Archive for the ‘Design’ Category

The Werewolves of Millers Hollow MOD: Predator (Chupacabra)

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

WolvesThis is a modification for the social deception game The Werewolves of Millers Hollow (also sometimes known as Werewolf, Mafia, and Witch Hunt).

Pick an unused card from the deck. I like the Witch (the orange card). Herein, this card is now known as the Predator (or Chupacabra, because it’s funnier). The Predator is an additional “non human”, and its goal is to hunt and kill off the Werewolves. The humans are indifferent and want to kill anything that isn’t a human (after all, it has no qualms about killing humans to find wolves).

The Predator MOD introduces a new state for players.

  • Missing – Dead or Alive, a player is not revealed after going missing. Can not be targeted.

The Predator adds a 2nd nighttime kill phase before the Werewolves, but non-wolf victims of the Predator “go missing” instead of dying. Every night, there is a potential 0-2 kills. Neither group knows who the other is targeting. If the two groups ever converge on the same target, they battle with each other ending in a draw, and the victim is injured instead of dying. The moderator should reveal that the player barely survived the night. There are no additional effects.

Unlike the Wolves that require the moon to release their power, the Predator can change at will. If the Predator is ever the target of a lynching (i.e. daytime), he/she reveals themselves to be the Predator, and immediately goes in to hiding. If the Predator is ever the target of a kill (i.e. nighttime), they also go in to hiding, and this should be revealed as the player has “gone missing”. If the Predator is ever forced to go in to hiding by the Werewolves, it should be thought of as an ambush, and the Predator’s target does not go missing, but was killed ahead of time by the Werewolves as part of the trap. The point of this unusual special case is so that the regular townsfolk are unaware that the Predator has been outed.

Once the Predator has gone in to hiding, they must kill werewolves to survive. If day arrives without a werewolf kill, the Predator is found dead alongside the remains of his/her final victim (neither are missing). At this time, all missing players can reveal their cards as the “trophies” of the Predator. If the Werewolves and the Predator target the same victim, the victim is again injured and the Predator survives another night.

The game ends when all the Werewolves have died… or that’s what you’re supposed to believe!

Once all werewolves have been killed, if still alive the Predator has choices. They can wave goodbye, and they leave the town peacefully. If the Predator achieved the final werewolf kill during the night, this is an honorable way to go (though not required). Alternatively, the hiding rules are still in effect, so if they’ve gone in to hiding they can choose to kill a final human. If however the Predator was never revealed, they can choose to continue the game by killing townsfolk.

Interactions with Other Cards

  • The Fortune Teller – The Predator appears to be an ordinary human. If you play by revealing cards then do so, but if you play by saying yes/no to Werewolves, say no.
  • The Little Girl – The Little Girl can open her eyes during the Predator kill phase.
  • The Hunter – If the Hunter finds the Predator or the Predator finds the Hunter, they both die (no hiding), and the usual Hunter rules are ignored. The Hunter should listen for them being told that they have “gone missing”, and contrary to the missing rules, always reveal themselves.
  • The Lovers – Treat a relationship with the Predator the same as a relationship between a Human and a Werewolf. If you partner is revealed to be the Predator, you commit suicide. If you are the Predator and your lover dies, you don’t die but go in to hiding.
  • The Witch – If poisoned, the Predator dies (no hiding). If hiding (Predator) or missing, you can not be the target of healing. That said, once the Predator is killed, all players that were missing are found (i.e. his/her ‘Trophies’) and can be healed (including the Predator).

Alternative Rules: Invisible Kills

Typically, only the humans and special humans go missing, but not the Werewolves. This is to simplify a problem that crops up where the Predator kills off the Werewolves without knowing.

The solution is to every time the Predator kills someone, reveal to the Predator whether they were a Werewolf or not. Nodding yes (Werewolf) or no (human) is a good way to do this. Then at any time, the Predator can choose to leave the town by waving instead of picking a victim.

