Campers? Stupid. Counselors? Heroes. Slasher killers? Slashing, killing.
February 23, 2013 10:49 AM   Subscribe

The 80s horror film genre called, and then you got a beep and turn-based squad tactics video games were on the other line, and it was a pretty confusing phone call basically but in the end you got the message that someone wanted Camp Keepalive back. Because it is awesome. And it runs on Windows and OSX and you should download the demo right now.

The tutorial in the demo does a good job of running down the basic mechanics of the game, and there's not much more to it than those basic mechanics, but that's a good thing because they combine into a really fantastic emergent set of tactical dilemmas and hard decisions and dead campers.

A few things it may be handy to know:

- You can mouse over a given monster to get more information about what exactly that monster's priorities are. Some are inclined to kill campers; some are focused on killing counselors. This is useful information for predicting their actions and deciding how to arrange your counselors.

- You get to move one counselor per move, and once you've clicked on a counselor's character (not their portrait in the bottom left, which will just helpfully zoom the screen to where in the camp they are) you can't change your mind. So think first, select second. It's like chess, with axe-wielding psychos.

- If you drop a trap and stand on it, that will kill a monster moving into that space without you (or any campers with you) getting hurt, so as a temporary insurance policy that can be a good way to deal with being out in the woods for a while. Each trap is one-use, though, so if multiple monsters wander into the same tile you're toast. (Likewise, Ashley can only kill one monster per tile she enters, so if there's two on a spot and you want to kill 'em both she'll have to wander in, wander out, and wander back in.)

- Campers are stupid.
posted by cortex (37 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
I took the liberty of pasting the README to pastebin, which gives more information about the gameplay.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 11:14 AM on February 23, 2013 [2 favorites]

Hey, this is fun. Just be careful not to have the jogger run away when he's leading kids back to the cabin: The kids won't run with him. Also, remember that all the counselors can lead kids back. You don't need the blond guy's ability to do it.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 11:18 AM on February 23, 2013

It's turn based!? SQUEEEEEEEEEEE
posted by Doleful Creature at 11:29 AM on February 23, 2013

Plays in wine, for those linux-lovers. Does it have a non-fullscreen mode? Anyway, a few minutes fun but not a game I anticipate returning to.
posted by jepler at 11:30 AM on February 23, 2013

I want this game on my phone.
posted by Strass at 11:40 AM on February 23, 2013

My high score is 35. Was doing pretty well until a camper appeared between a counselor and a counselor-hunting axe-murderer.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 12:03 PM on February 23, 2013

13 on my first game, I have no idea if I did well or not. It was fun, though!

I feel like once you lose Ashley you're sort of screwed, but I may have just been over-relying on her to take dudes out than I was trying to get around the monsters.

Also, I had a monster spawn on a spot a camper was in, which feels a little unfair. Then again, it is fully in line with the theme.
posted by griphus at 12:03 PM on February 23, 2013

Pierce was my go-to guy: If someone were left vulnerable, he could run over and plant a trap on their square. If a lot of campers were in an area, he could pick up one or two. If they were close, he could plant a trap.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 12:13 PM on February 23, 2013

This reminds me of the old Friday The 13th game for the Commodore 64 by Domark (SLYT).
posted by GallonOfAlan at 12:42 PM on February 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

This game is great. I managed 45 points on my first run through. Dave's gather ability is pretty handy. He was my only counselor left alive for a LONG time.

Dave and the runner (Pierce?) were probably the two counselors I found most useful. Ashley's ability to be proactive and attack is helpful, but didn't prove as important as I thought it would have. Of course, the monster population really started to grow after she died.

I look forward to the full version with objectives and such, instead of just the survival mode.
posted by asnider at 1:11 PM on February 23, 2013

I've had a reasonable amount of success using Ashley as sort of a utility player, hanging near the cabin when there's not a specific monster kill to go on and doing some basic trap-laying and camper fetching. Pierce is definitely pretty clutch with that extra move and Dave's gather can help sort out some otherwise pretty nasty camper/monster proximity issues.
posted by cortex at 1:27 PM on February 23, 2013

New high: 54. Much of it after Ashley died. Wyatt died, too, but his ability only helps if he's far away from camp or starting on a trapless tile.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 1:32 PM on February 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

This reminds me of the old Friday The 13th game for the Commodore 64 by Domark yt (SLYT).

