The Case Study

Here you can find the most current version of our case study. It’s is a cooperative game in which the players dodge malevolent forces to reach friendly territory. It’s easy to learn, and plays quickly.

The case study is available in both digital and analog forms:

Windows 64-bit:

Mac OSX Universal:

Unity Web Player:


Over the Next Dune – Print and Play – 8-18-14

The print-and-play file is designed to be easy your printer ink while still creating legible, intuitive game components.

The case study is still under development; you can follow along via the posts on this blog. Look for posts tagged “the case study,” or check “The Case Study” in the category menu.

Have fun, and let me know what you think!

6 thoughts on “The Case Study

  1. It’s not intuitive that we need to reach the water, but only the water at the far end of the island. Make the rest of the water impassable mountains or something?

    How far do the animals move? I was surprised when they moved quite far. If the adventurers are moving 5 and the animals are moving 5, does it make sense to break the game up into smaller units? 1 at a time?

    What determines when the animals turn?

    Why do animals exist on a specific space, but have a reach beyond that space?

    Why do animals get free movement when you move an adventurer they can hear? Maybe the animal just heads that direction on its own turn. Do animals not spend extra movement on cliffs?

    What are the chances of an attempted rescue? What are the results? If the animal doesn’t go away, won’t it just capture again?

    1. – You’re absolutely right about the water. I’ll change the non-goal water to mountains for the next release.

      A few of the next questions are addressed in the detailed rules . . . that didn’t make it into this version. Mental note, I need to include this information!

      – The animals move 6. Movement values have changed over time; off the top of my head I think it was 5 for animals and 4 for adventurers, and then 6/4, before the current 6/5. I’m not sold that 6/5 is correct, though, and breaking up movement into 3/2 is definitely worth testing (though I wonder if that will feel too limiting for the player).

      – The animals turn when their sight range (the 3 x 3 box) meets the water. They turn by “bouncing off” at a 90- or 45-degree angle, depending on how they were moving when they contacted it. (I.e., if an animal goes straight into the water it will turn around to move straight away from the water; if it hits the water at a 45-degree angle it will turn 90 degrees and continue away from the water at a 45-degree angle.)

      – Giving the animals reach beyond their physical location is meant to increase the challenge for the player. The board is big enough that if the animals occupied only a 1×1 area (as opposed to their current 3×3) they would be much easier to avoid.

      I admit that that’s kind of circular; the animals are big because the board is big, but the size of the animals in part justifies the size of the board. Over time I’ve considered shrinking the board, and maybe that’s a path I should consider more seriously.

      I’m curious: did you find the animals’ reach objectionable, or just odd? Do the graphics contribute to how you feel? I’m not convinced that the way I have the sprites set up clearly communicates what the zones mean.

      I’m going to take the next two questions in reverse order . . .

      – Rescues always succeed if the three-adventurer requirement is met. (If you’re finding this not to be the case please let me know–that’s a bug.) The button is “Attempt Rescue” rather than “Rescue” because there are requirements it’s possible not to satisfy, but I can see how that would be confusing. I’ll make sure to change it.

      A successful rescue allows the captured adventurer(s) to be placed in any open square in the capturing animal’s hearing range. A square is open if it does not contain a player or an animal, and is not within an animal’s sight range (you can’t place an adventurer where he or she would immediately be recaptured.) The rescued adventurer(s) move normally that turn.

      It’s possible that the animal will immediately capture the rescued adventurer(s), or others, after a rescue. That’s intended to put pressure on the player to move the animal into a less dangerous location, and to set up the rescue so that such a move will be possible.

      – More generally, the adventurers can move the animals because I wanted to try building a game where players could move opposing pieces as well as their own. 🙂 The exact nature of the searchers has changed over time, and frankly the thematic justification for what’s happening has never been very strong. However, I think the mechanic of deflecting unstoppable forces has a lot of potential.

      This also feeds into why animals have their reach displayed on screen. I wanted to provide a reminder of how close adventurers have to be to drag an animal, and in the process emphasize that dragging is important, both as a danger and as a tool. What I haven’t determined yet is (a) whether that results in too much visual clutter, and (b) whether other parts of the game are properly tuned to make dragging matter.

      (I should really say “what I *know* I haven’t determined yet.” I’m sure there are things I need to work out that I’m not yet aware of. 😉 )

      I previously tested a version wherein adventurers could cause animals to move in a certain direction on the animals’ turn. The game play was interesting, but it had a lot of rules overhead and distracted from dragging animals as a tool for changing the board state. My current feeling is that it’s better to focus on the dragging and get it exactly right.

      Animals do not spend extra movement on cliffs. This made more thematic sense in previous versions of the game, which had spotlights or other humans doing the searching, since it was easier to explain why they weren’t hindered by terrain (e.g., searching humans are driving vehicles). From a game play perspective, though, I think it works; frankly, the game is probably too easy right now, and having only the adventurers affected by the cliffs mitigates that a bit.

      Jay, thanks as always for your comments. You’ve really helped me see things I need to prioritize, both in terms of features and in terms of testing. Much appreciated!

  2. Thematically, each being taking one space makes sense, as does the sight and hearing ranges. Getting to capture a traveler an animal can see makes no thematic sense. The animal can move exactly so far each turn, and it presumably doesn’t have tentacles that can reach everything it can see. This is based on the explanation of sight range, not the sprites. If an animal gets a free movement to a space it can see representing a final lunge, that would make more sense, particularly since animals probably aren’t running at full tilt the whole game. (You can similarly justify animals following during your turn as them running after you.)

    I was entirely unable to last more than a few turns in the games I played. The animals moved too quickly to avoid (and I didn’t understand how far they moved or when they turned, based on the existing How to Play). Once you’re heard, there’s no possible escape I can see.

    I never got to attempt an escape. Based on the How to Play, it seemed like there would be some percentage chance of success. How do you put an animal in a less dangerous location? The only way to influence an animal is to make it follow you, which is very dangerous. Do you move the animal when you rescue?

    1. Animals actually shifting to the location of adventurers they capture is a great idea, and your criticism regarding the unnatural movement of the animals is absolutely right. The current rules are hold-overs from when the searchers were sweeping spotlights; in that context it made more sense for them to move at a consistent rate. The new theme demands new behaviors.

      You don’t move the animal as part of the rescue, but you can move it before and after. Thus, it’s possible to have an adventurer who’s in hearing range behind an animal lure it closer to other adventurers (animals won’t turn around at random–only when they hit an edge or to follow a trail–so there are predictable safe spots behind them). Then some other adventurer(s) can lure the animal to a place where there are no adventurers in its path.

      The reason all this works–and this needs to be made clear up front, I erred in not doing so–is that animals don’t insist on *keeping* adventurers in hearing range. If an adventurer moves in an animal’s hearing range, the animal will follow even if doing so means leaving behind other adventurers. As a result, an adventurer can get into hearing range and trick the animal away from an imperiled compatriot.

      (Similarly, when it comes to the animal’s turn the animal will proceed even if that takes it away from adventurers currently in its hearing range; notionally, those adventurers have stopped moving to hide, and so there’s no more sound to follow and the animal gives up the chase and goes on its way.)

      Your comments about the rules have brought home to me that my current playtesters–who are very awesome!–have been playing the game for a long time, and that it’s therefore been a while since I had to present how the game works under the hood. I underestimated how much of that information is needed to play. I’ll rectify that in the next release, which will probably be Wednesday of next week.

      1. I definitely did not get that an animal only follows adventurers it can hear during the adventurer’s turn. That surely changes the game drastically. Explains why a feat that was clearly impossible you described as a little too easy. Ha!

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