
  • +1 shy, try to avoid confronting the bandits by hiding.
  • +1 brave, tell the bandits they are bad people and try to scare them off by yelling and growling
  • +1 sloppy, distract the bandits with your foul odor.

Its just writing you need, and a lot of it.
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michaelplzno
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« Reply #13 on: December 01, 2021, 09:18:35 AM »

Also, when you think about it, the shy option could just be a button "RUN AWAY" it covers the shy option in almost every situation, if you want to simplify things. Similarly the vicious option could always be "FIGHT" because the vicious person will always try to kill the enemy. Nice is essentially "COMPLY" as in do whatever the person who is there wants. Brave would be something like "CONFRONT" or "CHALLENGE." You can boil it down a lot.
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