Woah. I always liked the NES Friday the 13th more than it deserved, had no idea the C64 game even existed.
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:22 PM on February 23, 2013

Whoops, I didn't realize there was a five-dead-camper limit. I made it to 43 just by keeping the cabin surrounded with traps.
posted by Sibrax at 3:26 PM on February 23, 2013

I always liked the NES Friday the 13th more than it deserved

So you liked it at all whatsoever.
posted by cortex at 4:32 PM on February 23, 2013 [4 favorites]

It's like chess, with axe-wielding psychos.

Wait -- is there another way to play chess?
posted by webmutant at 5:13 PM on February 23, 2013

I keep running into a bug in which if you use Dave's Gather as the last action, the game doesn't seem to realize your turn is over, although it grays out the "End Turn" button. It just sits there forever, not advancing to the next step.

Other than that, this is brilliant.
posted by Scattercat at 10:07 PM on February 23, 2013

Scattercat: "I keep running into a bug in which if you use Dave's Gather as the last action, the game doesn't seem to realize your turn is over, although it grays out the "End Turn" button. It just sits there forever, not advancing to the next step.

Other than that, this is brilliant

Just found this too. Game hangs. But overall pretty fun.
posted by Big_B at 7:25 AM on February 24, 2013

I keep running into a bug in which if you use Dave's Gather as the last action, the game doesn't seem to realize your turn is over, although it grays out the "End Turn" button. It just sits there forever, not advancing to the next step.

That would explain why the game got hung up on me last night, despite not actually begin frozen (prompts would pop-up when I hovered over icons, for example).

I don't think it happens every time, though. I'm pretty sure that I've used "gather" as the final action on Dave's turn several times without error and only once where it bugged out on me.

Also: I think my record high of 45 points must have been beginner's luck. The highest I've managed to achieve since has been 29 -- usually much lower.

I have, overtime, begun to realize the utility of traps, often laying them down even at times when they aren't strictly necessary for survival -- you never know where the next monster will spawn.
posted by asnider at 8:39 AM on February 24, 2013

Wow, really cool to see our work made to the home page! I'm the coder on this project and the feedback in this thread is really useful. Hopefully can get the Dave bug fixed soon. Something we forgot to stick in the readme was that you can hit F12 to toggle fullscreen... and we are thinking about a mobile version of the full game too but, uh, we've never done one before.

So far the highest score I'm aware of is 95...
posted by klembot at 8:42 AM on February 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

Ha! Hi, klembot! I'd say welcome to Metafilter but it looks like you've been lurking for a couple years already.

Something we forgot to stick in the readme was that you can hit F12 to toggle fullscreen

Oh good lord thank you.

and we are thinking about a mobile version of the full game too

It seems like it'd fit really well, yeah. But in any case I'm stoked about seeing where you go with the full version; this is such a great little collection of mechanics and I'm really excited to see the fuller take on it.
posted by cortex at 8:49 AM on February 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

I should specify that it seems to happen in particular when Dave is also the last of the counselors.

But even so I have been playing this game a lot since yesterday, and I would cheerfully pay for the full version. (Also yes yes yes please a mobile/tablet version. Preferably for Android...)

Honestly, this would also make a brilliant board game, with the addition of some sort of scaling for number of players (with each player taking a counselor). The monster AI is simple enough to be handled in meatspace, certainly.
posted by Scattercat at 9:58 AM on February 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

Gah! I was on track for a new record when I encountered the "use 'Gather' as Dave's last action" bug.
posted by asnider at 10:49 AM on February 24, 2013

I just got a 99! And was excited enough about the question of What Happens At Three Digits that I was fiddling with my iPhone to try and get a couple pictures and was totally distracted during the monster turn in which something finally got my last camper. So 99 it is.

That game had a lot of shamblers early on, which made for relatively easy going, but I was also pretty darned proactive about grabbing campers, to the point where I spent a lot more time outside the cabin than in previous games, and that may have made a lot of the difference. Riskier turn-to-turn but made me a lot less vulnerable to random wandering-camper attrition; at least three of my five deaths only happened because the camper was stupid enough to walk into a bad guy, and based on my pretty safe camper placement on my last turn above I'm guessing that last death was something spawning right on top of a camper in the woods.

