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Seeking opinion on my city building game! (detailed rules and art included)

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intristin
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(BEGIN LONG WINDED INTRO / "you can skip this part if you want")

Hey everyone, just found this site today and spent the last few fours reading through all the posts. Lots of great stuff here. Anyways, I created a game back when I was just 16 years old. It never got past the planning stages until I was 19. I fine tuned my idea and created a demo which my friends and I played for months. I had a lot of fun working on it but life got in the way and I soon forgot about it again.

A few weeks ago for some odd reason I got the idea in my head to try and remake my game. I have long since lost the demo game I made 12 years ago. But seems it's all still in my head. Over the last week I have managed to recreate the game board and all the rules.

12 years ago communities like this didn't seem to exist, well I never looked but I didn't have internet back then. While my friends loved the game and said it was great, well, that's what friends always say to other friends even if it sucks. So this is why I'm posting this today, I want feedback from people I don't know who love board games and aren't afraid to be blunt in their opinion.

(END LONG WINDED INTRO / "now to the point")

The game is a city builder. Players move around a city grid, buy land, and build income producing skyscrapers. I know what your thinking, another Monopoly rip off. Well it's similar in the fact that you land on properties, buy them, develop them, and collect rent when other players land on them. But that's where the similarities end. The game board is laid out in a street grid with multiple ways for players to turn. Players can easily avoid landing on your property if you over develop it. This means you have to compete with other property owners on your block to pull in rental income. As properties are developed you will see the city rise up out of the street grid and form a cool looking skyline.

Other game features include paying bills, playing the lotto, and even playing the stock market. I designed the game to be very easy to learn while requiring strategy and planing while playing. Players aren't forced down a predetermined set path.

With all that said, the game still needs lots of work. Even though this is technically the 3rd version of the game, I still consider it a first draft. Follow the link below to see what I have so far. I recommend looking at the game board before reading the directions as it will make more sense. If you have any questions, just ask.

(Link Disclaimer: I'm a horrible speller, you may find spelling errors in the directions, please feel free to point them out so I can fix them. Also, all the art work was done by me in MS Paint so it's not very pretty! Keep in mind I'm no artist and it's a first draft.)

http://intristin.net/mygame/

While most everything is print ready and your welcome to print out and play test, I will admit it won't be easy to do. While pawns, dice, and poker chips are easy to come by, you may have a hard time finding buildings. If you have small kids you could steal their legos and use them as a stand in. If you can't play test it I completely understand, it's a lot to work to get all the pieces required.

Please give your honest opinion about it. I would also welcome suggestions on how to improve the design. I'm not easily offended so don't be afraid to be blunt. Just don't be rude =) I have always felt like the game is missing something and I can't put my finger on it.

Ok, I'll rambling, I'll shut up now..

Mitchell Allen
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City Building Game, Very Intersting!

Hi Tristin,

Welcome to BGDF! You made quite an impression on me, because the board is pretty and the game concept is something near and dear to me. (My kids and I used to play stock market with Monopoly!)

Your game looks like something that would give Monopoly a run for its money. The thing I would love to play test is the movement around the board.

Since I haven't play tested it, I have no idea how much fun it is to watch people avoid my properties :)

In your strategy tips you mention that one should control the block in order to make money. Fair enough.
Later, you say that this game could go on forever, which implies that a) it's hard to control a block or b) it takes too much time/money to dominate the game.

One suggestion is to have the rents become independent events. Instead of relying on the luck of dice to force your opponents to pay rent, you could peg the period income from landing on the green S to the amount of property that you control.

Due to the potential for excessive paper money handling, you could abstract the income using poker chips.
(Now, you have the potential for excessive chip handling, LOL). Seriously, though, if the poker chips could be used to represent net income, you might find it easier to pay for things in chips. In fact, what if the player were obligated to spend a certain amount of the income each turn, essentially reinvesting in the real estate empire? This would keep the physical money handling to a minimum. Examples of "phantom" transactions:

1. Demolitions of any properties you control
2. Quarterly taxes - landing on the red S is unfair taxation! :)
3. Development on the current space occupied by your piece
4. If you allow players to borrow money from each other - a "book" transfer system might be cool

With rents as independent cashflow events, there is now an incentive to build out your parcels.

