Last post, i’d talked about making a game quickly out of an interesting idea from whatever source it may come from, so for this post i’ve quickly stuck a sort of board game together: Subversion! (If poorly made MSPaint example diagrams offend you, you may not want to read this D:)
Subversion is mostly complete but largely untested, the latter being because i’ve just started at university and oh god work, and it’s based vaguely on hacking minigames.
The game is based on two types of hexagonal tiles: Node tiles, which are the hubs and objectives of the game, and connections, which, intuitively, connect nodes.
Nodes contain points, which are some sort of abstract representations of… something. I’ve generally been referring to them as “programs”, which i’m completely aware is Not How Computers Work. Nodes also generate new programs at a slow but steady rate, but i’ve not established a placeholder value for ‘how quickly’, so i’m not going to include this mechanic in any of my examples. Next, nodes have a ‘power level’ (which will, sadly, never be anywhere near nine thousand), which controls how quickly they can deplete an enemy node when on the offence. And lastly, each node has a maximum number of outgoing connections, which i have a vague idea of attaching to power level. Let’s [Placeholder] that at 1 connection per 3 levels.
Connectors just connect things. That’s their purpose.
Here we have a red node on the left, with 20 programs, and a blue node with 30, and luckily for this example being something that i can keep working with, the grey connector tiles actually link the two of them. Every connector tile is two Abstract Length Units long, which is a detail that won’t actually serve a purpose until i put in the next picture.
There we go. Now, in order to interact with each other, nodes first have to establish a connection. The Blue player has started to establish a connection, by removing points from it’s home node and placing those points on the relevant connection lines.
Connections are under certain restrictions - for one, although you can start one without declaring the destination node, the connection MUST keep moving forward at its maximum speed until either it connects to a node (that isn’t the node it started from), or cannot continue for whatever reason. For example: because it’s home node ran out of points, or it’s blocked; at which point it becomes subject to the disconnection rules, which will be detailed later. Also, i’ve decided to put a placeholder of [two points per turn] as the connection speed.
So, Blue has just spent one turn connecting. He doesn’t have to say where he’s going, but i thiiiink we can guess.
Now, blue has established a connection to red, a process which would take 5 turns. For simplicity’s sake i’ve left out a number of things, such as program generation rate, the fact that blue could have taken an extra turn and connected via the longer route above his current connection, and red actually reacting in any way to events. Maybe Red Team is out at lunch.
Once a connection has been established to a hostile node, you have two offensive options. The first requires that the connection not be opposed, which is a detail that we’ll get to in a minute. For now, let’s spin off an alternate timeline where blue decides to engage in this option.
Incidentally, this brings me to the disconnection option.
Once you’ve established a connection, you can then disconnect it. If the connection is between either two friendly nodes, or one of your nodes and an enemy node that isn’t opposing the connection, you can disconnect at any place along the connection, and the points will move into the node they’re still attached to. Disconnected programs move at [placeholder value: 6/turn]. So in the above picture, blue disconnects 1 point away from his node, and so 1 program has returned to his home node, and 6 have smashed into the Red node, depleting 6 programs. Next turn, the other 3 would finish smashing in, but instead we’re going to go back to the primary timeline
Having returned to the Prime Reality, the blue player has decided instead to use the slower-but-surer method of attack, which can be used regardless of whether the connection is opposed. In this method, the attacker rolls a six-sided die for each POWER LEVEL of the attacking node, and depletes that many programs from the defending node. I realize now that i forgot to define power levels earlier, so my current [placeholder] is that for every 10 programs in a node, it’s level goes up by one. 1-10 progs = level 1, 11-20 = level 2, and so on.
Now, Red Team finally comes back from lunch and decides that they’d rather not go down without a fight; they’re going to Oppose this connection!
To oppose a connection, the defender places dots on points at the standard connection speed, and the attacker takes back his points, until the connection line is evenly split. For one, blue can no longer dump programs into the red node to deplete it, and additionally, no attacks are made while the counter-connection is being run out. This means that opposing a connection is a good way to stall for time, but to counteract that, disconnecting an opposed connection acts under special rules: namely that the disconnecting party loses the use of that connection for several turns [Placeholder: 2, starting after the points are all withdrawn], and the other connection replaces the retreating points as fast as they’re withdrawn.
Once an opposing connection is established, both sides deplete each other!
As demonstrated here. The danger, however, to establishing an opposing connection, is that the programs tied up on in the connection aren’t available back in the node to be used as some sort of vague hit-point analog.
Here, although the red node still has it’s counter-connection established, blue finally managed a decent roll and depleted all of the red node’s remaining programs in one go, which means that they’ve captured it!
This means that the red points are all immediately removed from the board (as represented by my hideous little ‘poof’ marks), and the attacker’s connection proceeds ahead to link the two now-allied nodes
Program generation: i haven’t had time to math out what various rates would do to gameplay, so i’ll completely arbitrarily put a placeholder at [1 program, per two power levels, every other turn, per node]. SIMPLE AS CAKE.
Friendly node connection: It’d add a tactical element for linked friendly nodes to synergistically increase program generation, but again, no work on this yet. Let’s say that when two allied nodes are linked, the smaller one gets it’s allotment of points every turn instead of every other turn
Neutral Nodes: Not claimed by either side yet, neutral nodes would act slightly differently: instead of being depleted to zero when attacked, the attacker places points on them, and when the number of points reaches the threshold posted on the node, then they take control of it. If two (or more!) players connect to the same neutral node, then they’d deplete from the points on it.
Board Randomization: i’d like for boards to be made up of tiles which can then be tessellated into the playing board, because procedural generation = lasting gameplay appeal.
Player map modification: It’d be cool if players had a hand of single hexes that they could spend programs/points to play and/or obtain, in order to strategically restructure the map.
As a last note, the original design intent of this game was to create a hacking game that could, if desired, also be applied as an additional module to proper RPGs with hacking like Shadowrun, Eclipse Phase, or D20 Modern (Trollolol), if the existing hacking mechanic isn’t particularly to the taste of the players. (EP, in particular, has the hacker roll once and then just sit there for a while while his task-action finishes its timeframe. zzzz.)
But considering it, the game is basically just about the interaction of central hubs of influence. You could strip out all of the half-baked technobabble and use the underlying structure to represent, say, the spread of influence at a fancy party! The nodes become important political and aristocratic figures, the connections their staff, and the points can be catty rumors and whatnot. While the other player characters are standing guard, planting bugs, or lifting wallets, the party diplomancer could be spreading rumors with Subversion!
Or it could represent mind control, or an abstraction of national-scale combat. The sky’s the limit!
I’m tired and i still have math to do, so i’m going to stop writing now.