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 Post subject: Streamlining turn control rules
 Post Posted: Sun Oct 04, 2015 10:07 am 
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With the rather disappointing debut of Cyanide's BB2, I have decided to finally bite the bullet and write a digital implementation of Blood Bowl.

One of the early design decisions I've made (one that will no doubt meet with plenty of contention, though this is not a thread about "should I?") is to streamline play by eliminating the back and forth changing of control during a turn - namely, anything that turns control of the game to Coach B on Coach A's turn such as choosing the block dice to use when Player A throws a 2 dice against block, or which square to be pushed into, or whether to use the shadowing skill, etc.

The purpose of this design decision (call it a house rule if you want) is to reduce the time it takes to play a match and ensure that Coach B doesn't stall Coach A with drawn out actions.. as well as to make it possible to, using the same software, play non-realtime games such as PBEM in which each player can play a full turn each time they get control of the game... and to make hotseat play less clumsy, especially on devices like tablets.

The actions that normally involve giving control of the game to the other player during your turn will be governed by a set of default rules, and that's the real point of this thread: to solicit ideas for how to best handle each of the actions that might normally require the other player's decisions.

So, here are my initial thoughts. If you can think of better ways to handle each, feel free to mention them. If you can think of other instances where automatic rules need to be developed, please mention them as well with or without suggested defaults.

Block Dice

For blocks that would give the opposing player the choice of dice to use, the result that has the most effect on the attacker and least effect on the defender is chosen. Attacker down is always chosen if available (including the both down result if the defender has block). Next best is the result that has no effect, such as both down if both have block, or pushed if the defender has stand firm, etc... After that is a result that pushes the defender... after that both down... finally defender down.

Optional Skills

Most skills have the option to not be used, even on the opponent's turn. A coach will be able to toggle the use of the skill during their own turn, and that setting will be used during the other coach's turn.

Apothecary

This one is tough. My current thought is that any player injured during a turn will, on the coach's next turn, be available to use an apothecary on once, if the coach has an apothecary available. This also means that a coach who manages to get a player injured on his own turn, is able to choose to use an apothecary on them next turn.... why? Mostly to balance out the advantage the opposing coach gets by being able to see what the full outcome of the turn is before making the apothecary decisions.

Kick-Off Table

This is more an issue for non-realtime games such as PBeM. I suspect it can be resolved by simply rolling on the kick-off table as part of the kicking team's ball placement phase. If it's a result like Perfect Defence or Blitz! then the kicking player takes the relevant action... if not, control is properly passed to the receiving team.

Interceptions

Another tricky one. Current idea is that each player will have an interception setting of Yes/No/Never that can be chosen by the team's coach during their turn (or between matches, etc). If there are players in the path of a pass with a Yes setting, the first one encountered attempts an interception. If not, the first player with a No setting attempts the interception. A player with a Never setting never attempts an interception even if he's the only one in the path of the pass.

---

Anyway, that's where it stands at the moment. I'm completely open to the idea that there may be better ways to do some or all of those, and that I may be missing some important instances where Coach B has to make decisions on Coach A's turn. If you can think of alternative ideas, or missed instances, I'd like to hear them.

Again, I'm not interested in debating the "should I do this?" aspect, at least not in this thread. I'll happily debate it with you elsewhere if you want, and I am fully aware that some people will hate it so much they'll refuse to play the resulting version. I'm ok with that.

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 Post Posted: Sun Oct 04, 2015 10:15 am 
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You could assume interceptions would be attempted by best shot, followed by either nearest to passer or least tacklezoned as a tiebreaker?

I assume youve thought of this, but Diving Catch duplication, Dump Off, Sidestep, KOR and Pass Block will all need potentially non-linear workarounds

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 Post subject: Re: Streamlining turn control rules
 Post Posted: Sun Oct 04, 2015 11:07 am 
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Shteve0 wrote:
You could assume interceptions would be attempted by best shot, followed by either nearest to passer or least tacklezoned as a tiebreaker?

