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Retail Gross Margin themed game

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Anonymous

I am researching and planning to do a retail gross margin game. Ideally, I want to have it take place inside a mall -- 4 to 5 players max. Each player runs their own store for a full "fiscal" year. Money is earned by driving sells for higher gross margin items (ie: a product that is $5 to make and sells for $35 has a 700% markup and generates more profit than, say, a $15 product that sells for $25 and has a markup of only 67% (Buy low -- sell high). Each player will construct their store in the mall where they feel that it will generate the most business and pull in the most customers.

Anyway, I would like some feedback on what type of game mechanics would suit this style of game. I kind of like "Puerto Rico"'s mechanics and "Princes of Florence", as well as "Union Pacific"'s. Any suggestions would be great. Also, I would like to integrate the use of a card system into it somehow, if possible.

Anonymous
Retail Gross Margin themed game

Quote:
Any suggestions would be great. Also, I would like to integrate the use of a card system into it somehow, if possible.

if you'd like to use cards.. how about if each share of a particular commodity was represented by a card, and the value of each commodity fluctuated based on the number of cards held by shop owners. for example, each commodity could have a row of cards (on the table), which players dip into when they purchase. each commodity's value could be equal to the number of cards left on the table. hence, the more stores selling a thing, the less valuable it becomes.

just a idea off the top of my head, but it seems an easy mechanism for supply and demand.

sedjtroll
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Retail Gross Margin themed game

I like that idea a lot. The question becomes, how do players acquire the 'cards' off the table and how do they put them back?

The first thing I thought of for that is players could bid on each commodity card, or on groups of them, or on the right to choose first, or the right to choose first for one round of chooseing, where there are several total rounds of choosing...

Anyway, that makes people pay for the commodities they want, and the more people get in total, the less each one is worth. Then the player with the most of a commodity is the one that sells that commodity (like the store with the best 'selection' or supply of each commodity is the store that sells the most of it). There could be a second most as well or something. Just something other than "you get X dollars per "toy" card that you have" because you spent Y dollars on each "toy" card and that's just passing money back and forth.

Rather the player with th most "toy" cards should score for Toys, and the player with the most "jewelry" cards [sorry, just trying to think of things you'd sell ata a mall] would score for Jewelry. There could be bonuses for particular combinations, determined either statically or by cards (like you have a card that says you get a bonus for having 2 toy cards and 2 Jewelry cards). You would get that bonus even if someone else had 3 Toy cards. The scoring I'm talking about would be determined as you said by how many of the "commodity" cards are left on the table. If you manage to be the only one to get Toy cards, and there are a lot of Toy cards left on the table, then you would score better (sell more toys) than if people were competing to sell toys and everyone had 1 or 2 toy cards but you have 3 (since there'd be few cards left).

Thats juat some frst impressions. I don't know if it would fit too well into a game about a shopping mall. It sounds like it would fit well with my cooperative tile laying game idea (see game journal for more info)

- Seth

Scurra
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Retail Gross Margin themed game

Have you looked at Fantasy Business - one of the Eurogames Blue Box designs?

That has some neat mechanics for "price setting" in which players try to establish the best price for a good by negotiation (or, as it's normally known, lying :))

Anonymous
Retail Gross Margin themed game

Quote:
the player with th most "toy" cards should score for Toys, and the player with the most "jewelry" cards [sorry, just trying to think of things you'd sell ata a mall] would score for Jewelry. There could be bonuses for particular combinations, determined either statically or by cards (like you have a card that says you get a bonus for having 2 toy cards and 2 Jewelry cards). You would get that bonus even if someone else had 3 Toy cards.

Hey! I think you are definitely hitting on something good here. :D That leads me to this, though, how would store placement and mall traffic be tied in? I was thinking that you could do it similar to the way it is done in Chinatown or Acquire but I have concerns about the randomness of the draw. I would like for the player to have more control over where they decide to put their store. As for mall traffic, I was thinking of using chart and die system, where the chart being used is adjusted for the calender month. For example, May traffic will obviously be much slower than December traffic. Any suggestions to this?

Another thing that I thought would be a good tie-in is offering sales. Say for example, one store offers a buy one get one free sale on smaller priced items while another store offers a store gift card with a purchase of, say, $50 or more. Not sure if this would work well but there it is.

I definitely want to force players to pay overhead like rent, payroll, and utilities. Your thoughts on this?

Thanks a bunch guys!! :D

IngredientX
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Re: Retail Gross Margin themed game

There's an interesting issue of theme, mechanics, and target audiences here...

Speaking for myself: I'm not crazy about the theme. Perhaps it's just me, but unless the mechanic is completely breathtaking, or if there is a healthy injection of humor (silly store names, promotions, etc.), I just wouldn't be pulled into playing it; mall management, retail store management, and dealing with loss leaders and markups, etc. is not a subject that pulls me in.

I'm not saying no one will like it. I know quite a few people who would, in fact. There are probably many gamers who would enjoy the profit strategies in the design, and others who would ignore the theme completele to focus on a game's mechanics instead.