I got a lot of use out of grab-and-trap moves with counselors rounding up campers; diving into the woods or out to the perimeter feels a reckless but it seems like it's mostly worth it for nailing down the uncertainty of wandering campers, and if there's not a real swarm of monsters around, standing on a trap is pretty solid insurance for a few turns.

Really, traps traps traps. Wyatt did a lot of trapping; I'd have him go grab a camper and then trap for safety, and then litter traps back home; I'd have him or other counselors if they had the position and the time to kill make their way to a bee-line position between an axeman and another counselor to drop a trap and get the guaranteed kill; I'd leave a counselor with a pile of kids standing out in the open and drop a trap just to let the wolfman come at him, bro. And barring imminent nearby danger, I would have counselors route through a cabin on a returning-safely sort of turn and then finish outside, drop a trap if they have the extra move or just be ready to drop one or move an extra square next turn around. Again, more danger than staying inside the cabin but it seemed worth it in general.

I was also sort of worried about maximum camper capacity; Dave had eight with him (standing around on a trap two squares from the cabin, natch) and there was a ninth kid on the far side of the cabin, and I didn't know what would happen on a Gather. Turns out you can take more kids! I was worried that the three-by-three squad arrangement was max capacity, but nope. Four-by-four, maybe? I suppose there are worse problems to have.

Also: F12 doesn't seem to window the game on OSX. Windows only deal? Is there a different hotkey for Mac?

Honestly, this would also make a brilliant board game

Man, it kinda would. It's possible running the AI would be a little bit annoying, but I don't know that it'd have to be. Roll a D8 for shamblers, flip a coin for Nearest Camper/Counselor tiebreakers, movement is easy enough to adjudicate beyond that (and boy is that vital for really herding monsters into traps effectively). Hidden target of Pleathermasks would be a problem though unless you had a dedicated GM running the monsters.

Speaking of movement, this really has me thinking of one of my favorites super-simple games, Robots (which I actually did a wee Flash version of years ago called FLEE!), where the whole thing comes down to knowing that the bad guys will behave deterministically based on your post-move position each turn, and you have to deal with them almost entirely by using this knowledge to trick them into colliding with and hence destroying each other.

Wolfman and Axeman (and Pleathermask once you know his target) all behave the same as the robots in that old game: approach target along a diagonal if not already on a straight axis with them, on a straight axis line otherwise. The brilliant thing with Camp Keepalive is that this gets complicated up by the use of multiple counselors and multiple campers acting as magnets—the problem gets broken up regionally and gets more interesting to solve, and you can reposition your counselors to shift the ley lines of that regionality in fun ways.
posted by cortex at 11:07 AM on February 24, 2013 [2 favorites]

Wolfman and Axeman (and Pleathermask once you know his target) all behave the same as the robots in that old game

The same way in terms of movement, I should say. They don't kill each other on collision, of course, however unfortunate that might be for the campers.

Though it'd be funny if there was a new monster in the full version that was a real horror show to deal with but on the upside would in fact kill other monsters if they got in his way.

And as long as I'm daydreaming, it'd be sort of neat if the game's survival mode had like staged progressions of nastiness: maybe after a "week" of turns you'd have nastier versions of the monsters start spawning, e.g. Bride of Pleathermask gets two moves, Vengeful Axeman's body stays on the ground after the first kill and comes back to life in a few turns (maybe unless you kill him again pre-emptively with a trap or a visit from Ashley), Alpha Wolfman actually turns campers and counselors into new Wolfmen instead of just eating them, etc.

Maybe tie that to some compensatory power-up/level-up system for your counselors where they get buffed as well when Week 2 rolls around, or give them character-specific or generic action-based level ups for camper saves, monster kills, trap deployments, etc.
posted by cortex at 11:24 AM on February 24, 2013

106 points. I think that makes me the new world record holder, at least according to klembot.
posted by asnider at 12:10 PM on February 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

In a board game, I would just not have Pleathermask targets be a secret.
posted by Scattercat at 1:04 PM on February 24, 2013

Man, I'm trying to think through the boardgame idea as a fun little DIY art project (and a fun thing neat to bust out at a PDX mefi meetup and be like "seriously, now go home and play the actual game"). And as suggested, it seems like it adapts pretty darned well in terms of basic moving parts, but there's a couple of interesting wrinkles where computers do this stuff better than mechanical board games, and apparently I feel like thinking out loud about this and so, yes:

- New camper/monster placement.

