Monday, December 30, 2013

Smarter Dancing Robots AI

My new Dancing Robots AI is now available to play against (here). It should be much smarter than previous incarnations (though still not as smart as I am when I make no mistakes).

I need to decide if my next goal for the website is to make the game play more graphical (add card images and the likes) or if I want to add in dancing animations at the end of the dance off.

As I have been testing the new AI  I have been also testing the feel of the recent rules changes to the game. I like how discarding all the unused cards at the beginning of the dance off makes parts scarcity a bigger problem, but I am not quite sure about the way that that makes saving extra moves impossible (like holding onto the move that you just needed one more part to dance so that in the second dance off you can dance it easily). The changes also makes Bomberman a worse judge. Perhaps I will increase his bonuses to compensate for that.

Nuclear reactors (with the additional heat that I recently added to the multi movers and the tractor beams) are a little bit better, and sometimes a good idea. (the Rutherford judge pushes them over to often being a good idea).

Creamsicle Pink Hotness

I have been working more on my card art and making the AI play more strongly. I will post a new version of the game to my website after I run a few more acceptance tests on it (so that everyone can be devastated by a strong AI snatching the victory away from them).

Alison reminded me last night that my spacious chassis didn't have a heat capacitance on it. Because of that, I began to fool around with more artwork. I first added the heat symbol (which might need to be bigger to look good), and then made it a creamsicle pink to try to indicate that it is a passive heat capacitance instead of an active heating.

I am starting to think that passive things like provided space and heat capacitance should be in a light color, and active things like adding heat or reducing space should be dark. I wonder if a blue fire symbol might reasonably indicate that the card reduces heat.

The only real worry that I have is that colorblind individuals might not be able to correctly parse that.

Either way, with the pink fire symbol, I decided that an orange creamsicle provided space symbol was needed as well and I updated the space symbol accordingly.

Since I have been making so many text layers look sort of fancy, last night I made a Gimp script to do it for me (basically you select a text layer and run the script and it makes it look like all of my text looks like on the card). The script can be found here.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

DR =? NP-Complete

Andrea got a late Christmas gift from her grandmother. It is a game called 'Herd your horses'. The game is a roll and move game where you play as mustangs and attempt to gather a herd of mares and make it to a safe place called 'Green river valley'. You can take multiple paths to get there, but there are certain choke-points which everyone must pass through. It is seems to have more strategic depth than monopoly, but it is certainly meant for young horse crazy girls as well. It does have the honor of being the first roll and move game that Andrea will play (all other ones we have tried before were way too boring), so if you really want your three year old girl to play board games with you this might be the right one.

We have limited her to 4 games a day since playing it more than that is a bit ridiculous.

I have (over the last few days) greatly improved the AI for dancing robots. My attempts to make the AI better have gotten me to ponder the game greatly. I wonder if it is NP complete to code an AI that will make optimal decisions based on the information that a player would know.

There is certainly the Knapsack problem that picking parts represents (from n available parts pick the one that will maximize the return that you get from your dance moves (do this repeatedly until you are ready to dance or your chassis is full)) as well as a difficult ordering problem (from your n moves, pick and order up to 5 to maximize your score (different ordering can change your score and the amount of parts you have to discard)).

Thursday, December 26, 2013

More art (Work In Progress)

We played a fairly nondescript game of Bang, and two games of Avalon at lunch today.

I fooled around with artwork some more, but am still fairly unhappy with it. I decided that the basic claw looks OK and that I should start seeing what other types of cards would look like, but when I began to do that I realized that the title text takes too long to make, and is prone to mistakes. I fooled around with various plug ins, but I think that I will have to create my own plug in to be really happy.

As I was fooling around with that, I also considered whether the symbols in the upper right of the card are actually useful. Perhaps I will remove them all together. I also tried to figure out a way to make the positive space provided by the chassis cards look different from the negative space provided by the other parts, but didn't come up with anything that I liked.

Finally, As I worked on those things I also decided that since the Spacious Chassis has no rule text I would have to make it also have no rule text box (it looks really stupid with a blank one.) In the end I need to figure out how to make these things look better. Here's to hoping that Dave comes up with something better.

The Wild West Show

Yesterday at a family get together we played a game of each of Two Rooms and a Boom, The Resistance, and Bang (With the Wild West Show expansion).

For the first time ever (that I have seen) Two Rooms was won based on solid logic and not just guessing what was going to happen. We had the bomber, the president, and two other good guys in the room on the second round. We kept both the bomber and the president in the room so that we could send out the bomber on the last round and save the president.

For the game of Bang, we had never tried the Wild West Show expansion before, and it ended up being super overpowered, but still very fun. I ended the game with a volcanic and a card that allowed me to convert any card in my hand to a bang (any number of times). I killed the outlaws and got three more cards and repeated. It was pretty silly.

I talked with Dave about my Dancing Robots artwork. He is still finishing up the other pieces, but then he might make me backgrounds for the cards. The AI for the game is still moving toward completion, but not there yet.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

It's practically here!

I have been working a lot on the AI for my game. Specifically I have been making the AI better able to plan a dance. It now considers all possible combinations of the dance cards that it has, and it will dance the moves that give it the most points, and it will also dance them in the order that gives it the most points as well as damages its robot the least.

