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Multiple resource track for a restaurant worker placement game

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MericSlovaine
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Joined: 03/22/2016

Hi there, designers!

I'm currently developing a game for the Game Crafter Worker Placement Challenge (and beyond). I'm looking for a method to efficiently and overtly track various resources in a game wherein players take on the role of restaurateurs. There are quite a bit of things to track and I'm stumped on how best to do it. I'm also trying to keep costs down on resource bits.

Players are allowed to hire and promote restaurant staff - the workers. Each worker has a salary (calculated in white cubes - clearly denoted on each worker tile). Tipped employees all have tip expectations for each shift (in corresponding colored cubes - blue for servers, yellow for bartenders) that must be recorded and met.

Players must also buy and use food, both vegetarian and carnivore options (represented in red and green cubes - suggestions for color-blind friendly alternatives also welcome). These amounts rise and fall with every round as guests consume the food.

That's white, blue, yellow, green, and red. All of which basically track a different thing. I eliminated dollar amounts so everything is essentially on a common number scale, money (for the house and for tipped employees) ranging from 0 to potentially 190 (though someone would have to get very lucky for that to happen) and food ranging from 0 to 100.

I attempted to use piles of cubes for each thing, but said piles would obviously reach ridiculous amounts not to mention being too fiddly. It should be said that after every round, tips (blue and yellow) immediately bounce back to zero.

I'm toying around with a 4 x 8 player mat with a grid of numbered squares like most victory point tracks in Euro games, but I'm wondering if keeping all of the above resources on the same grid would become confusing. This needs to be a medium-sized game that veers away from over-complicated. The concepts in the game are fairly simple and I don't want to throw a wrench in ease of play.

Any and all suggestions welcome! Thanks!

Corsaire
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Joined: 06/27/2013
Seems like you need less

Seems like you need less numbers not more tracking.

ruy343
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Joined: 07/03/2013
On simplification

Hmmm... It sounds like you've got a lot of things going on. I agree with Corsaire (like I usually do), and suggest that you examine why you're including so many separate systems, potentially looking at removing certain options, or holding them out for expansion packs.

Why do we suggest that? You say that you're trying to make a medium-weight game with a euro style. That's fine (if that's what you truly enjoy). However, the key to being middle-weight is accessibility and simplicity - and the system you're proposing right now involves a lot of bookkeeping, a hallmark of heavier titles.

In other words - where's the fun in the game? Find what you enjoy most about the game, and trim out everything else that doesn't support that aspect. Then, add it back one piece at a time to see what works and what doesn't.

You mentioned different food types - what if you took that out? It may reduce realism, but it'll let you focus on your workers and salaries, if that's what you enjoy most.

However, is paying your workers what's most fun? or is it the race to trip each other up as you try to serve the most people? Do you like games with a timer or race element to them? Do you like games where you build up an engine which you use to overcome others? Do you enjoy games with a sense of progress, or diminishing returns as you push toward the finish?

Whatever it is, focus on what's fun to you, and make that shine; trimming out the rest. You'll have a much easier time designing games in that weight category if you do it that way.

MericSlovaine
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Joined: 03/22/2016
My intention for all those

My intention for all those systems was for a sense of realism, but I couldn't agree more with your (and Corsaire's) assessment.

Working on cutting the food angle in some way or completely. Each worker has a special skill (tipped employees can add to the die roll required to meet guest enjoyment, managers can do this in a different way, hosts can mitigate wait times). Preparing workers to provide the best possible guest enjoyment while ensuring the workers themselves are happy (ie. appropriately compensated and not overworked) is the core of the game so food isn't ringing as all that important.

Now to figure out (a) what chef and sous chef skills are or (b) if those workers are part of the game at all.

Thanks for the input! I think I needed to hear someone else say what I was already thinking.

ruy343
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Joined: 07/03/2013
hmmm...

So, if I understand correctly, your objective is a game about running a kitchen efficiently, right? That leaves me with three options in my mind regarding execution:

1. It's a game about logistics - managing how fast food is done and delivered to tables
2. It's a game about set collection and preparation - your staff are more involved in allowing you to collect/use sets.
3. It's both: you're trying to make food in one part of the board, but moving food elsewhere.

