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zaiga
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Together with a friend of mine I have been designing a tile-laying, citybuiling game which we call "Urban Construct". We are now the beta-testing the prototype and we got a lot of enthousiastic responses so far. My girlfriend likes it even better than Carcassonne, but she is biased of course. ;-)

The game is loosely based on the computer game Sim City. In Urban Construct all players add buildings and roads to a city. When the city grows certain "factors" such as Tax Income, Population, Work, Pollution and Crime will increase. For example, building a factory means that there is more Work, but it will also raise Pollution. With a Policestation Crime will decrease, etc.

At the start of the game each players gets assigned a goal, which they keep secret. For example, a goal could be to get Population over 16 and try to keep pollution under 5. If you succeed in this at the end of the game you will get victory points for it. There are also certain buildings that award victory points. There are a few "large" buildings in the game which alter the rules of the game, allowing some interesting things to happen.

Each player has a hand of 5 cards. At the end of their turn the players draw new cards from 3 face-up piles (refilling their hands to 5 cards) and income is collected (equal to Tax Income). The game is over when 8 End Game cards have been drawn. Winner is whoever has the most victory points (tie-breakers decided by who has the most money).

Urban Construct turned out much "lighter" than expected. Rules are simple, but the interaction between buildings can be pretty interesting and at first it can be hard to figure out what strategy to follow. Also, getting acquinted to the different buildings in the game takes some time, but as players learn what the buildings do play speeds up considerably. It is not a very strategic game, more a tactical game with a healthy dose of luck. It certainly is fun to play, very social and non-confrontational (you can

hpox
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Wow! Fantastic post.

I agree with everything you said, especially about streamlining. It cannot be said enough that making the game "clear" and uncluttered is very, very important (to me at least, and you it seems).

Numbers are no fun, true and high numbers are confusing. Unless you really need 0 to 500, 1 to ~10 is enough! :-]

I really like the way you solved your tension problem, that

Anonymous
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That sounds like a great game! How have you approached the artwork problem so far? Are you looking for more testers at this point? I

Anonymous
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I thought this was an excellent post, and would greatly appreciate even more development on this subject. Is there any way you could back up a step and let us know how you came up with the idea, where you got the mechanics ideas from, etc.? I am usually very adept at making the rules work once I have the basic idea and mechanics, but that first step or two is always the hardest for me. Maybe sharing your process will help others.

zaiga
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Thanks for the replies guys.

> "I agree with everything you said, especially about streamlining. It cannot be said enough that making the game "clear" and uncluttered is very, very important (to me at least, and you it seems). "

I cannot stress this enough, either. Less is absolutely more. Furthermore, if you use less components the game will be cheaper to produce.

> "A way to solve your problem about endgame tile being on the top is to shuffle them in the lower half of the stack. Just a little one-line "preparation" rule. "

Well, it

zaiga
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> "Is there any way you could back up a step and let us know how you came up with the idea, where you got the mechanics ideas from, etc.?"

At the time I was playing Sim City a lot, so that is basically where the idea came from. Then of course you need to convert this idea into a boardgame, which can be hard.

The "problem" with converting computergames to boardgames is that you will have to dramatically reduce complexity. This is even more true in a management game like Sim City. So, you have to simplify.

What is Sim City really about? What is it

Cyberchrist
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Always a pleasure reading how other people solve problems.
When thinking on how many copies simcity have sold and how the market seem to love tile based games, i think you have a potential hit there !

The best of luck to you!

Anonymous
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Zaiga - excellent series of posts. Thank you for taking the time to tell of your experiences so far :-]

I think you should consider setting up a Game Journal to

Scurra
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Just to second what everyone else has said - a great set of articles and an interesting game idea.
The original SimCity card game had a lot of potential but got rather spoilt by trying to cash in on the ccg craze when it could have worked well as stand-alone game. So it

zaiga
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Quote:
08-03-2003 at 09:38, Scurra wrote:
The different goals sounds like fun. Would there be any mileage in a "choice" mechanism, like in "Careers" where you choose a permutation of goals that would add up to a predefined number, or would that be invalidated by the concepts (I assume that population would generally grow etc.) ?

