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Thoughts on two-player campaigns


Most of this is about branching.  ;)

If we assume that for every map there are two possible outcome (with two 
players), and that each map completely changes the timeline so that each 
possible outcome requires its own branch, then the total number of maps 
needed for a campaign can be determined by raising 2 by the depth of the 
campaign.  So if a campaign has a depth of 16 maps, then 2^16-1 gives us the 
total number of maps needed: 65,535  (familiar number?  Largest unsigned 16 
bit int, so this math should look familiar ;)  )  My math might be off a 
little bit.

It's safe to assume, though, that a campaign would be regional in scope, and 
while there may be that many different possibilities, it seems like all the 
branches must converge upon each other at various points.  With this taken 
into account, it doesn't seem possible to come up with a formula to account 
for that in a way where I could accurately estimate the number of maps needed 
to make the story in a campaign work with branches for two players.

The goal, of course, would always be to keep the number of maps needed to 
support branching small enough that it's reasonably achievable.

I came up with two alternatives.  One is to just rewrite the stories for each 
map (no unit changes, nothing) to accomodate who wins each map, a reasonable 
goal since it means you need twice as many mission briefings as you'd 
ordinarily need, and you already need twice as many mission briefings as 
maps, so 64 mission briefings for a campaign with a depth of 16 maps.

The other is to just have some sort of scoring system (possibly just a 
standard one, where the first map is 1 point, the second 2, the third 3, the 
fourth 4, and so forth), and just say "The story doesn't make sense for two 
players, so for two players the campaign is 'Play every map and the highest 
score wins'".  This is the simplest solution, I think, because it requires 
the smallest amount of programming and no additional map/story design.  ;)


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