The camp in the demo exists on essentially a 9x9 grid with the corners cut off: you've got the cabin at the center, a fixed perimeter of 8 grass tiles around that, and then a random allotment of 48 total woods and grass tiles. (Based on very limited data collection, it looks like it's 26 woods tiles and 22 grass tiles each time.) Laying those out at random for each game could be a fun quick bit of setup, ala Catan.

But then you have to figure out where to place a camper or a monster whenever they spawn. Which means selecting a random non-cabin tile, or a random woods tile, respectively. And that's one of 56 tiles (48 random woods and grass outer tiles plus 8 cabin perimeter grass tiles) for campers, or one of 26 for monsters.

Given a 56 sided die and a 26 sided die, this is really easy: just put a number 1-26 on the woods tiles, and continue from 27-48 on the random grass tiles and 49-56 on the cabin perimeter grass. Roll d26 for mosnters, roll d56 for campers.

But we don't have those dice. Spinners for each instead? But spinners are routinely terrible. Some other non-crappy, non-convoluted one-shot mechanical method for generating a number between 1-26, and one between 1-56?

Or to try a different approach: label the board's tiles on both axes, 1-9 horizontally and A-I vertically, and roll a pair of 9-sided dice? Well, 10-sided dice and reroll on a 10. And then re-roll again a lot of the time, because a given coordinate may not be on the map at all: for campers, there 24 non-tiles on the corners at-or-beyond the mountains, plus the cabin, so 25/81 random positions (just about 31% of rolls) will be invalid coordinate pairs. Monsters are worse: they've only 26 valid spawn points, so 55/81 (68%) of rolls will be invalid and need re-rolling. Neither of those is a showstopper exactly because it won't take that long to reroll once or thrice each spawning round, but it's certainly inelegant.

How else to do this? Maybe back to a number-the-board-tiles system, but instead of dice or a spinner, have a corresponding bag of numbered tokens 1-56 and just pull from there with replacement? And either repull for something in the 1-26 range for monsters or have a separate bag of 1-26 for them. Could also do this with special decks of numbered cards, though the idea of having to shuffle again each time to maintain proper randomness is not great.

- Which monster type gets to move.

Probably a much simpler thing to solve since we've got a small, fixed number of monsters in the game; in theory rolling a d4 would do it, though not all monster types are necessarily going to be represented on the board at any given time so you'd need to have a re-roll system for when there are two or three types present.

- Pleathermask has a secret target.

As noted, this could be solved by just making that not secret. Or it could be known only to a dedicated GM, though it'd be silly to add that requirement solely for this feature.

In any case, randomly select a counselor on the board, similar issue to choosing monster move type where the number of counselors in the game can go down.

- Camper and Shambler random movement.

Rolling a d8 would work, with some canonical assignment of directions cardinal and diagonal to specific numbers on a card, on a key on the board somewhere), but it will require rerolls in some cases where campers or shamblers are adjacent to the board's outer edge. I don't see a way to avoid that reroll issue.

- Settling ties between Axeman and Wolfman targets.

They proceed to the nearest (group of one-or-more) counselors or campers, respectively. If two or more target groups are equidistant from the monster, we need to select one at random to pursue. Coinflip or even-vs-odds roll would suffice for two targets; a die roll with rerolls seems necessary for three or more. Axeman would only have four possible targets since that's our number of counselors; Wolfman could in theory have as many as eight, in the bizarre case of him being surrounded on all sides by campers. Anything more than one or two targets is going to be a serious edge case, but it needs a solution. d4 for 3-4 target, rerolling on a 4 with three targets? Ditto d6 for 5-6, d8 for 7-8? Or just a d8 for the very rare 5-8 if we don't otherwise have a reason to involve a d6 in the game.

- Deciding whether or not any given camper turns into a Wolfman.

