Our first assignment for our Big Games class was to develop the game mechanism for a game that involves a large number of people. We are going to test out our initial concept ideas in class later today (Friday, Feb 4). The game concepts needs to be playable by all students in class, 20 in total. Below is a description of the game we developed along with a brief overview of the development process.
GAME: The Algorithm
Game Resources: The game is played with a deck of cards, pen and paper, and features a game master (aka Gordie). Additional resources such as chips or other counting devices may be added to support future enhancements.
Current – For the test run we will use a standard deck of cards. Each suit of cards is equivalent to a different category of courses (required, atoms, pixels, and networks). The points value of each card will be equivalent to the card value, except for spades. The value of a spade card is always equivalent to 5 points for reasons outlined in the game mechanics section below.
- Hearts – Atoms classes
- Clubs – Pixels classes
- Diamonds – Networks classes
- Spades – Required courses
Notes on using standard card decks: 2 decks are needed for 10 people to play, 3 decks for up to 20 people. If using a standard deck no jokers should be included.
Future Enhancement – we will eventually create our own deck of cards that will feature the four categories listed above. Using these cards will enable us to dynamically allocate point values to each class card at the beginning of each game. In order to achieve this we will use the process described in Phase I, below.
Game Mechanism – Phase I, Set-up and Class Selection
The game starts when the game master assigns players to one of two teams: 1st and 2nd years. Players sit around a table with 1st year players sitting next two 2nd year players. Next the game master shares a list of 12 courses with the players (assuming 20 players) by writing the list on a white board or large piece of paper. These courses are divided into the following categories: atoms, pixels, and networks.
Each player then selects three courses, one from each category. They share their selection with the game master, while also writing down their selection. The game master tallies the number of players that have selected each course. This information is used to determine the points value of each game card.
This game has both individual and team competition dynamics. The game ends after 7 people have been able to “register”, which means put down their cards (assuming 20 people). In order to “register” a player has to have one course from each category in his his/her hand, including the proper required course (thesis for 2nd year team players, and intro physical computing for 1st year team players).
The score for each team is determined by adding only the hands of that team’s players who have “registered”. More details regarding how the score is counted is featured below.
Game Mechanism – Phase II, Competing for Classes
The game master distributes 5 cards to each player, and then creates two stacks on the table (one face-down, the other face-up). The game starts with the person to the left of the game master. In each round a player takes the top card from one of the two stacks in the center (or one of his/her team mates “shared” cards), and discards a card to the face-up stack in the center.
Instead of dropping a card in the center a player can also choose to “share” a card with their team by placing the card in front of them face-up (or holding it open in their hand). If no one from the team picks up the card then when it is that same player’s turn again, he/she is forced to put the “pass” card in the middle stack and does NOT get a new card – the player essentially loses his/her turn.
The game master is responsible for managing the two stacks. S/he will pass the cards that are taken from or added to the two main stacks.
Points for each team are calculated by adding up the value of the course cards from the first seven players who are able to “register”. Then 10 bonus points are given to players for each class card that was on their original course selection list. Up to 30 bonus points can be gained if a player is able to collect all of his/her selected courses.
Players can bluff, and call a bluff during the game. Bluffs can only be called for one round of play after a player puts his/her cards down. Whichever player wins the bluff-call gets to meld the best cards from the other player’s hand into his/her cards.
Feedback from class
When we played our game in class with 10 people we noticed some important issues and received useful feedback. Over the next week we will be working to address all of these realizations and comments.
- Consider whether bluffing is necessary
- Determine whether the team component is needed
- Investigate ideas to expedite the speed of play