Due to the nature of the game we have chosen for a fixed number of combination of goals. It

sedjtroll
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Placement of buildings

Without knowing what the rules are, it's difficult to understand how the game is supposed to work. I'm wondering exactly how you deal with the placing of buildings - how it makes a difference where the building is placed.

In Sim City of course it doesn't matter WHERE the building is placed, the people just care if there's enough Police Stations or Fire Departments or whatever. You mentioned in your posts (by the way, as everyone has said- props on the posts and also on the detailed game journal) that you've made the location of buildings matter. I'd be interested to know how.

As for playing a tile upside down to dump it from the hand- I think that's great. I don't know what your tiles look like, but perhaps the back of the tiles should have roads pinted on them- either just a straight segment, or you could get crazy and have some turn, others fork, and others still just go straight. I don't know if that is a concern in your game, or if it would even be a good idea, but that's what I thought of when I read about the upside down tiles played as roads ;)

Good luck with Urban Construct!

- Seth

zaiga
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Re: Placement of buildings

sedjtroll wrote:
Without knowing what the rules are, it's difficult to understand how the game is supposed to work. I'm wondering exactly how you deal with the placing of buildings - how it makes a difference where the building is placed.

In Sim City of course it doesn't matter WHERE the building is placed, the people just care if there's enough Police Stations or Fire Departments or whatever. You mentioned in your posts (by the way, as everyone has said- props on the posts and also on the detailed game journal) that you've made the location of buildings matter. I'd be interested to know how.

First, it DOES matter where you place your buildings in SimCity. For example, it is much better to spread Industry if you want to keep down the amount of pollution somewhat. You also want to think about where you place residence area's and commerce and industry with regard to traffic and you want to place policestations in area's where there is a lot of crime, for example.

Now, Urban Construct does not have the amount of detailed simulation as SimCity, but it does matter a lot where you place your buildings. For example, if you cluster industry that will increase Work (=good) but it will also increase Pollution (=bad).

An example building would be:

Metalfactory (industry) - 1 VP
Cost: 5 credits
Work: +1
Pollution: +1
Raise Work and Pollution with 1 for each adjacent Industry.

This is actually one of the most complicated buildings in the game (in terms of amount of information). Urban Construct is first and foremost a game and not a simulation.

sedjtroll wrote:

As for playing a tile upside down to dump it from the hand- I think that's great. I don't know what your tiles look like, but perhaps the back of the tiles should have roads pinted on them- either just a straight segment, or you could get crazy and have some turn, others fork, and others still just go straight. I don't know if that is a concern in your game, or if it would even be a good idea, but that's what I thought of when I read about the upside down tiles played as roads ;)

The back of the tiles have indeed a picture of a road (a crossing). Having turns and forks and such would look great, but I don't want that the back of a tile matters for gameplay, that would be just very unwieldy. By having a crossing on the back of the tile it always "fits".

Thanks for the comments!

sedjtroll
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Re: Placement of buildings

zaiga wrote:
Metalfactory (industry) - 1 VP
Cost: 5 credits
Work: +1
Pollution: +1
Raise Work and Pollution with 1 for each adjacent Industry.

What defines "adjacent industry"? Is it only Industry tiles in the adjacent squares? So if a Metalfactory is completely surrounded by roads is the pollution increase sort of nullified (no other tiles get increased pollution), or is it somehow the closest industry tile is affected?

I think I am beggining to understand.., So the pollution is not an overall "how much pollution is there in the city," but more like "how much pollution is there per tile", is that right? Does Work and Crime and everything work the same way?

- Seth

zaiga
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Re: Placement of buildings

sedjtroll wrote:
What defines "adjacent industry"? Is it only Industry tiles in the adjacent squares? So if a Metalfactory is completely surrounded by roads is the pollution increase sort of nullified (no other tiles get increased pollution), or is it somehow the closest industry tile is affected?

When you place the Metalfactory tile you check if there are any industry tiles directly adjacent (orthogonally) to the tile you just placed. If so, raise Work and Pollution with 1 for each adjacent Industry.

