Diplomacy Quest
07-25-2016, 05:28 PM
Post: #1
Diplomacy Quest
Fairly inactive lover of game design, here. I am working on an idea, and could use a little brainstorming to generate new avenues of thought; I've gotten kind of stuck.

Full disclosure; while I'm asking for help designing a game, it's actually going to be an interactive comic of sorts, with the game mechanics being a crucial part of the story. Since it's still a game, just with a different level of participation, I figure it still belongs here!

Premise
The premise is a sort-of parody, sort-of twist on old RPGs; mostly the Final Fantasy games 3 through 6. Instead of actual combat, however, the character talks their way through every encounter, with their quest to become popular and make friends and other wholesome junk.

The plot itself will probably be more interesting than that, but essentially I want to make an interesting, intricate game system that captures the premise of social interaction and is consistently fun, challenging, and interesting to involve yourself in.

For the record, the comic itself will be dialogue and character-heavy; the game is there to add some fun strategy to the interactions and create interesting and funny scenarios as the readers advise the character on what to say and do.

The System
As of right now, my system involves cards; you draw a certain amount every day, and use a card to augment an action (drawing a card from your deck whenever you play a card, keeping hand size stable). Cards would be indicators of intent and method; the three more basic ones being Sentiment (general emotion, warmth, and cheerfulness), Logic (rather self-explanatory as being less emotional and more intellectual), and Humor (which is not only to crack a joke or be funny, but also to be generally witty and charming, or at least try to be). Actions would be context dependent; if someone demands an apology of you, your action choices might be to Apologize, or to Refute, for example.

For example, you may be speaking to a close friend, who hesitantly informs you that they screwed you over accidentally earlier, and offers an apology. Your action choices might be to Accept the apology, Accuse them of being a bad friend, or maybe Ask them why they did it. Whichever one you choose will be attached with a card; you could Accept their apology honestly with Sentiment, or play it off like it's no big deal with Humor (Logic may be a bad choice; you might seem cold or miffed, but it's still totally an option). Of course, depending on the cards in your hand, you may have no choice but to react to a situation a certain way. You CAN edit your deck, though.

The Problem
This seems pretty solid to me, at least to start out with, but when I try to make the game more complex and interesting than choosing three different cards, I lose my way. Combining the basic cards into more complex ones (for instance, Humor and Logic into Sarcasm) seems effective, but at some point it gets pretty pointlessly specialized. Throwing Actions in as cards to increase the amount of combinations has a similar issue, especially with the card-based format; you don't want to draw a crapton of Insult cards when talking to your mom, for example.


I've done a lot of brainstorming, with the system itself going through several iterations as I discard and combine ideas. I feel like throwing the idea to a fresh audience could do it some good, so what do you guys think?

More specialized information below:
The interactive comic itself is a common one in forums, you probably know what I'm talking about; a sort of choose-your-own-adventure style story, where the readers input commands for the protagonist. A lot of the time, this would involve playing the game to have the character communicate with the various characters of the comic. The setting is the worst place I could think of, that being high school, and would eventually include supernatural elements and deeper plot beyond 'make friends in high school'.

As it stands now, in the beginning you'd start with a basic deck of 10 of each basic card, and would loot more cards from conversations, using them to craft more powerful cards. I was also planning on steadily including more mechanics; first would be Emotion cards, negative cards that you get from people insulting you, that cause you to react with Anger or Embarrassment (or, perhaps, romantic Attraction). Since you can't discard the cards, and can only get more cards from playing them, you either have to keep the emotion cards and live with the lower hand count until the day is over, or use them and hope it doesn't go too badly.

Other mechanics to include would be a Mood bar and a Charm bar (HP and MP respectively), and then have the better combinations of cards manipulate these to some degree. But it's all up and the air, really. :P
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07-25-2016, 10:43 PM
Post: #2
RE: Diplomacy Quest
Hey there!