I think that would be true if this were about designing game AI, but in the case of default procedure it's probably better that the potentially defending/intercepting coach be able to easily identify which of his players will or won't attempt an interception based on a very simple decision tree rather than potentially complex conditionals.

In essence, I think given the number of possible factors that go into deciding who to use for an interception attempt is pretty large, and there's a good chance that less, or even average skilled coaches may not be able to sight-read their players positions to have any idea who would be doing the intercepting, or be able to set them up in such a way to guarantee the one they may want to perform the action actually will.

Shteve0 wrote:
I assume youve thought of this, but Diving Catch duplication, Dump Off, Sidestep, KOR and Pass Block will all need potentially non-linear workarounds

I want to try for fairly linear defaults, though I'm totally aware that doing so involves filing off some of the rare but extant sharp edges of the game that allow for tricky actions and which contribute to the more complex strategy of some matches. I suspect in the vast majority of games the choices made, by default, will be the same choices the coach would have made in that situation.

For some of those skills I do have some methods jotted down:

Side Step

The square directly opposite the pusher is chosen if possible. If not, the square that moves or keeps the pushed player farther away from the non-endzone edges of the board, and/or the square that moves them closest to their own endzone.

Dump Off

The closest player with the highest priority interception flag is chosen as the target for the quick pass.

Diving Catch

This one, I agree, will probably require additional conditionals. I'd say the same as with Dump Off, but in the rare event of a tie it'll have to have a hierarchy.. highest chance of success followed by whichever one is closest to the other team's endzone, followed by whichever one is closer to the middle of the board.

Kick Off Return

Probably the same as Diving Catch.

Pass Block

During the checks regarding interception, players with Pass Block can simply be factored into the check. If a Pass Block player could feasibly put himself into a position to be the first chosen interceptor, he will.

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 Post subject: Re: Streamlining turn control rules
 Post Posted: Sun Oct 04, 2015 12:09 pm 
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VoodooMike wrote:
Block Dice

For blocks that would give the opposing player the choice of dice to use, the result that has the most effect on the attacker and least effect on the defender is chosen. Attacker down is always chosen if available (including the both down result if the defender has block). Next best is the result that has no effect, such as both down if both have block, or pushed if the defender has stand firm, etc... After that is a result that pushes the defender... after that both down... finally defender down.

It's situational, but a both down that causes a turnover, even if the defender doesn't have block may be preferable to push.

VoodooMike wrote:
Interceptions

Another tricky one. Current idea is that each player will have an interception setting of Yes/No/Never that can be chosen by the team's coach during their turn (or between matches, etc). If there are players in the path of a pass with a Yes setting, the first one encountered attempts an interception. If not, the first player with a No setting attempts the interception. A player with a Never setting never attempts an interception even if he's the only one in the path of the pass.

Surely just go with the player with best chance to succeed?

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 Post subject: Re: Streamlining turn control rules
 Post Posted: Sun Oct 04, 2015 1:08 pm 
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Wrestle is a tricky one.

The default might be "use wrestle unless the attacking player does not have block", but you would need subclauses like "unless it's the last action of the turn".

You also would have to choose per player, as some are more valuable than others.

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 Post subject: Re: Streamlining turn control rules
 Post Posted: Sun Oct 04, 2015 2:13 pm 
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Vanguard wrote:
It's situational, but a both down that causes a turnover, even if the defender doesn't have block may be preferable to push.

Everything is situational, but in almost every case there exists a situation that is far more frequent than any others. Using that as the default is the idea, and while certainly it is a compromise on some level it comes down to the question of whether the less frequent situations are frequent enough to be worth making things significantly more complex.

Vanguard wrote:
Surely just go with the player with best chance to succeed?

Think so? I figure people would want as much control over who makes the interception as possible within the framework.. The player with the best chance of success may be very badly situated, especially if it is a pass that goes across a big mess of players from both teams. That is, I suppose, why I'm soliciting general opinions on how things should be done.

sann0638 wrote:
The default might be "use wrestle unless the attacking player does not have block", but you would need subclauses like "unless it's the last action of the turn".