I have been sitting on the artwork changes until I talk to Dave tomorrow. I figure he will have something to say (him being a graphic designer and all).

At work we have played more Resistance. We finally combined Avalon with the plot cards of Resistance (that made the game different). I also convinced them all to play 2 Rooms and a Boom, which was well received.

Seeing as tomorrow is Christmas it is possible that I will have a gift worth reporting here. If so, I will report it in my next post.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

More Test Cards

This post will end up as a bit of an image dump.

I had a guy (Darin Shepit) commenting on my attempts to make Dave's great looking artwork into playable cards for my game (for those new to this story, I asked my Brother in law Dave to draw me robot parts for my WIP Dancing Robots game, and he just came through with about half of the drawings looking pretty much complete, so I decided that I needed to actually work on the formatting of the cards and so forth.)

To the left is my third attempt to make a card out of the art. Following Darin's advice I tried to remove all borders and place a shallow looking platform underneath the card (I also put one under the rule text, just to see what that would look like.
He also advised me to increase the contrast of the artwork (which ends up making the part stand out more). This is my second attempt, by the way. I ended up exporting this because before I could figure out how to make a good looking platform Alison said that it looked pretty good.

You can see here, that I have not yet entirely removed the border around the image, but I did remove the cyan glow (Not entirely necessary, since it only indicates that this card is a grasp (and therefore from the cyan colored deck))

For the record, this is the original artwork that Dave gave me for the Claw card

Finally, here is my first attempt at making a card out of it.

I am still not entirely happy with attempt 3. It is much better than 1 was, (mainly thanks to Darin's helpful advice), but now it has other problems: it seems that the support cost icon (the gray cube in the upper left corner) and the reminder icon (the gray square in the upper right corner) seem fairly out of place. As it is nearly midnight and I have work tomorrow I have to stop image editing at this moment.

I will come back to it tomorrow morning if the weather permits that I get to work a bit early. If not, it will probably wait till tomorrow night (I plan on playing Resistance at lunch tomorrow unless they can't find five - in the which case it will be the online version of Dancing Robots and perhaps some Coin Age)

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Neural Networks of Slow Learning

For the last few days I have been coding up a neural network for my dancing robots AI so that it can learn how to properly decide when to improvise. It isn't really ready yet, but right now it plays at least as good as the current naive approach to the problem (which is to never improvise no matter what.)

I have been training it for a few hours (which should be enough for a simple neural network at least, but it doesn't seem to be catching on very fast (probably I am not doing a good job of coming up with training data)).

I was figuring that the problem was a difficult one (I didn't want to figure it out personally), but I didn't think that it would be this hard. I will continue to fool around with it a bit, but probably not too much. Perhaps the other stupid parts of the AI will fall to neural networks more easily.

Also, I played some more games of Coin Age.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Another Gimpstrosity has emerged

I have been fooling around with Gimp again.
This card reads:
Claw: This part takes up 1 space. If you spend 2 electricity you gain the ability to dance Tap dance moves this step of the dance.

I am not yet sure about any part of the card, so if anyone has helpful hints about what I should do to make it look better I would be happy to entertain them.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

A Robot is Forever

I played some more (5) games of Coin Age, and decided that it is worth pledging to get an official copy of it. The game has a moderate amount of randomness, but also a fair amount of strategic choices that players can make when playing, and for $3-5 it is not that big an expense.

I made some updates to dancing robots today and hope to make more tomorrow. I am wrestling with a way to prevent a skillful player from building a robot that can run forever on photo-voltaic cells, a droid chassis, one of each appendage, and luck (add a capacitor for the ability to also dance the ultimate dance once before blowing up spectacularly).

One thing that I am really not happy about (in terms of the website version) is the AI. It is sometimes passably intelligent, but most of the time really dumb. Hopefully I can fix it soon. Perhaps I will put in a neural network to prevent me from having to teach it myself.

We played some Resistance Avalon today at lunch. I was Merlin for the last game and we rocked. I was pretty blatant about calling out one spy, but I do that so often that no-one thought I was acting unusually.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Coin Age

I was watching the kids today because my wife is sick. When I put them down for a nap I read some more about Coin Age (which is on kickstarter and already funded, with 10 days to go)

It is a very small game where you use coins to vie for control of a land. The game has a map and each player has a set of coins as well.

The unique mechanic is that you shake up to 4 coins and slap them down to determine what you can do each turn. 0 of your chosen coin face and you capture an enemy coin. 1 and you place a coin of your own on the board. In either case you may move any coin stack in the board as well. 2 or more of your face lets you place 2 coins, and if all four are your face you may give a coin to the opponent to place three coins

A very simple set of rules which (combined with the equally simple scoring mechanic) allows for fairly deep strategic play.

I somehow convinced my sick wife to play a game with me and even with her feeling under the weather she beat me by 11. (Apparently my initial strategy needs some improving)

It is the type of game that this world needs more of. Not scary like so many good games are to non gamers (auto correct wanted me to type mom gamers, which is not really the largest market segment), but also not mind numbingly boring like other games which I will not name on this blog.

My opinion is that the game is definitely worth the three dollars they are asking for it (and probably worth the 5 they are hoping you will donate for it).

