Search Unity

  1. Unity 6 Preview is now available. To find out what's new, have a look at our Unity 6 Preview blog post.
    Dismiss Notice
  2. Unity is excited to announce that we will be collaborating with TheXPlace for a summer game jam from June 13 - June 19. Learn more.
    Dismiss Notice
  3. Dismiss Notice

Quick thought experiment - Improve Snakes and Ladders!

Discussion in 'Game Design' started by Arowx, Mar 13, 2015.

  1. Arowx

    Arowx

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2009
    Posts:
    8,194
    Test your game design skills.

    Take the board game Snakes and Ladders and make it more fun?

    You could just Juice it up with 3D, animation,shaders, sfx, and particle effects but would that make it more fun!

    Really now compare it to Chess or Go!?

    What would you do to make it more fun, would you allow the players to affect each other or the board?

    Or change the boards game mechanics?
     
    Gigiwoo likes this.
  2. GarBenjamin

    GarBenjamin

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2013
    Posts:
    7,441
    Quick answer considering this is not the kind of game I enioy and is completely based on luck of the dice roll...

    Game title screens comes up.
    Press Play Game.
    Screen turns black with a single horizontal line across the bottom.
    A huge rotating 6-sided die drops down into view and continues until it hits the line, bounces around a bit and comes to rest.

    If the die is an odd number the You Won screen appears.
    Otherwise the AI Won - You Lost screen appears.

    Benefits are it does not waste as much of my time and I get to see the result much faster in a way that is still pleasing. Since my winning and losing is completely based on the die roll little has changed except for the landing on the snake head.
     
    Tomnnn and Gigiwoo like this.
  3. JoeStrout

    JoeStrout

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2011
    Posts:
    9,859
    Adding whizzy effects won't make it more fun, after the first couple of minutes. As soon as the player realizes there are no decisions to be made, and the outcome is completely random, most people will lose interest.

    So you need to look at adding decisions. Most obvious: add branch points. Maybe you can choose to take the ladders or not. Why would you not? There'd have to be some sort of juicy rewards on the longer path, or hazards to avoid on the shorter ones.

    Next, maybe add collectables of some sort that can be used when you choose (more decisions!) to do things like avoid a chute, or escape some other random (maybe moving?) hazards on the board.

    So far, it's still a solitaire game (even if multiple players are playing solitaire at the same time in a race). So add some way to interfere with each other. Dropping obstacles would be a fun one, or even blocking a path completely... unless the other player has an item that breaks such a block, of course. Or you could have something more direct: you spend X collected coins to attack the player, defender spends Y coins to defend, and then you win with odds X/(X+Y) or some such. And if you win, you swap places with the player, or send them back to the start, or something like that.

    Now it's starting to sound like a board game instead of a bored game! :)
     
    Gigiwoo and GarBenjamin like this.
  4. GarBenjamin

    GarBenjamin

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2013
    Posts:
    7,441
    I thought about putting some more thought into it but took the quick way out. Glad to see you went down the detailed overhaul path. Lol! Basically to make it "better" requires massively changing it. Powerups, choices (you really have none in the original game except to play or not and how long to wait before rolling the die) and even combat. Lol! Great stuff!
     
  5. Gigiwoo

    Gigiwoo

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2011
    Posts:
    2,981
    Adding random card events (i.e. Candy Land) might add the illusion of interaction - a popular technique that works EXTREMELY well, in moderation. Chutes and Ladders is the type of game we use in our 'bad game design sessions', so to provide contrast to game design fundamentals like Flow, Simplicity, Motivation, and Story.

    'Decisions' can be subtle - ie the Incremental/Clicker genre.

    Gigi
     
  6. RockoDyne

    RockoDyne

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2014
    Posts:
    2,234
    Just add rocket launchers, because everything is better with rocket launchers.
     
  7. angrypenguin

    angrypenguin

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2011
    Posts:
    15,646
    For this reason I don't really consider it to even be a "game". If I wanted to make it more fun that's where I'd start. Give the players some way to actually exert control over outcomes.

    Trivial ways to do this would be letting players choose what direction to apply their moves in or giving them a way to move the snakes and/or ladders.
     