Think that conditional situation is something that comes up often enough to add the complexity of additional per-player conditional settings? I'm skeptical. It sort'v seems like the simple "use or not" toggle would suffice in the majority of conceivable situations, as with most skills. Not perfect, but likely good enough.

Do you think the impact is too great, given the design goals? It'll change some strategies a bit, but I'm not sure the general impact will be profound.

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 Post subject: Re: Streamlining turn control rules
 Post Posted: Sun Oct 04, 2015 4:43 pm 
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VoodooMike wrote:
Vanguard wrote:
It's situational, but a both down that causes a turnover, even if the defender doesn't have block may be preferable to push.

Everything is situational, but in almost every case there exists a situation that is far more frequent than any others. Using that as the default is the idea, and while certainly it is a compromise on some level it comes down to the question of whether the less frequent situations are frequent enough to be worth making things significantly more complex.

Yes, agreed. Your original list suggesting prioritising Push over Both Down when neither player had block. I'm suggesting that, unless the defender is the ball-carrier, I would take the turnover most times. Of course, if it's a star catcher being hit by a CPOMB monstrosity then maybe not...

VoodooMike wrote:
Vanguard wrote:
Surely just go with the player with best chance to succeed?

Think so? I figure people would want as much control over who makes the interception as possible within the framework.. The player with the best chance of success may be very badly situated, especially if it is a pass that goes across a big mess of players from both teams. That is, I suppose, why I'm soliciting general opinions on how things should be done.

Speaking personally, any interception is better than no interception, so why risk a lower chance option? Sure, there'll be edge cases, but as a default I'd say this was a safe bet.

Do you need to remove all options from the non-active player? Would it be enough to remove all obvious ones? For example, Pow/Push or any double on the block dice can be easily done automatically. Even stripping out half of the non-active player options would be a boost to smoother game play.

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 Post subject: Re: Streamlining turn control rules
 Post Posted: Sun Oct 04, 2015 4:57 pm 
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These issues have come up so infrequently during pbem matches (VASSAL Blood Bowl) that we haven't even had a need to discuss it. The league rule is that if there is a decision to be made on behalf of the other coach and that decision isn't a very obvious one (attacker down vs push on 2d against block for example), then stop recording your game log at that point and send it back to the other coach so that they can make their action/reaction. Usually that can be resolved via email "hey, which guy do you want to use for the interception?" but that has never had to be used either.

Personally, instead of house ruling or forcing a flowchart upon players that they *must* follow to cover all possible situations where an interaction has occurred is a bit of an overkill IMO. Simple rule: if you have a choice to make for the other coach and it's not a very obvious one, stop recording your turn and send the log back so that they can make their choice. Then play resumes normally; it would be one extra log file during a turn, infrequently.

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 Post subject: Re: Streamlining turn control rules
 Post Posted: Sun Oct 04, 2015 6:48 pm 
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Vanguard wrote:
I'm suggesting that, unless the defender is the ball-carrier, I would take the turnover most times. Of course, if it's a star catcher being hit by a CPOMB monstrosity then maybe not...

Well, I guess I'll gauge it by what people in general feel. If its divided, the answer may be to allow people to set their own priority list for a given team or some such. I simply worry that possible complexity will be a turn-off for new and more causal players.

Vanguard wrote:
Speaking personally, any interception is better than no interception, so why risk a lower chance option? Sure, there'll be edge cases, but as a default I'd say this was a safe bet.

Maybe. At the end of the day passing with the possibility of interception is... not very commonplace. Interception as a whole seems to be an edge case.

Vanguard wrote:
Do you need to remove all options from the non-active player? Would it be enough to remove all obvious ones?

You're thinking solely about realtime play, and I'm hoping to have offline/interrupted play as an option... maybe even have both be options within the same leagues, or even during the same game if the players have limited realtime availability.

