Offering

Discussion in 'Game Design' started by RyanRothweiler, Dec 23, 2016.

  1. RyanRothweiler

    RyanRothweiler Active Member

    Offering is the game I've been working on lately, with some light deck building and tile placing mechanics. This thread is for feedback and for me to post large milestone progresses with the game. :)

    Here is a video explaining everything.


    In text form,
    You place pieces on the board to promote or demote individual hexes. Hex states are organized in a tree, so you can only promote or demote cells up and down the tree. Kinda like a skill tree. All cells share the same skill tree, but they're at different position on the tree and during the game you move the cells up and down along the tree. You then harvest hexes once their in a certain pattern to get victory points.

    Here is a list of problems with it I'm still currently working on solving.
    - No real difficulty ramp. Once you play it four or five times you've figured it out. I have no way to make the game harder or easier. I'm not too worried on solving this currently as I think it's just a product of other problems.
    - Not really enough choice. You're given one piece and you have to place it which is too close to input randomness. Difficult for the player to give strong succinct input into the system.
    - Somewhat annoying to play. Game forces you to take steps back sometimes which just kinda sucks. I want choices to have more of an opportunity cost problem and less of a damage control problem.
    - Needs more output randomness. The winning strategy each match is very homogeneous.

    I've boiled the game down into a pretty clean system. I think it's sufficiently inherently interesting to keep working on. My next steps are to try and solve some of the problems with precise targeted new mechanics. The game is quite simple right now so I think it has considerable room to grow.

    Also here is my twitter if you want more frequent updates.
    https://twitter.com/RyanRothweiler
     
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2016
  2. keithburgun

    keithburgun Administrator, Lead Designer Staff Member

    My general feedback (a repeat from things I said in the Discord) is:

    - Overall, looks cool, I'm excited.
    - Play Knizia games like Samurai and T&E and Ingenious
    - I am skeptical of "draw a tile and now you have to place it" i.e. Neuroshima Hex and Carcassonne. I'm skeptical it can be made to work but MAYBE if there's enough you can do with any kind of piece, maybe... still, it seems too close randomness.
    - No 1-tile tiles.
    - Less direct interaction in terms of upgrade/downgrade. Have that maybe be a secondary effect of another action
    - Think about core mechanism a bit more.
     
  3. Spittledrum

    Spittledrum Member

    Neat concept. Looks like the type of game I would play. Thanks so much for sharing in this early state. A few thoughts:

    * The goals (harvest) are too obscured and abstract. They are few enough in number that no doubt a player can memorize the configurations, but right now it seems like a major accessibility hurdle. It's not just a UI issue - it's a matter of looking at the blank slate and being able to visualize a path to victory.
    * I like the deck-builder mechanic in theory, but as demonstrated here it doesn't seem to get enough use to justify the complexity. I would suggest looking for more ways to have the players incrementally improving their "deck," or look for another way to bring in scoring. It also makes scoring highly swingy as the window for when you might have a given piece is very wide. I can see why you are attracted to deck transparency, but in this case, I wonder if more randomness in the pool combined with a larger hand to choose from might be more fun and strategic than a fixed deck with a hand size of one?
    * Have you tried having the default starting/background hexes be terrain and not a black void? Islands of terrain in void and terrain that reverts to void when scored feels off (granted, this is an early prototype, but since you have added a theme seems releveant). This wouldn't be an issue if you went full abstract with numbers/colors. Starting with neutral/low value terrain (like Populous or Triple Town) could help with the first point about goal setting as it offers some random variation to the starting board to help constrain initial choices (choosing where and in what alignment to place initial hexes in a void is like Go - overwhelming and obtuse).
    *Maybe introduce harvest tiles earlier in the game, not always tied to end-game high-value configurations?
    * Is there a way to combine harvest action and the terraforming? Like where every tile you place has terrain -- if it matches, it scores, if it doesn't, it terraforms (upgrades/downgrades/other). Not sure if this fits your vision, but it could be a path to reinforcing the core mechanism.
     
  4. evizaer

    evizaer Well-Known Member

    I'd like elaboration on this. I think he ameliorated your complaint already by giving you a small deck of actions that you cycle through and improve throughout play. Would you suggest that he give you a couple turns of lookahead on the next actions you'll be taking? Maybe allow you a certain number of "skips" per deck cycle? How about giving you three actions and you choose one each time?

    This is probably the most important piece of direct feedback we can offer. 1-tile actions are very flat--to make the game more difficult you need the emergent complexity that arises from tile adjacency mattering all the time, and having to work with different patterns of adjacency. Maybe even get rid of the action rotation buttons? The multi-tile actions take more advantage of the relationships between the hexes, which is where this game really gets its mileage.
     
  5. RyanRothweiler

    RyanRothweiler Active Member

    I should've put this in the first post, but I consider the main mechanic to be shape / tile / piece placing or even tile laying. Maybe that was obvious.

    I agree. I want to add more things for pieces / shapes to do. Currently there is only four. Promote / Demote / Harvest / Claim. I think there is definitely room for more.

    I agree. I used to have more deck building but removed it because it was flat because it didn't relate to the main mechanic enough. Maybe I should just remove it entirely and change how / when you get tiles. As you said, "the window for when you might have a given piece is very wide" is probably the biggest problem with the game right now.

    I do want to change what happens to tiles when you score / harvest them. Currently it's basically actor removal which is unnecessarily flat and leaves room for easy improvements. Maybe once you score a tile it goes on upgrade cool down or provides a bonus to future scoring from that tile.

