a variety of games & interactions...

I’m looking to create a “house of games” type of environment. The goal is to make something that’s richly interactive.

Now ordinarily, in a house of games, the games would (in our terms) be toys, because they wouldn’t affect the story much. I’ll solve that down the line, by varying the NPC’s stakes.

I’m looking for games and game-like interactions that the PC might play with NPCs, or that NPCs might play with each other. Especially, I’m looking for such interactions that might be rigged by one of the competitors, or by a person who’s not directly in the competition.


The first thing that immediatly sprang to mind, after reading your description, was the game “Beta-Test”. Is that the sort of thing you’re after - but with much better implementation and diversity? Just curious.

Nim comes to mind, a game played in Last Year in Marienbad. The perfect opponent could definitely be implemented in interactive fiction, and it can be rigged in that the perfect opponent if playing second always wins. The rules:

You have four lines of matchsticks, arranged like so:


Each player takes it in turns taking as many sticks as they like from any one horizontal line. The person who picks up the last stick loses.

Do you mean “Beta-Tester”? Comp game a few years back?

–No, I’m thinking more of something that models cooperative - competitive behavior. I was thinking of poker, which is interesting for the money decisions (and I’ve often wanted to write a game that included playing poker) or perhaps a game like setback, where the possibility of partnering appears.

The trick is that these are very complicated games. The ‘matches’ game is about the right level of complexity (=simplicity).

I suppose one-turn, or one-move games are easier to start with, but I doubt there are any that really have much in the way of cooperation-competition.


What about Mafia/Werewolf/etc.?

Matt, that is brilliant! Probably far too complicated in its pure form, but I may be able to simplify it to a little model game.

I’m not sure how, but I’ll work on it – thanks!


Werewolves is the best! Though probably the highlight is lying to your friends when you’re a killer or experiencing the terrifying wrongdoings that arise from collective paranoia.

Rock-paper-scissors is easy to do, and you can add in some prison dilemma elements, like ‘Laser’ beats everything, unless you both pick laser and then you both lose, ‘mirror’ always ends in a draw, unless you both choose mirror, if so you both win. etc. etc.

Another thought might be Diplomacy. Obviously you can’t model actual Diplomacy – that would be insanely complex, and probably illegal – but you could do a little schematic of interactions. Something like this:

Germany, Austria, England, France, and Italy each start with 3 territories. There are 6 unclaimed territories at the beginning.

Every turn, one player can ATTACK another, SUPPORT another, or EXPLORE.

Resolution of attacks: if the combined strength of the ATTACKing player and everyone SUPPORTing them exceeds the combined strength of the player who has been attacked and everyone SUPPORTing them, the attacked player loses one territory and the attacker gains one. If not, no change.

If you EXPLORE and no one ATTACKs you, you get one unclaimed territory, as long as there is one left and enough to go around. If there are more EXPLORing players who are not ATTACKed than there are unclaimed territories, no one gets an unclaimed territory.

Example: England and France decide to go after Austria. Austria and Germany make an agreement to go after France, but Germany decides to betray Austria instead. Italy explores.

Turn 1: France attacks Austria. England supports France. Austria attacks France. Germany explores. Italy explores.
Resolution: France’s attack on Austria is 6 (England + France) to 3 (Austria). Austria’s attack on France is 3 to 6. France gains 1 territory from Austria. Germany and Italy get one unclaimed territory each.
Now: France has 4, England has 3, Austria has 2, Germany has 4, Italy has 4, there are 4 unclaimed.

Austria decides to get Italy to help take its revenge against Germany. Germany attacks Austria. France and England continue to go after Austria; now it’s England’s turn to try to get a territory.
Turn 2: England attacks Austria. France supports England. Germany attacks Austria. Austria supports Italy. Italy attacks Germany.
Resolution: England’s attack on Austria has a strength of 7 (3 for England + 4 for France) against 2. Italy’s attack on Germany has a strength of 6 (4 + 2 from Austria) against 4. Germany’s attack on Austria has a strength of 4 against 2. All attacks succeed. Austria loses 2, Germany stays the same (gaining 1 from Austria, losing 1 to Italy), England gains 1, Italy gains 1.
Now: England has 4, France has 4, Italy has 5, Germany has 4, Austria has 0 and is eliminated! There are still 4 unclaimed.
I suppose that if there were more successful attacks against a side than the side had territories, there’d have to be some rule about who wins first – probably the strongest attack. (If three sides had attacked Austria, they could only lose two territories.)

