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PBM Identity Crisis
Okay, so I've been commenting here about Cohorts and my progress in developing the game for a while now.

Last night, I met with a potential new developer and while I was describing the game's mechanics, he started posing a number of questions.  Most of them, I had easy answers to.  Some of them caused me to think about how Cohorts and PBM games in general operate.

The general premise of PBM is that you plan your turn, submit it for processing, and then you get back your results.  There is no discovery while planning your turn.  For me, this is both the best and worst part of a PBM.

I love the idea that I am going to move my characters into position to attack some monster or monsters or players (who might also be monsters!).  I have everyone set up and I issue the attack order.  Then, I move on to some other planning aspect of the game, having no idea what the outcome of that attack is until I submit my turn for processing.  Then, I impatiently wait for the turn results to arrive to find out if I lost or if I won and what kewl loot I got for my efforts.  This hopeful anticipation is FUN!

The not so fun part is when I want to do something and then do something else.  Without a sense of what might happen first, it makes planning part 2 very difficult.  Here is what I mean: On Turn 12, I have sent my characters to go attack a monster.  The monster won the battle, but just barely.  On Turn 13, I am going to finish off the monster and then move off to find some other target to hit.  Trouble is, I have no idea what the outcome of the fight will be while I am planning my next move.  It's not necessarily a concern of "Will I win", but more of a concern of "What will I get?".  Most importantly with that is, will I get goodies that will end up overburdening my party of characters, causing their movement to fail, causing all sorts of other cascading failures in my turn? 

In Cohorts, you are able to get immediate "discovery" results as your turn runs, in real time.  This dramatically improves the game's playability (in my opinion). The caveat to that was, your plans are immutable.  You can't roll them back and try something else to hope for a different/better outcome.

I really liked that idea up until the question was asked "What if somebody else kills the monster before you?  Or what if you are attacked by another player and you want to send your characters to attack them back?  Are you not allowed to change your orders then?"  

Ugh.  My fast answer was "no" but then I saw how that was a very poor answer.  It basically created a scenario where you know you have to submit a turn that is doomed to fail.  Not knowing your turn will fail means you have hope.  That hope makes waiting for your turn exciting.  Submitting a turn that you know will fails is ... less fun.

Then we started bouncing around the idea of "real time" results.  This would change the game from PBM to a sort of Turn Based RTS.   Truth is, I think it would work spectacularly - but it's not the game I was building.  Technically, it's a minor change but the game-concept is completely different.

So, that Turn Based RTS game is going to happen, but first I need to solve my PBM design dilemma.  It comes down to these two questions:

Should you be allowed to receive "discovery information" while planning your turn?  If you can, should you be allowed to change your orders before submitting your turn (and possibly end up gaming the game)?

I would love to hear your opinions!

Messages In This Thread
PBM Identity Crisis - by Angerak - 09-20-2017, 01:08 PM
RE: PBM Identity Crisis - by Hatch - 09-21-2017, 03:51 AM
RE: PBM Identity Crisis - by Angerak - 09-21-2017, 10:16 AM
RE: PBM Identity Crisis - by Hatch - 09-21-2017, 04:36 PM
RE: PBM Identity Crisis - by Angerak - 09-21-2017, 04:47 PM
RE: PBM Identity Crisis - by Davin - 09-21-2017, 08:53 PM
RE: PBM Identity Crisis - by Angerak - 09-21-2017, 09:46 PM

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