Boardgame Toolbox Concept

by Steve Bowler on January 4, 2008 · 3 comments

in board,casual,webgames

I was playing some Dicewars earlier this week, and after finding the multiplayer version of it, started wishing that I could play with some of the rules of the game to make a slightly different game. After all, that’s what Dicewar’s creator did in order to come up with their alternate version of Risk.

I started wondering why there isn’t an application out there to allow people to sort of create their own (digital/online) board games. A sort of Boardgame Toolbox kit. I wanted to create a sort of flash/shockwave version of Nobunaga’s Ambition awhile back for online play, but the concept immediately fizzled out when some friends and I realized that we didn’t have the programming chops to handle it.

So why hasn’t anyone with better programming chops than me come up with this already? The concept is simple: Create the “3D Visual Basic” equivalent of board game creators. Make it a freeware (or cheapware) ap that allows people to make their own board games by taking existing rulesets and mutators and tile/movement systems and combine them in original ways to create new games. Add custom artwork for a finishing touch if so desired.

Map Tiles: Movement could be accomplished by allowing two map tile types: square and hexagonal. Users could manipulate and combine the tiles to create maps or paths. For instance, squares would be connected in a linear fashion to create paths as found in Candyland or Sorry. They could be combined in a grid fashion to re-create a Checkers or Chess environment. Hexagons could be interconnected for a general strategy grid, such as found in Battletech or HeroClix, or for a more “world” simulation (with forbidden areas) like Risk or DiceWars. Add “zones” in hexes to create nations or larger areas that can accomodate more than one play piece at a time. A 2.0 version of the ap might include a terrain height editor (and movement rules that are associated with differing heights).

Movement Rules: Tons of variety here in the rule types. Pieces can move X squares. Pieces can only move if they can jump an adjacent enemy piece. Pieces can only move if they haven’t already attacked, etc.

Damage Rules: Melee Damage. Ranged Damage (damage applied across X multiple map tiles). Allow for damage type variables (set by the creator), so there can be defensive and offensive advantages to damage types. Fire Damage, Armor Penetration, Green Damage, whatever the creator wants, really. They’re just tracked variables.

Unit Types: Allow for multiple type units that have rules associated with them. This way, a unit can have different attributes from other units. Games like Sorry wouldn’t use this feature (it’s just a pawn moved around the board), but Checkers could use it (King me!), and tactical strategy games would definitely need it (Battletech, Civil War Sims, etc.).

Promotion Rules: This would be mostly for games that allow promotions, these variables would allow one kind of unit to turn into another unit. The ap could just swap one unit out for another unit, but to the player it would appear that the unit had changed into another better unit. Mainly to allow for the use of different Unit Types.

Mutators: Used in conjunction with Promotion Rules, allow other player actions to influence units. Variables such as hunger, money, new weapons, etc. can be added onto existing units.

Art: Allow for a user created custom art pieces and terrain. Supply a definition of the sprite (Height/Width px dimensions, 256 colors, maybe just allow any .jpgs under a certain memory limit). If someone wants to go completely nuts, allow for animated .gifs. The terrain might be a bear to manage, but it wouldn’t be completely awful. The ap should ship with default colors for map tiles, so that earth/grass/snow/water could be simulated.

Obviously, this wouldn’t be a simple undertaking, but damn I would love to play around in a toolbox like that. I’d love to see the wealth of games that would come out of that ap.

Anyone know of anything even remotely like it? I can’t seem to find anything with some simple googles.


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