Three Hundred :: Mechanic #191 Sites:     Webcomics   |   Three Hundred Mechanics   |   Three Hundred Prototypes
 Three Hundred
   - Index Page
   - About...
   - By Year

   - Comp-Grid
   - Procedural
   - Tactics
   - Tiny Crawl
   - Misc

PreviousMechanic #191Next

  Mechanic #191 - Psych Out
Posted: Jan 28, 2014

Control your opponent's psyche by using comments and insults, allowing you to win the chess tournament.

  Psych Out

This idea is a twist on the insult sword fighting from The Secret of Monkey Island. The premise is that you are a character in an adventure game, trying to win an illustrious chess tournament on your college campus. The only problem is, you are terrible at chess. You are, however, an expert at messing with people's head.

You play the game by going around campus and collecting insults for use during the tournament, and pulling pranks against your future opponents to unsettle them. Then, once you finally challenge then, you use the insults and their state of mind to force them into making moves that will ultimately allow you to win the tournament.

  Collecting Insults and Compliments

The first piece of the puzzle is your collection of insults. You collect these by solving puzzles on campus, and by solving puzzles, I mean pissing off other people to get them to shout insults - which you then collect. For example, you could conspire to knock a waitress, spilling hot coffee in the lap of the customer. The customer will then start yelling at the waitress and they begin to insult each other. Now you've got some witty one liners to use during your tournament.

You can also collet compliments, which allows you to butter up your opponent before taking them down hard. Compliments are collected in much the same way, by doing nice things for people and collecting their compliments.

Insults/Complements come in two varieties: petty and personal. Each type of insult requires a different commitment of puzzles to solve. Petty insults/compliments can sway the matches very slightly and are the easiest to collect.

Personal insults/compliments require learning about your opponent during the adventure portion of the game. Maybe you break into his house and read through his mail or something. You'll learn about certain shames and insecurities, or points of pride, that you can pair with the perfect insult/compliment in order to greatly affect your opponent's mindset.

Insults come in a third variety as well. Rebuttal insults are like the insult sword fighting in that your opponent will insult you and you have the perfect comeback (because you saw someone else say it earlier). Rebuttals can greatly affect your opponent's ability to play, but only negatively.

  Victim's State of Mind

Speaking of the opponent's mindset, each opponent can be in different mindsets at different points during the match: Confident, Unflappable, Serious, Arrogant, Upset, Angry, and Depressed. These mindsets each reflect a different mind game chart (see below) and it can change how well the different insults work against the opponent.

For instance, petty insults and personal attack just flat out don't work against an unflappable opponent. Instead, you need to rely primarily on rebuttal insults to throw them off guard. An confident opponent may be immune to insults, but a good compliment may push them over the edge into arrogant.

You can also affect how an opponent begins a match by playing "pranks" on them before hand, such as kidnapping their cat or convincing them they are being followed.

  Mind Games



Fig 191.1 - The Mind Chart

The core part of the game is the Mind Chart, which is the opponent's mindset over the course of the game. Each column represents a turn of them game, with each box representing a potential mindset during that turn. The first turn starts at the tip of the triangle on the left, and depending on your actions during the turn, it can either move up (towards more positive, and winning, mindsets) or down (towards negative mindsets that could result in a loss).

In general, compliments move up the mindset chart, while insults move it down. However, it really depends on the current mindset. For instance, petty insults may work to move down the chart in some states of minds and not others. Really effective compliments and insults, such as rebuttal insults or personal attacks, will move the mindset up two in either direction.

While you can see the chart, it's not always obvious how to proceed. Just because the opponent gets more positive going up doesn't mean he is going to win. An arrogant opponent is too positive, and playing into his arrogance may result in him losing, while an upset opponent may turn it around at the last second to pull out a win. Each spot on the chart represents a certain mindset, sure, but they also have values that affect the victory of the game. Think of it like a tug of war, where each node can push or pull the knot towards your side or his.

Finally, the pranks you pull change the opponent's starting mindset, and as such will change the Mind Chart you use to play against him. Starting an opponent in Depressed state will present a completely different challenge than if he starts in Confident.

  Conceptual Notes

- The game doesn't have to be Chess, as you never actually play the game. It's just a MacGuffin to get the tournament scene going, giving you a reason to study up on opponents and find ways to psych them out. It could be a martial arts tournament or anything else competitive.

- This game feels very mean spirited and mischievous to me. But then, the best adventure games usually are.



Copyright 2007-2014 Sean Howard. All rights reserved.