This seems like a pretty solid idea for a forum adventure, and I think what you describe would work fairly well on its own. I dont necessarily think you'd need more than two or three option or so each update, especially when combined with being able to mix and match those cards with each option - in fact, keeping it simpler will probably go a long way to making it both more fun for the readers, and easier for you to keep a handle on. Focusing on a few options and making those interesting or funny is better than having a giant array of generic options that each lead to exactly what one might expect. Also, just to clarify, do you expect this to be more goofy, funny and lighthearted, or will it take more of serious tone playing up the importance of the reader's decisions, or what did you have in mind, exactly?

Your description kind of reminds me of Undertale, in fact. If you havnt played that, I think that might be a very good game to get ideas for character interactions and the like.
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07-26-2016, 04:52 AM (This post was last modified: 07-26-2016 04:55 AM by Heroguy.)
Post: #3
RE: Diplomacy Quest
(07-25-2016 10:43 PM)chimericWilder Wrote:  Hey there!

This seems like a pretty solid idea for a forum adventure, and I think what you describe would work fairly well on its own. I dont necessarily think you'd need more than two or three option or so each update, especially when combined with being able to mix and match those cards with each option - in fact, keeping it simpler will probably go a long way to making it both more fun for the readers, and easier for you to keep a handle on. Focusing on a few options and making those interesting or funny is better than having a giant array of generic options that each lead to exactly what one might expect. Also, just to clarify, do you expect this to be more goofy, funny and lighthearted, or will it take more of serious tone playing up the importance of the reader's decisions, or what did you have in mind, exactly?

Your description kind of reminds me of Undertale, in fact. If you havnt played that, I think that might be a very good game to get ideas for character interactions and the like.

Yeah, making the game too complex might be a bad idea, but at the same time, I want to give them a lot of toys to play with, so to speak. Most interactive comics allow you to say or do basically anything if the author chooses your command, though to be fair the author usually chooses something reasonable. :P

The 'giant array of generic options that lead to exactly what you might expect' is absolutely something to avoid, otherwise it'd be a lot more boring. I suppose the current problem with the system is that those three 'basic cards' don't seem terribly distinctive or fun to play, but more complicated cards are hard to find the right situation for.

An idea might be to give them an infinite or large amount of Humor/Sentiment/Logic that they can play anytime to generically add to the conversation, but have more interesting and complex cards that they can play at what they feel is just the right time. That'd ruin the current Emotion system, but it can be modified. Just one spitball of many.

Alternatively, have a whole bunch of different sort-of weird cards (my list including Sarcasm, Politeness, and Grace), which are general enough to be used in most situations, but unique enough that it's a genuine (and probably hilarious) choice.

Anyway, to answer your question, I'm definitely aiming for more lightheartedness and funny stuff, though, the setting being high school, some things will be very SERIOUS BUSINESS. Hopefully the player character can keep out of weird drama.

Undertale is an inspiration for the general idea (the whole 'old RPGs with the combat instead being making friends'), though I'm actually cribbing far more off another old fan adventure that predates the game.
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07-26-2016, 06:49 AM
Post: #4
RE: Diplomacy Quest
Quote:Alternatively, have a whole bunch of different sort-of weird cards (my list including Sarcasm, Politeness, and Grace), which are general enough to be used in most situations, but unique enough that it's a genuine (and probably hilarious) choice.

This is essentially what I was thinking would be good for your game idea: Having a lot of distinctive options like that that the readers can choose to apply to practically any situation, rather than having, say, five of the same type of card and maybe one or two of another type. For instance, choosing a card like Reverence or something in reply to another character making a joke would be kind of hilarious.

That being said, you might want to make sure that the readers have more ways to suggest a certain course of action than just through the cards. What happens when the character has to make a decision without anyone else being present, and something that has very little emotional meaning? Just regular old 'submit your command'?
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07-26-2016, 07:17 AM (This post was last modified: 07-26-2016 07:19 AM by Heroguy.)
Post: #5
RE: Diplomacy Quest
(07-26-2016 06:49 AM)chimericWilder Wrote:  
Quote:snip

This is essentially what I was thinking would be good for your game idea: Having a lot of distinctive options like that that the readers can choose to apply to practically any situation, rather than having, say, five of the same type of card and maybe one or two of another type. For instance, choosing a card like Reverence or something in reply to another character making a joke would be kind of hilarious.

