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10MTF: Multiplayer Solitaire vs. Cooperative Play - 8/26/16

posted Aug 26, 2016, 6:00 PM by Andrew Smith   [ updated Aug 26, 2016, 6:00 PM ]
For many people, a big part of the appeal of gaming is the interaction between players. Out of all of the types of games, cooperative games have one of the highest potentials for this, yet there are many games out there that fall flat delivering this experience.

10 Minute Task Force is a game where the players are supposed to be on a team, acting together, rather than just random folks that just happened to meet up and run into trouble. This background story makes it absolutely essential for 10MTF to have player interaction.

So how do you promote actual cooperative play, versus just multiplayer solitaire?
The nature of the game pay in 10MTF does certainly lend itself to multiplayer solitaire. Each player is hyper-focused on their own dice. They also have a personal timer to manage, and a meeple to move. One of my biggest fears when designing this game was that at the end of the 10 minutes, the game would end, and players wouldn't feel like they had just worked together with the others to complete their mission.

The takeaway concept is that no single player should be able to win the game by themselves.

Here are the top 3 ways I've implemented this concept:

1. Help! My timer ran out!

When a player's personal timer runs out, it requires another player to reset it. This is pretty much guaranteed to happen a few times in each game, so it behooves the players to stick close together, and to communicate with the other players that their timer is getting low so players can anticipate the need to change course to go help them out.

2. I can't open this door!

The dice for each character are different. No single character has the ability to perform every action in the game. Right now, there are 4 unique actions in the game (Hack, Pick, Con, Bash) that correspond to a particular character (Hacker, Thief, Face, Muscle, respectively). Each character has access to only 3 of the 4 actions, with 2 sides of their dice containing their "expertise."

The dice for each character are as follows:
 Hacker HackHack Pick Con 
 ThiefPick  PickCon Bash 
 FaceCon Con  BashHack 
 Muscle Bash BashHack  Pick

Since performing a particular action requires all of your dice to be showing the corresponding symbol, each role has an advantage when attempting their expertise action since that symbol appears twice on each of their dice.

Also, each character has a weakness. Notice that the Hacker's dice do not contain the Bash symbol. This means that the Hacker simply cannot perform the Bash action. So if the security guards show up, that player better hope the Muscle is around to help out. Also note that with any combination of two characters, each action is available to at least one player.

3. "Your mission, should you decide to accept it..."

The plan as of right now is that each successive play of 10MTF presents the players with a new mission, that is more difficult than the previous, and continues a story arc. Players are presented with some intel about the rooms they will be moving through and any unique things they might run into. So before the timer even starts, players are presented with the opportunity to discuss, plan and interact.

As the testing and design continues, I am continuing to look for ways to add more interaction and tension.