Additionally, the back and forth ceding of control has been the cause of a lot of timer issues, especially when one of the coaches is trying to be a dick.

I'm pretty committed to this particular design decision.

GJK wrote:
Personally, instead of house ruling or forcing a flowchart upon players that they *must* follow to cover all possible situations where an interaction has occurred is a bit of an overkill IMO.

I think you may be coming at this from a very singular perspective - you're talking about playing the game on the honour system, where coach A makes decisions for coach B during a given turn when they're called for. I don't think that's a safe way to go when the intention is to allow for open environment play involving strangers playing one another.

If Cyanide or even FUMBBL's environments are any indicator... well, trusting people to be good to one another is probably trust misplaced.

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 Post subject: Re: Streamlining turn control rules
 Post Posted: Sun Oct 04, 2015 8:57 pm 
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Possibly so, though even playing pbem with perfect strangers has not caused any issues at all. I still think that you're overthinking this a bit. There's tools available for pbem'ing BB, I'd suggest giving one or a couple of those a try with some friends and see what needs "fixing" or how you would implement things differently; and if that is needed at all. In our pbem games, most all turns are completed in single log file. If you have a doubt or question about what your opponent would do in those few occasions where they have input during your turn, then send the log back to them and let them resolve it.

I say the more ways to play BB the merrier. Everywhere that I posted about VASSAL BB the typical response has been "why use that when there's FUMBBL?". It seems that change is hard to come by with BB players. You may meet the same resistance. Well, I see it as more options and more different ways of playing a great game. For your design, take the best of what you think the others have to offer and then add what you think could be done better. Yes, it would be super if a complete turn could be played every time during a pbem game but if there is limited interruption because you have to send a log back before a turn is finished, it's not all that devastating IMO. What seems to work best is having some "ground rules" between players before play begins.

Do you have a thread started that details what you're making? I'm most interested.

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 Post subject: Re: Streamlining turn control rules
 Post Posted: Mon Oct 05, 2015 1:11 am 
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GJK wrote:
Possibly so, though even playing pbem with perfect strangers has not caused any issues at all. I still think that you're overthinking this a bit. There's tools available for pbem'ing BB, I'd suggest giving one or a couple of those a try with some friends and see what needs "fixing" or how you would implement things differently; and if that is needed at all.

I'm pretty sure that trusting your opponent to make decisions for your team would be a deal-breaker for online play, especially in open play environments. When it comes to strangers interacting, the key to people getting along is NOT having to rely on other people choosing to do the right thing.

I have a fair bit of experience when it comes to developing online communities, and in small groups people will self-regulate.. but the larger the group the less able and willing people are to do so.

If you were just playing with friends you could trust, you wouldn't even need the software to handle the rules for you - you could play on a basic virtual tabletop that is little more than a shared whiteboard with dice and movable counters..

GJK wrote:
In our pbem games, most all turns are completed in single log file. If you have a doubt or question about what your opponent would do in those few occasions where they have input during your turn, then send the log back to them and let them resolve it.

We're talking about significantly different environments, then. There's no way the general online gaming community would go for potentially important decisions being made for them by their opponent.

GJK wrote:
Everywhere that I posted about VASSAL BB the typical response has been "why use that when there's FUMBBL?". It seems that change is hard to come by with BB players. You may meet the same resistance.

I know how people are, and I'm not particularly worried about that. While there are some people who feel Cyanide or FUMBBL represent perfection to them... there are many more who use one or the other because they represent the best of the very limited options.

The resistance you've faced likely stems from online players not seeing what VASSAL BB offers them beyond what they get from FUMBBL, and pointing out that FUMBBL is already well established. People who are specifically interested in PBEM won't be giving you any such resistance, because that's one of the things VASSAL BB offers that FUMBBL and Cyanide do not.

GJK wrote:
What seems to work best is having some "ground rules" between players before play begins.

Would that we could guarantee that people would abide by them! The main benefit of software handling the implementation of a ruleset is that it effectively creates that set of ground rules and enforces them in a way that doesn't require any sort of repercussions and punishment for rule breakers. Software can create relatively inoffensive "soft boundaries" that allow people to interact peacefully within the chosen paradigm.

