Nodes DevLog #2

Hey again everyone.

Hasn’t been any major updates to Nodes as of yet, however I’ve eliminated a great deal of bugs and completed the first mode of play. I also realized I didn’t give much information about the project in my first post, so I’ll rectify that here.

So, as I mentioned, Nodes is based somewhat on the pen-and-paper game, Dots and Boxes (playable here). The difference is that I’ve adapted it for 3D space, and added a few different rules. In the original game, players take turns connecting dots with a line, and by completing a square (or box), that player gets a point and another turn.

The standard game mode which I’ve already implemented is a little different. Each player will start with a node (represented by that players’ color). Players will then take turns connecting from nodes that they own to neighboring nodes. The player who completes the final connection of a shape will color that shape, grant them a point, and also give them another turn (up to 3,  as a standard). The shapes will vary from triangles to squares, pentagons and hexagons, and possibly others in the future, but all will comprise parts of a 3D shape. Currently, I have 34 different shapes set up for use in the game:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some of these shapes may be tossed or modified after playtesting (some are quite large and have over 300+ nodes, which could be too many for a single game session), but the functionality for each of them has been implemented.

So, as I said, the standard game mode has been implemented, of which the players can only connect to neighboring nodes, as shown below:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve implemented control both through the mouse and a standard XBox controller, and they’re both interchangeable during gameplay. Below is a video depicting a 1v1 match with myself as the Blue player, and an AI as the Red player:

 

Currently, for debug purposes, a little icon will flash in the top-left corner indicating when the control type has been switched.
There are three different types of AI currently implemented, each with more strategy than the last. The first will randomly select a node to connect to. The second will weigh which node would be the most beneficial to connect to (ie. nodes that would complete multiple shapes are favored). The third, however, first analyzes which would be the best connection to sabotage other players. To accomplish this, it will examine any nodes that it can connect to that are also adjacent to other player nodes. It’ll then use similar logic as the second tier AI to determine if any of these can complete shapes. Other than this, it will also try to find ways in which to block the player off from the rest of the game space.
The latter AI can be a little cruel at times, so I may have to change up some of the behaviors, though in practice it’s definitely a nice challenge.

Here’s another video of eight AI’s going against each other, all on the highest difficulty:

 

So, I’ve implemented the standard game mode, and my current focus is on an additional two modes.

The first will be called Classic, as it will follow the same principles as the original game. Players will be allowed to connect from any node owned by any player to any neighboring (unowned) node. Completing a shape will allow that player another turn (up to a maximum, which will probably stay at 3).

The second will, for now, be called Hostile Takeover. The rules will be similar to the Standard mode, however taking a shape will also take over all nodes belonging to that shape, regardless of their current ownership. While I haven’t designed it yet, I’m hoping that this will make the gameplay a lot more difficult, and force players to make much more calculated decisions, but playtesting will definitely be needed in order to flesh it out completely.

Other than that, I plan to have a complete custom game menu in which the players can hand-craft their own preset levels by selecting the object and picking from a list of modifiers and mutators. I also plan to have a ‘Quick Game‘ option, in which the modifiers and mutators are selected at random.

A lot of this is still in the concept stage though, so for now I’ll continue to work on the other two planned modes.

Nodes DevLog #1

Hello everyone!

Although Nodes is already well into the development stage, it’s never too late to start a devlog about it. The main purpose of this is to keep everyone updated on the progress of the project, however this will also serve to help motivate me into completing it.

So, what is it? Well, most people will remember the paper-and-pen game Dots and Boxes:

Dots And Boxes

Basically, you have a grid of dots. Each player takes turns in joining the dots in an attempt to make a square. Should a player complete a square, that square is then initialed by them and they get another turn. The player with the most boxes at the end of the game would win.

Simple, yes? This is where the idea for Nodes came from. Take this classic paper game, adapt it for three-dimensional space, mix up the rules a little, and you have Nodes!

I’ve been partially working on this project for a month or so now, but I’ve already made quite a lot of progress. There’s still a lot to be done, however the fundamental mechanics are in place.

Currently there is:

  • 34 different grid-based shapes.
  • Turn-based gameplay mechanics.
  • XBox Controller-supported actions.
  • AI Functionality with 3 levels of difficulty.
  • Support for up to 8 different players.
  • Local/same-screen multiplayer.

Here are some rough screenshots of some AI-driven games in progress. I’ll try to post updates and progress reports of Nodes as regularly as I can!