Monday, December 9, 2013

Deterministic endings

I played a few more games of Moar Moai over the weekend. I like the way that things work in the beginning of the game, and I like the way that the recent changes change the ending of the multiplayer game. The two player game still has some tricky bits to work out. The main problem is that the ending can be deterministic. Alison and I thought out some fixes for that which include:

  1. Making an 'interest level' for the explorers and every time that you pass their interest goes down by a random amount. When it reaches 0 the game ends immediately. (This would allow a player that has fewer artifacts to possibly end the game before the player with more artifacts is done playing)
  2. Deal a card from the deck out every so often to shake things up
    a. After every pass would be too often: you couldn't determine for sure where the explorer would end even with quite a few artifacts.
    b. After every turn would be even worse: you might never get anywhere, and if you did get somewhere you would probably overshoot.
    c. After every two turns would probably be fine: it would simulate a third player (though a random third player).
    d. Randomized: Yo Dawg, I herd you like randomness, so I put randomizers in your randomizers so you can randomize when you are randomizing.
  3. Build a deck of cards (10 large?) and shuffle all but one of them. The last one is the 'it's over' card. Reveal some of them (five), and allow players to pay tokens to use the cards (perhaps the lowest one would cost the least and higher ones would cost more.) Players may pass to discard the top card. slide the cards down and reveal new ones as the old ones are used up. Once a player is winning, that player may purchase the end the game card if they have enough tokens and the card is revealed. If the end of the game card is ever discarded then the game ends immediately.

I have also been working on the Dancingness of the Dancing Robots. I have cool looking tentacles already, and I should soon be able to get my chassis and arms swapped out.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Here lies Mike the adventurer, killed by a king cobra on level 8 of the dungeon.

I was testing out the balance of Roguelike last night and had a pretty fun game. I took pictures during the process so that I could more easily do a write up.

Starting gear: Potion of speed, Helmet

Level 1: Got a item drop and fought two kobolds (for two more items). I lost one hp to a fox, but other than that remained unscathed. An altar allowed me to curse identify a short sword that I got from a kobold. Also got a wand of sleep (which saved my bacon a few times later on).

Level 2: After getting kicked by a bunch of emus I picked up some potions, a leather armor, a scroll of enchant weapon/armor, and a ring of hunger (though I didn't know that was what it was at the point).

Level 3: Killed a bunch of zombies, Ided my ring of hunger (and uncursed it to make it a ring of slow digestion), got a spear and a ring of attack off of an orc (for big damage). The wolves were really hurting me so I was having a hard time. Eventually I had to flee the level because a giant ant was going to kill me.

Level 4: The level started with a rothe cornering me on the stairs. I had to zap ye olde unidentified wand of sleep at it to survive. After that I was doing well until this water demon came up and started chasing me. I ran down a long corridor and to a dead end. I zapped it with my wand of sleep and left it at the end of the hall.

Level 5: I got chased by a bunch of ocher jellies (two of them) and a centaur. I had to zap them all with my wand of sleep. I got an iron wand (which was a wand of death, though I didn't know it at the time). The wand of sleep blew up later when I was trying to fight off a centaur so in desperation I zapped my wand of death. As a side note, you want to save all your charges on the wand of death for the chromatic dragon, so that was a bad move for my chances for surviving the end game. Either way it died and I got a bunch of armor and a two handed axe. I also found a second ring of slow digestion as well as a +1 dagger of slow digestion! I dumped the rings since the dagger was way cooler. I left when I was being chased by a killer bee.

Level 6: A degenerate level. killed a jabberwock and got a potion.

Level 7: I fought entirely vampires and giants on this level. I found a magic cloak (of attack) and a glass and a silver wand. I burned out the wand of death and nearly burned out my wand of cancellation fighting the vampires. I also had managed to squirrel away 2 potions of healing.

Level 8: I came down the down stair and was face to face with a king cobra. It was faster than me, so I had only the chance to zap a wand at it. Accidentally I zapped it with a wand of speed monster (they were both unidentified). It bit me for 4 damage and put me at 1 hp. A potion of healing brought me back to full, but then it bit me for 4 more and I was at 2 hp. I had another potion, but realized that it was futile. There was no way out. I zapped it with my other wand (a wand of fire), which put it at 3 hp and then it killed me.

The game ended up pretty fun. I added dual wielding, limits on free actions, altar identification/curse removal (for the price of a corpse), and instant poison of death (cause king cobras should be worse than they are).

It was a happy game.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

New Artwork

I just got some more art from Dave for Dancing Robots, and I am really impressed with it. I will include some highlights at the end of this post. Now that my NaGaDeMon game is 'complete' I will probably go back to working on Dancing Robots more, and spend less time working on Moar Moai, but I still very much enjoy Moar Moai (and will probably continue working on it for a while).

Perhaps I should start working on the layout of the cards. I suppose that I need to test the balance of the game again (after a month of respite I hope to see things with new eyes).