So yes, if the Metalfactory is placed in a spot that is only surrounded by roads, that doesn't have an effect on Work and Pollution.

sedjtroll wrote:
I think I am beggining to understand.., So the pollution is not an overall "how much pollution is there in the city," but more like "how much pollution is there per tile", is that right? Does Work and Crime and everything work the same way?

No, you keep track of the total Pollution in the city. You just check how much to adjust Pollution (or any other factor for that matter) when you place a new tile.

sedjtroll
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Re: Placement of buildings

zaiga wrote:
No, you keep track of the total Pollution in the city. You just check how much to adjust Pollution (or any other factor for that matter) when you place a new tile.

Ahh, I didn't get it... but I think I do now. So then do you need to keep track of the additional pollution on the Metalfactory (like if it's placed next to 2 industry tiles, it gets +2 Pollution)...

I guess you don't have to do that, cause you could always just count again.

I somehow misread what you had said before- I thought the Metalfactory increased the pollution of the neighboring Industry tiles, not the other way around.

- Seth

zaiga
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Re: Placement of buildings

sedjtroll wrote:
Ahh, I didn't get it... but I think I do now. So then do you need to keep track of the additional pollution on the Metalfactory (like if it's placed next to 2 industry tiles, it gets +2 Pollution)...

You keep track of the total of Pollution (and the other factors such as Income, Population, Work, Fun and Crime) on a scoreboard, so you don't have to look at the tiles to see how much Pollution there is in the city.

For the game it really is irrelevant which tile exactly caused how much Pollution. Only the total of Pollution in the city is relevant.[/i]

zaiga
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Lessons learned

I'm brainstorming about special buildings or city-area's. I can't come up with something sensible for a special building or city-area that would both increase Population and Pollution.

Any ideas?

Scurra
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Multiplex? Gives you increased population (thanks to the back row) and increased pollution (thanks to the polystyrene that masquerades as popcorn.)

Um, no I can't think of one either :)

sedjtroll
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zaiga wrote:
I'm brainstorming about special buildings or city-area's. I can't come up with something sensible for a special building or city-area that would both increase Population and Pollution.

Any ideas?

Something car-friendly- or maybe an all inclusive shopping mall. Something that increases traffic (thereby pollution) but would be a big draw for people like a convenience or luxury.

Ah... a sports stadium!

- Seth

FastLearner
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Also a car racetrack, especially things like dragsters that just pour pollution but seem to attract people.

Both the stadium and the racetrack mostly just increase population during events, it seems like. I'm hard-pressed to think of anything that makes people move to an area that also increases pollution (other than a factory, which you already have doing something else).

jwarrend
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How about a heavily air-conditioned apartment hi-rise?

Anonymous
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An Airport.

sedjtroll
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The_Ender wrote:
An Airport.

By jpve I think he's got it.

zaiga
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I like the luxury apartment hi-rise idea better. A Stadium would increase Fun in the city and an Airport would attract Work (which in turn attracts people, but that is one step too far).

Thanks for the ideas guys, I really appreciate it!

sedjtroll
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zaiga wrote:
I like the luxury apartment hi-rise idea better. A Stadium would increase Fun in the city and an Airport would attract Work (which in turn attracts people, but that is one step too far).

Thanks for the ideas guys, I really appreciate it!

I don't know if an airport attracts work, per se. I'd go with the airport increasing population and pollution.

- Seth

zaiga
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sedjtroll wrote:
I don't know if an airport attracts work, per se. I'd go with the airport increasing population and pollution.

I find that very illogical. How does an Airport increase Population? People go live in the hangars or something? :wink:

sedjtroll
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zaiga wrote:
I find that very illogical. How does an Airport increase Population? People go live in the hangars or something? :wink:

Same reason lots of people live in big cities than in small towns. If there's an Airport, then the city is more connected. people who take frequent business trips or travel a lot would rather live near an airport than in a city without one, etc.

zaiga
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I see what you mean Sedj, but UC just doesn't work that way. Appartments and such increase Population. An Airport would indirectlyattract people, but they still need a place to live in.

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