GJK wrote:
Do you have a thread started that details what you're making? I'm most interested.

No, and for the time being I probably won't be laying out any sort of "here's the plan!" document since it serves no real purpose at this stage. The project is a long way from completion, so early hyping is just going to be detrimental.

The default rules stuff, however, was the one thing (that I can think of so far) that I felt needed general input and ideas rather than being something I can just make full decisions on - so here we are!

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 Post subject: Re: Streamlining turn control rules
 Post Posted: Mon Oct 05, 2015 1:46 am 
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I know the PBeM tool has Side Step automated, and (in my experience) most of the time it chooses a sensible square, but I don't recall the logic it used, or where it was discussed.

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 Post subject: Re: Streamlining turn control rules
 Post Posted: Mon Oct 05, 2015 8:20 am 
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Automating sidestep is probably going to be tricky, just because making tactical decisions when blocked is the point of the skill. Sometimes it's used to mark an opposing player (so choose another square adjacent to your target, preferably next to empty squares or opposing players who have already acted this turn), sometimes it's used to protect the sidestepper (so move away from the opponent). Sometimes you want to move closer to the end zone, sometimes you want to pull frenziers toward the sideline ... it really is a major part of what makes sidestep such a great skill.

The play by email client has an option to pre-select a sidestep square. Otherwise you have to save the game and ask your opponent to move his figure. That's not perfect but it may be the best option for your client as well. I suspect that any "default" setting is going to represent a major nerf to Sidestep, compared with Tabletop/FumBBL/Cyanide where you can intelligently select your target square.

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 Post subject: Re: Streamlining turn control rules
 Post Posted: Mon Oct 05, 2015 8:52 am 
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VoodooMike wrote:
You're thinking solely about realtime play, and I'm hoping to have offline/interrupted play as an option... maybe even have both be options within the same leagues, or even during the same game if the players have limited realtime availability.

No, I'm aware of what you're trying to do, I'm just not convinced that it is possible to remove all out-of-turn actions without some fundamental changes to the rules. Off the top of my head, I would guess it happens maybe eight times in a match (Yes, certain skills like Side-Step could cause it to happen eight times in a turn) if you can get that down to two or three times, that's still a big improvement to the flow of play.
You've mentioned making the Apothecary a start-of-turn decision but that would mean removing the option to use it on a KO player entirely. Alternatively, you'd be removing the player for the remainder of a turn before replacing him.
VoodooMike wrote:
I'm pretty committed to this particular design.

Murder your Darlings. I'm not suggesting you throw this aim out, just make sure you retain some sense of objectivity. How far are you willing to depart from LRB6 to achieve this goal?

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 Post subject: Re: Streamlining turn control rules
 Post Posted: Mon Oct 05, 2015 2:20 pm 
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rolo wrote:
That's not perfect but it may be the best option for your client as well. I suspect that any "default" setting is going to represent a major nerf to Sidestep, compared with Tabletop/FumBBL/Cyanide where you can intelligently select your target square.

It is not the best option for this project as it doesn't stay within the bounds of the stated design decision. Maybe it will represent a major nerf to Side Step, and maybe it'll affect people's decision to give the skill to players, and maybe it will affect some people's decision to use the software... I'm at peace with all of those things.

Vanguard wrote:
No, I'm aware of what you're trying to do, I'm just not convinced that it is possible to remove all out-of-turn actions without some fundamental changes to the rules.

A discussion for a different time and place. Consider it a "house rule" implemented by the commissioner if you need a context within the framework of the CRP.

Vanguard wrote:
I'm not suggesting you throw this aim out, just make sure you retain some sense of objectivity. How far are you willing to depart from LRB6 to achieve this goal?

What I'm interested in is ideas people might have within that paradigm to best suit the game, not a debate about whether or not I should do it at all... in fact, the last line of the original post covers that pretty clearly.

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