Either way, things on the game design front are going pretty well. Alison and I played two games of Moar Moai last night to try to iron out the idea that Bob instigated after our game at lunch yesterday. The change was having the explorers move a little before the players get control over them. This makes the game a little less deterministic at the end but still allows players who are in the better position to win most of the time.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

A map update, and rules trouble

I just played a game with the new rules, and am not entirely sure that I like them. If one player is winning on the coast and he also has more artifacts than all the other players combined he can be guaranteed to win. This is only a problem really in the two player version of the game since having the most artifacts is much easier in that version.

Also, I have produced (for Bob's sake) a new color version of the map and (for everyone else's sake) a new black and white version of the map.

The files have mostly been updated, however the rules are still in a non final state (because I need to determine what to do about artifacts.)

Here are updated files: Rules, Score Track (color & bnw), Map (color & bnw), Player Mat

Saturday, November 30, 2013

NaGaDeMon 2013 Day 30: The End

Today is the end of National Game Design Month.

Over the course of the month I designed Moar Moai and Roguelike.

I would say that Moar Moai is pretty darn playable, and that Roguelike is at least barely playable.

Moar Moai has one open point of contention right now, and that is the exact way in which artifacts turn into control over the adventurers. I think that I will end up with players having perfect control over what 'cards' they get (although they might end up as tokens on a specific part of the mat instead of cards), but not know what 'cards' other players have until the scoring round actually starts.

Roguelike is still largely unbalanced, and I have never played games with the new weapon cards that I have invented because I have never printed them up (here in California I do not have access to my card creation equipment). Perhaps next week I will do that. It does seem to work without the tokens (+1 etc), but needs a mat to be printed up to make it really work (so that you can record what item is +1 or +2).

Perhaps I will continue to work on both of them, but I would like to also work on Dancing Robots again.

I hear that my artwork guy has produced some more artwork for it (for the record, the image to the right is his first sample artwork that he produced before things got a little crazy).

I have not been working on the Dancing Robots website for a while, so when I next look at that perhaps I will have some good changes to make.

Last night we played a game of Two Rooms and a Boom. I feel that the game is a pretty cool idea, I love the time based mechanic and the fact that the game is so open to many different play styles. The kickstarter campaign ended up with over 1000% funding, so that is super cool. Perhaps we will see copies of the game in stores some time soon. The best part about the game is the frantic trying to make a decision in the last seconds of the game.

The worst part of the game is the suggestive text on many of the cards. A card would have an ability that says 'you can't show other players this card' and it would have flavor text of 'I have castration anxiety'. The flavor text is just for flavor (so it is entirely unnecessary). I wouldn't feel comfortable playing this game with my children (that is my children when they are old enough to play the game) with the current version of the cards that already exist. For this reason I did not back the game. In the future if there is printed a version of the game that is more family friendly I will probably purchase it, but as it stands I would not want it in my house.

Last night we also played about 7 games of Avalon. Both teams won repeatedly, and people seemed to have a fun time. We added Percy, Mordred, Morgana, Merlin, and Assassin (some games with one of them and some with the others). One player (Amanda) won every time, but other than that I think that everyone won and lost some games. It was fun.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

NaGaDeMon 2013 Day 28

I have made good progress on my NaNo games (both Moar Moai and Roguelike) over the last two days.

We played a few games of Moar Moai, and we had some modifications to make.

First of all, roads have been removed from the game entirely (they seemed to just slow down the speed at which people get their statues out, and they give later guys in the turn order an advantage that doesn't seem to help the game balance out).

Additionally the explorer cards seem to be too random for some players (they do not seem powerful enough, and if you don't get the ones that you want it can suck). We have considered a few possibilities for fixing it:
1) Draw two cards for each token and discard half the cards right before playing the explorer phase.
2) Exchange tokens for cards on a one for one basis, selecting which cards you get (making AAH cards not have additional effects, but making it not known what you can do)
3) Discarding tokens for one of the three explorer effects (Explore, Dig, AAH!) (No cards, perfect information)

Each option provides a different feel: the 'look at 2x the number of cards' just makes you more likely to get what you want but still not guaranteed, pick your cards gives you exactly what you want, but other people still don't get to see what you have, the discard tokens option gives you the ability to pick exactly what you want, but everyone know exactly your capabilities (so you can figure out exactly what move is a winning move (that might make people think a long time since they can figure out exactly what is their best chance of winning with enough thought))

I have not decided which one is the best option yet.

In terms of Roguelike, I have played a few games and decided that the need for more weapons is real, that you should draw starting equipment until you get at least one piece of armor or weapon, and then one more card (discarding the other ones so that you have one weapon/armor and one of anything). Additionally the change that gives armed monsters more equipment is beneficial.

I have never made it past level 5, by the way (though the math would allow for someone to win the game is entirely reasonable).

I am trying to figure out how to give monsters the full benefit of the equipment that they are wearing without giving the player the knowledge of what the equipment is. This seems to be something that is not possible to really do (unless the equipment randomizes after you pick it up, so they could have better equipment than you finally get, but I don't really like that). Perhaps it would be better if the equipment provided a set bonus amount that simulates the benefit of wearing it but did not match the benefit exactly. Something like +1 armor for each armor/cloak, +1 attack for each weapon/ring/wand might be enough.

I don't have much time to see what would work, though, so I will have to come up with something fast.

This week we also played some more Resistance (with the Avalon expansion), and some Forbidden Island.