    Gigiwoo and zombiegorilla like this.
  8. zombiegorilla

    zombiegorilla

    Moderator

    Joined:
    May 8, 2012
    Posts:
    9,065
    Indeed.
    It could even be as simple as letting players roll two die and choose one.

    Or slightly more complex, introduce resource management. Give each player $200 monopoly money, and allow them to spend up $10 each players turn to modify the die roll (re: Illuminati)
     
    Gigiwoo likes this.
  9. shaderop

    shaderop

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2010
    Posts:
    942
    Rename it "Teleporters and Cobras."
     
    Tomnnn likes this.
  10. Kiwasi

    Kiwasi

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2013
    Posts:
    16,860
    New challenge, make it fun without breaking the fundamental mechanic of the game, that the outcome is totally determine by luck and there is no skill.

    I would argue as soon as you add decisions you are playing a different game.
     
  11. zombiegorilla

    zombiegorilla

    Moderator

    Joined:
    May 8, 2012
    Posts:
    9,065
    Easy.

    Keep the gameplay the same, but add a 6 hour recharge after the other player's move. If you don't want wait, you can spend $.99 to play instantly. Spending money gives perceived value, and makes it more fun! (Especially for the developer)
     
  12. Arowx

    Arowx

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2009
    Posts:
    8,194
    @BoredMormon Turn it into a drinking and/or stripping game or add truth/dare metagame, the game stays the same but the players can have more fun.
     
  13. angrypenguin

    angrypenguin

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2011
    Posts:
    15,646
    The outcome isn't totally determined by luck. At any stage anyone can get bored with such a waste of time and go play a game instead. ;)
     
    Gigiwoo and Kiwasi like this.
  14. angrypenguin

    angrypenguin

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2011
    Posts:
    15,646
    Fixed. ;)

    If the player isn't making any decisions then, from a mechanical point of view, does anything you do make any difference? No matter what you do the outcome is unchanged. You're just adding complication for complication's sake. The fact that adding fun has to come from outside - changing the context of the game so it's essentially a complicated luck mechanic for some other activity - shows how flawed it is.

    Having said that... the fun doesn't have to come from outside, does it..? Thinking of Cards Against Humanity here, you could for instance assign a category to each side of the dice and write a random word on each space on the board, and have players put them into a sentence each move. (Needs more thought, but you get where it's going.) Then the outcome of the board movements is still arbitrary, there's some other (also arbitrary) entertainment derived from it that can give character and direction to the interaction between the players.
     
    Tomnnn and Kiwasi like this.
  15. Schneider21

    Schneider21

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2014
    Posts:
    3,512
    Replace the die with a deck of Uno cards, but only using cards numbered 1 through 6. Shuffle and deal 3 cards to each player.

    At the start of your first turn, choose a card to play and move that many spaces.

    Climbing ladders is still mandatory, but in order to climb, you must discard an additional card of your choice from your hand. If you have no cards in hand when reaching the base of a ladder, you do not climb and instead stay at that space. The following turn, you proceed along the board as normal and do not access the ladder.

    Sliding down a snake/chute allows you to draw a card at the end of your turn. Additionally, you may discard your entire hand and draw new cards to replace them (plus the one you just drew in).

    On your next and subsequent turns, draw a card and continue as before.

    - - -

    The idea is that it's still random/luck. Pace should be similar to using a die. But you get a bit of strategy in how you move along the board. While ladders will move you ahead faster, they have a tradeoff by decreasing the number of options you have on future turns.

    This could also provide a balance for the unlucky losing player to catch up by having more card options.

    Obviously should be tested and tweaked for balance with number of cards you hold and such, but I think it's already a sightly more interesting take.
     
  16. Arowx

    Arowx

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2009
    Posts:
    8,194
    Or you could allow players to roll and choose to move an opponents piece backward that many squares instead of moving their own piece forward. But the opponent gets a defence roll and if they role higher than you they block your action.
     
  17. Arowx

    Arowx

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2009
    Posts:
    8,194
    What about crafting, players can move or use their role to craft something.

    Dart Gun roll to make 4+, stuns other player for 1 turn. Roll to stun, opponent rolls to defend. Snake Eyes stuns the user.

    Hammer roll to make 3+, stuns a snake, roll to stun the snake and snake rolls to defend. Ditto. Cannot use ladder.

