Crouching tiger, hidden win condition

I had this idea the other day for a game design type. Basically it’d be like a board game, but the win condition is hidden from everyone at the start. It’s generated randomly – perhaps some cards delt into a pile face down, or some such method – basically there is an answer physically produced, but no one knows it yet.

Play itself would involve – I guess groping for the win condition. The generation of the win condition would be spread into it’s small parts. For example, if one of the things you need to win is 50 grob skins, then this is one single part of the win condition. There would be some game play mechanics which allow you to earn the knowledge of one of these win condition parts.

I was thinking perhaps only the person who wins it, knows it (but has to show it after X amount of rounds). That’s tempting. But I would like to explore the idea of people using the mechanics to earn the winning condition info, and everyone knowing what they find when they find it. I think that’d make it a somewhat GM like effect – someone who sets out to find the win condition is take (some) control of setting the pace of the game. The hidden info makes it more a pure gamist thing. As much as gamism is my thing, I’m curious.

In terms of playing, I think it’d produce that sort of hazy mystery feeling I sometimes get in roleplay and even computer RPG’s – a sort of lost in the events of a world that matter, but I just don’t know how they matter. Too often in roleplay that feeling is lost because the GM’s focus is easily guessed, so what matters and what doesn’t matter becomes all too clear (well, it does to me – to many roleplayers, I think they either can’t see it and/or try to block it out).

Back to the pacing, the mechanics would allow resource gathering, but without a win condition it’s kind of hazy as to why you’d do it. I think there’s a creative void here, centered around not knowing the win condition, yet it still existing. Actually, not creative void – it’s not empty, just unknown. A creative ignorance? Nah, no one likes the word ignorance – but it does describe this pretty aptly.

On a side note, someone might have all the resources needed for the win, when the win conditions are revealed. They only win once ALL the conditions are revealed, though.

Also, I love my post title – I almost think the movie title ‘Crouching tiger, hidden dragon’ could be refering to the mystery and hidden win condition I talk about. Not in a direct way, but in a hazy, mysterious way 🙂

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2 Comments

  1. Tommi said,

    16 September, 2008 at 2:04 pm

    1. Assuming a hidden victory condition, there needs to be a way for someone to discover it. Before such a goal is discovered anyone can qualify for winning and not know it.

    2. From the above it follows that it is mathematically identical to simply generate the victory condition in play. It may not feel the same.

    3. One interesting variant would be to have a number of victory conditions hidden and when player (in some way) learns about the conditions than that player turns one card face up and either discards it or accept is. When there is a fixed number, say three, cards turned up no more can. If there are only three cards remaining, they can’t be discarded.

  2. Callan said,

    17 September, 2008 at 1:29 am

    In terms of #2, I had thought of this myself – if the result is randomly made at the start of play, then revealed latter, how is that different from just randomly producing the result latter?

    I’ve thought about it and the difference is in capturing the real life feeling that there already is a right way of doing things in this universe, and we just have to figure it out AND DO IT. Having the winning condition randomly deteremined at the start of play means that condition IS there all through play – you know there is a win condition, but you have to find it out – this captures what one might feel in real life, but allows one to explore it without the real world difficulties inherant in real world exploration. Though this is probably narrativist inclined in the extreme, rather than gamist. Or is it? Perhaps I’m trying to win against this feeling *Bwahahahaha*!

    In terms of #3, no. Not interested at all, am I – I’d say that’d be like playing god, or playing god with certain constraints.

    For #1, hey, I said there would be mechanical ways of earning the knowledge of win conditions! 🙂


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