Once the Predator leaves, if all the Werewolves have died, the town should play one last round, to see if they notice.

Alternative Rules: Serious Injury/Trauma

During certain circumstances, a player is injured instead of killed. To play with Serious Injuries, players that are Injured are considered mute, and can not speak during this round. Though they can not speak, they can still be the target of a further kill, lynching, or go missing.

Alternative Rules: Stalking

During the night, the Predator has the option of stalking a player (thumbs up), or killing a player (thumbs down). Only killing causes an encounter with wolves. Stalking works similar to the Fortune Teller/Seer, revealing to you whether the target is a human or a werewolf. Typically a Predator will always kill as there is no consequence, but that changes once they go in to hiding.

Once in hiding, the Predator must kill wolves to survive. If a human is killed, they are poisoned by the blood and die. Predators are safe to spend their turn stalking a player instead of killing them.

If the Werewolves and the Predator ever target the same victim after the Predator has gone in to hiding, the victim is injured, and the Predator dies.

Alternative Game: Alien Abduction

The Predator is now The Alien.

Any time a player goes missing, they actually don’t die. Instead, they are locked up somewhere (space ship?) fully alive but unable to do anything. They must continue to follow the rules as if they were alive (closing eyes), but can say nothing. If they are a Werewolf, they do not participate in the kill phase (eyes stay closed).

The goal of the game for the Alien is to abduct all the humans. The Werewolves and Hunter however can foil your plans.

During the night, all abducted players play a simple yet difficult game with the moderator. Examples include rolling a 6 on a 6 sided dice, a ‘crit’ on a 20 sided dice, or winning 3 rounds of rock paper scissors in a row. If they succeed, they escape.

Until you’ve been outed as the Alien, you have the choice of abducting someone, or releasing/killing someone you’ve abducted. Give a ‘thumbs up’ gesture to the moderator to release, and ‘thumbs down’ gesture to the moderator to kill.

Like the Predator, if you’re lynched by the townsfolk, you are outed as the Alien (due to use of your teleporter to escape). If you are the target of the Werewolves, you go in to hiding (missing). If the Alien and the Werewolves ever target the same person, the Alien is chased away by the Werewolves and nobody disappears/dies.

Once in hiding, the Alien can continue to abduct anyone. However, if a Werewolf or a Hunter escapes, all abductees are freed and Alien is killed.

During any night, the Alien can choose to leave the planet by waving goodbye, taking all the specimens he collected with him. The game then resolves as normal with the remaining players.

Alternative Rules: Alien Experiments

This is a work in progress. Just some ideas for a place to go.

  • The game begins with no werewolves, no seer, but people are going missing.
  • Instead of lynching, you vote to lock a player up in a cell. Thus, you need a Sheriff.
  • The moderator keeps 2 piles of cards on hand for experiments. Include the Fortune Teller and the Werewolves, and the other pile has humans, optionally the Little Girl, and optionally the Hunter.
  • During the night, the Alien abducts up to 2 player, experiments on the remainder of the players, and releases any number of players
  • Experimenting is the process of taking a players card, shuffling it in to one of the 2 piles of cards, and giving them a new one. The Alien decides which pile with a thumbs up (wolf pile) or thumbs down (human pile).
  • No effort is made to watch what cards go in to each deck. With science, anything can happen.
  • Get extremely confused. 😀
  • Alien stuff continues until he is killed, and the rest of the game resolves as a game of Werewolves.
  • Lynching begins once townsfolk are found dead. However, the town can decide not to kill (not that they will).

Towlr at “N Design” Exhibit

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

Towlr recently frustrated attendees at “N Design”, an art-game exhibit in Curitiba, Brazil. Very cool!

Here are some photos of the event.

On your left, take note of the bright eye burning red

Descriptions floating on the wall -- Very classy

Several other favorites were at the event, included a Rohrer game, a Terry Cavanagh game, and of course, Braid.

More details can be found here.