Finally, we played a game of cribbage (which is a really good game as far as I am concerned, though it has a lot of rules).

I will end with some pictures of Roguelike in play:
End of Level 1
End of Level 2
 Being chased by 3 rust monsters on Level 3:

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

NaGaDeMon 2013 Day 26

We are in the final stretch. I have been changing the rules of Moar Moai a lot, and I was pretty happy about them. After two games last night I am wondering if the penalty of road building is a little too steep (having your roads used by everyone for all time). Perhaps road building should be removed completely. I will test that option out over the next few days and see how that affects the balance of the game.

I am also trying to figure out a way to remove the tokens from Roguelike completely. This will allow for the game to be much smaller. I will test that out some time today and see if I can figure it out.

We played some games of Moar Moai  last night as well as The Resistance and Forbidden island. Everything was pretty fun. Hopefully we can end up playing more games tonight as well.

Friday, November 22, 2013

NaGaDeMon 2013 Day 22

Yesterday we played a 3 player game of Moar Moai. With only 6 fish per player the fish ran out too fast. I have to figure out a happy medium (we are working with a very narrow range, since 8 is too many and 6 is too few). Perhaps I will tweak the equation so that I don't have to go to 7 (7 is a messy number since the fish should be divided in half and placed in two zones).

I am sort of getting worried about finding a dominant strategy in this game. It seems as if the person with the most people always wins, and if that is the case, then this game is a very boring one. I need to figure out if there are other viable strategies.

Also, I have been working a little on Roguelike, but it keeps making me play game after game of UnNethack. Perhaps I will be able to focus more on it over the thanksgiving break.

By the way. I really like chess variants. Some of them end up being pretty small (the last one I played was that you could capture your own pieces and that pawns could move backward as well as forward (but still only attack forward)), but some of them are huge (the biggest change I can recall was one where if you captured a piece your piece would defect to the opponents team (kings were immune to this). This was a really different game because you had to always weigh the value of your capturing piece against their piece, and most exchanges like that were not worth it (for instance, killing a knight with a knight was basically throwing away your knight, and killing a queen with a knight was throwing away your knight to downgrade their queen to a knight)). It is a fun thing to just come up with some arbitrary rule change and see how the game plays out.

Recently I have been considering a stupid chess variant: Table Top Strategy Chess. You have to have tape measures and straight edges and your pieces can move only certain distances, but they can move freely in 360 degrees of direction. There is no way I would do it, but it was a fun thought experiment.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

NaGaDeMon 2013 Day 20

We played a four player game yesterday with the new rules, and there was a serious problem: Too many fish.

We just couldn't seem to break through the fish barrier to the point where the fish began to be depleted. I have decided to reduce the number of starting fish to 6 per player because of this problem. That will allow a population of 12 people to be supported without a problem, but any more than that will begin to eat up the fish.

A third person also told me that deep sea fish should be worth more... I really don't like the idea, but it seems like a common enough complaint that I need to address it. I just don't know how to do that yet.

Also, as I was complaining about having to separate my cubes at the beginning of every game Bob told me to get more bags. I had never thought of doing that. This, folks, is why it is useful to have your managers play your games with you.

Finally I changed the map to include a place to put the Explorer cards. Not really necessary, but the map is big enough to accommodate it, and it didn't seem to hurt.

In other news: Templar Intrigue was fully funded and reached its first stretch goal, so I will be receiving a copy of it some time next year.

Playing Roguelike has made me want to play Nethack again, so I installed it on my phone and played some last night. It is quite a fun game.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

NaGaDeMon 2013 Day 19

I have greatly simplified the rules of Moar Moai. I don't know whether they will stick, but I played a game with Alison last night and she liked it a lot.

The bulk of the changes were to remove the ability to mine stone and chop trees, and roll them into the build canoes, build statues, build roads, and move statues actions. This also makes it so that the trees are infinitely more likely to not be sitting around in someone's stockpile during the respawn phase (which is a good thing for the tree population size).

The game ended up with Alison in the better overall position (since she had more statues than me), but I was in a very strong strategic position (I had the furthest advanced statues as well as more cards). She would have won if the explorers made it to the third location or further, but she didn't draw two 'explore deeper' cards, so I carried the day.

If you are interested in seeing the how the game looks currently, the rules document is here, and the images are here: Track, Mat, and Map.

Roguelike is undergoing slow changes right now since I am focusing more on the ecological destruction game right now. I can't work full bore on both.

Also, played some Avalon yesterday at lunch. It was fun. I plan on playing Moar Moai today (I have already had people accept my invite.)

Finally, I backed Templar Intrigue on Kickstarter. It sounds fun. I will tell you what it is like when I get it next year.

Monday, November 18, 2013

NaGaDeMon 2013 Day 18

I have been having a hard time finishing my recent rules changes to Moar Moai. For one thing I want to cut out more of the game than I want to cut out (which basically means that I am conflicted about how much to remove.) The game works fairly well, but needs to be simplified to be played in the amount of time that I want to play it.

