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Brain Dead on a Theme

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nickdanger
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Joined: 12/31/1969

Hi BGDF patrons!

It's been awhile since I've dropped by, with a real busy year taking priority over the fun stuff in life. Anyway, I've been getting bit by the design bug again and have been finishing off some older stuff I've had kicking around and starting new projects, which brings me to the point of this post.

I have a game going into the prototype/playtest phase but I just can't seem to come up with a theme to glue everything together. Here's an overview of the play:

You begin with an empty plot of land. The players build road, rivers, and railroads on it as well as parking lots for future buildings and grass areas to become parks. There are also cars, boats, and trains that can travel over the newly built paths.

Scoring is done by various means which include points for adding onto exisiting paths/areas, "capping" off a pathway, claiming a parking lot for your building, closing off park areas and also moving the vehicles.

While there's a general construction or city building "feel" to the game I can't seem to come up with a theme storyline that I like. You know, the type of thing like: "You play the part of a foreman on a construction crew vying for rights to build... blah, blah, blah."

I was hoping someone could toss out some suggestions and maybe spark an idea I could fan into flames for this game.

- Nick

phpbbadmin
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Joined: 04/23/2013
...

President of a contracting company that bids against other contractors for lucrative government contracts? Or you could swing the other side and be a town council person who tries to give contracts to his contractor buddies.

Just a thought.
Darke

Anonymous
Brain Dead on a Theme

Or you could take it from the perspective of the construction worker with chances to make a little extra on the side as long as they don't get caught...

Zzzzz
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Brain Dead on a Theme

Since it seems like you are trying to "build a town", it might be interesting to come at it from a town/city council or mayor position as Darke suggested.

Question for you, do all players build in the same area, or does each player have seperate land area of their own to build upon?

The first option of having all players build "within the city limits" (thus the same piece of land) could introduce some fun interaction. Maybe the players represent a member of the town/city council and they all try to push/lobby for what they are trying to build in the various areas of the city.

As a side note, It seems to me that your game in similar to the original SimCity computer game. Where you play a mayor of a city, building roads, railways, buildings, parks, airports, etc. Not sure if there is a board version of SimCity but you might want to check and see, just for fun.

Not sure I helped much, but maybe it will help you start thinking.....

Oracle
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Brain Dead on a Theme

The direction Zzzzz is moving sounds like a great game. You haven't given us much detail, but I like the idea of the players being lobbyist trying to get what they want built/zoned. The city council can be an in-game mechanic where players can try to bribe the council or find more legitimate ways to get influence.

Jason

nickdanger
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Brain Dead on a Theme

Thanks for the suggestions. Kind of odd how 2 of the 4 replies are from Rochester, NY - my old home town.

I think you did give me some food for thought though and have given me some ideas I need to expand upon. I guess the game does sound a but "simcity-ish" but in all honesty it's much more abstract than that. The theme of city building is just slightly more than pasted on.

As I said, I'm in the process of building the prototype now so I expect there to be changes to the gameplay. I'm just hoping I can mold the changes into helping shape the theme and not take away from it.

But in the end none of my games to date are anything you'd call close to theme heavy. Shoot, even my car racing game (Car Tricks) doesn't come close to evoking a feeling of racing!

I had a play tester finish a game of Castle Merchants saying that the game could be about most anything. I agreed saying that while the theme of delivering goods to castles fit, it could easily be themed into just about anything with the proper window dressing.

Funny, that while theme isn't important to me game play wise, it does have quite some importance for me in regards to presentation. Probably just a character flaw!

Thanks for the input, it really did give me some ideas to build on.

- Nick

Trickydicky
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Brain Dead on a Theme

Another theme, that could be fun(ny) is if all the player's are old coots about to kick the bucket and they want their name on the most buildings/parks/roads in town so it is a race to donate the most money to ensure that such and such building is named after them. Just thoughts....

