Do You Know Party/Social Game Mafia? (Or “Werewolf”)

I’m not talking about the video game mafia. I’m talking about the mafia party game also known as “Werewolf”.

I’ve played this game live for couple of times and it was the most fun experience I’ve probably ever got out of gaming. We had 8-9 guys and it was amazingly fun. The whole idea of “two secret werewolves and 6 villagers” is an amazingly simple concept, yet it works. (Those who want more information should check the wiki page for more info).

I also very much enjoyed playing Battlestar Galactica which uses a traitor mechanism which makes the game interesting.

I’ve been pondering how to translate this game into a video game, and seen 2 different approaches:

#1: real time (or almost real time) approach:
I’m thinking somehow tie the idea into a real time in such way that for example there’s 3 players in a multiplayer game. 2 of the players are in the side of “good guys” and 1 is “bad guy”. Good guys don’t know who the bad guys is.

The players represent for example fighters who need to combat monsters. Players secretly choose their actions so that it’s not clear how much each person does damage to the monster (but there will be some clues though). The bad guy of course tries to sabotage and keep the monsters alive, while the good guys try to beat the monsters. The game ends after any one player dies (if it’s a good guy, then bad guy wins. If it’s a bad guy, then good guy wins), or when all the monsters are defeated (good guys victory).

By making the game real time, there is certain amount of pressure to handle actions. It also ensures that game moves forward and makes the game slightly similar to the social party game, of course leaving stuff like body language away.

#2: turn based approach
Similar to Mafia games played on forums, or Battlestar Galactica: players encounter something (whether it’s monsters or events or whatever) that they need to collaboratively beat.

No time pressures necessarily, but I’m pondering how well turn based system transforms into a video game.

Technology
Both of these could be (possibly) created with PHP/SQL/Ajax based system (although “real time” would need to be faked here, in reality it would take at least some seconds to get responses). Another option is to use some game engine with a real online multiplayer option, which would get the real multiplayer options here but would possibly be more work to create.

Themes
The game theme could be anything. Mafia. Werewolves. It could be about “a group of heroes who have just beaten the dragon, got their gold just to realize that there’s one traitor in the group”.

It could be about a heist done wrong (Reservoir Dogs style) where the players point guns towards each other and try to figure out who is the freaking rat.

It could be about a group of survivors fighting against hordes of zombies – with one survivor being infected…

Donuts model
In order to get donuts from this game I’m thinking that there would be couple of options:

  • Pay for customization (pay for gear/make character look cooler than others/badges and stuff)
  • Pay for expansions (additional events, items, characters, stuff could be added in the game when there’s at least one guy playing who has unlocked the expansions)

If the game was an online multiplayer only, it would be important to keep the base game free to build a good player base.

Back to design
Anyway.

This is one online multiplayer game design I’m considering. It has several good points: it resembles the game I’ve enjoyed playing, I have somewhat tested the design with different board games, it could be relatively budget friendly game to create and perhaps quite easy to prototype as well.

I have some other ideas lying in my head (like these ideas). I’ll be writing more about these in public – I’ve noticed that when writing things down (and especially to public) there will be unexpected things happening…

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