This is a lot like the plight of games like Bohnanza and Bean Trader. I've never played them, and (again, speaking for myself here), they don't have the pull of a game with a stronger theme. I'm sure that if I played them, I'd enjoy them; but I'd have to love the mechanic in order to buy a game with such a dry theme.

On the other hand, one of my favorite games is Chrononauts, by Looney Labs. It's hardly a deep game, and the winner sometimes seems arbitrarily decided. But I love the idea of time travel, and it's so well-implemented in the game that it never fails to put a huge grin on my face.

Note that I am an American, and as trivial as it sounds, Americans tend to pay more attention to theme than mechanics. There's a great Knizia interview where he talks about this difference...

Quote:
In Germany a game is almost entirely associated with its system. There are a lot of critics in Germany and there is a lot of press coverage, even in the big national newspapers, about games and game reviews. They always focus on the game systems and the new challenges, opportunities and choices it offers the player. If I look at the American market, there is much more emphasis on theme. In Germany you differentiate games by system, in America by theme. The world and the story inspire the player so they go into this world and they take a role in this world. In America you're constantly looking for new themes and if you use the same underlying systems it doesn't really matter. Whereas in Germany if you take the same system in two different games it's a 'crime' because you've published the same game. That's a very strong difference.

Take Schotten-Totten in Germany, which became Battle Line in America. The base game is the same except for the latter's tactical cards, which gave more of a wargame flavor and more possibilities to plunge into the theme. In Schotten-Totten the game is relatively abstract. That was very nice for the German market but I felt we needed more for the American market. Graphical presentation also makes a difference.

I had an experience which really brought that home to me and I think it's very useful to illustrate this point. Some years ago I took a game to one of the fairs and showed it to an American publisher and it had an Egyptian theme. I took out the game and the publisher's reaction right away was that it was not right for them because they already had something in the Egyptian category. I tried to implore them to have a look at the game first but they were adamant that they did not need that game. By seeing the theme they already saw the game.

A few weeks later I was with a large publisher in Germany and I took out the same game. The publisher's reaction was that the theme wasn't so good because they already had a theme in that category. Of course they were still very keen to look at the game because the theme could be easily changed later. Two very different approaches about how different people define a game or how they compare games.

Note: paragraph breaks inserted for easier readability. :)

Please don't misunderstand; I'm not saying your idea is boring, or that it's never going to work because the theme is too dry. Obviously, it's gotten an enthusiastic response from several people here, so the theme does "connect." I can easily see a very playable game coming from this idea.

Also, and this should go without saying, just because I'm describing a difference between German and American tastes doesn't necessarily mean that Americans won't be interested in your game. Plenty of Americans prefer mechanics over theme, especially in gamers' circles.

But be aware that there's an aesthetic variable you're dealing with, and you may encounter a good percentage of gamers who may opt for something a little more exotic.

As a result, this is a huge opportunity to mold your game in the conceptual stage to its best audience. For this game, you may want to point the design in a "Eurogames" direction, because you might have the most success with that audience, should you ever get to the publishing stage.

This would mean limiting the number of ways players can directly interfere with each other's status in the game; instead, they all would compete for a finite number of resources (space in the mall, limited amount of funds and customers). Random factors would be minimal; games will be decided by the interaction of the players' choices, rather than a die roll or a flip of the top card of the draw pile. Rather than being a rip-roaring, bloodthirsty card game, this might have more success as a moderately-paced strategic board game.

I hope this helps; let me know what you think...

Anonymous
Retail Gross Margin themed game

I, too, am American and the consensus I have gotten from others is that the game would be an excellent idea, so, I am going forth with it. Anyway, I digress from legitimizing it to ask, stictly, for input into a game mechanics system. I am trying to cater the game to the serious boardgamer so I am more focused on the mechanics than the theme; although, the theme will incorporate a lot of humorous elements. Also, I have access to some excellent cartoonists so I have high hopes for the artwork.

IngredientX
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Retail Gross Margin themed game

WarriorMonk wrote:
I, too, am American and the consensus I have gotten from others is that the game would be an excellent idea, so, I am going forth with it. Anyway, I digress from legitimizing it to ask, stictly, for input into a game mechanics system. I am trying to cater the game to the serious boardgamer so I am more focused on the mechanics than the theme; although, the theme will incorporate a lot of humorous elements. Also, I have access to some excellent cartoonists so I have high hopes for the artwork.

That's cool. Again, I'm not telling you that this isn't an excellent idea, and I'm not telling you to not go forth with it. I'm not trying to get in your way. I simply want to be honest, because I know that if I'm sharing an idea with someone else, the worst thing I can hear is, "Meh, it's okay."

FastLearner
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Retail Gross Margin themed game

I'm an American and I quite enjoy the game Ad Acta.

It's about filing paperwork. No kidding.

I like it, though, because the mechanics are fun, not because of the theme. I have a hard time getting my other American friends to try it because of the theme so I suspect I'm an aberration.

Matthew

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