It would be fun to swap ideas on this. Especially on how you made your board. (I have a board prototyping program that cold simulate yours - only not to your scale.)

I hope you have many happy adventures here!

Cheers,

Mitch

intristin
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Some Great Ideas

Mitchell Allen wrote:
Hi Tristin, Welcome to BGDF! You made quite an impression on me, because the board is pretty and the game concept is something near and dear to me. (My kids and I used to play stock market with Monopoly!) Your game looks like something that would give Monopoly a run for its money.

Thanks Mitch, good to be here. I never knew Monopoly had a stock Market add on. I guess I should do some research to make sure I'm not ripping anything off!

Mitchell Allen wrote:
The thing I would love to play test is the movement around the board. Since I haven't play tested it, I have no idea how much fun it is to watch people avoid my properties :) In your strategy tips you mention that one should control the block in order to make money. Fair enough. Later, you say that this game could go on forever, which implies that a) it's hard to control a block or b) it takes too much time/money to dominate the game.

One suggestion is to have the rents become independent events. Instead of relying on the luck of dice to force your opponents to pay rent, you could peg the period income from landing on the green S to the amount of property that you control.

Well, having play tested a earlier build of this game I can say it was a lot of fun for me to see what decisions other players make. When one is moving through the city center you basically have the choice after the dice roll to land on one of 3, sometimes 2 properties, that is unless your roll sends you to another type of space like Lotto, Stocks, or a Intersection. This is where strategy comes in, something Monopoly didn't really have.

Once all the properties are sold off and start to be developed it becomes very hard to avoid landing on one, the question is which one. This always leads to interesting trades and partnerships between different players. It's really what I think makes this game so much fun.

The game can take long, but that's not so much related to the time it takes to control blocks, as player trades speed this up as every player is looking to control blocks and it's in everyone's best interest to trade. What tends to drag the game out is the amount of money pouring into the game, this aspect needs to be balanced, more money sinks added ect. This is why the Red $ spaces where added in a earlier version. And there are more negative $ spaces then there are positive. Again, this needs to be rebalanced carefully to fix the "taking forever" problem.

With that said I do like the idea of somehow changing the way the Green $ spaces and the Red $ spaces work depending on how much property you own. That would certainly counterbalance the penalty for overbuilding and add more fun strategy to game play. I never cared for the randomness of it. The question is how would you do that with making the game too complicated? right now the game is very simple to pick up and learn for a new player and I really want to try and keep that.

Mitchell Allen wrote:

Due to the potential for excessive paper money handling, you could abstract the income using poker chips.
(Now, you have the potential for excessive chip handling, LOL). Seriously, though, if the poker chips could be used to represent net income, you might find it easier to pay for things in chips. In fact, what if the player were obligated to spend a certain amount of the income each turn, essentially reinvesting in the real estate empire? This would keep the physical money handling to a minimum. Examples of "phantom" transactions:

1. Demolitions of any properties you control
2. Quarterly taxes - landing on the red S is unfair taxation! :)
3. Development on the current space occupied by your piece
4. If you allow players to borrow money from each other - a "book" transfer system might be cool

With rents as independent cashflow events, there is now an incentive to build out your parcels.

Wow, lots of suggestions there, thank you so much much for putting so much time in your post. Well where to start, your money idea. I'm personally not that concerned about the amount of paper money exchanging hands. It is a lot, but adding "phantom" transactions might be moving too far into the complicated game play arena. While I'm sure most members of the community might disagree with me, I think a simple to learn game play is important. I completely agree with some of the problems you mentioned, I just think their is a less complicated way to solve them, we just have not found it yet =) Using chips as currency only replaces one problem with another.

With that said, you mentioned the red $ space being an unfair tax, I completely agree. Changing that and the green $ spaces to work with properties owned is a great suggestion. But again, how to do it...........

