You can now play GTBM online at Taebl but you will need a copy of the GTBM.taebl file. Note this needs Silverlight, and humans will need to moderate the rules.
My first submission (actually two!) for #1GAM
I intend to computerise the games at some point, but haven’t locked down a decent A.I. algorithm yet, good enough for solo play/learning. You will need a checkers/draughts/chess/othello/reversi board and pieces for “Get thee behind me…” (or GTBM for short), and a GO board or one of The Viking Game variants for “Mynd”. Coloured counters and a drawn paper board will also work; I got 1000 tiddlywinks in 5 colours for £6 off eBay from SuppliesForAll.
“Get thee behind me…”
Credit is due to former games students, Matt and Dave, for inspiring this mechanic several years ago.
Each player starts with 8 pieces (white or black) on the nearest row of an 8×8 square board. (Optionally, 16 pieces of each colour on a 16×16 sized board is possible.) Black starts.
GTBM Starting set up
Pieces can be moved diagonally forward left or right or straight back.
The bottom left Black piece cannot move forward right or to the rear.
If a diagonal move gets a piece behind an opponent’s piece – i.e. between the piece and its owner – that piece is removed. Taking is not allowed when moving straight backwards (no backstabbing!).
Blue take is legal, but Red isn’t because that piece was not moving from the side.
The game ends when a player cannot make a legal move; if the other player can move they win, but if there is no legitimate move it is a draw. Alternatively, if all a player’s pieces are captured, and the opponent still has a legal move afterwards, then this too is a victory.
One obvious strategy is to build columns of pieces, as these cannot be taken easily. However, the “two steps forward, one back” philosophy may be useful. Below is an example of attrition, where Black is almost certainly going to lose a piece, because White has a partial vertical line protecting the threatened piece.
Black cannot take, but White can
Nothing can prevent Black from being taken, but there is an option to enact tit-for-tat
Defensive play to ensure take and retake
Swap of pieces complete
Please leave feedback on GTBM in the comments below, or over at http://onegameamonth.com/
“Get thee behind me…” and “Mynd” (part 1 above) and “Mynd” (part 2 below) – notes from my #1GAM project book
This was an attempt at making a “classic abstract” game using a existing board and pieces (in this case, GO and, for the record, “mynd” is Welsh for “go”), rather like Arimaa did with Chess. Also fortuitous was picking up a super cheap, mint copy of Pegity in a charity shop yesterday for £3, which gave me some lovely wooden peg pieces (~200 in four colours 🙂 with a cheap thin card board 🙁 but nothing’s perfect). So, my plan to use Tiddlywinks and a GO board was not needed. Of note, however, is the 16×16 board, rather than 19×19, which is more akin to The Viking Game that has 8×8, 11×11 and larger variants. Basically, the larger the board, the longer and more complex the game, so 11×11 will be best suited to learning the basic tactics, but 16×16 or 19×19 will offer more opportunities. The number of required counters of each colour will depend on the size of the board, but a rule of thumb would be the total number of all the coloured counters should be about two thirds the size of the board – 20 for each player for 11×11, 43 for 16×16, 60 for 19×19. NOTE: These may need adjusting after playtesting. GO has 181 black and 180 White counters, which is sufficient to cover the whole board, even though it is unlikely that players would do so.
Depending on whether 2, 3 or 4 players are playing, each player starts with one coloured peg in the corner (or, for one of 3 players, the opposite edge) of the board (see sketch above). After that play consists of one of four actions:
(optional) Placing a piece in any available space – freeform movement called “sowing a seed”
Placing a piece in any free space (including diagonally) next to an existing piece of the same colour, provided that it has an empty space next to it in an adjacent row, column or diagonal – called “growing the twig” or if this dissects an existing diagonal connection of the opponent’s colour it is called “cutting the bark”
Pushing a continuous row or column of pieces by one space, provided that the total number of your pieces outnumbers those of the opponent – this is called “extending the branch”
Placing or pushing pieces such that an area contained by a continuous line of pieces (and/or the edges of the board) is captured, which includes the first corner piece at the start of the game, or in a self-contained cell in the interior of the board – this is called “forming the trunk”
The first case allows players to use pieces to grow into new territory or reduce the final score for opponents. The second case is for growing or adding to the defence of their boundary markers, but also allows for a single piece to be slid along a row or column. In the third case, pushing the pieces along a row may upset the balance of connected columns. However, a row/column may not be pushed in a direction where a piece would be pushed off the board; so edges and corners are particularly useful. Finally, the fourth case is for scoring, the area contained by counting unoccupied spaces inside a completed boundary, excluding pieces of other players, will contribute to the final score.
Play continues until players agree there are no moves left that do not result in a cycle of play that results in a board position being repeated. Alternatively, play can stop upon agreement by the players. Then the unoccupied area of each player is calculated. Areas surrounded by one player’s counters, if subsequently surrounded by those of another, will not count towards either player scores.