Anonymous
Brain Dead on a Theme

The game sounds a little bit like Fresh Fish (http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/1017). In Fresh Fish you build roads, parks and buildings. The goal is to build the shortest road from the dock to your fish store. Maybe you could theme the game based more on the objective rather than the mechanic.

Jonathan

nickdanger
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Brain Dead on a Theme

That's part of my problem in so much as there is no clear cut objective. It's more grabbing at and making the most of a bunch of scoring opportunities. A quick overview:

There are 5 different hex types - street, river, rail, grass, and gravel. Through card play you place hexes onto the board. There are also running bids for the rights to "cap" the pathways and/or moving vehicles along the paths.

You score minor points for extending existing paths or areas and major points for moving vehicles, capping off paths, closing off park areas and claiming parking lots (gravel) for your business.

Plus there are ways to disrupt the plans of others and turn their high bids into wasted moves by discovering sinkholes.

As you see, there is no real definable goal except get the most points. Hence my dilemma on theme other than some sort of loose city construction thing. I can't even come up with a decent name for the thing yet and have simply been referring to it under the codename Hextown.

benedict
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Joined: 08/16/2009
Brain Dead on a Theme

nickdanger wrote:
As you see, there is no real definable goal except get the most points.

What signals the end of the game?

Knowing this may help people when considering a theme.

Phillip

nickdanger
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Brain Dead on a Theme

I'm still toying with a few things yet on this design, endgame condition being one of them. Currently the game ends when one player has no legal cardplay on his turn (players are required to play at least one card per turn).

So far I kind of like how that is working out, but I am not completely sold on it yet.

Anonymous
Ant Farm!

What about calling it Ant Farm?
You're building a colony, with areas for parking (egg storage), building (queen's palace), and three types of paths...roads (branching networks for workers, boats (leaf boats to cross puddles), and trains (dedicated drone tunnels to connect palaces). There are several games on BGG with 'Ant' in the title, but no one has done a game called 'Ant Farm.'
What you think?
John M. Green

Anonymous
Brain Dead on a Theme

Based on your description, I would simply call the game Henderson, NV.

Hedge-o-Matic
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Brain Dead on a Theme

How about a shace ctation or colony? What about an evolving single-celled organism? A self-formulating nanite structure? A rapidly-deploying military base? A factory floorplan being created by opposed collaborators who are trying to get the other person fired by making their ideas cost the company the most through inefficiency?

If the game isn't married ot a theme yet, give your imagination more leeway. An original theme would give your game unexpected new life, and may suggest a suitable goal.

FastLearner
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Brain Dead on a Theme

Wow, this was sure dug up from its grave. :)

Wonder if Nick has come up with a theme he likes in the 6 months since he posted the question.

-- Matthew

Hedge-o-Matic
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Brain Dead on a Theme

Wow. Didn't notice the initial posting date. Eew! A zombie thread!

Challengers
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Brain Dead on a Theme

The last two posts had me leaking tears of laughter!

>whoo< Now, then (he said, oxymoronically) ... Is there anything wrong with replying to old posts if you want to add your input - or should we start a new thread? (And why would we start a new thread when we want to respond to something that's already there?!)

FastLearner
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Brain Dead on a Theme

No, replying to old threads is great!

This was just an example of one where it doesn't make quite at much sense to reply later. But seriously, Nick still might not have been satisfied with a theme, so it's cool. Just something to keep in mind.

-- Matthew

nickdanger
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Brain Dead on a Theme

FastLearner wrote:
Nick still might not have been satisfied with a theme, so it's cool. Just something to keep in mind.

-- Matthew

This design has been shelved for the time being, but it was interesting to see some new takes on the theme. I'll print them out and stick them in the box - who knows, maybe when/if I revisit the design they'll help steer it in the right direction.

Right now, I have more ideas than time so if an idea stalls out at all I just slide it out of the way and move on to the next one to see where that goes.

The darn thing is I can't swing past the site as much anymore as it's been blocked by the IT guys. What? I can't be trusted?! All because I refuse to use MS Outllook. Damn MS shills. Whattaya mean I'm drifting OT, I'm just getting started....

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