I haven't played enough to satisfy myself on the mechanics of this: I think it's only specifically during a full moon, I think it can happen to a camper in either grass or woods (I had a theory that it only, and always, happened to campers on woods tiles but not grass tiles but that seemed not to pan out), I think it can't happen to a camper currently being escorted by a counselor. I'm not sure what the rate of chance is for it to happen: if it's 50%, coinflip or even/odd roll will do it, if it's something else than maybe just approximate with a die roll (e.g. a one on a d4).

- How to measure "closeness" in terms of diagonals vs. cardinals.

This isn't a random event problem, just something that'd need to be explicit in monster-movement rules (and I haven't figured it out for myself totally from gameplay): when an Axeman or a Wolfman needs to pick a counselor or camper, respectively, to go after, there are three kinds of paths they could consider:

1. A straight line of x tiles horizontally or vertically.
2. A diagonal line of x tiles diagonally-only.
3. A mix of diagonal and horizontal-or-vertical moves.

So how do monsters decide on distance? If a Wolfman is adjacent to Timmy who is to his right horizontally one tile, and to Jeff who is diagonally right and down, are they the same distance (equal number of moves) or is Timmy closer (shorter crow-flies distance)? Tile count vs. center-to-center tile radius, basically. Strict tile count seems a lot simpler to adjudicate than measuring with a string or ruler or whatever.
posted by cortex at 1:37 PM on February 24, 2013

There's also the problem of moving counselor control from one player to several. If each player controls a counselor (or maybe two, if playing with less than four players), then the turn-taking aspect of the each-counselor-goes-once thing gets a little bit weird.

- If we assume each player controls a dedicated counselor (or set of counselors), then the question of which counselor should take a turn during the current counselor move phase is something the players have to work out between themselves. Which isn't necessarily a problem but does make it so that it's less Player X's Turn and more The Table Deciding Whose Turn It Is, which might favor louder/pushier/more-tactically-confident players and make things less fun for others, especially since the reason for having a given counselor move is generally tied pretty directly to the idea of how that counselor will move and how other counselors will subsequently respond. It'd be really easy for one player to essentially run the whole game with other players' "turns" just being to agree to move their pieces the way he suggests.

- You could mix it up by having each player have a turn order (per game, per round, determined by dice roll or drawing lots or whatever), so that Alice moves a counselor first, Bob second, Carol third, Davros fourth, and dissociate player from counselor. So that on Alice's turn she can choose any of the counselors and make moves, and then Bob can move any of the remaining ones and so on. (The fact that choice dwindles later in the round suggests strongly that the order would need to change each round, so poor Davros doesn't always get stuck with the leftovers. Maybe a rotating queue, first player each round rotates to the left?) But this might make folks feel less invested in the counselors: it's no longer my character, it's just a character. Plus, someone using a trap that you then no longer have a chance to use in later rounds could be a sort of frustrating deal, compared to you having that decision totally under your control.

- You could also mix it up by keeping player-to-counselor assignments binding but randomize the choice of which counselor gets to move on any given turn. But that's changing the nature of the underlying game to the significant disadvantage of the counselors; making smart choices about which counselor to move when is a big part of what feels rewarding about Camp Keepalive.
posted by cortex at 2:08 PM on February 24, 2013

All of this is to say that I really like this videogame you guys are making, klembot.
posted by cortex at 2:09 PM on February 24, 2013

Oh man, the game I just had!

128 kids rescued. Almost all of that with just two counselors.

At ~15 rescues in, I lose Wyatt to what felt like a really dumb unforced error: I thought he was safe on a trap near the cabin, but then he got eaten anyway because nope, no trap.

And then, at ~30 rescues, I lost Dave the same way, on the exact same tile. Pair of tombstones right there. I pretty much assumed the game was over but felt I should give it a go anyway. Ashley and Pierce got busy running all over the map, Ash getting to do a bit more killing than usual, Pierce putting those long-ass legs to work.

At some point after this, I finally caught on: one of the full moon events is all your traps disappearing. Wyatt and Dave's death were probably still my fault for being inattentive, but at the very least I was being inattentive to the "traps might go away" issue because I had no idea that could happen. Which is a bit thick of me after several games, really; it must have happened a bunch previously. It's a nice devious twist and answers the question that had been lingering in the back of my head: couldn't you just trap the shit out of the forest?