Also, I have been spending a lot of time with Roguelike (and getting car repairs, but that is another story). I have printed up cards for Roguelike, tried to play it with my wife and found that in order for it to be playable a lot of impromptu rules had to be made. The game was crushingly hard (which was the goal), but I feel that to give it a more Roguelike feel there needs to be more equipment. I probably hurt less than ten monsters during the game because my wife and I had one sword between the two of us, and I was wearing the armor.

We played a game of Ticket to Ride over the weekend with some light gamers. I don't love the game, but appreciate it for the quality that it has of being playable by light gamers (hopefully leading them to play heavier games in the future)

I also introduced them to Resistance Avalon, and they enjoyed it quite a bit. The last game we played came down to the last round, and the assassin failed to guess Merlin (although one spy did have Merlin pegged).

Friday, November 15, 2013

NaGaDeMon 2013 Day 15

I worked a bit on the changes to Moar Moai, but then I got side tracked by working on Roguelike.

I think that I am ready to do a first printing of Roguelike and see how it works out. I have already made all of the room/hallway tiles, the mundane/enchantment tokens, and created all of the cards that I can envision needing (at this point in time). The current boss is named the chromatic dragon, and as it stands it should be nearly impossible to kill (it hits first due to its breath attacks, has perfect armor (no sword in the game can damage it, even when it is sleeping), and enough hit points to withstand a blast from a wand of death (the only other monsters that can survive a wand of death are all undead).

The expected way to kill it is to blast it twice with a wand of death, but perhaps enterprising players will find other ways.

I played a game of Moar Moai with Chris this morning. We were trying the new rules (the ones with purchasing cards and such), but during the last turn Chris realized that he couldn't win under any circumstance, so we just called the game. Perhaps next time we play we will get to test the card buying.

I also played Avalon yesterday. It was very fun. I was surprised how much the new roles helped out. I will play it over thanksgiving with my family (both sides).

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

NaGaDeMon 2013 Day 13

Yesterday I didn't get in a game of Moar Moai, but I did rework some of the rules and redraw some of the images. I have uploaded the results to the usual places. For those who don't want to scroll down, the rules document is here, and the images are here: TrackMat, and Map.

I still have a little more work to do before I feel that I am ready for another big playtest, so It might not happen today.

I have been working on Roguelike a bit as well. I have been considering how I would randomize the identities of the potions (wands, and scrolls as well), and I am starting to think that I will have to have "bubbly potion" cards AND "potion of healing" cards. The item deck is full of "bubbly potions" and when someone drinks one (or ids it) they draw a card from the identified potion deck and see what it does. From that point on you place the "potion of healing" card face up in the playing area with a bubbly potion token on it (so future bubbly potions don't have to be identified).

Randomizing the equipment seems much easier. The game treats a weapon or armor like it is normal until you put it on. Then you immediately identify it by drawing a token out of a hat. There are way more 'mundane' tokens than there are +1 or +3 tokens. To be safe you can id all your stuff before putting it on, but identification should be fairly unusual, so it is not expected that you will have tons of scrolls of Id hanging around.

The people at work have all bought Resistance Avalon, so I might play it at lunch today. if I do, a report will follow.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

NaGaDeMon 2013 Day 12

Yesterday at lunch we had a four player game:
Players: Taylor, Dave, Chris, Antione
Taylor, Dave, and Chris all started by grabbing four fish and two resources each. This allowed for them to all grow to six people.
Antione opened up by grabbing six fish, so on the second turn he ended up fishing last (his population fell back down to four because of this, and he remained there most of the rest of the game). I have considered changing how things are done to prevent some from getting all the fish that they want and others from getting much fewer fish. Perhaps I will come up with something useful soon.

The early game was dominated by canoe building and starting up building statues.

Taylor, Dave, and Antione all ended up with the same number of statues (8) and people (4), and Chris ended up with two statues and 5 people. The statues were placed such that Chris was winning in positions 1-4 (he was the only guy who moved his statues very far), and Taylor was winning in position 5. There was a three way tie for position 6. The tie breaking is likely to change to a  more complex scoring method, and the scoring phase is also in need of a rehaul. Taylor ended up playing his explorer cards correctly and therefore won the game (though I felt that Chris should have really been the winner since he would have won in 4 of the 6 places, and he also played his explorers right (he just was overwhelmingly in the minority in terms of where people wanted the explorers to go.))

The things I learned because of this game:
1) More fish (seriously, Mars Needs Fish)
2) Fewer trees might be useful, this would speed up the game a bit, and I want the game to be speedy. Perhaps we should even give people starting wood (for second turn canoes if they desire)
3) The AAAH! cards are definitely a real part of the game in the future. We hadn't been playing with them, and after the game people asked for explorer cards that move the explorers back (people who had never read the rules, so they couldn't have been influenced by them).
4) Consider making explorer cards be rewarded based on something (having extra stone or wood at the end of the game?)
5) Consider making explorer cards cost more based on how many have already been bought/rewarded.
6) Perhaps reorder the player mats to make boxes appear in the correct order (first to last).
7) Complex scoring method: when there is a tie, it might be best to tiebreak based on who has the farthest unmatched statue instead of by who had the most people. For example:
          Q 5 4 3 2 S               
Player 1 | | | | |1| |
Player 2 | | | |9| | |
Player 1 wins
          Q 5 4 3 2 S               
Player 1 | | | |9|1| |
Player 2 | | | | |2| |
Player 2 wins
          Q 5 4 3 2 S               
Player 1 | | |9| |1| |
Player 2 | | | |1|1| |
Player 2 wins

8) Consider playing till the islanders all die off instead of till the last tree falls. This would allow for a strange endgame.