    This is a good idea. Maybe an easy harvest tile is in the starting hand. I'll probably do this.

    This is a good idea too. Right now harvest tiles are completely separate from promotion / demotion tiles.... for no reason at all. Mixing them is an easy improvement.


    Thanks a ton guys, this is all really great.
     
  6. RyanRothweiler

    RyanRothweiler Active Member

    Hey yall. This game is back in the center of my focus again.
    I'm hoping to get some feedback on the latest version.

    V0.01 online here.
    And here is a quick video tutorial, because the game doesn't have one yet.


    My goal for the project has shifted. So I'm focused much more on the design and less on the code. The project is in unity now and uses free assets from the web.

    v0.01 changes
    - Removed all one cell shapes and just redesigned all shapes.
    - Added ground types.
    - Only one upgrade path per ground type.
    - VPs are gained from harvesting the ground type, not a specific cell type. More upgraded cells give more victory points.
    - Players can choose between 3 shapes to place, instead of being forced to place one.

    I still have a lot of design changes planned and I'll post here with updates so there will be more to come. :)
     
    richy and Nomorebirds like this.
  7. Hopenager

    Hopenager Active Member

    I like the idea behind this game, but unfortunately it doesn't feel like there's much depth right now. My first game I got 15, and after having played ~8 games I don't feel I've improved much. My highest score was 19.

    I think the biggest problem with the game right now is that it has that its information flow is too fast, i.e. the amount of information being introduced each turn is too large. Because of this the player can't form long-term plans, other than very vague ones. One potential way to fix this would to have the 2 shapes that the player doesn't pick remain in the hand between turns instead of being thrown away. That way, the player can form concrete plans over multiple turns instead of being concerned only with which piece is best to play right now.
     
    RyanRothweiler likes this.
  8. RyanRothweiler

    RyanRothweiler Active Member

    Hey thanks for playing a bunch!

    Agreed.
    And some ways I hope to improve - both improving the information flow, and giving the player a variety of long term goals to work towards.
    - Your hand solution is good. I was thinking of letting players choose one shape to keep between turns (Minos style). I like your solution a bit better though.
    - Adding bonuses to the board. Such as 'ultimate' shapes which players have to pickup from the board. They would be far away, so they player has to work towards them during the game, thus sacrificing more immediate goals.
    - VP harvest bonuses which are left on the hex. So if you harvest sand, then you get a bonus the next time you harvest sand there.
    - Another idea is to add 'ultimate' buildings, which don't give VP, but give some other bonus. Like a bonus ultimate shape, or VP bonuses around, or auto harvesting.
     
    Hopenager likes this.
  9. richy

    richy Well-Known Member

    I quite liked the mid-term arc of the 4 rounds in the earlier version. At the start of the first video you had that "3 houses in a triangle" shape almost from the start so working towards setting that up each round was an interesting goal. The random scoring shapes that come all the time now seem to lose something match structure wise. Also the same mid term goal seems weakened by how you can harvest part-developed tiles now rather than having to get them fully ripe.

    Are there no demotes now? I thought that was quite an interesting way of repurposing a forest tile into a desert tile. The new way where you just overwrite what's there with something new seems to have less of an "organic growth" feel about the little world you're building over the course of a match. Also seems to make the shovels a bit redundant for creating new usable terrain.

    The grey and sand branches don't seem different enough to me, colour-wise and thematically. Both are stone buildings of different kinds which makes them hard to tell apart. Could the grey be like metal structures, suspension bridges or something? And a darker grey tile background?

    Have you thought about randomly filling the board at the start of the match? It could give the player some longer-term context for decisions right from the off. Also maybe help to make each match seem different. The existing scattering of filled-in tiles gives some seed points but only really very short term context.

    Overall I really like the feel of the game! I hope it continues to evolve.
     
  10. RyanRothweiler

    RyanRothweiler Active Member

    I removed the rounds because they didn't actually do anything (just reshuffled the deck). The game is definitely missing mid / long term arcs but I'm hoping to fix that with other solutions. I might add rounds back if something triggers each round.
    I'm also going to make the developed tiles grow exponentially in VP. So you actually lose something if you harvest a mid developed tile.

    I removed the demotes because they were depressing to play with. Maybe that just means I have too many of them. But I would rather just have less promotes, instead of having demotes and promotes - they seemed to balance out in a few turns anyways. I prefer when games give decisions value through opportunity cost instead of a negative cost.

    Good criticisms on the grey and sand branches. I'll see if I can adjust them.

    I'm adding more random board generation for the next version. :)
     
  11. Tinytouchtales

    Tinytouchtales Active Member

    Hi @RyanRothweiler very interesting concept. It's funny because i bash my head against a somewhat similar idea right now, where i try to simulate Sim City style building on a hex grid. You can take a look at it here: https://tinytouchtales.itch.io/card-city. I like your concept because the board changes a lot which is cool. One thing i was trying to do was to have primary and secondary effects for each tile you place. Maybe something like adjacency bonuses could introduce a new dynamic where a "water" tile could automatically promote a "wood" tile to grow for example.
     
    RyanRothweiler and BrickRoadDX like this.
  12. RyanRothweiler

    RyanRothweiler Active Member

    Yeah I've tried multiple times to add some secondary / automatic board changes. Possibly with passive building effects, or with basic enemies. I just haven't found a good way yet. Adjacency effects are a good idea, I might play around with that some. :)
    I really like how the placeable places expand in your prototype.
     

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