    Grappling hook to make 5+, allows players to use ladders up to 1d6 squares away (diagonal counts as 2). Roll to use.
    Snakes within 6 squares of player can roll to snag player.

    Barrel roll to make 3+, rolls down knocking the first player it hits back 1d6, player rolls to avoid 3+.

    Step ladder roll 6, used to allow player to climb ladder above them or move up one level.
     
  18. Fera_KM

    Fera_KM

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2013
    Posts:
    307
    Maybe reversing the direction of the snakes?
    And also only play with one piece, so its a joint effort to reach the finish line.

    also.. tip from EA,
    make the first row a tutorial level, where the dice rolls are predetermined.
     
  19. hippocoder

    hippocoder

    Digital Ape

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2010
    Posts:
    29,723
    Snakes and ladders is the perfect game for a child and grandparent to play together. It doesn't need improving on or changing, to do so would ruin the design.

    If I had to try and make a snakes and ladders +

    Then I'd probably add a deck of simple cards you can use, such as re-roll and resist snake (but forfeit the next 3 turns) and so on.

    In this manner some judgement enters the fray and it's less blind luck.
     
  20. Tomnnn

    Tomnnn

    Joined:
    May 23, 2013
    Posts:
    4,148
    Could we change the discussion to a different board game? It seems there's some consensus that we should discuss a game where choice and skill have an impact on something other than your level of frustration.

    I suggest chess. 2 years ago for a game design class, I added action points to chess.

    -You get 6 AP per turn.
    -Moving a pawn costs 1 AP. Moving different pawns will cost 1AP. Moving the same pawn will cost 2AP the second move and 3AP the final move. 6 pawns can be moved in 1 turn or 1 pawn 3 times.
    -Bishops, knights and rooks cost 2AP to move once and 4 AP to move the same piece twice. A combination of 3 can be moved once or 1 can be moved twice.
    -A queen costs 6AP to move once.
    -The king costs 1AP to move once and the cost does not increase per move.
    -There is no checkmate, you must kill the opponents king.

    Twas fun. Quickly discovered that a king could make it across the size of a normal chess board in 1 turn lol, but then it could just be killed by the other king so this didn't break the game. Eventually made a massive digital board to play on.
     
  21. angrypenguin

    angrypenguin

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2011
    Posts:
    15,646
    Ok... in what way? I'm obviously biased against it and don't even consider it a "game", I'm just interested in what other people see as its redeeming features. Is it because there is no player control and everything is pure luck? A side effect of this is that a first timer is as likely to win as a seasoned veteran, so kids playing with their grandparents can still win.

    Even as a kid I groaned at the idea of playing Snakes and Ladders.
     
  22. zombiegorilla

    zombiegorilla

    Moderator

    Joined:
    May 8, 2012
    Posts:
    9,065
    Yea, maybe an "activity" instead of game? I too have a hard time thinking of it as a game. Candyland was the same. My sister and I played them a bit, but they were quickly replaced by checkers and cards. (we were pretty competitive)
     
    angrypenguin likes this.
  23. Tomnnn

    Tomnnn

    Joined:
    May 23, 2013
    Posts:
    4,148
    Exactly! It's a game you can play with your dead relatives and not yet existent great grand children as long as you're willing to roll the dice for them :D

    Is there a sweet spot between chess/checkers and D&D? I'd like a game with more choices than chess but maybe less time investment than D&D.
     
  24. Kiwasi

    Kiwasi

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2013
    Posts:
    16,860
    Since Catan in 1995 there has been an explosion in the number of board game choices available. You can pretty much find something to suit any taste these days. What type of game are you after, I play more board games then video games, so I may be able to point you in the right direction.

    Actually speaking of other board games, "Left, Centre, Right" did snakes and ladders better. The rules are simple, every player starts off with three tokens. They roll a die for each token. Based on the die result the token is either kept, or passed to the left, right or centre. Tokens in the centre are dead and out of the game. The last player to still have tokens is the winner. The game is still totally deterministic, but it has a few key advantages over snakes and ladders.
    • The game is quick. A full game takes five minutes. The centre mechanic means the game will come to an end quickly.
    • The game is luck based down to the last turn. Its not possible to get a commanding lead by landing on that one ladder that takes you from 2 to 89.
    • You get to roll three dice. Three dice is better then one. The dice also do not have numbers on them. Custom dice are cooler.
    • The game scales well, and plays better with six or seven people then two. The social interaction adds to the fun.
    Despite its total luck based nature, this game hits the table a lot. People request to play this. Most of the time its a filler between two heavier thinking games. It lets us clear the mind of all the extraneous logic of the pervious game before starting the next game. Its also great at the end of a session. Not quite enough time or energy left to start a new game. But too much to go straight to bed.
     
    angrypenguin and Tomnnn like this.
  25. Tomnnn

    Tomnnn

    Joined:
    May 23, 2013
    Posts:
    4,148
    That's interesting. Warm up and cool down games are an interesting thought.