Mitchell Allen wrote:
It would be fun to swap ideas on this. Especially on how you made your board. (I have a board prototyping program that cold simulate yours - only not to your scale.) I hope you have many happy adventures here!

I completely agree, that's why I'm here. I know my game has some issues and could be much better. I again thank you for taking the time to respond and I look forward to knocking ideas back and forth.

As far as the scale of the game board goes, it's not really that important. The key important features of the board are the 34 property spaces, allowing for 12 of each building type, the intercity street grid, and the outerloop designed for rapid movement around the board and a money sink. The board layout is something I really like and took a lot of redesigns to get it right. The number of $ spaces still needs to be balanced. And perhaps adding more types of spaces other then stock and Lotto in the intercity grid. I don't know, that might make it too complicated. I need to play test it myself to really figure some of this stuff out.

The board itself I created by endless cutting and pasting in MS Paint. Ya I know, lol. But I'm no artist. A little history on the medians in the city center, they were added after play testing. We found that the streets were too narrow and once the skyline started to rise players kept knocking buildings over while moving there pawns. It was a simple fix and as a bonus made the street grid look nicer. With that said the game board itself needs A LOT of LOVE from a real artist, it's proof of concept more then a finished product. I'm happy with the design, not the look!!

Mitchell Allen
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City Building

Hi Tristin,

LOL, the Monopoly stock option is called House rules :)

I'm getting a clearer picture of the gameplay, just from your descriptions.

I like the idea of having choices of moves. That should have been apparent, but I didn't pick up on that. Therefore, it now makes sense NOT to overdevelop, as no one would ever choose your space!

Okay, the amount of paper flowing is not a problem - except for running out of it! - I was looking at it from the perspective of testing the prototype.

To add some suggestions for the red and green spaces ...
How many ways can cash flow in the real estate industry?
Which of these are "fun", and which are just nuisances?

I would guess that Developing, Building, Leasing and Selling are the fun items. Taxes and legal stuff like zoning, surveying, licenses and inspections are the nuisances. However, by nuisance, I really mean, which aspects do NOT add to fun value of playing the game.

Generally, you can abstract the nuisances with a catch-all "bill" to be paid for the purpose granting the players the right to develop, improve and maintain their lots. I believe you already do this with the red spaces. Presumably, you would have to get a sense of what all of those bills and fees do to the bottom line (income). The easiest way I can think of to do this is to figure out what percentage of gross income is eaten up by the expenses.

For a simple abstraction, (like Monopoly's 10% income tax), you could have a fixed percentage of expense for each income type generated.

I think this would help balance the cash flow a bit.
When I do money balancing, I look for unrealistic income. then I can check to see if the expenses are in line with expectations. If they are, then I figure that the gross income needs to be adjusted downward.
If the expenses are not realistic, then they get adjusted, instead.

On the subject of controlling the cash flow based on the number of properties - do you want to consider the idea of tenants?

If so, we can toss some ideas around in that arena.
If not, what about simply multiplying each property type by some value and raking in the income that way? Simpler but possibly boring?

Cheers,

Mitch

intristin
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Mitchell Allen wrote:Okay,

Mitchell Allen wrote:
Okay, the amount of paper flowing is not a problem - except for running out of it! - I was looking at it from the perspective of testing the prototype.

LOL, funny you should say that as my main concern has always been the buildings, not paper money which I figured could easily be copied. But I see your point.

Well I have gone and changed the size of the game. I have reduced the number of lots from 36 down to 24. Which means you can build 8 of each building type instead of 12. This reduced the number of building pieces quite significantly. I have been toying with the idea of doing this for the last week now and decided doing so had more benefits then drawbacks.

The big drawback being less buildings to own and build. The benefits of this will help shorten the game, reduce the amount of currency needed, reduce the number of buildings needed, and increase competition among players.

I have updated all the rules with the new numbers and uploaded them to my site. I have also uploaded the new game board as well as a 2nd version of the game board with textures for roads and lots. Not sure which way I want to go with the game board, either realistic or Monopoly style. Both of them need a bit love from a real artist. In anycase, everything is available via the link in the first post, just refresh the page.

