Monday, September 21, 2009

Gaming Interaction

So I've been chatting back and for with Seth Jaffee of Tasty Minstrel Games about my game Equilibrium.  He's had very positive feedback, but been concerned about the low level of player interaction.  I've struggled a bit with how to add it in fairly, so I actually went back to other game and tried to classify the interaction.

I Kill You

This would cover most wargames.  It also does a lot to cover Area Majority / Area Control games too.  In Go, you really do kill off your opponent's influence.

In general though, I don't enjoy this as much in a multiplayer game.  Mainly because it causes way too much metagaming.  I would always think twice before I attacked my wife because well, I've got to face her wrath later that day.  Maybe you call that underhanded, I'd call it more the secret to a happy marriage.

Take That Cards

Yea, it's darn close to "I Kill You".  Usually just a little more tame though.  It suffers from the same problems as above.

Then you get to the more common and agreeable forms:

Competition over Limited Resources

This would pretty much encompass the majority of Euros.  In Agricola / Caylus there are only so many actions to draft.  In Steam there are only so many cubes to deliver.  In Through the Desert there are only so many palm trees to touch.

I like this style, but it doesn't work great for Equilibrium.  Mainly because each player has their own deck of "resources" and aren't consuming the other players' decks.  I could bend the whole concept of Equilibrium, but frankly I like the balance of each player having the same deck.

First and Most Awards

And here's where we land.  From the beginning I always had "Most" goals in all the versions of Equilibrium.  They always added a valuable touch of interaction, but many people thought they weren't enough on their own.

So I just took the next step and tried out the "First" rewards.  And ya know, those work pretty darn well.

Yea, you'll probably notice both of these styles in the RftG goal tiles.  And yea, I did look there for some inspiration.  Still, I don't mind imitating some successful games.

Guess Work

The other game I stole from was Mystery Rummy: Jack the Ripper.  In that game you get to make a guess of who the Ripper will be each turn.  It's really a fun mechanic that just isn't used in other games.  You have a good idea of who it may be and plenty of ways to influence.

So, I added some Guess cards to Equilibrium.  It's boring in that game to guess your own attributes though, so I had the Guess be about your Left Hand Opponent.  Sure, it's a little contrived, but it works.  And it actually added more than I thought it would:

1. It added cards that work better in the late game than the early game.  The later you play your guess, the more information you have to go on.

2. It actually influenced what I played.  I went 2 colors last night, but I didn't play any score cards against my second color.  My wife was stymied since she knew one color I was going long in, but couldn't figure out the other.  That eliminated her ability to be accurate with 2 out of the 3 guess cards.  Pretty neat side effect.

Anyway, I'll spend a little more time working in some more interaction.  My next place to go would be some Honeymoon Bridge style interaction.  I'll discuss that if I give it a go.

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Behave. Your mamma could read this.