Game Mechanic For Hire

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Travelling Salesman, 8.27.08

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Hello, everyones. I is tackling possible uses of the mechanic of the travelling salesman today. First, a graphical example of it:

http://xkcd.com/399/

The travelling salesman is the problem of finding the most efficient path through a scattershot set of destinations. Often used in pick-up-and-deliver games, it creates interesting choices for the player. When mixed with other choices on top of pick-up-and-deliver, it can create a major brain-burner. *sniff sniff* Is that smoke?

-Action points. Mixing action points with travelling salesman creates tension through not only trying to find the most efficient path, but also the most efficient use of various actions along the way.  A caution: this can cause serious AP (analysis paralysis) and create major downtime as players weigh out every possible option.  One possible counter to this is timed turns. If you run out of time before you finish your turn, you lose your remaining action points
and play continues with the next player.

-Route cost. Another way to torment, er… offer hard choices for players is to apply varied cost to travel on different paths. Yes, that one path straight through the mountain tunnel may save you a lot of time, but you are going to pay out the nose to use it. Or, you could spend a little extra time (and less money) and go the long way.

-Moving goals. The checkpoint players are trying to reach moves in an erratic pattern; or isn’t always ‘open’. If done properly, this can cause some dynamic desicions for players; do I spend the extra resources to be guaranteed to catch the goal this turn, or do I risk it moving by taking a slower route?

-Knapsack problem. Combine travelling salesman with the knapsack problem. (Knapsack problem: My bag can hold 15 lbs of games. I have games of varying weight and fun factor that I want to bring to Game Night. What is the closest I can go to 15 lbs within while maintaining the highest fun factor possible?) Not only do you have to pack your bag, but you gotta slog it with you. Combine this with Action Points based on weight and you’ve got some delicious,
delicious pain. Mmm. Cognitive suffering.

I could continue, but I need to plan my route first…

Keep on designing, yo!

Phil

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Written by krinklechip

August 17, 2009 at 10:12 pm

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