However, from the sounds of it, it's also a game about collecting money and making sure you have enough to pay your employees.

So now, here's the question: do you really need to pay your employees frequently? Can you cut that piece out or abstract it in some way?

Also, do you really need different worker types beyond server and chef? Take a hard look at what the others do for you, and maybe even consider consolidating it down to one worker type.

My objective here isn't to tell you how to do it, but to encourage you to think about it in a new way, trimming out the fat and keeping only what you truly need for the game.

Corsaire
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Glad my first response didn't

Glad my first response didn't come off as flip.

I played Food Chain Magnate for the first time Monday night and for such a rich game, it is amazing that all food and drinks pay the same and every paid employee makes the same amount.

For your game you could probably look at just the fixed costs and have a simple track for those. Hire a waitress add 1 to fixed costs, hire a chef add 2, upgrade your menu add 2, etc.

One concern in rereading your first post: I'm not sure your game sounds like a worker placement game.

MericSlovaine
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Joined: 03/22/2016
Trimming the fat is the

Trimming the fat is the hardest part, isn't it? Ha! The food production aspect has fallen almost to the wayside. Almost. It's now very simplified.

I initially wrote a very long response to your comment. This turned out to be the distilled rules for the game (saved for later consumption). They looked convoluted on paper, though I'd taught several people who identified as "below non-gamers" before I cut out the food tracking element.

What it comes down to is this: I worked in restaurants for 15 years and want to illustrate the struggles of keeping a restaurant afloat. But in a fun way, obviously.

The different worker types became an integral part to my initial playtests. Who do you hire and when do you use them? Each one has its own benefit to your restaurant, but each one has a limit to how much you can work them. It became important to me to weigh the cost of each employee against their benefit.

For example, every manager can take money from the house to mitigate a poor guest enjoyment situation. But they can only work a maximum of six shifts. One 'shift' could be sending them out to hire new staff, make new reservations (drawing a 'guest card'), promote another employee to a 'better' position, or train an existing employee (drawing a permanent skill card). Or a 'shift' could be placing them in your restaurant to use their special ability to sway guest interactions in your favor. No matter the shift, players have to pay that employee (still working on balancing that part in the game's limited economy).

Every Front of House staff member - bartenders to bussers - has a particular benefit and most have a 'buying power' on the central worker placement hub. Consolidating to one worker feels very far away right now. Perhaps as I refine the concepts, it could come down to that. Somehow...

Whether you respond or not, I can't thank you enough for throwing questions around. I don't have much in the way of constructive criticism at the moment.

MericSlovaine
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Joined: 03/22/2016
No flippancy detected! I

No flippancy detected!

I pretty much eliminated one thing to track and simplified the others. It's much more streamlined, though there may be a concern that it isn't streamlined enough.

I've read about Food Chain Magnate, but have not played it. I'm intrigued. My trouble with other restaurant themed games is that they are not complex enough. Or so complex they make no sense. I'm looking for the happy medium.

Each employee does have a fixed cost, but that cost is based on type of employee. Put a full time server to work? 3 bucks. A manager? 10 bucks. Employees are generally paid more for how powerful their individual benefit is. As players pull their employees off the board, they pay them based on a simply chart that's always at their disposal. Is that sort of what you were inferring? Or is my method more complicated?

I definitely hear your concern that this might not be a worker placement game. It is in a strict sense during the first half of each round. And then in an obtuse way for the second half. The central board with limited spaces exists for all players to hire new workers, gain special skills, and whatnot. But the second half is 'placing' your 'workers' on your own player boards to activate their benefits. You see what I mean by obtuse.

Though this idea started a competition entry, I think it might be outside the bounds of those restrictions. I'm adhering as best I can (specifically to size and price), but may have veered away from the worker placement classification.

Can't thank you enough for continuing the conversation. These questions are most likely ones I won't ask myself! And my current playtesters are so removed from gaming, I need to explain very basic concepts (which is by no means a bad thing - in fact, it's very beneficial).

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