30 May 2012

GameTalk - Solo Gaming

What are the key design elements that need togo into a solo game? What's the best way to control the "AI" in a solo boardgame? How do you realistically portray the actions of your opponent when no true opponent exists?

By: Brant

1 comment:

Jack Nastyface said...

I've always loved solitaire games, not just because I have no friends, but because I like seeing how game mechanics can be used to create a challenging, enjoying and hopefully variable playing experience.

I suppose I look upon solitaire games as needing to provide ONE of two different experiences: lots of choices, or depth of experience.

Choice-based solitaire games are ones where you have the opportunity to make any number of different tactical or strategic decisions, and the game system will response with some kind of "balance" of play. There should be a different experience in taking your infantry platoon through a village than through a deep forest...and each should have it's advanatages / disadvantages in gameplay. I like Patton's Best and Carrier for this reason...but on the other hand, I though Mosby's Raiders was too easily "defeated" once you learned how the game worked.

Depth of experience games usually provide less choice but more detail. B-17 is the obvious example...there was not much decision making in that game (what guns can fire at planes...should I abort or continue the mission), but naming the flight crew, tracking damage, etc, was what created the experience. Raid on St. Nazaire would also fall into that same category. You couldn't really change the mission objective, but it was always exciting to see if you could blast the pump house.

Having said all that, there is no replacement for good graphics - if I am going to be only looking at a board and counters during a gaming session, I want them to have some visual appeal. The maps and counters from Raid on St. Nazaire and Patton's Best immediately come to mind.

One more thing that I like about solo games is that they allow you to test our risky or challenging battle tactics against an otherwise "predictable" opponent. I would be less willing to see what if I don't load up on HARMS or Mavericks in a man-to-man game (because I want to win, or I don't want to waste my opponents time) but I'd happily try it in a game of Hornet Leader.

Finally...although I still enjoy face-to-face games, almost any game I play HAS to support some kind of solitaire or at least solo play element.

Yours in gaming,

Jack Nastyface