Mechanic #095 - Collectible Dungeons - Multiplayer|
Legend of Zelda done with procedural generation and collectible cards, part 5. Tackle the game system with a friend.
Aha! You thought that there would only be four parts to this four part series! You should've known better.
Anyway, this entry concerns taking this whole collectible procedural Zelda-type game and making it into a multiplayer affair. Mainly, what new or changed gameplay mechanics are required.
The benefit of randomization to multiplayer is that it makes it infinitely more interesting. If you have a cooperative Zelda game that takes an hour to go through, the players will probably only play it once or twice before getting tired of it. But if the game was different each time, and if they had some control over it, they could build their own challenges or at least enjoy some variety over the long haul.
One thing to note is that many of these modes might require unique deck builds separate from what one might want to build for a solo game. The deck building is separate from any gameplay modes, so you can create as many decks as you would like. For things that have point values, like player decks, there will be standard point values, not unlike a miniatures game (like a 500pt deck, a 1000pt deck, a 2000pt deck, etc). Just make appropriate decks and select them when prompted for each mode.
Probably the first and most obvious multiplayer mode is co-op. Simply put, players go through a full overworld + dungeons game simultaneously. You can either require them to stay on the same screen, or go split screen and allow them to go their separate ways (even potentially doing separate dungeons at the same time). I'm going to say that co-op would only be two players. Though it could probably be more, you run into logistic issues, like the rooms feeling too cramped. Plus, it'll be easier to create the multiplayer puzzles by focusing on a set number of players.
The first challenge is how to deal with the town. Usually the player defines what town it is, then gets to pick the buildings and villagers within. With two players, instead of picking the town, a large town will be selected at random, and the players will take turns putting buildings and villagers from each of their deck. At the end, you should end up with a town that is an amalgamation of both players' town decks that was created cooperatively.
The next issue is the tools. While a single player game benefits from the linear search to locate and then use tools in a very specific order, multiplayer is better with less linearity and long term planning. Instead, much like Four Swords, the tools needed for each puzzle will be located in the dungeon, usually nearby, but you may only carry one or two tools at a time. Again, using the [#004 - Environment Tree] approach should allow us to intelligently place tools in rooms with access to the puzzle. We can also take into account that there should be two players working together, so we can put puzzles requiring one tool behind a door requiring another.
Finally, there are cooperative puzzle rooms. These work just like previous puzzle rooms, except that they require multiple tools (which would then be intelligently placed within arm's reach). You would not need as many cooperative puzzles, since players can still work together to solve single player puzzles (such as one killing the enemies while the other pushes blocks around). Still, putting in cooperative puzzles gives a nice little roadblock that the players must actually cooperative to get past.
Arena is just a deathmatch multiplayer mode that takes place within a single dungeon. There are no puzzle rooms. It's just a big arena where players fight. Combat tools can be placed randomly around the dungeon. Players don't get to use Player Decks, and must instead use the tools and weapons placed within the dungeon.
I'm thinking that there could be benefits to creating Arena-style decks for dungeons, with their own set of cards. Instead of puzzle rooms, you have set-piece rooms. These might be rooms with interesting playing fields or rooms that feature traps or whatever. What makes an interesting room in cooperative games may not make interesting fields of combat against other players. Plus, it gives players some control over their arena as well as providing an alternate source of advancement / collection (you unlock arena cards by playing arena) that rewards multiplayer-only players.
This mode involves two dungeons (using arena decks). The boss room is replaced by the flag room which contains the flag to be captured and is also the spawn point for fallen players of that team. Each arena will have three rooms turned into teleporter rooms which match up to the teleporter rooms in the opposite dungeon (allowing three points of traveling between).
Unlike Arena, you do actually use a Player Deck here to define your character. Not only that but you are also expected to carry monsters cards. At the beginning of the game, you can place monsters in specific rooms on the map. Also, you can carry them with you and summon them in specific rooms (even the enemy's dungeon). They represent your guards - they don't leave the room they are placed in, don't respawn, but can provide obstacles your opponent needs to get through to get your flag. Enemies should have combos, such as putting a cleric in a room with the undead, the cleric will head undead, killing them.
Of course, you can forgo enemies if you'd like, and spend all your points on equipment. Could be a mistake since though you may be fearsome, the enemy has a straight unhindered path to your base if you don't catch up to him.
Finally, I wanted a multiplayer mode which used the overworld generator a bit. Basically, it's a scavenger hunt. Each player is given a list of X items they must locate and bring back to the starting room. These might be anything from things found on the ground to monster corpses to whatever. Many items will be specific to a single biome (finding snow mushrooms in the snow mountains) to encourage players going through the whole world.
Players are, of course, encouraged to attack each other. Killing another player causes them to drop a single item and respawn back at home base. Tools are similar to the Arena and CTF mode. They are randomly scattered throughout the countryside, but you can only carry one or two at a time. Since some scavenger items may be located inside secret caves that require a specific tool, make sure to keep track of where each tool is located.
There are no dungeons in this mode. It's just the overworld. However, instead of dungeons, the spot where a dungeon would've been placed now becomes a room filled with a random, zone appropriate boss. After killing a boss, they'll drop several of a single type of scavenger item (which may or may not be on the list) as well as a single piece of powerful equipment or tool, but as soon as the room is emptied, the boss will respawn.