Introducing Smiles PC

Monday, November 9th, 2009

This is not what I’ve been up to all year, but it is what I’m up to right now.

So, let’s introduce the project.

Officially, the project is named Smiles. Specifically though, the project’s working title is Smiles PC. Just as you’d expect, it’s Smiles the iPhone game for PC, Mac and Linux. Actually it’s more than that, but lets stick with this for now.

At it’s core, Smiles PC is about removing the dependencies of the iPhone from the game. Although Smiles has always run on both PC and iPhone, a number of interface decisions were made to suit the iPhone as opposed to other platforms. Many were good ideas, but some things need to be tweaked to suit conventions familiar to PC users.

For me, it’s also a bit of a clean slate. There were some things in Smiles original design that I realized I’d like to change, but haven’t since I don’t want to break what’s familiar to existing iPhone players.

What I’d like to do is walk through and talk about the various changes I’m making to the game. Technical and design changes. Some will be improvements, and other are simply to suit more platforms.

Alright, so lets take a look at one of the first changes. The home screen.

Smiles home screen UI Changes... Bubble Buttons!

Smiles home screen UI Changes... Bubble Buttons!

At first glance, it’s pretty much the same as the iPhone version. The buttons are still nice and large, and everything is still bright and colorful.

Probably the most noticeable change is the 4 “bubble buttons”. The familiar “?” button, the sound toggle that’s now in a bubble, a gear bubble (configuration) and an X bubble (exit/minimize). The standard way to exit an application on the iPhone was by pushing the large home button on the device itself. PC’s and other platforms don’t have a physical standard exit button, so there’s now an X for that.

Also PC’s tend to have a lot more subtle things you can tweak. On iPhone (or any closed platform for that matter) we can refine the interface to suit the system. But with computer monitors coming in many sizes, coming with numerous potential peripherals, we need need options.

Hey, and since the other 3 were in bubbles, it only makes sense to put the sound toggle in one too. 🙂

The other noticeable change is the detail. Smiles PC uses HD 720p versions of iPhone game art. Textures are 4x the size of the original iPhone assets (double width, double height). I also have HD 1080p assets, but I’m currently using the 720p assets because they load faster. The 1080p assets are 16x the size of iPhone (quadruple width and height).

The final detail I want to point out is the Sykhronics Logo. On the iPhone version I use a blue logo, but for this I’m using a brown. This is a minor thing I’m doing to differentiate the two versions of the game. The final iPhone game and PC derivatives will all be called Smiles, but the logo color will tell you which development branch it’s from. Generally speaking, all new non-iPhone versions will be from the brown logo branch, and where appropriate I will continue to do updates to the blue logo branch.

So what is a PC?

Anybody that’s worked with me knows I like my theory. Smiles itself was a very theoretical project, designed from the ground up to remove the most frustrating aspects from matching games. Things that, in my opinion, defeat the goals of the concept “casual”.

Continuing the theoretical journey with Smiles PC, I want this port to suit the ever evolving concept of computers. Computer resolutions come in all shapes and sizes, the key point right now being shapes.

Smiles' flexible UI goes wide or tall

Smiles' flexible UI goes wide or tall

The 720p and 1080p artwork handles the majority of resolution cases, but one of the foundations of Smiles iPhone’s research was getting game to work in any orientation. All the backgrounds are generated, so the user interface elements just need to fit. And as shown above, that can be wide or tall.

Now this isn’t only theory. A number of computers today ARE doing bizarre things with resolution and orientation. The key area being Netbooks and MIDs.

Smiles running on a Tablet PC

Smiles running on a Tablet PC

The above is actually a Tablet PC (as I don’t have a slate Netbook), but it demonstrates the idea. Netbooks specifically are, for lack of a better word, booming. And why not? A mere couple hundred dollars for a fully working PC. Heck, I use one myself (the rectangle with the red cloth on it).