Mitchell Allen wrote:
On the subject of controlling the cash flow based on the number of properties - do you want to consider the idea of tenants? If not, what about simply multiplying each property type by some value and raking in the income that way? Simpler but possibly boring?

Well, I have gone through and reworked a lot of the rules, added new spaces, and tied the income and tax spaces to the properties. The next step for me is to print out everything and play test this thing for myself. Look forward to your input on my changes, be honest. I will let you know how my play testing goes.

JB
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The axe

I really like this game. I like that you have choices, and that it simulates the real economics of not building yourself out of the market.

It does seem a little unfocused tho. I think your property system is your real gem and all other spaces should relate to it. I like the property taxes, and the rents, and repairs, but some of the others seem off the wall.

The lottery seems silly to me, and adds nothing to the strategy- the mail seems kinda redundant.

I would just go through all the spaces and ask:

Does this add to the theme of my game (City building)?
Does this make an interesting choice for my players? (or is it just random money?)

If you say no to both I think it has to go. Idealy all spaces should do both.

Mitchell Allen
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Slashing Construction in a City Building Game

intristin wrote:

Well I have gone and changed the size of the game. I have reduced the number of lots from 36 down to 24. Which means you can build 8 of each building type instead of 12. This reduced the number of building pieces quite significantly. I have been toying with the idea of doing this for the last week now and decided doing so had more benefits then drawbacks.

I thought each green square was a lot. The two board versions have the same number of squares.

I like the brickwork in the second version, but it is not enough contrast to be eye-pleasing like the first version, with it's bright green park-like squares.

While I understand JB's point about the random elements, it seems that you want the game to NOT be too serious. In that vein, I would make mail cards, with humorous letters such as you describe. That's more fun than looking up a die roll.

I would consider doing the same thing with the IRS: create some cards.
If cards are too much bother, I suggest streamlining the die roll:
1. I don't think most real estate tycoons get refunds, but they can shelter more income from taxation.
2. I would use some tenancy rules to determine gross income and tax that.

Just a few quick ideas for now.

Cheers,

Mitch

intristin
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JB wrote:I really like this

JB wrote:
I really like this game. I like that you have choices, and that it simulates the real economics of not building yourself out of the market. It does seem a little unfocused tho. I think your property system is your real gem and all other spaces should relate to it. I like the property taxes, and the rents, and repairs, but some of the others seem off the wall. The lottery seems silly to me, and adds nothing to the strategy- the mail seems kinda redundant

First off I agree with you on the mail system. That was something I tossed in late last night while I was re doing the board. I had a card vers of this in a earlier version of the game, but it felt too Monopoly. The reason I added this was I needed another type of space to make the board spaces even and to fill up the "game spaces" chart. After a good night of sleep I see this may have been a stupid idea and so I have removed it. New versions of the rules and boards are up. Just refresh the page.

As far as the Lotto goes, This space and the Gambling space are designed to randomly transfer wealth between players. In the second version of the game which I play tested with friends, both spaces were a popular and fun feature. I'm guessing the Real Estate and Wall Street types that make millions on buying and selling property are the types that gamble and take big risks, while it's not the focus of the game, I think it fits in the theme well.Thanks for the comments and suggestions.

Mitchell Allen wrote:
intristin wrote:
Well I have gone and changed the size of the game.

I thought each green square was a lot. The two board versions have the same number of squares. I like the brickwork in the second version, but it is not enough contrast to be eye-pleasing like the first version, with it's bright green park-like squares.

Both versions of the board are exactly the same size with exactly the same space layout. The only difference is one has solid color spaces and the other board uses textures. Both boards are just to demonstrate the two very different looks the game could have. Both boards in my opinion are ugly and need to be redone by a proper artist before even being considered finished.

Mitchell Allen wrote:
While I understand JB's point about the random elements, it seems that you want the game to NOT be too serious. In that vein, I would make mail cards, with humorous letters such as you describe. That's more fun than looking up a die roll. I would consider doing the same thing with the IRS: create some cards.

