Monday, May 02, 2016

I May Have Something Here

I'm not even sure why this happened, but I had an idea last week and I've been working on it.

Instead of not discussing the ideas I have and then awkwardly announcing a game five years later, when I do another game (maybe this), it's going to be much more collaborative.

Gridiron Solitaire takes 15 minutes to play one game during the season. Roughly 4-5 hours to play one full season.

This is fast, by any sports game standard. Fifteen minutes for one game is very fast.

Times have changed, though, and so have attention spans.

The mechanics of college football have always fascinated me. More than a hundred teams, recruiting, polls, etc. It's crazy.

So crazy that I couldn't make a game about it.

At the per play level, college football couldn't be simulated in a solitaire format. Wait--that's not right. I couldn't simulate the AI at a per play level. The NFL has all kinds of data, and the upper and lower boundaries of behavior were narrowly separated to the degree that I could create a realistic AI.

College, though, is a gigantic goat rodeo.


What if, instead of trying to create a realistic simulation at the per-play level, I did it at the quarter level instead? What if, instead of a single game taking 15 minutes, it took 1 minute instead?

What if one full season took 15 minutes instead of one single game?

I like that. 3-4 minutes for recruiting, then 10-11 minutes for the season.

Totally customizable, so if you want real team names and real bowl games, it would be easy to do.

Why does this (for now) appeal to me more than The Humble Armory?
--it's much less complex. I understand how to code this kind of "thing", generally.
--it's more familiar territory. It maps to a real-world environment that I am very, very familiar with.
--I could prototype something in months, not years.

The basics go something like this. The user recruits players (in a 3-4 minutes mini-game) to replace his outgoing seniors and players declaring early for the pro draft. These players are cards, and there are thousands of of them.

Each of these cards have characteristics. Some are offensive, some are defensive. The more powerful cards have both primary and secondary actions.

At the simplest level, each has a point value. Better teams have better cards.

The user has 11 cards (the number of players on either offense or defense in real football) to use in each game, and the card play needs to use a quarter format.

Here's where I want your suggestions on any kind of existing card game that could be adapted to fit this format, or an entirely original idea.

What I'm working with right now is a modified version of Pai Gow. The user plays either two or three cards per quarter, and there's a "high" hand and a "low" hand (the high hand must have a higher point value than the low hand). The AI does the same, and then the cards are compared.

The highest value wins in both the high hand and the low hand.

If someone wins both hands in a quarter, they get all the points on the cards they played. If the hands are split, each get the point value on winning hand.

If there's a tie on a hand, it goes to the home team (so you can visibly see the home field advantage).

This would play out very quickly, I could add a ton of sound effects and nice framing, and it would be exciting. What I don't know--obviously--is whether this would be balanced, or if it would be a gigantic cluster of randomness. The eleventh card adds some strategy (when do I play that third card in a quarter?) but that may not be enough.

Adding more cards would make the strategy more complex, but it would also make each game take significantly longer. So whatever card mechanic I use, it's going to be extremely simple at first, to keep in that 60-90 second window.

Those are the basics.

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