So Pierce and Ash go all Hunger Games on this shit and lock down Camp Keepalive. It's epic. I managed to hit 113 rescues before I lost Ashley.

And I lost her to a genuine unforced error, which is the worst part. I was in a groove, I used her to thin out the local Shambler population a bit and got lazy, finishing her turn up with a kill that left her standing untrapped right next to an Axeman that I didn't notice because he was off-screen to the right of the Shambler she was killing. Oof. And the Axeman was the only monster left on the map, so there wasn't even a chance she'd get by.

It was not a good night to be Pierce.

At 118 rescues, what had been three Wolfmen became six. A randomly chosen monster type doubling up seems to be another one of those bad moon events. I'd seen it a couple times before but only with Shamblers and so I thought maybe it was just a Shambler thing. Nope!

At 121, a couple more Wolfmen have spawned, bringing the total to eight, but they've all spent several turns standing still because Pierce has managed to grab and return every newly spawned kid on his turn, without fail. And so the map zooms from Wolfman to Wolfman, reeling off a quick "The hunt continues..." message eight times. It's a bit silly. (And a bit silly that it does one Wolfman on a given tile, then a Wolfman on some other tile, then back to that original tile to do the second Wolfman, etc. I'm sure it's just iterating through a monster list sorted by something other than current tile, but it's distracting.)

At 125, another Wolfman has spawned and then the full moon doubles their population again. Eighteen of these motherfuckers. All still just scratching their asses, because Pierce is a boss.

Here's a pic from right around then. Most of the Wolfmen are three or four tiles away from the cabin and so off-screen.

(And I've noticed along the way that I was wrong upthread to assume that kids could spawn anywhere but the cabin; they seem in fact only to spawn on grass. Which is actually a nice touch, duality with the monsters and eliminating the super-cheap feeling possibility of a kid spawning on top of a newly spawned monster or vice versa. So there are really only 30 possible spawn points for kids. Okay! And in my game, 10 of the 16 tiles in the two-tiles-distant square outside the cabin's default grass perimeter were also grass, which meant I had an 18/30 or 60% chance of any given camper spawning within Pierce's same-turn-rescue radius.)

Also at 125, an Axeman gets to take a turn. It's been so long since that's happened that I honestly forgot he was even around. (The process for choosing a move must be to pick a random monster from all present and then move that monster's monster-type, rather than selecting a monster-type from those on the board. So the more of a given monster on the board, the greater the chance that that type will be moving. Good to know!)

Forgotten Axeman is south of the cabin a bit, and menaces one step north toward me. Hi, buddy! Thank you for not scowling at me eighteen times, at least.

Finally, at 127 rescues, a kid spawns three tiles from the cabin. Shiiiit, Pierce. The kid has a pair of Wolfmen to the left of him and that solitary Axeman above and to the right. I send Pierce down to him, and then with his fourth move take him and the camper down and right, so that he's two tiles from both the Wolfmen and the Axeman. There's still hope!

Eighteen Wolfmen move. A couple die on traps, most just head south or southwest without event, clumping up around the cabin. The two near me get cozy to my left. The Axeman saunters down to where he's directly above me. A Shambler spawns in the distance, as if to remind us all that they exist.

There's still a navigable path to the cabin. It's gonna be alright. Pierce has done it again. Everything is okay. Everything is fine. I'm starting to get my third wind, starting to think, you know what, Pierce is fast and Wolfmen are slow and I'll run circles around this whole goddam campground if that's what it takes. In my head I'm winning an Olympic medal in the 1600 meter Being Fucking Amazing. The crowd loves me. Roll credits, "Salisbury Hill" by Peter Gabriel, the sun is shining brighter than it ever has or ever will again.

And then some braindead little crapsack spawns right next to the cabin.

Pierce can get back to the cabin in four moves. He can get to that kid in four moves. He can't get that kid and get back to the cabin. There are like five Wolfmen adjacent to the kid. Pierce has a trap on him, but that's no good against a whole manpack of wolf duders.

Four campers are already dead, so that latest little buddy can't be a write-off, but Pierce can't save him.

The kid'll have to save himself. He'll have to roll a die and get "go west". It's a one in eight chance. Pierce runs in the 128th rescue and shouts at the new kid to get his ass in here. Pierce thinks of Dave, who was always so good with kids.