That being said, you might want to make sure that the readers have more ways to suggest a certain course of action than just through the cards. What happens when the character has to make a decision without anyone else being present, and something that has very little emotional meaning? Just regular old 'submit your command'?

Probably the best way to go about it, yeah. I'm not sure how many interesting and unique cards I could come up with, mostly because, with the crafting and deckbuilding things thrown in, they have to be of roughly equal value; otherwise, why include them?

One idea might be that crafting takes place right inside of battle; you could, perhaps, combine Logic and Humor and make Sarcasm for one of your actions. I could then make a couple more basic cards, and have your deck made ONLY of basic cards. That way, while the cards you have matter and restrict your options (encouraging unorthodox and fresh choices), each card should be valuable as, at least, part of crafting something applicable to the situation. That'd give a lot of mystery for people to poke around in, without complicating the system overmuch, and allow for a lot of crazy, weird, niche card combinations that you might be able to pull off in the exact right situation.

The game only occurs when a 'battle' (conversation) does; that's the only time the cards come into play, though that's still a very large chunk of the game. The rest of the time, readers will control the character through regular command submissions.
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07-26-2016, 07:33 AM
Post: #6
RE: Diplomacy Quest
I like the added complexity of that crafting idea, and i think that would add a bunch to it yeah, since readers would have to choose between which cards they would rather use and which they would rather keep for crafting into something particular. If you do that, however, be very careful that you clearly show which cards can be crafted from which other cards, in the "user interface" you'll use to display the cards or whatever. So for instance having two adjacent cards linking together via lines, indicating a third card beneath the other two that they can be combined to form. That would very clearly show which combinations are possible and so, and would go a long way towards making the system easily understandable and relatable. Might even want to very specifically build the system so that only adjacent cards can be combined - maybe have a 'reshuffle' option available to the readers, to create new combinations.
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07-26-2016, 07:55 AM
Post: #7
RE: Diplomacy Quest
It would be very important that all your options are clearly and concisely laid out for you, yeah. I think that's probably the best way to go; I'll need to generate a lot of interesting cards, though. :P

I like the idea of only being able to combine cards near each other; it allows for larger hands but fewer option, though I don't know how to include the reshuffling option yet. Moreover, maybe larger combinations (like 3 or more) could be possible if just the right cards are all put together (like maybe three of a kind?). Also, Emotion cards would be more of a hassle, as they would block off potentially good combinations until played.

Regarding hand size, it should probably be equal to the amount of basic cards I end up having (so 4-5), with the possibility of expanding it later. You'd draw until your hand is full at the beginning of your turn, no matter how many cards you play.

Any suggestions, by the way, for a Basic card setup? The current configuration I'm tinkering with is:
Sentiment (Colored red; warmth, honesty, more emotion. If used incorrectly, can make you seem irrational, dim, or dorky)
Intellect (Colored blue; logic, knowledge, less emotion. If used incorrectly, can make you seem boring, cruel, or condescending)
Charm (Colored green; compliments, flattery, and the like. If used incorrectly, can make you seem like a kissass, fake, or shallow)
Humor (Colored yellow; jokes, fun, banter. If used incorrectly, can make you seem insensitive, clownish, or just unfunny)

Charm seems to stick out a bit; charming people is your goal, so it seems a bit too direct. There's more than one way to skin a cat, of course, and not every situation will be easy to flatter your way through, but still. Any other ideas?
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07-26-2016, 08:28 AM
Post: #8
RE: Diplomacy Quest
Well, not every person reacts favorably to flattery and the like. Some may think you're a creep, or some just plain dont care. That being said, I guess thats a good combination of themes? I assume youd be crafting everything else of out of each of these four, so for instance a clever joke might be humor+intellect, and a sincere apology might be charm + sentiment (in a situation where the character is apologizing, anyway - lots of different stuff this kind of thing can apply to). As long as you are happy with the combinations this allows you, it is probably fine. Might want to consider what sort of combination makes anger and aggression and such. Double sentiment? Seems a bit off, I think.