Computers have multiple input methods these days. From mice, trackpads, pens, pointers, touch screens, accelerometers, to mere keys or joysticks. So a goal of Smiles PC is to be inclusive as it can be (within reason). Any practical computer a consumer can buy, there should be a way of playing Smiles on it.

So that’s my introduction to Smiles PC. Hopefully I keep talking. 😀

I make games to piss you off

Monday, August 11th, 2008

Slightly off topic today. Well, if you’re expecting mystery iPhone game news that is.

The weekend ended up being a little more slack-tastic that I’d hoped. Ludum Dare 12 after all, which always keeps me busy.

With only a couple hours left, I decided I’d throw something together quickly. Well, those couple hours went very well.

With so little time, I obviously couldn’t make anything extravagant. What I ended up with was a game best described as “a game designed to piss you off“.


Set your speakers to a decent volume, and fire up Towlr.

NOTE: Do not play if you are seizure prone!
It’s short, but the game does flash.

Download: Windows, Linux (32bit), MacOS X (Intel)

Towlr is a puzzle. It can be solved. You will be scored.

Towlr is best experienced by sitting someone down in front of it, telling them to solve it, and letting them figure it out for themselves… which I’ll do here.

You’ll either be amused, or be left dazed/confused and possibly a little angry.

Have fun!


Thursday, April 12th, 2007

I think it’s an important direction and discussion for game design. Sure, as a gamer, I can handle complicated control schemes. I’ve done my time and held my own in hotkey crazy RTS’s, twitch FPS’s, and I can be pretty menacing in Tony Hawk. But most of these games aren’t getting any easier. I don’t even care to finish Tony Hawk’s Project 8, or the Underground games, because the things you need to do at the end are ridiculous.

Some gamers like to mock Diablo because of it’s insanely simple control scheme, even your mom can play it (mine does). I’ve been in awe for a number of years by some of my purist friends and associates who wouldn’t even justify it as an RPG for that very reason (reason 12 why genre’s hurt designers). Then it seemed the world forgot. Some 9 years later, Fate comes out. It plays just as well as it’s inspiration, and it’s more approachable. You can’t say that for any games in between.

It’s almost like the game industry hard on for 3D graphics and difficulty is starting to calm it’s ass down.

Actually, what happened instead was the polar opposite distinctly emerged. Casual games. Short, easy games you can play for hours, if they so compel you. AKA: Match 3’s, stacking games, sorting games, and brick busters. Some of them look really nice.

The Wii happened too. The secret theoretical solution to FPS’s on the console, since we’re apparently too ignorant to support mouse and keyboard. I don’t know about other people, but for me the dust has certainly settled over the Wii. I still care for the platform for it’s ideals of smaller fun games, but the novelty of motion control has worn off on me. Red Steel isn’t an FPS, it’s a free moving Rail Shooter. That’s a heck of a lot more complicated to play than an FPS. Blast Factor for the PS3’s use of motion control is just a stupid gimmick at best. Call of Duty or Far Cry on the Wii I hadn’t had the chance to try yet, but I imagine the pointing box you need to restrict yourself to doesn’t make it any easier than Mouse+Keyboard.

So as I see it, the problem isn’t our joysticks, crappy motion sensors, mouse sensitivity, or lack of buttons. It’s that we’re not using them well enough. Many of the fondest memories of games many of us have are of game experiences full of simplifications. Pacman didn’t have to spin or strafe turning a corner; Megaman didn’t have to reload and find the rocket ammo to recharge his rockets; I didn’t have to hit forward, back rolling down to forward, back again for 2 seconds, then forward and punch while holding the R trigger to throw Ryu’s fireball; Or wait, there’s a parachute button? And Scorpion’s Fatality in MK1 was “block” and up twice. What other fatalities does anyone remember?

My mom, the typical hardcore casual gamer, should be able to pick up and play a perceptively intense action game, and she should be able to do some incredible things in it. There’s a way out there she can play a Gunstar Heroes. And there’s a reason out there why she’d play it too, and it ain’t pretty flowers and butterflies for graphics.

Why not?