I will try to convince my wife and sister in law to play tonight (and we might play during lunch - hard to say).

Also, I will update the rules as necessary.

Finally, I have been working on (in my non-More Moai time) a solo/cooperative Roguelike board game. I will post about it when there is something to post. (Like the game is playable or something like that).

Monday, November 11, 2013

NaGaDeMon 2013 Day 11

The weekend was a rough one for my game.

On Friday we had someone leaving the company, so we had a farewell lunch and didn't get any gaming done. At home my wife and I played Forbidden Island (more about that later). Saturday we had sick kids, so most of the day was spent taking care of them, and Sunday was Sunday. Alison's sister Katie (who enjoys gaming more than any of my other sisters or sisters in law) is staying with us for a week as she does some student teaching as part of her training to get a degree, so I am hoping that this week will see a few more plays of my NaGaDeMon game.

Now, Forbidden Island is a cooperative game where you play as a team against the game itself. The story is that you are an explorer trying to gather four mystical artifacts form an island that is sinking into the sea and then escape the island (probably to sell the artifacts for massive zorkmids, but that is beside the point). The game could probably be played by eight year olds without too much hand holding, but if you have a precocious child they might be able to figure it out younger.

The game is pretty simple, but the randomness of which parts of the island sink make it still loseable (not to mention the fact that you can set the difficulty, which allows you to play at a level where you are comfortable
(or not so)).

During the game that we played on Friday Alison and I were 3/4 of the way through the game when a 1 in 11 chance got us (the one remaining place to get the cup sunk under the water as the first card revealed after the water rose again). That sort of thing cannot be planned for (I don't think that it is likely that we could have stopped it as I was shoring up fools landing and Alison was claiming the piece of rock, so both of us were too far to have shored it up anyway). That was the first time that we lost.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

NaGaDeMon 2013 Day 7

For those who don't want to scroll down, the rules document is here, and the images are here, here, and here.

I played two more games last night trying to emulate Bob and Antoine and figured out about how many of each resource you need to have in order to play the game without running out of anything. I have fixed the rules so that they reflect this (having more statues was a weird side effect of this, but it is possible for a large group of starving people to churn out statues.)

I fooled around with AAAH! cards being added to the explorer deck. They make the explorer phase have way more options. I don't think that they add unnecessary complexity, but I will keep testing them to make sure. They sure seem powerful, though.

The game feels like it is fairly well balanced, however it needs a lot of playtesting to clean it up. I don't know what I am going to do with the rest of this month if I am unable to get enough playtesters to help me out. As of yet I have been pitifully unable to get people to play my game. Usually I can easily get half a dozen people to play, but I have with all my effort only gotten four people to play. I need to work harder.

Perhaps if Friday is also a bust I will decide to make four insufficiently playtested games in one month instead of one reasonably playtested game.

We played a game of Resistance at lunch yesterday in which I brought my final plan to fruition: winning the game as a spy via playing 'No Confidence'. The game is still a fun game, but I can't think of anything else that I want to do when playing it.

Today at lunch we had two entirely unsatisfying games of Resistance (one where the spies didn't know who was on their side, and one where the spies were all so obviously on a team that when one was outed the game was over).

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

NaGaDeMon 2013 Day 6

I didn't do anything last evening, but yesterday during lunch I had my team lead Bob face off against Antoine (another team lead). It was funny to see how they played so differently than my wife and I did.

They both focused heavily on getting more guys than the other player (team leads... go figure). After watching their game I decided to add back in the pieces that I took out two days ago.

I also ordered more pieces to use for the game. They should arrive in a week or so.

It is hard to get people at work to help play-test for me ever since I introduced them all to The Resistance. I am glad that I convinced them to stop playing Bang (as fun as that game can be), but it is sort of annoying to have to fight to get even one person to play your game.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

NaGaDeMon 2013 Day 5

I played two more games last night. Fairly extensive changes to the rules followed the games.

I realized that permanent canoes are great for the game, so they are a reality right now. This allows players to more easily commit piscicide, and allows the game to end due to not only the loss of all trees, but also due to the loss of all fish.

The number of canoes can be reduced to 8 as long as there are only 32 fish in the game because 8 canoes can entirely empty the deep ocean out in a few turns (assuming that the shallow ocean is also empty)

I also realized that pigs are superfluous, and I removed them. The players have to be a little bit more careful when they are fishing, but the game is still very playable. (perhaps even more so due to the simplification of the rules and the lessening of the number of parts).

Finally, I decided that 16 trees is enough for 2 players. Perhaps with 4 players 32 trees would be better, but until I get four players I don't need to worry about that.

The point gathering phase of the game can be super fun (there was a situation (of which I will post a picture below) where the player who played last was guaranteed to win if they played their cards right.)

