Simultaneous Fun - Lightmare Design Blog Entry#6
This week I’ll will be talking about one of the core aspects of the Infinity Wars franchise, simultaneous turns. What makes this type of gameplay satisfying? And how can Infinity Heroes best take advantage of it?
All together now
To start with let's define what simultaneous turns mean. Simultaneous turns are a style of simultaneous decision making, where each player take actions at the same time.
One of the simplest examples of this is actually hundreds of years old: Rock Paper, Scissors. This ancient hand game actually does a great job of showcasing just how interesting simultaneous turns can make even really simple rules sets if used carefully.
However try playing Rock, Paper, Scissors without the subtle body language we display when face to face and suddenly it starts to feel arbitrary and far less satisfying. Why is this?
Well, a core strength of a simultaneous decision game is you have to make a series of decisions often known as a “blind decision” where the outcome is very uncertain due to your opponent’s decision having as much of an impact as your own.
Readers who are familiar with the fighting game genre may of heard of “Yomi”, which is a japanese term meaning “Knowing the mind of the enemy.” This term has been increasingly popularised by the game designer David Sirlin. This concept is important for simultaneous decisions as it can create a great mind game where you know what decision is most attractive to your opponent, but they know that you know, and you know that they know that you know, etc etc. The classic battle of wits.
So suddenly what might initially seem like a clear decision isn’t anymore, making for some great skills testing gameplay.
However, because every option of Rock, Paper, Scissors is perfectly balance, being unable to analyze your opponent and get into their head is why the game falls apart when not played face to face, an important lesson when working on a digital card game.
So when researching the original Infinity Wars I looked at how it took advantage of it being a simultaneous decision game. The core lane system of the assault, defense and attack zones provides a good case of how each having different risks and rewards inherently allows for instances where you can get the read on the opponent. In Infinity Heroes we kept the lanes partly for these exact reasons, however by reducing the number of slots we helped mitigate one of the problems in the original game, Tokens.
Huge floods of small unit caused the decision engine of the zones and simultaneous turns to somewhat break down as rather than having to choose either attack or defense, you can often choose both.
But don’t worry if your a fan of token strategies, we still plan of having it be a possible archetype in Infinity Heroes, it just might look a little different and have to play around the more mobile friendly battlefield.
Another way that the series has put more emphasis on simultaneous decisions is with targeting restrictions, moving a unit to the support zone at the exact right moment to avoid a Death Ray is a great skill testing moment and immensely satisfying for those who have the read on their opponent. These types of moments are definitely going to continue in Infinity Heroes, with us actually building the core hero swapping system to help facilitate getting a peek into what your opponent is planning.
For example if my opponent is having difficulty with a large unit, if they swap to a hero with powerful single target removal such as Candit, I can see that as I’m planning out my turn and potentially respond by moving it to the support zone that turn. Likewise ultimate abilities are the most impactful cards in the game, so successfully playing around one can easily win you the match, but you can only use the ultimate powers and hero abilities of your current hero, so a clever player can have a clue of what is coming.
All these aspects, combined with less tactical “noise” due to us trying to reduce complexity means we hope that Infinity Heroes will be full of great simultaneous decision moments, where getting the perfect read or bluff can win you the game.
One Last Thing
Before I wrap up this week I want to give a huge shout out to all our kickstarter backers, who helped us reach our goal of $20,000. We are currently organizing email surveys, backer rewards and much more, but if you have any questions head over at the Infinity Heroes Discord channel: https://discord.gg/dTWAE8x
Furthermore we will be at PAX Aus in Melbourne this weekend, showcasing the prototype build of the game, feel free to come say hello if your in the area.