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Approximating the urban planning process & local politics

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firstcultural
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Joined: 09/11/2014

I like to make games that also educate the player on real world issues through the game mechanics. The hard part I suppose is making it also easy to learn, fun and balanced, even if the real world situation is not.

The latest idea is a game on regional urban planning in the San Francisco Bay Area, where housing costs have gone through the roof due to limited supply. However, new housing is hard to get approved, due to existing residents concerned about traffic, loss of open space, or change to their neighborhoods.

The premise
- Players are local politicians, with victory conditions based on a set of "campaign promises" to make housing more affordable, reduce commute times, or improve quality of life. (the classic cheap, fast, or good tradeoff) These are represented by indexes going from 1 to 20.
- The game board is a map of the Bay Area, with about 50 squares representing different cities, with different icons showing the density of development (houses, 4-story buildings, highrises, etc)
- Players start out with a 50% Approval Rating, which represents political capital that can be used to place tiles or play cards.

Game design goals
- All players have to cooperate to avoid all losing, however, in the end only one person can win, and at some point it becomes everyone for themselves.
- Depict how long term solutions are politically unpopular, especially since the benefits may accrue not to the politician that initiated something, but someone holding office later.
- Promote player interaction and negotiation.
- Maximum 1 page of rules
- Game time under 60 minutes

Player turns
- On their "term in office" (turn) Players can add density to neighborhoods by placing tiles to make housing more affordable, but this may negatively impact the other indexes. They can also play cards that improve those factors.
- Approval Rating is replenished based on the state of the four indexes.

Short Term vs Long Term
- The game begins in a negative spiral, where if no bold actions are taken, everyone's approval rating will slowly decline to 0, at which point they lose.
- The bold actions that pay off long term require the player doing it to make an individual short-term sacrifice. However, everyone will benefit from it in the future.

Would love to hear if there are any games out there that address some of these concepts.

knightshade
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Joined: 02/08/2013
blind?

I was designing a stock market type game where dice rolls represented point fluctuations.
My dilemma was that if anyone was too dump a stock or currency type, then other players could take advantage and buy it all up cheap... Thus a negative affect for the selling player.

To combat this I did a blind draft/turn setup. Basically tokens face down on a dashboard in order of actions. (1-5) but there are also blank action tokens... ;) so a player might think another is dumping stocks when they are really buying in, etc...

I also added bonds (municipalities in your game??) So that even if a player dumped stocks, there would still be a value to it in another form. Bonds do have slightly different rules though as to when you can buy in.

I'd say you could hypothetically have 1 page rules... but more like 5...? :P

If I were you, I'd make it simple. 6 types of buildings. Residential, commercial, hotels.. etc. And have different areas or game tiles have slightly different rules because they each have their own laws/inspectors. Etc. Then I would have some sort of blind objectives each player has. So one player might need resource X to succeed and another player needs resource Y.. so they must cooperate and make "bold actions" to reach their own independent win condition.

Hope that helps... :)

Skancke
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Joined: 06/15/2013
Game Length

I like knightshade's idea of having hidden agendas. That helps promote a political feeling.

If you really want players to have an experience where they're investing in long-term effects and initially losing popularity for a greater gain later on, I'm just not sure if this will work in 60 minutes, especially with 50 cities. I think it's fine for it to be a longer game, because you're working to create complex relationships between players and to make each player's actions have both a short-term and long-term impact. I would expect that to be a longer game.

If players are cooperating to avoid losing, I think you could create a more exciting social experience if there is one player who wins in that situation. Or players could know what all the possible win conditions are for other players, so players are working together to prevent other players from achieving those conditions, even if they don't know which player(s) will win if those conditions are met. That could help keep everyone in the game, since players would really start working together if it became evident that one player could be very close to winning.

firstcultural
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Joined: 09/11/2014
I like that idea of how one

I like that idea of how one player might win even in an all-lose scenario. It does seem to keep in character with politics, where folks get elected because they're the lesser of two evils.

Got a board drawn up and will do a few tests this weekend.

knightshade
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Joined: 02/08/2013
Let us know how it goes,

Let us know how it goes, bud!

I'm guessing you might have done something like this. But honestly, with my stock game, just Wikipedia Politics and Economics or Urban Planning and write down a list of "key words/vocabulary" to inco4porare.
Gotta go.. let us know!

firstcultural
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Joined: 09/11/2014
Here's the first draft at a

Here's the first draft at a board, image adapted from a painting I made last year. Reduced the number of cities to about 30; the plan is to first make the game as simple as possible and add complexity back in as needed to balance it.

http://www.bgdf.com/sites/default/files/images/sfbayarea-board-140925.pr...

Zag24
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Joined: 03/02/2014
Dilemma?

knightshade wrote:
My dilemma was that if anyone was too dump a stock or currency type, then other players could take advantage and buy it all up cheap... Thus a negative affect for the selling player.

You mean just like real life? I don't understand what the dilemma is. If you own enough of a stock that dumping it all will affect the price, you'll almost certainly lose money by dumping it all at once.

knightshade
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Zag24 wrote:knightshade

Zag24 wrote:
knightshade wrote:
My dilemma was that if anyone was too dump a stock or currency type, then other players could take advantage and buy it all up cheap... Thus a negative affect for the selling player.

You mean just like real life? I don't understand what the dilemma is. If you own enough of a stock that dumping it all will affect the price, you'll almost certainly lose money by dumping it all at once.

It creates a loophole where as the first players to go have a distinct disadvantage. I set up a penalty to sell but had to change some things around. It's a solid game... I just need help with stats with that game.
In real life it works well over thousands of people. But in a board game with 4 players it just wasn't fun.

firstcultural
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Joined: 09/11/2014
As I keep developing this, it

As I keep developing this, it seems to want to be a mix of a strategy game and a party game, where players might draw, dance, or tell stories. Can these types of games be merged? Any examples out there?

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