I’ve been entertaining an idea about a video game which is about a game. The idea came to me from the recent spike in my Magic-playing, and my wish to make a non-standard game.
In the game there are four people who play a card or miniature game on a table. The players talk to each other like a group of friends playing a game together would. The game itself is incomprehensible to the main player. The objective of the game is to win at the subgame by influencing the events around the game. The rules and the playing style are modelled after my observations at multiplayer Magic games. Note that this is just a rough concept.
Every player has a Life total. If it runs out, the player is eliminated from the game. Each player has also Power level, which is the amount of attack and defence power the player has. And finally, each player has one or more cards which reveals how much the player can increase their power on their next turn. The cards are hidden, and everything else is open information.
Each turn, the player gets one Power card and unexpends all his Power. He or she can then play one card to increase his power level. Then he or she can attack one player, expending some amount of Power to it. The defending player can block that Power with his un-expended Power, in which case the blocking Power is eliminated and the attacking Power is reduced by the amount of blocking Power. All unblocked Power reduce the attackee’s Life. Then the turn is passed.
The true game, however, happens in the metagame. Each AI player is assigned a personality. Some might be aggressive, some calculative and some completely random. They attack and block with their internal AI logics, which can be influenced by the main player. At any time he or she can take one Stance: Aggressive, Passive, Calculative or Humorous. This is how the main player reacts to the events in the table and to each other player.
Every AI evaluates the Threat value of each player from how much power and life they have and how they react to things on and around the table. Every few moments, someone will say something, like comment on the table situation, tell something from outside the game, or a joke. The player will respond in these situations according to their stance. For example, a player will comment that his dude on the board is invincible. The main player is set to Aggressive, so he will wave his hand cards a bit and say that if he attacks him, he’ll find out how invincible it is. Some other player might react to the answer and so forth. The AI player, who was assigned a personality “daredevil”, will increase the main player’s Threat from the comment and will attack the player with a fair amount of power.
In the game, understanding the opponents and finding out their personalities will enable the player to control the politics of the multiplayer, and will win more often.