By the way, maybe if something happens that causes the player character to become emotionally unstable, that might be what triggers a reshuffle. Minor things might swap two cards around, but other events could lead to the entire hand being reshuffled.
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07-26-2016, 08:37 AM
Post: #9
RE: Diplomacy Quest
(07-26-2016 08:28 AM)chimericWilder Wrote:  Well, not every person reacts favorably to flattery and the like. Some may think you're a creep, or some just plain dont care. That being said, I guess thats a good combination of themes? I assume youd be crafting everything else of out of each of these four, so for instance a clever joke might be humor+intellect, and a sincere apology might be charm + sentiment (in a situation where the character is apologizing, anyway - lots of different stuff this kind of thing can apply to). As long as you are happy with the combinations this allows you, it is probably fine. Might want to consider what sort of combination makes anger and aggression and such. Double sentiment? Seems a bit off, I think.

By the way, maybe if something happens that causes the player character to become emotionally unstable, that might be what triggers a reshuffle. Minor things might swap two cards around, but other events could lead to the entire hand being reshuffled.

Yeah, I think Charm works. I kind of want to add one more card, but I can't think of anything, so I'll leave it at that for now.
Each combination would create a new 'card' (like Intellect + Humor is Sarcasm (or maybe Metaphor), Sentiment and Charm may be Warmth, Intellect + Sentiment may be... uh... Balanced), and then the card can be combined with an action (Sarcastic apologies, anyone? >:3) from the list given at the time. As for emotions that change your behavior (Anger, Embarrassment, that kind of thing), you draw those cards if the person you are talking to causes you to feel them. So, an insult may give you Anger when you draw a card at the beginning of your turn. Since you can't get rid of cards except by playing them, eventually you'll have to use them; either immediately, or bottle them up for awhile and take the hit to hand size.

I like the idea of a hand shuffle occurring because of emotional instability, but since that kind of plays into the Emotion thing already, I might just have them shuffle their hand every time they draw a card, so every turn has a different set of options.
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07-26-2016, 09:11 AM
Post: #10
RE: Diplomacy Quest
Fair enough, you've obviously spent a lot more time thinking about this than I have.

I think dont do the shuffle every turn, though - that'll only do away with any planning the readers might put into it out of the system, which is bad. Maybe the readers want to keep a specific combination of cards for a planned action you might lead them to believe they'll be performing later, like a dance with someone at a prom or something. Dont take the reader's ability to plan and react away.

That being said, to make things interesting you could have a mechanic that throws a wrench into things, such as disabling certain cardtypes or reshuffling them or whatever. Something that keeps things /mostly/ predictable, but with an element of 'what if?', if that makes any sense. Maybe if you have, say, an Anger card, you cant use humor cards or something like that. Really though, I think you've got a pretty solid system for this idea already
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07-26-2016, 09:31 AM
Post: #11
RE: Diplomacy Quest
(07-26-2016 09:11 AM)chimericWilder Wrote:  Fair enough, you've obviously spent a lot more time thinking about this than I have.

I think dont do the shuffle every turn, though - that'll only do away with any planning the readers might put into it out of the system, which is bad. Maybe the readers want to keep a specific combination of cards for a planned action you might lead them to believe they'll be performing later, like a dance with someone at a prom or something. Dont take the reader's ability to plan and react away.

That being said, to make things interesting you could have a mechanic that throws a wrench into things, such as disabling certain cardtypes or reshuffling them or whatever. Something that keeps things /mostly/ predictable, but with an element of 'what if?', if that makes any sense. Maybe if you have, say, an Anger card, you cant use humor cards or something like that. Really though, I think you've got a pretty solid system for this idea already

You're right on the shuffling thing; playing cards at all would change the hand enough as is. Better to not shift too much too fast, and give them the option to keep things in reserve.

That's part of the reason why I really like the system; I can absolutely start throwing wrenches. Putting weird cards in their hands, shuffling their hands, lowering or raising the hand size, and so on and so on. There's a lot of potential for both good and bad augmentation, such as perks that give the character an advantage or clever or funny situations that turn the mechanics on its head.

