View Full Version : Natural Selection - The Game

2012-06-09, 03:51 AM
Hello, my illustrious Playgrounders! I have come to you today to propose a possible new game that I would like to request some help with a game idea of mine that I came up with. Sort of.

For a long time now I've been interested in the nature of evolution and how it works in the world. To a certain extent, evolution can be seen in action, such as certain species of fish that are commonly fished growing steadily smaller (because fishers tend to throw the small ones back), or elephants born without tusks becoming progressively more common (despite tusks being a very important tool for their survival), and, of course, the obvious strains of antibiotic resistant bacteria, of which there are many. These, and many other examples, are good because they show evolution in action, but also good because they help to show how exactly evolution works and why it is important (and intriguing).

But, back to the gaming aspect. For as long as I have been interested in evolution, I've also been interested in how to apply it to a setting. To a certain extent, many monsters in different settings are a particular form of their creators trying to think of how creatures would adapt to different situations, but many times they're just trying to think of cool monsters. To me, however, some of the coolest creatures I've ever encountered in a game were just the simple, believable creatures that felt like they belonged.

To that extent, I have decided that creating a game to make new settings might be the best way to get what I want.

Basically, my thought is this: Evolution is terribly complicated. Between natural selection and artificial selection, random mutations and environmental changes (besides everything else), trying to fully simulate Evolution is just an impossible task. Therefore, I want to try to streamline it.

The basis of the game chassis (as I'm envisioning it now; feel free to offer alternatives), is that there are 4 to 6 players. Each player takes control of a species, which can start off with different forms as desired (arthropod, mammal, reptile, avian, what-have-you). The base form will be simple with not too much going for it.

From here, the game gets interesting. Each player has a chance to do something for their species: random mutation, controlled mutation, migration, something along those lines. This allows for each player species to grow and change to perceived threats.

The next part of each round would be the "Gaia" round, for lack of a better term. In this round, each player would take the role of Gaia, or Nature, or even other creatures, and they would go about changing the environment, causes natural disasters, evolving other, non-player species; that sort of thing. This would, of course, alter the events surrounding the player species, which would cause certain mutations to be more or less effective.

Now, I'm not sure how exactly I want the game to be played mechanically. Right now I'm sort of leaning towards a card-based system, simply based on how many options there are, and how much needs to be controlled, but I bet it could be made to be a percentile based system as well.

What I'm really looking for from the Playgrounders are ideas about how this could be made more cohesive/just better in general, and in particular specific ideas based on what we know about real life evolution, because as interested as I am, I am not extremely well educated in biology.

Thoughts? Critiques? Insults?

2012-06-09, 08:54 AM
I've also been really interested in evolution, studying it and just watching it unfold in general most of my life. So I'm very interested in this project of yours and would like to help any way I can. Your ideas for the game so far are solid, I like them.

My first thoughts on it would be to try out a hex map, standard playing cards, and standard 6 sided dice; simply because these things are easy to get for pretty much anyone which makes playtesting easy. I do like the idea of custom cards though, and these days it's fairly cheap and easy to make them. You can buy card sleeves for magic the gathering cards, then stick the paper prototypes in.

Some random thoughts: Could have an evolution deck that you draw from each round but you can only have so many mutations in play at a time. As your species "levels" in some way, you could have more in play at once and more powerful ones.
The gaia deck might be natural disasters, plagues, genetic defects, climate changes, population expansions, etc.
Perhaps you could have multiple win conditions, or it could even be point based. First to sentience, continental dominance, top predator, and the like.

I'm pretty tired so this post is just rambling off the top of my head. I'll digest this over sleep, but I'll leave you with a link to some other homebrew evolution tabletop games: http://www.angelfire.com/games2/warpspawn/OtherGames.html. Ctrl+F evolution and you'll find them, they're on webpages so no downloads required.