The kid wanders off. The kid gets eaten. Campers are stupid.
posted by cortex at 4:40 PM on February 24, 2013 [4 favorites]

So you liked it at all whatsoever.

I think there's a very interesting basic setup for the game: you play a group of counselors exploring the camp and fighting off an invasion of monsters. Search the cabins for useful thing! Get better weapons! Explore the forest, find the cave, and the secret lair of the ringleader of the monster invasion! Save your charges from the monsters!

Shame LJN made it.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:41 PM on February 24, 2013

Thanks for the welcome! I got an account a while back as just a way to support mefi, but I've been reading since forever.

It's probably not a huge surprise, but we originally prototyped this as a board game. We had a deck of woods and meadow spaces that we shuffled to figure out where the next camper or monster would appear in. This is actually part of the code! so you should see all spaces of a certain type being used before a repeat occurs. We had Pleathermask's target (originally, we just called him a nemesis) be public info. I forget how we determined random movement... probably just a d8.

The full moon event either destroys all traps, turns all unaccompanied campers into werewolves, or causes all monsters of a single type to duplicate. In playtesting, people got too good at survival mode, so we needed something to shake that up. It also used to be that Wyatt could place a trap without spending an AP... you can imagine the imbalance that resulted.
posted by klembot at 7:52 AM on February 25, 2013

Ha! That's awesome. I feel both silly and gratified for inadvertently trying to take the whole thing full circle.

so you should see all spaces of a certain type being used before a repeat occurs

That's clever, and some useful card-counting info too though I'm betting there's no chance I'll be able to keep track of 56 spawn events in my head, so that's totally fair. Decks of cards are certainly a bit less futzy than any of the other solutions for the notional board game approach in any case.

It also used to be that Wyatt could place a trap without spending an AP... you can imagine the imbalance that resulted.

Wyatt's a subtle dude, and I like that. Bunch of traps isn't immediately super useful because it's not like he can do move-and-trap twice in a turn, but once I started using him to do more of an extended rescue type thing the ability to relocate a couple times safely (and if it turns out to be a safe trip, leave the woods mined a bit to boot) I started to really sort of see him redeemed as a member of the team.

My adventure with just Pierce and Ashley has me thinking about the balancing effects of losing counselors; definitely it's a disadvantage to lose the sort of wide coverage you get from potentially having counselors in all four quadrants to rescue/trap/dance with the monsters, but at the same time you get (a) a more predictable skillset per turn because you go through your cycle faster, and (b) any given counselor is stuck standing in place for less time. With four counselors the worst-case on a monster threat was up to four turns of spawning and movement before I could get a counselor out of danger; with just two, I only had to account for two turns. And while I think solo counselor's negatives probably significantly outweigh the positives, I suspect that Pierce operating solo could have actually gone for a better run if it hadn't been for the tremendous number of werewolves hanging around outside of camp.

I might have to do a few intentionally short-handed runs to play with this a bit. It might be something to consider tweaking if it turns out that "kill off a couple people" is actually a dominant strategy, though I'm not sure how—actually outright skipping dead counselor's turns as non-turns would certainly throw a wrench in the gears there but I'm guessing you guys considered that at some point and found it to be actually a *crushing* disability. I guess I could play with it by killing a couple counselors and then doing End Turn every other round to see if things are at all viable.
posted by cortex at 8:34 AM on February 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

I would have to agree that Wyatt is primarily useful as Strider, walking the wilderness alone for months at a time, and that the game seems to get noticeably easier when you lose one or two counselors. (Wyatt tends to be my first death, usually when I get cocky and leave him on an untrapped space for a round.) Not sure what the fix would be for "losing a counselor is kind of a bonus," nor that it really even needs a fix, necessarily.

Also, how many times can a camper randomly move to the same space a Shambler from two spaces away also moves to? Because that seems to happen a LOT.
posted by Scattercat at 7:19 PM on February 28, 2013

Update in case anyone is still reading:

WASD for moving the camera would be muy muy bien, por favor.
posted by Scattercat at 3:04 PM on March 1, 2013

I'd really like to see the bug that causes the game to freeze up when Dave uses "gather" as the final action of his turn.
posted by asnider at 12:58 PM on March 17, 2013

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