Browsing articles in "Game Design"
Oct 24, 2016

Deep Beneath Mount Scarrr

Wizard’s Lair is a fictional level design done for a fictional game “Generic RPG Quest” for a Coursera assignment. Enjoyed it thoroughly although I may have overshot what needed to be done. As a fan of maps, I’ve never really had the chance to sit down and craft one based on a proper design of an evil wizard’s headquarters under a mountain.

Wizard’s Lair was made with a few important features;-

  • A Kill Hall where minions can pepper the attacking forces of goodness with arrows before they lay siege to the main entrance.
  • Grag Pens near the entrance for Mounted Grag warriors to surge out to pillage the country-side
  • A Fungus Farm for where else would an army source for a constant replenishable source of sustenance?
  • Foundry should be close to the Armory and Barracks for easy access in the event of an attack.
  • A Latrine, which is usually missing from dungeons for where do the forces of darkness do their business?
  • A Blood Garden which contains carnivorous plants fed by the blood of victims which are torn apart by the exotic beasts kept by the Wizard.
  • A Cellar with a trick barrel which leads to a secret entrance and a running underground stream.
  • A really hidden treasure chamber to hide magical weapons while leaving adventurers satisfied with the more mundane treasures as decoy.
  • Living Chambers, study area and laboratory all conveniently located in the same area so the Wizard can focus on what’s important, namely inflicting pain and cooking up dark magicks.
  • A torture chamber that is close to the laboratory for easy access to the occasional guinea pig.

Some interesting reference websites and links to read when working on maps.

Oct 8, 2016

Dice Souls

Limitations can be seen to confine ones creativity but after years of work, I feel that it is actually the opposite. Limitations confine one which forces them to innovate even harder and focus more on their objectives. While limitless resources can be empowering, I’ve seen it create confusion or a sense of needing to do too much hence missing the primary objective altogether.

In a recent exercise on Coursera to create a single-player game on a single sheet of A4 with two dice, this was the outcome of such limited space. The emphasis was to make a game that could be played by a single person, provide incremental challenges using only two dice. Then the next step came refining the rules in order to be easily understood by people unfamiliar with the game. Then the exercise threw us a whopper by adding an additional player to the mix and then adding narrative to the game, all still within the limited space of an A4 piece of paper.

Here is my version of DICE SOULS, (as tough as Dark Souls but with Dice!). Feel free to print out and play with two dice.

Apr 11, 2014

On Dice-Rolls and Results

Dungeon Fodder had a loot table which operated on a dice-roll. One issue was that the odds for “Leveling Up!” were too ridiculously difficult so I had to think about why. A player only levels up on a roll of 3 or 18 but what were the odds? I had a look around and this site explained it pretty thoroughly to me;

3 dice or 3d6 equates to 6 to the power of 3 which comes up to 216 possibilities. Typically a 3d6 would yield you only 16 possibilities (3 to 18) so from there one can calculate the odds of getting a specific number. While not something astronomically new, it does highlight the fact that game designers must have a strong understanding of mathematics to handle data, probability and statistics. Therefore the odds for 3 dice would be as follows;

Probability of a sum of 3: 1/216 = 0.5%
Probability of a sum of 4: 3/216 = 1.4%
Probability of a sum of 5: 6/216 = 2.8%
Probability of a sum of 6: 10/216 = 4.6%
Probability of a sum of 7: 15/216 = 7.0%
Probability of a sum of 8: 21/216 = 9.7%
Probability of a sum of 9: 25/216 = 11.6%
Probability of a sum of 10: 27/216 = 12.5%
Probability of a sum of 11: 27/216 = 12.5%
Probability of a sum of 12: 25/216 = 11.6%
Probability of a sum of 13: 21/216 = 9.7%
Probability of a sum of 14: 15/216 = 7.0%
Probability of a sum of 15: 10/216 = 4.6%
Probability of a sum of 16: 6/216 = 2.8%
Probability of a sum of 17: 3/216 = 1.4%
Probability of a sum of 18: 1/216 = 0.5%

Also on an unrelated note, the designs for an Orientation type activity is underway and there are thoughts of using comparison tables such as the one below. It has been a long time since I’ve seen one used but it is a fun and visual way to figure out the results of a dice roll. I might also try to integrate this into Dungeon Fodder if the need arises and it helps by visually explaining concepts on the game.

Mar 13, 2014

Gameplay Test #1

I conducted the first gameplay test after a long time at the nearby Hainan Kopitiam at SS2 Mall with some play-testers Nicholas Tan, Ken Chan, Lum Hong Leong, Eric Khoo and Aliff Marzuki.This is the first of two planned Gameplay Tests do strengthen the mechanics of the game. Participants to the playtest were taught how to play and then allowed to play the game with minimal supervision. The 2nd Playtest session was meant to utilize the feedback from the first into a more refined version and test to see if the changes improved the game.

Two games were played at an average of an hour per game. The 2nd time around was much quicker once players were familiar with the mechanics of the game. The first game was between a mix of heroes with each player picking a hero of their liking. The 2nd game was between 6-players (myself included) and was a match between Rogues and Wizards.

Here is a list of things that were commented upon or suggestions given to develop the game further.

Players that die should probably be ressurrected as an Undead Zombie instead of just moving the Monster

This is to ensure that players have something to do AFTER they die. Perhaps players that died still earn 2 Gold for every kill they make while in undead form regardless of their team alignment.

Passing of players and Monster on the board

Players should not be able to bypass other players and the Monster on the board to ensure that the Monster functions as a block-in mechanic. Another possibility would be to give the Rogue the option to ‘Tumble’ to roll away from Monsters and other players.

Ranged Abilities for all players

Rogues should be given minor range abilities of perhaps 1 or 2 tiles to throw daggers instead of having to go melee with Warriors.

Leap / Charge

In addition to Ranged attacks, Warriors should be given the ability to Leap forward one or two squares but risk being stunned on a failed leap. Rolling beneath your Skill would mean a failure and the Warrior is moved forward but is stunned (unable to take an Action). A success would allow the warrior to move forward and make an attack.

Debuff Warrior Defence.

In game, Removed +1 to Warrior Defence and Removed Warrior’s ability to brew potions. Might reconsider returning one ability as Potions now have a risk factor In brewing and might result in being poisoned. (1 – Poisoned, 2-3 Nothing, 4-6 Succeed)

Monster Movement needs tweaking

1 – Fail, 2-5 Move 1 tile, 6-Move 2 tiles

Wizard blinks through walls.

If Wizards were limited in their teleportation abilities, it could be balanced by allowing them to blink through walls.

Wizard’s Fireball 10 spaces only

Currently the Wizards have a strong advantage over Rogues because of the long-range capabilities. Limiting their fireballs may help balance out the odds but it might also cripple the wizards.

Other Considerations

Regeneration, Moving through walls, Rogues can Evade (reroll Defence), Double Edge abilities that damage both attacker and victim.

 Next Step

The next step would be to decide if these changes are worthwhile committing to and what chain-reactions would these implementation cost the gameplay. I have found that minor changes could have drastic effects to how a game works and this is referred to as the fine art of ‘Balancing’.