As you can see, the player on the left has more guys, so he wins if the explorers stop on level 1, 4, or 5, but the player on the right wins if the explorers stop on 2, 3, or 6 (the three orange cubes are also statues, I just ran out of maroon ones). Both guys were dealt 3 sit around cards and two explore cards. I will let you work out all of the possible combinations, but it ended up that the guy who played first would lose if both players played perfectly.

I will try to get some people to play at lunch today. Hopefully that happens. Either way I will update the rules and keep working on it.

Monday, November 4, 2013

NaGaDeMon 2013 Day 4

I have taken a small diversion and made a map, some mats, and a scoring track. The game rules are still located here.

I think that the next step is to test how the game changes when canoes change to persistent objects.

map: place wood, shallow fish, deep fish, and stone here:

Placement map, cut this one in half and give one copy to each player:

Extra parts and score track. Put the canoes and statues that haven't been built here (as well as the built roads, statues, and the unused meat and dudes.):

Sunday, November 3, 2013

NaGaDeMon 2013 Day 3

Today Alison and I played a game (first multiplayer game, woo!) The game went fairly well. We fixed up some rules and had to play to the very end to determine who had won.

First of all, we decided that doing a hybrid choose/gather rule (where the first guy to pick is not necessarily the first guy to gather) is a bad idea cause someone can commit guys to doing something (mining for fish, for instance) and then have all the fish gathered out from under him. If this happens because of an event card it is ok, but if a player does it to another player that seems rude.

By the way, I drew on a piece of paper to make the game board. We decided after the game that we need a separate scoring track as well as personal mats. That will be rectified soon.

Alison thought that the game was less confusing than she initially expected it to be (that is a big plus)

With two players who are neck to neck you cant really just chop the last tree (and that can draw the game out, what with the vying for points).

Alison didn't really like the explore phase (it is an interesting problem, but fraught with the danger of holding out too long or playing too early).

We also don't really have enough cubes to play a huge game. Perhaps I will have to order more.

Finally, Alison thought that the game was fairly well balanced if both players are not actively trying to destroy the economy.

Perhaps next game I will try to do that.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

NaGaDeMon 2013 Day 2

Yesterday I decided to make 'MOAR MOAI'. I started coming up with rules and such. I made decisions as to which cubes I would use for which resources. I also counted the cubes. Here are the results:

maroon  16 5 stone/statues
yellow  20 stone/statues
red     32 meats
orange  39 trees
pink    37 dudes
blue    36 fishs
green   33 plant
total  213

I got the cubes from a really cheap source, so they are super low quality (also, I got 13 bonus cubes, so I am not complaining.)

I decided today to change the cube coloring a bit, and cut down the amounts for most of them:

maroon  16 Statues
yellow  16 Canoes
red     32 Pigs
orange  32 Stone
pink    32 Dudes
blue    32 Fish
green   32 Trees
total  192

I played a few solo games and changed the rules a bit from my original vision of them. As they currently stand, they are here. The first game I played ended with no points having been scored. The second was much better. The third was also better than the second. Perhaps it will be pretty good by Monday (or at least playable for my co-workers over lunch.)

As I was playing a solo game, Andrea (my three year old daughter) asked to join in. I explained to her the general concept (these are your guys, they can get food and cut down trees and dig up rocks. you can only get these fish because they are closer to the island, and these ones are in the deep water.) After my explanation she said:

"This guy will get fish and this guy will make bacon, and this guy will cut down a tree to make a canoe."

I hadn't told her that there were canoes in the game, but apparently that was the reason for cutting down trees in her book. She is very smart. She also knew that killing a pig got you bacon.

Also, yesterday we played a game of Inspectres Unspeakable (as our yearly Halloween RPG). It ended up pretty fun, although I might decide to limit the amount of sub plots that can be going on in any game (there were three major goals the whole game, and we ended up having characters trying to punch, poison, and cast spells on each other quite a bit.) In the end two people went insane and one person was eaten by a dark god.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

NaGaDeMon 2013 Day -1

Today is Halloween, which means that tomorrow marks the beginning of National Game Design Month 2013.

Last year I created Dancing Robots, which I am almost ready to start pitching to publishers.

This year I have two games that I am considering making:
1) a worker placement game where you attempt to build the most Moai (giant stone statues) which ends(enters the scoring phase) when the island is stripped of all resources.
2) a single/cooperative multiplayer game thematically based on the Roguelike genera of computer games.

The first is currently tentatively labeled 'MOAR MOAI!' (though that will likely change). I have considered how I want the game to play out quite a bit, but haven't yet worked through the math behind it. I am thinking it will take a couple of mats and a bunch of colored cubes. One mechanic that I think would be cool is having the game occur over two phases - the building phase (where you cut trees, feed your people, and build stone heads), and the scoring phase (where a different civilization comes in and discovers the statues and you gain points based on how many of your statues they discover)

The second has no working title. I think that the goal will be to retrieve an item from the bottom of a dungeon which is peopled with evil monsters and traps and stuff. The equipment will be randomly generated and the monsters will get harder each level that you explore. As you explore, you will build the dungeon, and when you go down a stair you clean up the last level and use the same tiles to build the next level. Probably the item that you grab will be less than useless to you (perhaps it will nullify some of your defenses or something like that. It might even 'level you down' as you ascend the dungeon and also destroy your items.)

I will continue to post as I start up.