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Secret programmed actions?

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25 Jan 2022 12:40 #330110 by hotseatgames
I'm kicking around a new game design, and am thinking about the concept of secret programmed actions. For example:

Let's say there is one robot, and all of us are vying for control of that robot. We all program an action, and then they all happen in a certain order. That seems simple enough. But what if I didn't want you to know which action was MINE? I'm curious if anyone knows of a game that has done this because I want to see how they did it. I have some ideas but so far none of them are perfect.

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25 Jan 2022 12:48 #330112 by Jexik
Replied by Jexik on topic Secret programmed actions?
Bomb Squad did something like this, although it was a coop.
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25 Jan 2022 13:00 #330114 by Nodens
Replied by Nodens on topic Secret programmed actions?
From the top of my head, most action preprogramming is in games like RoboRally, Hoity Toity or Android: Infiltration where it's always your own pawn or your own action.
There was a game in the 80s called "Maloney's inheritance" where all players traveled the board in one car and had to bid for control every turn. That might be worth looking into.
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25 Jan 2022 13:03 - 25 Jan 2022 13:04 #330115 by Shellhead
Battlestar Galactica sort of did this with the skill checks. For your specific example, it could work like a cross between BSG and Robo Rally. Each player throws in a programmed move card. Each card has a initiative value (I think Bootleggers had something like this) that determines the order that the cards take effect. Then somebody picks up the face down programmed moves and shuffles them a bit to obscure who played what. Then flip all the cards over and resolve them in initiative order.
Last edit: 25 Jan 2022 13:04 by Shellhead.
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25 Jan 2022 13:37 - 25 Jan 2022 13:40 #330120 by jeb
Replied by jeb on topic Secret programmed actions?
You could use Ranks to determine the order (i.e., Rank 1s all go before Rank 2s, break ties by type, but this is pretty boring).

Maybe something like use shapes to determine how things have to go? Starters, then Linkers, and an Ender. Maybe the game provides Starters/Enders and players have to provide the Linkers, and they can only go in certain orders to be complete?

...I can't upload pictures, maybe I can link to one?

Last edit: 25 Jan 2022 13:40 by jeb.
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26 Jan 2022 09:26 #330130 by jason10mm
This is a tricky concept to translate into game play. Are the moves hidden because there is a traitor? If so, just how complex are the moves and how specific is the traitor trying to be? If the traitor has to pick a card to make a VERY SPECIFIC thing happen (like the robot ejects the pilot after it moves but before it fires, for example) then it is gonna be hard to enable that player to both target the action in a specific sequence AND remain secret. This means you will have to design a very elaborate action sequence selection process to both allow the traitor to have a reasonable chance at sabotage and keep their identity hidden, the resulting mechanical weight has to be offset by a pretty significant gameplay reward for the traitor as well as the other players.

For example, you could have 3 robot phases, then each player can add cards to each phase (move, shoot, jump, etc) and the majority card in the phase determines the action. So a player could add 3 "fire" cards to phase 1 and be likely to influence it. Some random cards thrown in can obscure who put what in as well (like BSG). Some cards can even have special actions like "move this card to the next phase when revealed" so a traitor can influence one phase with cards added to other phases to further hide what they are doing. Obviously this is a complex process, so it had better be worth it.

If it is just to disrupt the robot in a non-specific way (awwww, he turned left instead of right, now we gotta try again) then the process can be pretty light and quick, like cards thrown into a pile with an initiative order on each one, the traitor just hangs on to that "robot ejects pilot, initiative 1" card till they really need it.

For a party game where the stakes are low, the gameplay quick, and the end goal is just to see what kind of group communication f'up can happen, then it probably doesn't matter, maybe each player has a secret goal (make the robot jump twice in a round, spin in a circle, etc) so they are incentivized to try to alter a pre-determined group task (make the robot go in a circle) and then exploit it to make a specific OTHER thing happen instead to get a game point. Whether it happens by accident or on purpose doesn't matter, so the secrecy part is so folks can never be sure what types of sabotage the others are trying to create.

hmmm, now you have me thinking hard about this....
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26 Jan 2022 11:06 - 26 Jan 2022 11:06 #330139 by hotseatgames
I'm still thinking about it. Here is what my idea is, and maybe the idea itself is trash, as most of my ideas are. Imagine a Camp Grizzly situation, but you aren't controlling a particular character. Instead, each player has a secret goal of who they want to survive and who they want to die. There would be 4 campers and 1 killer.

