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too much information on the playing pieces?

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Hambone
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Joined: 12/31/1969

I playtested my game yesterday for the first time. What a thrill. I got so much good feedback (and some bad) that I am more encouraged than ever to keep pushing it along. I have written a few posts about my game (working title "the Outfit") and I plan to put all the rules down into a journal soon (if that is the right location). Right now, I am looking to fix one major problem. (no laughing at my graphics)

The game is partly about building a criminal empire using square cardboard cutouts representing the building (not unlike Puerto Rico and many other games) on a board representing a city map. I am trying to cram a lot of information onto the little (1 3/4"x1 3/4") square. I need ideas about clarifying the information so you can glance at the board and understand the situation. Let me explain the data needed and wanted.

-Each player has their own set of 16 buildings which are used on the same board. I differentiate player by the color of the piece right now. This needs to be very clear as you need to know where other plaryers' buildings are at all times.

-Each building set consists of 16 buildings; 4 levels each of 4 varieties. Each of the 16 buildings has a differnet name which corresponds to the variety/level. I currently differentiate by a clipart logo for each variety, and numbers 1-4 to signify the level. This needs to be clear as your decisions are based on what you and what others already have. Note: sometimes a players boss represented by a playing piece is placed on top of a building, obscurring the center of the building.

-Each building has 3 potential incomes depending on how many players own similar buildings of the same variety/level combo. Every building has a standard income (top). If you have the only level 3 gambling establishment, ,your income is increased(lower right). If everyone has one, your income is decreased(lower left). Currently I have a reference sheet for each player. I think I want to have income on the counter ro reduce looking at a sheet and keep people looking at the board.

-Each building has a building cost as well as a "takeover" cost. It was suggested that those be on the building as well, ,but I think looking at a sheet is ok when planning what to do, but not as good during income phases.

The logo for each variety seems to be difficult to recognize at a glance. The 4 varieties are Gambling, Alcohol, Money Laundering, and Labor Unions. The levels are not easily recognizable either. I cannot vary size (with the exception of #4 which is a double block needing two adjacent blocks to build on). I wonder about patterns in addition to the colors. I thought about the shape of the building, but that adds significant complexity to making prototyes and publishing.

Any comments are appreciated.

Nando
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Joined: 07/22/2008
Re: too much information on the playing pieces?

Hambone wrote:
(no laughing at my graphics)
I always reserve my right to laugh. ;)
Hambone wrote:
I am trying to cram a lot of information onto the little (1 3/4"x1 3/4") square.
I guess the obvious question is "Why so small?"

I only have a few ideas at first glance:

Hambone wrote:
... Each of the 16 buildings has ... numbers 1-4 to signify the level. ... Note: sometimes a players boss represented by a playing piece is placed on top of a building, obscurring the center of the building.
Have you considered something like blackened corners or tick marks along the bottom edge to move this information as far from the center as possible? (The point being, some type of marking that looks OK taken right up to the edges of the chits.)

Hambone wrote:
-Each building has 3 potential incomes...
If the bonus and penalty are always equal (as in the example image), could you not show "$400 +/- $200" to be a little more compact? Involves math, yes. I wish more people could do math. :( This seems like a potentially mathy game, though.

Hambone wrote:
-Each building has a building cost as well as a "takeover" cost. It was suggested that those be on the building as well, ,but I think looking at a sheet is ok when planning what to do, but not as good during income phases.
I tend to agree about the lookup for this info, but moreso for the building cost and less so for the takeover cost. The building cost should only be needed once, and so I suggest putting it on the bottom of the chit where it can be easily referenced when needed and ignored after that.

Hambone wrote:
The logo for each variety seems to be difficult to recognize at a glance. The 4 varieties are Gambling, Alcohol, Money Laundering, and Labor Unions. The levels are not easily recognizable either.
I think you should really boil these categories down to icons. I suggest these: dice, bottle, "$", and a "dude" (like a circle over a half circle for head/body). Type/Level info seems to be the most useful, so you might want to leave further differentiation (i.e. the name) to theme and rule-book references and just remove the names from the chits.

So my overall suggestion is (with Takeover and Income written as readable from the side, not top to bottom):

<br />
   +====================+<br />
   |Name            Icon|<br />
   |                    |<br />
   |  T               $ |    Takeover: $600<br />
   |  a               I |<br />
   |C k               n |    Income: $400 +/- $200<br />
   |o e               c |<br />
   |s o               o |<br />
   |t v               m |<br />
   |  e               e |<br />
   |  r               $ |<br />
   |                    |<br />
   |     II  II  II     | <= Level (in this case, 3)<br />
   +====================+<br />

Hedge-o-Matic
Hedge-o-Matic's picture
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Joined: 07/30/2008
too much information on the playing pieces?

Or perhaps you can use icons in all four coners, and "short form" money designations like "K" for thousands, instead of using hundreds which have to be written out. Colors for the different income states would also help, and all of this could be kept out of the center of your tile, like so:

The dollar amounts are smaller, visually, and take up less space, and changing 600 to 6000 shouldn't change gameplay, as everything could be scaled in the same way. The change would be worth it, I think.

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