Design Diary Monday: Brainstorming Solutions

Alright, so starting from this week there’s no more scripts for me to follow. I’ve arrived back at the point where I need to make changes to the game, and I’ll be spending the time on these posts actually working out problems instead of reporting results from the past.

The first order of business is to try and see if the pirates card game, in any form, is salvageable. I had a chance to watch some of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies over the past few weeks, and I was reminded of the things I wanted to portray:

  • Hunting for legendary treasure (Aztec gold, the compass, the heart, what have you)
  • Deals and betrayals
  • Satisfying broadsides making ships explode
I didn’t think I was successful in getting any of those points across. I’ve never come up with a convincing way to make players go after specific pieces or types of treasure; none of the versions ever got to a stage where temporary alliances made sense. The closest I’ve gotten were the ship battles, back when there were dice rolling… getting a good cannon roll and making ships explode on the spot felt good, but that was all the way back to the first version of the game and I don’t want the rules to ever get that complicated again.
Honestly, let’s just pretend I have the Pirates of the Caribbean license for a moment and think about how I can get the back and forth wheelin’ and dealin’ between all the characters work as game mechanics. In Dead Man’s Chest,
  • Jack needed the Dead Man’s Chest to avoid his fate of servitude
  • Will needed the Compass from Jack to secure Elizabeth’s Release
  • Elizabeth acquired the Letter of Marques but needed the Compass in return
  • Jack agreed to trade the compass for the chest…
Actually, this is clearly not as complicated as I remembered, is it? An easier way to describe the formula is,
  • Player 1 is after item A
  • Player 1 has B but for some reason cannot directly reach A
  • Player 2 is after item C, and he can trade B for C
  • Player 2 now has the option to get A so he can trade with Player 1 for B, or steal B from player 1, or negotiate with a player 3 directly for C instead…
Okay, the trading is getting Catan-ish. I can work with that. Ultimately, I think I’ll need to introduce secret objectives to the game: for simplicity’s sake, let’s say each player needs to acquire some unique item that won’t come up as a found treasure.
Secondly, there would be time limited opportunities that allows items to convert from one type to another. probably a set of cards that shows the item obtained with the item requirement in small print.
Thirdly, items randomly appear and the players have low influence on the items they can get their hands on. It sets up scenarios where two player can trade items that’d benefit each other. There needs to be justifiable reason for trade to make more sense instead of just killing or blowing up each other, which should be an option…
I guess this is how the game would proceed. Next week I can continue this work or try and fix the rock-paper-scissors combat!

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