    Hmm... that new game hand of fate has a nice idea. I like gear in the form of cards, a few stats, dice rolls to determine certain events. A game that is both single and multiplayer. The quests are built from a series of drawn cards.

    Hard to say for sure. I like those elements though. The game loop could be as simple as...

    start:
    -speak to npc about monsters causing trouble
    -hunt said monsters causing trouble
    -get rewarded by the town & the worth of the slain monster's materials
    -goto start

    :D Monster hunter comes to mind with that description lol. Anything mechanically similar? Maybe not in making weapons, but the cycle of hunting monsters that are annoying your town?
     
  26. Kiwasi

    Kiwasi

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2013
    Posts:
    16,860
    Munchkin? Its a favourite of my wife. Game loop basically goes
    • Kick in dungeon door
    • Fight monster
    • Get loot
    • Repeat
    The game is more of a parody of a dungeon crawl rather then a true RPG. Its made more fun by the fact that its semi cooperative. You can bribe and coerce your friends into helping you. Anybody you don't sufficiently bribe will stab you in the back.

    Some other games to consider that have the RPG elements. (Not one's I've played, but high up on the geek)
    • Mice and Mystics
    • Sentinels of the multiverse
    • Descent
    • Defenders of the realm
     
    Tomnnn likes this.
  27. zombiegorilla

    zombiegorilla

    Moderator

    Joined:
    May 8, 2012
    Posts:
    9,065
    Yes... yes there it is. It is called Talisman. It quite possibly the best game ever!!! ;)
     
    Tomnnn and Kiwasi like this.
  28. Tomnnn

    Tomnnn

    Joined:
    May 23, 2013
    Posts:
    4,148
    I've seen munchkin on late night :D Cry and Russ (and friends) were playing it on tabletop simulator. I was thinking of it, but I can never remember the name. It's definitely close to what I'm thinking of haha. I'll start there and see similar / recommendations.

    Looks like that also exists on tabletop simulator. Good thing I made all of my friends buy it when it came out lol. We'll probably play a few games of each and see which fits best for group and solo.
     
  29. ostrich160

    ostrich160

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2012
    Posts:
    679
    Theres quite a bit you could do with this.
    First, you know whats all the rage these days, those silly 'goat sim' style physics games. So it'd be first person, multiplayer, with a kind of surgeon sim twist. So you hold L and move the mouse to control the left hand, R and the mouse to control the right. Every turn you have to knock a giant dice of a pedestal or something, and it determines how many squares you can move, at which after a wall appears in front of you and behind you, or rather a force field, meaning you cant move from that square. If you've landed on a ladder square, a ladder drops and you need to use the hand movement mechanic to pull yourself up, as your hand sticks to the ladder until you pull it away. For snakes, its just a trapdoor type thing.
     
    GarBenjamin likes this.
  30. Arowx

    Arowx

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2009
    Posts:
    8,194
    Sounds like you're on your way to making a VR version of Snakes and Ladders, something the new HTC Vive would be ideal for!
     
  31. ostrich160

    ostrich160

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2012
    Posts:
    679
    It would be, but I'll leave that for someone else to make a killing off, my backlog of projects is far too high

    EDIT: Also, getting ride of dice, instead each round you have a spinning wheel with 6 numbered segments, and you need to throw a dart at it, using the hand mechanics I mentioned earlier. Makes it less about luck than a dice.
     
  32. GarBenjamin

    GarBenjamin

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2013
    Posts:
    7,441
    This is a very cool solution. You could incorporate mini games too. Roll die determines how far the player must journey from current point a to target point b. Could be a direct control action game like 2d platformer. Infinite runner. 3d fps even. Lol