If cards are too much bother, I suggest streamlining the die roll:
1. I don't think most real estate tycoons get refunds, but they can shelter more income from taxation.
2. I would use some tenancy rules to determine gross income and tax that.

Yes, I bounced around the idea of using cards. In fact the version I tested 12 years ago had Mail cards in them and they seemed fun. The problem was this always made the game feel so much like Monopoly and it's Chance and CC. I have been trying to move away from anything that even hints Monopoly as much as I can. Which is hard to do in a game about buying, selling, and developing real estate.

Overall what I really need to do is take my butt down to Kinkos and print all this out and just play it. It's the only way I'm going to be able to figure out what works, what's fun, and what's not. I think I'm going to stick with this draft of the rules until I can get some play testing in. I will let you both know how it goes, Thanks again for all the feedback.

intristin
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Ok, I finished a full

Ok, I finished a full prototype of the game. Now I'm ready to invite a few friends over and test it. Believe it or not, the dice were the hardest things to find. The buildings were kind of a pain to cut but the wood was really cheap. Not counting the paint it cost just $3.00. All together it cost me around $25.00 for everything, not including the blisters on my hand from the 96 cuts I had to make in the wood. If i had known how hard it would be I would have purchased a power saw. Anyever, below is the finished prototype.

http://intristin.net/mygame/IMAG0128.jpg

intristin
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Ok boys and girls, I am ready

Ok boys and girls, I am ready to release new updated info about my game. After sevral play tests, I have fixed a lot of major issues. I set up a new website with complete rules, pics of the prototype, and pics of my last playtest. You can view it all here: http://intristin.net/makingmoney/

Mitchell Allen
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Interesting Game Progress!

Hi Tristin,

I just figured out how to track my threads on BGDF and finally found your updates.
And what an update it is! I see you stuck to your guns and kept all the fun stuff to do around town.
I don't remember that your stock market was so completely fleshed out. It's really good - simple enough not to distract from the game. The two-stock-broker rule is interesting, although I wonder if there should be a restriction on their taking a peek using insider trading!

I noticed that on the old board, you had a train track...Did you discard that in favor of the cab? Or was that an additional transportation option that you decided to scrap?

I didn't see an explanation for the poker chips.

Hopefully, your blisters have healed by now and you're enjoying your game!

Cheers,

Mitch

rpghost
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You might want to try

You might want to try http://www.PlayTesters.Net to help find some people to playtest. We're open to the public today and I'm promoting it on many of my sites.

James
http://www.RPGlife.com

intristin
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Mitchell Allen wrote:I just

Mitchell Allen wrote:
I just figured out how to track my threads on BGDF and finally found your updates.
And what an update it is! I see you stuck to your guns and kept all the fun stuff to do around town.
I don't remember that your stock market was so completely fleshed out. It's really good - simple enough not to distract from the game. The two-stock-broker rule is interesting, although I wonder if there should be a restriction on their taking a peek using insider trading!

I recently play tested it and the feedback was very good. I just uploaded the very latest rule set and changes this morning from the feedback I got. I have ditched the two stock broker rule and have made it to where everyone draws a stock market card at the end of their turn. With this change I had to remove the insider trading option as it was not very useful during the last play test.

Overall the stock market has been very popular with play testers and I have another test this Wednesday Night and a waiting list of people wanting to play, woohoo. Wish me luck..

Mitchell Allen wrote:
I noticed that on the old board, you had a train track...Did you discard that in favor of the cab? Or was that an additional transportation option that you decided to scrap? I didn't see an explanation for the poker chips.

The train track is still there as well as the cab. I just uploaded the new version of the board with all the fixes. I added in much more train and cab spaces to speed along development of the lots. We had a problem in the first round of testing where certain lots on the board went undeveloped for long periods of time so I'm hoping these extra spaces will help solve that problem. We will see what happens on Wednesday.

The poker chips are property chips, I need to flush out and develop the rules better to fully explain that.

Mitchell Allen
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City Building Game Update

Hi Tristin,

Thanks for explaining everything.

As a former city dweller, I find it odd that your players can't catch a cab downtown :)

Good luck with the play testing!

Cheers,

Mitch

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