Players then get to program movements for the characters (and the killer), trying to get them to interact with each other in meaningful ways, like "oh, how unfortunate that the killer wound up in the same space as Cindy!"

In order to facilitate this, my current thinking is that each player has a hand of cards, one of which would say MOVE and the others would be blank. Each turn, all players would add a card to one of the characters (again, killer included) "stacks". No one would know who put a real command on a character vs. a blank. Once all cards are placed, the decks are shuffled and executed in order (the character order would shuffle each round so that order of execution changes each round as well). Unless more than one player wanted to make a character do something each turn, YOUR command would go off as planned. But it may end up that a character moves two, or even more times in a round.

I think the only way this could work and not be a total clusterfuck is if MOVE is all you can tell someone to do. So anything that happens when 2+ characters wind up at the same place would be automated. I'm still working this out.

But what I essentially am trying to create is that each player is trying in essence to direct a fragment of a horror film, but the participants are not necessarily being cooperative. This would hopefully lead to several "Don't go in there!" moments. I think the "secret" part is necessary because if I know you are trying to kill character X and I want character X to survive, we will just spend the whole game cock-blocking each other and that doesn't sound fun.
Last edit: 26 Jan 2022 11:06 by hotseatgames.

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26 Jan 2022 11:10 - 26 Jan 2022 11:18 #330140 by sornars
Replied by sornars on topic Secret programmed actions?
You may want to check out Stationfall. It sounds very similar to your description about everyone controlling every player.

Players are dealt characters. Those characters have goals in terms of how they win which are often in opposition to one another but can align (e.g. the mechanic wants to make it out alive and the robot to stay alive but needs the nurse to die, the murderer wants everyone organic to die, etc.) but everyone can control every character on their turn. At some point in the game you can reveal which blocks other people from controlling your character but puts a target on your back.

You won't get any inspiration about programming actions but it does provide an alternate framework for a similar concept.
Last edit: 26 Jan 2022 11:18 by sornars.
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26 Jan 2022 11:29 #330141 by Shellhead
Sounds like Slasher: the Final Cut. There is a simple map representing a small house with a living room, bedroom, kitchen, bathroom, and basement. Each player controls a character, but other players can potentially move their character. There is a slasher, and every player can play cards to cause the slasher to move or attack, until a player receives enough clue tokens to become revealed as the slasher. After that point, only that player can directly control the slasher, though it is possible for more clue tokens to change which player controls the slasher or make him uncontrolled again. Each turn, the acting player plays a scene card. Going around the table, each of the other players may play a plot twist that alters the scene, then the acting player gets to play the final plot twist. Plot twists tend to redirect damage or clues or select additional targets for damage or clues, or else negate other plot twists or even the scene card.
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26 Jan 2022 11:31 #330142 by hotseatgames
Interesting. I've never heard of that game, and it sounds similar enough to my idea that perhaps I should just say to hell with it. I'll take a look.

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26 Jan 2022 12:54 #330147 by Shellhead
Slasher: the Final Cut isn't highly rated at BGG, but players tend to find it really fun. The rules seem counter-intuitive, so some players struggle at first, but eventually everybody gets it. The game tends to run long, so I recommend that every character starts with one wound, especially if playing with more than 4 players. It doesn't use secret programmed actions, but can lead to some surprising outcomes anyway.

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27 Jan 2022 14:08 #330182 by jason10mm
Hotseat, for your idea I"m not sure it really matters if folks know who put a card in a stack or not. If you have 5 blank cards and 2 "move" cards, the base mechanic is really action rationing rather than secret movement. Everyone knows everyone else has a similar goal, just the specific targets are different, so it shouldn't rat anyone out that they might move a character or the killer because in the grand scheme of things a single player has relatively little input into all of the actions, especially if every player MUST play all of their move cards each turn.

So if you had an attack or defend card, then you might need to obfuscate who played it as that would show which player wants a character killed or saved.

Some of this reminds me of the game Pirates Cove. Players secretly pick which spot to go but if they pick a spot with another player or worse, the clockwise moving AI pirate ship, then combat ensures and you can suffer a moderate, but not necessarily game ending, setback. If players could periodically influence moving the killer to specific places (i.e. where you DON'T want to be) using this card mechanic instead of it being predictable, that might add to the "horror" factor.
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