Please leave feedback on Mynd in the comments below, or over at http://onegameamonth.com/
Clearly, #1 and #10 are the most important. To paraphrase Debbie Allen:
“You got big dreams. You want fgame ? Well, fgame costs. And right here is where you start paying … in sweatcode” — Lydia Grant
Brainstorming Game Ideas
As you can see, I’ve already got 12 loose ideas, but it’s not written in stone. It’s likely some will fall by the wayside or other concepts will present shinier alternatives. However, these are the real things I would be upset not to achieve:
“One board/card game taken up by publisher, one game book in Kindle Store, one mobile game in AppStore, enough revenue to pay licences, one person saying something was exceptional. Oh, and World Peace!” — from http://www.onegameamonth.com/DoctorMikeReddy
To support Jonathan Green’s “You are the Hero” KickStarter Campaign for a history of the Fighting Fantasy game books
To announce “MaZone”, an upcoming #1GAM #onegameamonth project, which will attempt to innovate in print form on the game book concept
You are the Hero
If this book cover means nothing to you, you are either quite young or very old. It’s by Russ Nicholson and two other guys…
I came across this book in a dusty cupboard that was the Puffin/Penguin book “club”; a sponsored form of school shop that supplied the publisher’s current titles in a ‘sale or return’ arrangement. I’d made many discoveries during the lunch hours Mr. Allen, my first year form teacher and later close friend, gave up running the shop. I think I may have been its only customer in fact. Anyway, he would recommend things he thought I, a voracious reader who had read about 3/4 of the school library by that point, would be interested in. Warlock was a welcome relief from early O-Level revision, as it was waiting for me at the start of the fifth form school year (September 1982). It didn’t do too much harm to my work, thankfully, as I got 5 As 2 Bs a C and a D, but I did ironically fail English, and had to retake that a year later in Sixth Form.
[Kids, O-Levels are not, as you imagine like the Harry Potter OWLs of J.K. Rowling creation, but just like GCSEs really, except you did ALL your assessments in one go – no continuous assessment or coursework! – in a thing called… an exam… while imprisoned in a dusty hall under the watchful eyes of scowling teachers, who’d much rather be drinking tea (or in one case beer or gin) in the lurking smoke-filled staff room. So, actually quite like OWLs, thinking about it…]
For those of us who remember the horrors of Thatcher’s Britain, Miner’s Strikes and the promotion of self-interest over social duty, it may come as a relief to know that Jonathan Green, who wrote some of these “Fighting Fantasy” books in their heyday, is attempting to celebrate their 30 year legacy.
Many current game designers and writers owe a lot to the green-spined wonders that opened up the idea of non-linear narrative and interactive story telling. Ok, Livingstone and Jackson weren’t the first – there are examples before their first title (shown above), “The Warlock of Firetop Mountain”. Notably Tunnels and Trolls “solo adventures” as well as others – but they stuck somehow. Maybe it was the unique UK writing style, but other brands don’t have the same nostalgia or affectionate appeal as Fighting Fantasy.
Not to say that “Choose you own Adventure”, “Decide your Destiny” and a range of other brands haven’t innovated or done some things better, and (hopefully) Green will cover these, if only to contrast with the FF books as they still compare favourably, in my opinion. However, it is (I believe) timely and topical to consider an official history of this form of literature, especially as tablet computers (iPads, etc) are bringing about something of a resurgence.
You can find out more by clicking the banner below, or Jonathan’s FaceBook Page.
MaZone – A #1GAM #onegameamonth project
When I talked to Ian Livingstone at DragonMeet last month, I asked him if there was any scope for evolution in the game book design. His response was that electronic forms of interactive fiction were probably the best arena for future innovations. I respectfully disagreed at the time, and vowed to try to come up with something that could work in print – still the cheapest and most robust form of distribution – that even he would consider truly revolutionary (or at least different enough to warrant recognition as progress).
So, as part of #1GAM #onegameamonth (See OneGameAMonth for details), I’m planning a multi-player game book that attempt to innovate on the current formula in several respects:
The ability to backtrack and revisit old locations – Ian was clear that this was one area of weakness in the semi-linear story telling of game books, which presents a difficult obstacle for environmentally encoded narrative. Dear Esther has done that wonderfully in video game form, but it would be nice to return to a book and traditional literature.
The option for several people to each use a game book to independently or cooperatively explore the same environment – I owe Alfred Leonardi’s “Ace of Aces” as well as a recent interview I did with him for the G*M*S Magazine podcast for inspiring this idea, which will be the most technical challenge.
The ability to add new books that would work in the same setting, where the uniqueness of each volume would be reflected in both the text and the interactive options available to different readers. The idea here being that one book would allow you to explore a space, but a second would revisit the same locations with different perceptions. For example, a hero would walk along the corridor, but a ghost could float through the very thick wall.
To show MY support for the KickStarter above, I have promised to make the beta of MaZone (a play on Maze and Zone) available for FREE to backers of Jonathan’s book. I am not planning for this to be January’s OneGameAMonth offering, as I am a bit tight for time this month. However, it will be out before Mr. Green’s book is released. I’m sure it will be rough and needing ‘fixing’, and it might just not work or be fun to play/read. However, I am looking forward to trying out something genuinely new in game book design. Fingers crossed.
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