Daily Design: Day 168

Daily Design is a series of game concepts devised daily through all of 2016. These are just basic concepts, designed based on randomly generated words. Today, they are; 

Assigning, Suspect and Betrayal.

As such, the game I’ve designed today is…

Treacherous Seas


Treacherous Seas is a multiplayer game about 18th century ship battles, in which two teams command a ship to destroy their opponent’s.

Each ship is led by a “Captain”, determined before a game begins. The Captain is given 1000 gold, which they have to use to pay their crew (the other players). The trick is that the Captain can choose to pay their own and/or their opponent’s crew, and the amounts paid can only be viewed by the person they’re paying.

That player fights for the highest bidder – though only they know who that is. This means that even though players are (publicly) assigned to one ship or the other before a match, only they know which team they’re on. The idea is to do your job (badly) until an opportunity to inflict real damage appears, such as killing the captain or sabotaging equipment or a player at a crucial moment. Friendly fire is enabled at all times, which allows for chaotic situations to arise naturally.

Captains have to make tough decisions – do they invest heavily in their own crew to dissuade their opponent’s attempts at buying them out, or do they try to buy enemy crew to inflict heavy damage? Do they try for a mixture? If a player is given an even bid or no bid at all, they’re assigned to the team they were assigned to by default.

The actual gameplay is in first-person, with first-person melee combat. Players each have a role to play, such as piloting the ship, controlling cannons, or swinging to the enemy ship to cause some damage. Players can also fire pistols, but they’re heavily inaccurate and take a long time to reload.

The winner is declared either when a Captain is killed or the ship is sunk, which occurs when it suffers enough damage. I’d say most games would end from an assassinated captain – they can choose to stay in their cabin to avoid treacherous assassination (as regular crew have no reason to enter the cabin), but this is also an obvious target for cannonfire.

There’s a lot of heavy decision making for the captain, though this runs the risk of the game being less interesting for other players. It’s likely that matches would be brief, and the captain position would rotate between matches, which would alleviate some of this problem. I imagine that the bribing system would need iteration, but then that’s what design is really about.

That’s it! Thanks for reading. I’ll be back tomorrow with another quick game concept. 


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