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Game Porting

June 17th, 2009
jaguar, games  [html]
A few months ago I wrote about the card game Jaguar. It's a card game with lots of tabletalk which pits one player and a secret friend against three others. The only the secret friend knows who they are, so it gets into an interesting dynamic of jaguar vs four people who don't trust each other, one of which intends to betray the others.

Last week I played a good bit of guillotine with my cousins, and was thinking some about how in many games the art and story are both a lot of the fun and pretty disconnected from the actual gameplay. One could port a lot of games to a different setting, really. So why not do this with jaguar?

One would need to come up with a good setting. One in which it made sense to have both a visible enemy and a secret enemy. Maybe three humans, an evil computer, and a player who is secretly a robot? Or maybe a mafia setting, where there's three mob figures, the chief of police, and an undercover agent?

Once you have the setting, there are four more bits to port: what the cards mean, what suits are, the bidding phase, and the play. These will of course depend on the setting. Cards could of course represent people, perhaps ones that one was convincing, hiring, or killing. They could also represent places, animals, or powerful objects. Maybe they could represent a mix of these, with high points being one class, low points being another, and trash being a third. You'd need to be able to have four of each thing. The things need to be able to be put together in a group of five such that one of them wins some how. Suits could be something like the colors in magic, representing different power sources, but they could also be districts.

One interesting idea for a setting might be history. Choosing trump would be choosing which time period was dominant. Then leading a suit would be choosing which time period the activity was currently happening, with out of suit play being sensibly ignored and trump meaning pulling people to the trump time period. Not totally sure how this would work.

More thinking needed.

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