Those ideas I can capitalize on and plan out later; probably the only thing I need to do now regarding the game system is to make all the card combinations.
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07-27-2016, 09:43 AM
Post: #12
RE: Diplomacy Quest
One option I could think of - as far as hand reshuffling might go - is making the "deck" small and easily mutable - you can get new cards fairly frequently (with a set number of the base interactions replenishing when the deck runs dry or something) but every time you use a card it's gone forever. So people will always know what might come up, and can plan to react, but are unable to completely predict what they'll have to work with interaction to interaction (forcing them to think of their feet a little more).

As far as charm being too on the nose, I feel like if you just want to be popular you don't have to play nice with everyone along the way.
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07-27-2016, 05:48 PM (This post was last modified: 07-27-2016 05:48 PM by Heroguy.)
Post: #13
RE: Diplomacy Quest
(07-27-2016 09:43 AM)Palamedes Wrote:  One option I could think of - as far as hand reshuffling might go - is making the "deck" small and easily mutable - you can get new cards fairly frequently (with a set number of the base interactions replenishing when the deck runs dry or something) but every time you use a card it's gone forever. So people will always know what might come up, and can plan to react, but are unable to completely predict what they'll have to work with interaction to interaction (forcing them to think of their feet a little more).

As far as charm being too on the nose, I feel like if you just want to be popular you don't have to play nice with everyone along the way.

Interesting idea, though at this point the 'deck' doesn't really exist anymore; it's just a 25% chance to draw any of the four basic cards. And your draws can change depending on the situation, too; you can draw an Anger card when insulted, for example, instead of the normal card you wanted. I like the idea of a kinda-finite resource, since that means people have to be a bit judicious with their card plays (and not do a whole lot of combining) if they want to go the whole day without using up everything, but then again, what happens when they DO use up everything? If only base cards can be played, it's not like they have to save a high value card, unless they've been finding a ton of use out of one over any particular other.

I'm pretty much sold on Charm, I think; simply put, I just have to make sure that not every situation can be solved with liberal application of flattery. Easily done.
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07-28-2016, 02:43 AM
Post: #14
RE: Diplomacy Quest
Well I'd assumed you'd rely more heavily on getting new emotions based on what people said to you - so you'd basically be getting at least one single-use card from each situation. I mean, I think this whole concept is super interesting as is but I thought the whole point of 'you can't completely control your emotions' making constant hand shuffling necessary could be interesting. Same goes for the note on 'having to play that anger card eventually' - just bottling up negative (and/or counterproductive) emotions until you basically explode.
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07-28-2016, 04:08 AM
Post: #15
RE: Diplomacy Quest
Well, if emotion cards are a thing you get almost all the time then that would work better as a seperate mechanic overlaid on top of the existing card system in some way, so that, say, you had to choose both emotion and a card, as opposed to only getting emotion cards rarily and at the cost of a card slot. That being said, i think that emotion cards being rarer would probably work better since choosing an emotion or however that would work along with each of the sentiment/charm/intellect/humor cards would actually serve to make the player characters' reaction a lot less funny in a lot of situations - for instance, responding to an insult with a wildly inappropriate joke would be a lot less funny if the readers had to also determine the characters' emotional state
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07-28-2016, 10:09 AM
Post: #16
RE: Diplomacy Quest
Emotions only show up when directly invoked; generally when someone acts like a jerk to you, either by insulting you or talking down to you. Or, really, anything that can make you angry/upset/embarrassed/ect, but that won't show up quite as much as you might think; moreover, it won't ALWAYS show up, it's just a high chance.

I like the idea of it being cards, especially since it can be combined and played with actions, just like normal cards, potentially putting them to use. But I'm open to other ideas.
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08-05-2016, 06:28 AM
Post: #17
RE: Diplomacy Quest
I think if you're going to force emotions as a natural thing you're going to have to act on (by giving them cards for it) the best way to handle things is to force them to stay in your hand until they're played - so that you can't just bottle up your feelings forever even if you'd rather not angrily confront someone. On the other hand, I think that there should be positive emotions as well that you can either use or save up for when you really need them, though I'm not sure how smoothly they'd work mechanically.
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