Anyway, maybe this won’t do at all, but it seems to me as though it could give you a lot of scope for bringing various kind of motivations in play. One player will mercilessly strive for revenge against anyone who betrays her, one player will ally with you in exchange for some out-of-game fetch item, one player will always strive to take down the person in the lead, that sort of thing.

I’m looking for games relevant to personal characters, rather than nation-state characters. But yes, that is the general idea. More the diplomacy around water coolers than colonies.

…maybe I should read some Jr. High drama.

Well, I meant the Avalon Hill boardgame Diplomacy, in which individual players take the roles of the European powers in 1900. So England, France, Italy and all that would be played by people, and they could do their betraying etc. on the gameboard, and make their alliances and negotiations in the living room. But it might be too complicated to implement this and the relations that would be involved.

In my schematic “Explore” should probably be “Colonize,” by the way.

Oh, I understand now.

Yeah, I’m looking to build a kind of infrastructure for character interaction that I can leave scattered around an environment, or build into the texture of a game, so that characters (PCs and NPCs) have diverse, richer ways of interacting with each other than moving items around the simulator. That’s the broad goal.


Yeah, I was mega unclear in my initial post, especially because I just saw that I wrote “you can’t model actual diplomacy” when I meant “you can’t model actual Diplomacy,” that is, you can’t program the game itself into your game.

It might just be better to think of it as Risk with fewer dice. I think S. John is probably going to kill me for that comment, unless he approves of it.

He’s a pretty scary character, that S. John.

–Characters who are diplomats (or generals) might be an interesting development. But right now, I’m working more on the, “Hey Jimmy, that thar stranger is awful friendly with yor girl” -type stuff. Small-scale interactions, and currently pretty physical ones.


I’ve been playing Kerkerkruip, and I think Victor’s basic “concentrate/attack” mechanic would work well for two players - also a slight variation of rock/paper/scissors or Prisoner’s Dilemma.

I’m not in the market for playing Kerkerkruip right now. (All respect to Victor – just not in a playing kind of mood right now.) Could you lay out the logic that maps players’ moves to outcomes?



During combat, certain commands are available. “Concentrate” will increase your level of concentration, up to a maximum of 3. With each higher level, your chance of hitting your opponent will be better, and the amount of damage you do will be greater. “Attack” is pretty much what it sounds like. You have a random chance of hitting your opponent and a random amount of damage, but both “dice rolls” have modifiers based on concentration, character stats and abilities, weapons, and “tension.” Tension is a number that goes up every turn that nobody hits anyone, giving an additional advantage to anyone who attacks after waiting.

The key factor is that if someone hits you and does damage, you lose all your concentration and the tension resets to 0. So there’s a waiting game similar to Prisoner’s Dilemma.

There are also special abilities (some activated by commands) that affect chances of hitting, damage, and pretty much anything else you can imagine happening.

There’s also a special “react” turn given to anyone who is being attacked. They have a choice to either dodge, parry, or do another non-attack action, including some provided by special abilities. The relative success of dodging and parrying usually depends on the weapons of both the attacker and the defender.

So… it can be quite complex (and I didn’t even get to the way initiative grants extra turns to some characters), but the basic mechanic could be used for all sorts of situations.

That sounds pretty cool. Thanks for describing it… I’ll probably have to play the game and look for pirateable ideas!


Reminds me of “The Magic Toyshop”.

If you want to get into coding ascii grids and different AI tendencies for different characters, simple board games like checkers might work.

I wanted to propose HAGL and just provide a link, but I find lots of HAGL, even HAGL games, but not the game I mean.

“My” HAGL starts with everybody receiving an envelope with some tokens (pieces of coloured paper will do nicely) and two game rules. There are as many rules as there are players (the game being constructed by a games master who doesn’t play), and every rule comes in two copies. All the rules together describe how to valuate a collection of tokens. A rule set for a small (4 player) game might be:
[] Blue tokens are worth 1 point each.
] Yellow tokens are worth twice as much as blue ones.
[] Three yellow tokens cancel each other, and are worth nothing.
] The goal is to come as close as possible to 5 points.
The players are free to exchange tokens, rules and true or false information as they see fit. One can give a rule away, or just allow one to read it, or just recite its contents (maybe untruthfully). No one has an information monopoly, because every rule comes in two copies given to separate players, nor has anyone complete information.
The game normally plays on the side during another informal meeting.
At the end of the meeting, everybody shows what they have (it is illegal to destroy tokens, by the way), the games master reads off the complete rule set, the values of the various token collections are computed, and the winner(s) declared.

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