Rogue Scratcher, a lotto hack n slash
After my previous post about using gambling gaming mechanics as video game mechanics I decided to challenge myself to see what I could do with lotto scratcher tickets. I decided as a constraint to attempt to make something that could actually be playable as real scratchers for real money and succeeded! The above images show my “design document” as a sample already scratched ticket and then 2 playtests (the first one ended rather abruptly!) using the simple core mechanics and half-size index cards (looove those!). I definitely plan on tweaking the rules and odds a lot. Below is the rudimentary design as used in the playtest.
Design v1 - Ruff prototype
Initial setup -
The scratch area is basically a grid of 4x8 scratch-off “tiles” divided into 3 areas: Monster combat (3x4 pink/orange tiles on the left, divided into 4 columns of 3), Treasure (1x4 green tiles underneath the combat area), Dungeon map (4x4 green tiles on the right).
Basic gameplay -
“Gameplay” consists of “moving” around the dungeon map by scratching off adjacent tiles starting from your STARting spot (the star tile). What happens depends on what tile you scratch off.
- Empty tile: Empty room, nothing happens.
- X tile: Non-existant room, can’t go this way.
- Question mark tile: Scratch off a treasure tile (see tweaks to try at the bottom of this post for how this might go away) to acquire that treasure.
- Skull tile: Combat with a monster commences, see below.
There are currently 3 types of treasure (may be reduced to 2 by further playtesting):
- Money (in gold pieces for virtual currency, possibly real money prizes for a physical scratcher)
- Health potions (lets you survive a failed monster encounter)
- Exit stairs (represents exiting this dungeon floor to a lower level, may be represented with the real life scratcher by giving you a free ticket of the next level and might also be required to collect prizes)
Dying in combat (losing a monster encounter without a health potion to save you) invalidates all prizes.
Combat is a sort of mock rock/paper/scissors represented by 3 rows (Aggressive attack, Defensive attack/Magic) in 4 columns, 1 per monster encounter. When you encounter a monster you choose an attack type and scratch off the tile in that row for the column of the monster (go from left to right, ie first monster encounter is the leftmost column, fourth monster is the rightmost column). If the revealed tile is a checkmark you defeated the monster (and may receive treasure depending on the tweak results mentioned below), if it’s an X then you are defeated and unless you have an unused health potion then you die and all prizes are invalid and the card is now “trash” (feel free to scratch the rest off to see how things could have played out though). For every health potion you have revealed from treasure tiles you can have 1 combat X without dying (ie if you have 2 revealed health potions you can lose 2 combat rounds but would die if you lose a 3rd).
“Winning” the scratcher -
The game is conceptually similar to Roguelike’s and other dungeon hack n slash games where your purpose is to fight monsters, collect treasure and go to ever deeper levels (via the stairs). While nothing is really carried over between cards (ie if you have a health potion revealed keep fighting until you use it on that card) there is a sense of life and permadeath in that getting and using the stairs will give you a free ticket (to continue your adventure) and let you cash in on the prizes won via treasure. The free ticket may be one of a harder “level” if that system is implement, see below.
Ticket “levels” -
Scratcher lotto tickets are often setup to have varying costs, play styles, odds and prize amounts. In a similar vein there can be multiple levels of dungeon tickets, each representing a “deeper” level of the dungeon, with higher cost, worse odds, possibly slightly varied play style and bigger prizes. If the odds and calculations are done correctly then it should be financially feasible to give out a free ticket of a harder level to anyone who successfully escapes down the stairs of a ticket, allowing a sense of progression and increased risk. For example a player may buy a $1 level 1 ticket, then successfully escape down the stairs and receive a free $2 level 2 ticket, escape again for a $3 level 3 ticket but then lose due to the increased “difficulty”. That player would still receive the prizes he acquired at levels 1 and 2 but not level 3.
It’s hard to see in the pictures of me testing but the first playtest I lost on my second tile reveal due to a monster defeating me right away, sucks but thats the nature of lotto and roguelikes! The second time I made it all the way to escape with some treasure to boot! Had to use my health potion to survie and definitely felt the pressure of having already used it so I took my leave while I could!
I feel like roguelikes and scratchers were an interesting fit for how they both put a lot of importance on the “reveal” and the feeling of harsh fate and bum luck! I do think scratchers could benefit from players feeling like they have choices to make (even if they have nothing to base those choices off of, its still fun feeling like it was your fault rather than just dumb luck). Overall this was super fun to design and I look forward to further testing (I will keep these 32 half-index cards in my back pocket and see what other people think too, how easy is that!?).
Tweaks to try for the next prototype test
- Remove the question mark items, make the treasure instead be rewards for defeating the monsters.
- Add a stair card to the dungeon tiles instead of making it a treasure card.