High interactivity and unpredictability

When I designed Tonkin I primarily wanted to have these two effects. I solved it by limiting each player to only be able to do 1-3 actions before the opponent did his actions. An action can be to move a stack or to remove a disorganized marker or a few other things. You never know beforehand if you will be able to do 1, 2 or 3 actions. Therefore it is difficult to plan which introduces an unpredictability.

Which aspect have you searched for when designing?

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The following was posted on CONSIM-L by Mircea Pauca. I'm reposting it here because it deserves a wider audience:

I thought... most game rules are like imperative programming
languages: do this and that, loops, IF/THEN, GO TO and player decisions at specified places. It's reasonably easy to track, even if some purist programmers said "GOTO considered harmful".
To get a distribution of results, one way is Monte Carlo simulation, effectively playing (with automated decisions or rules) many times.

But - I found trying to deduce a theoretical distribution of results even for the simplest games, like Axis&Allies or Knizia's Decathlon is more like the mythical COME FROM instruction, devilishly difficult to conceive and debug. For each game state one must try to consider ALL situations and decisions that can lead to it.

This links again with my old thread on "simulating backwards in time".
Deterministic differential equations or even some simple random noise are easily reversible in time, but add *decisions* and it becomes hairy...

... From the ruins of Hiroshima a wondrous un-bang reconstitutes centuries of layered architecture, then a parachute flies up with atomic bomb into the belly of a B-29 flying back from base...
but how to know what was before if one doesn't even know the ruins, as they are 'nothing' in game terms ? There are many kinds of nothing...

Thank you for thinking about this,
Mircea Pauca, Bucuresti, Romania
I have no idea what that means, but it sounds impressive.
It depends on the game.

Much comes down to theme, scope, and scale. Scope and scale are probably familiar enough.

There are really two kinds of theme.

The first defines the range of *Strategic Options* on each side. The game may be purely military, or include a wider range of political and/or economic features; the same logic applies to non-war consims. In most games the strategic options are operational or strategic choices. In something like *Nicaragua,* they includes choosing your entire political platform.

The big questions here are how closely you want to model the choices which constraints you show directly, which constraints you abstract out, and, in general, how much time you want to spend on extra rules, extra counters, extra procedures, etc. in modeling these options. I'm inclined to avoid too many extra rules, etc.

The second includes *Doctrinal Options* or *Tactical Detail* on each side. These may put the player in a different role than the *Strategic Options.* Really, it's up to the designer to decide which options to show in here ("design for cause") and which ones to abstract out ("design for effect"). Most operational games have abstracted supply into simple trace mechanics, but others show supply in more detail. Neither approach is more correct than the other - each approach offers its own perspective.

There are also the *Miscellaneous Details* on each side. These can be chrome; these can be meaningful options.

Then you have to find systems which model these things. My personal design philosophy is to look at many different approaches, brainstorm more, see how they would work, and pick the ones which fit the situation as cleanly as possible. Of course, the combat model should reflect actual combat results; the movement system should reflect actual movement rates; the supply system should reflect the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of cut-off forces, etc. Nonetheless, I'm prone to hit upon one solution and try to use it in every project...


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