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  Mechanic #092 - Collectible Dungeons - Players and Towns
Posted: 11/26/08

Legend of Zelda done with procedural generation and collectible cards, part 2. Build your character and the town using the cards you've collected.

  The Player Deck

Player cards could be considered similar to loot in your typical game (this game idea assumes an inventory and a variety of equipment and items). A Player Deck is simply a certain number of cards under a specific point value (decided by the scenario) that the player brings with him into the game.

Each Player Deck requires a single Avatar card. This card defines who the player is, and at its most basic, it is simply a skin for your character. Sort of a character select. While many Avatars are little more than skins, some Avatars have abilities built into them. For instance, an Evil Knight may only be able to equip dark weapons but does more damage with them while the Explorer may add an additional 50 points to the deck size, usable only for items and not equipment.

The player enters the game with all the cards in his inventory and must manually equip any equipment he brings with him. The player may equip a single weapon, a single armor, and a single accessory - though he can bring more with him. The amount of points allowed should be balanced around two or three items and a set of medium equipment, or lots of items and poor or no equipment, or even one or two really good pieces equipment and nothing else. These are just items you begin with - you can find additional items in the game, so these are just meant to guarantee a specific item or give an early advantage.

One of the main mechanics is sets, not unlike sets found in things like Diablo II. If you equip three items in the same set (like say Fire Sword, Fire Armor, and Fire Shield), you will get a specific bonus unique to that set (ie fire damage now heals you).

  The Town Deck

Similar to the Player Deck, the Town Deck is a means by which to customize your playing experience from the outside. Unlike the Player Deck, there is more randomization required.

Each Overworld-based game begins in a town of your creation. You build a Town Deck using both Town cards and left over Player cards. At the beginning of the game, you build the town through a process that is both random and deliberate.

Similar to Players, Towns begin with an Avatar card of their own. These are named towns (like Smallville, Hill Town, etc) that define how large the town is, how many buildings (and what kinds) can be placed in the town, and how many roaming villagers. Unlike Player Decks, a Town Deck requires at least four Towns, of which one will be randomly picked by the computer at the beginning of the building phase. Towns also decide how many points may be spent building a town, with each building having point values that must add up to be less than the limit.

Buildings are containers that serve a specific purpose, usually shops. After the Town is selected, you then proceed to create the buildings in the town. For each building slot, four building cards are selected randomly from the pool of building cards. The player selects one and puts it in the building slot. The remaining three cards go back into the pool for possible selection at later building sites. Then six villager cards are selected from the pool of villagers. Select one to be the building owner.

Finally, from the remaining villagers, a random selection is picked to fill out the roaming villager slots.


The first type of building are shops. There are different types of shops (weapon, armor, accessory, general, magic, etc) that specialize in specific types of items. The shops also have a level from 1 - 3, which affects the quality and quantity of items that may show up in the shop. Better shops have a higher point value, so try not to blow all your build points on a level 3 item shop.

The items sold in each shop are selected from three sources. Each time you enter the town, the items in the shops are randomly selected from these pools. The first is the pool of Player Cards that you put in your town deck (you can have as many as five). These cards are far more likely to be randomly selected and sell at a discount, so you will have more chances to purchase them. The second pool is all the Player Cards you've unlocked thus far, such that the entire pool of cards available will only be cards that you've found. The third pool is based on special circumstances, which I'll talk about in a second.

To put it simply, through the shops in your town, you should have a chance to purchase any item you've unlocked so far, but the selection is random. You can select a handful of cards that are more likely to show up and sell at a reduced price. Regardless, if your shops aren't high enough level, the better loot will

Each shop has an owner that is installed during the building phase. The shop owner has a subtle effect on the shop he is put in. For instance, Jimbo the Trader may sell higher quality weapons than the weapon store might possibly offer, but charge slightly more for them. There is also a set bonus for buildings too, such that if you put the right villager into the right building, something interesting might happen. In the cast of shops, he might sell unique items not available otherwise. So, Carl the Blacksmith in Carl's Weapon Store (lv3) might sell the unique Carl's Sword. Also, having sets of buildings, like all the Hill Town buildings together, should produce some sort of set bonus as well (maybe a secret villagers shows up who sells unique cards).

  Other Buildings

There is potential for other buildings, like Inns (restores health), Banks (store money between games), crafting halls (trade resources for items instead of money), or castles / adventurers guild (give random missions to complete for items and money). That stuff can all be fleshed out later.

The general premise behind the town is building + owner, where the building decides what it does and the owner modifies it in some way. Due to the random card selection, you may not always have the right buildings and characters each game experience, so make sure that you have a lot of compatible stuff.

Anything you purchase in a town is intended for that game instance only. Start a new game and those items are lost. The way you collect cards for your Player and Town is by completing games. You get cards for completing certain objectives (for instance 2 random cards for winning, 1 random card for each dungeon, and a random card for winning in a certain amount of time, etc). How you build and manipulate your town should also earn you an extra card at mission completion. Maybe each building type could provide a particular quest, and completing them all earns you a card or something.



Copyright 2007-2014 Sean Howard. All rights reserved.