Monday, April 16, 2012

Gridiron Solitaire: Gameplay (Defense)

This week, let's talk about defense.

I wanted defense to use a different gameplay mechanic that offense, both for variety and to force the user to develop different strategies. Playing the same way all game long seems like it would be boring, and I don't want to bore people with this game.

I can do that here.

First, let's take a look at a screenshot:

That's what you'll see when the CPU offense starts a drive. Instead of each play being separate, like it is on offense, on defense you are trying to reach a combined card total over a number of plays.

In this example, because the CPU started on its own 30, you have four plays to reach the card total (longer drive, more plays), and every time you make a match, the Stop The Drive meter increments. The exact number of cards you need to play isn't shown, but get a good idea of the general total by how much the drive meter increments. So you get information, but it's not exact.

By the way, there is one way in which defense and offense are very similar. When the CPU offense calls a play, if you match their play call ("defend run" when they've chosen "run", for example), you get that seventh card slot. If they outsmart you, you lose it and only have six.

Let's take a look at a screenshot further along in the drive:

See the Big Play button? It's also changed from how it works on offense. On defense, you're allowed a certain number of big-play presses per half. You're much more likely to get a card (instead of an event), but you have a limited number of uses, and when you're out, you're out for the half.

This forces you to ration those big-play presses, and the number you have depends not only on a base number, but also on a rankings comparison with the CPU team as well as home field advantage.

Again, this helps every game feel different. Your best strategy in a home game with a ratings advantage is very different than when you're on the road and you're the weaker team.

If you fill up the meter, you've stopped the drive. If you run out of plays, the CPU scores. They also gain yardage on every play, depending on how many cards you played.

The CPU gets two kicks per half, just like you do, and if you're close to stopping the drive, they might preemptively punt or kick a field goal, depending on the game situation.

How does the CPU call plays? Like a football team. If the average yards per play is lower, they're more likely to run. If they're ahead late in the game, they're also more likely to run, because runs take more time off the clock. They're more likely to pass when they need lots of yards, when they're behind, and during the 2-minute drill.

Like football.

There are also a few other things you expect from a football game. Onside kickoffs. Hail Marys. Big plays for touchdowns (an unlikely but possible outcome of triggering an event). It has the variety of a real football game, which is why I hope people will play it for multiple seasons.

Speaking of multiple seasons, next week we are going to look at the offseason and the mini-game you play that will hopefully result in improving your team. I say "hopefully" because just like the draft and free agency in the real world, nothing is guaranteed.

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