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Music Festival Game: Tracking "Hype"

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deFunkt29's picture
Joined: 01/04/2011

I'm working on a new design that's just in very early prototyping and brainstorming stages. In it, players are competing to create the best musical festival and make the most money possible, using performers, services, and sponsors. Although I usually create more complex games with typical (if overdone) themes, such as fantasy and sci-fi trading, this game is meant to be a lighter, shorter, but still strategic, card game with a theme that non-gamers (i.e. my music-loving S.O.) can enjoy.

The basic structure of the game is:
1. Players collect cards that show headlining acts, supporting acts, and services (food trucks, sound companies, etc.). Each card shows values associated with 5 genres of music, usually showing 1-3 genres with values ranging from 0-3. Services are sometimes "wild" that can be used for any genre.
2. Players "announce performers" by playing sets of cards that show similar genres to increase their "hype" value. This value increase is multiplicative based on how many cards with matching genre(s) are played. The festival's hype is tracked... somehow (more on this below).
3. At the end of each of their turns, the players gain an amount of money depending on their hype value (representing ticket sales) and the hype value lowers to the next section lower on the track. This represents excitement for the festival peaking when new acts are announced, but dwindling fast and steadily over time.
4. Players use this money to scout for and draw more performers/services. At the end of the game players also have to pay money for the sets of performers and services they played throughout the game.

Essentially, my problems lie with how to track the "hype" score, the way hype increases in jumps and then lowers slowly, and the different sections of numbers that give different amounts of money. Because hype score increases are multiplicative based on set count, I want higher sections to include a larger range of numbers so that it is harder to get to these sections and you drop faster if you have more hype (if this makes sense? So while the first section would contain 2 numbers, higher sections could contain 15).

In my first iteration, the hype score wasn't tracked directly, but was instead sections were rounded to the nearest number like follows:
["1 Hype":$1]
["5 Hype":$2]
["10 Hype":$3]
["15 Hype":$4]
["20 Hype":$5]
["30 Hype":$6]
["40 Hype":$7]
["50 Hype":$8]
["65 Hype":$9]
...and so on. So when players increased their hype, they would add the increase to whatever section they were at, and then go up to the section closest to the new number. So for example a player at 10 hype gets an impressive 36 points, they would go to 50 hype (46 rounded up). Then at the end of the turn they would gain $8 and lower their hype to 40. The problem with this is that there is quite a difference between a score of 18 and 24, but they both round to "20", and then will both lower to the same "15" at the end of the round. Also I found rounding to be frustrating. So I tried a new solution.

My next system had sections tracked similar to a classic score tracking grid but in a pyramid shape. The sections (with some number tweaks) were:
["1-2 Hype":$1] 1 2
["3-6 Hype":$2] 3 4 5 6
["7-10 Hype":$3] 7 8 9 10
["11-16 Hype":$4] 111213141516
["17-22 Hype":$5]
["23-31 Hype":$6]
["32-40 Hype":$7]
["40-53 Hype": $8]
... and so on up to around 100 hype. This method works okay but I'm having difficulties when players lower their hype to the next lowest section. So for example having 14 hype (in the $4 section) would go down to 9 in the $3, because of it's relative position in the section. Even explaining it feels weird! I've tried making different looking charts so players could visually see what number they'd end up at in the lower section at the end of the turn, but it always ends up looking convoluted and math-y, things I definitely do NOT want in this game.

Simply decreasing the number by a certain amount based on the section also doesn't work, as this will sometimes make players skip sections or still end up in the section they're in. I've also tried making the hype score halve each turn, and while I like this for it's simplicity and thematic connection, the score drops too quickly and erratically.One other idea I've had is to make each box showing a score also show a small number that the score will be decreased by when hype is lowered, but this feels too crowded and math-y again.

Anyway, sorry if this makes little sense! Perhaps I'll need to make up some diagrams. I'm near the end of my rope with this and was wondering if anyone has any amazing ideas. Or perhaps the way I have these sections numbered at the moment will make it impossible to make it work easily and cleanly in a more simple card game like this! Maybe I'm over complicating everything (as we often do in design). Let me know what you think and if you have any other interesting ideas!

Joined: 12/18/2018
Simple question: Is there a

Simple question: Is there a necessity to lower the hype? Why canˋt it just stay the same?

If you want a simple and Streamlined game just leave this aspect out. I donˋt see a reason why you Need this in your game.

Joined: 06/09/2017
as a track i would use the

as a track i would use the cards you play each round.
it depends how long you need them to hang around after they are played but if you put them into a hype pile after your turn. then its hype is score times x where x is the cards in the hype pile. between each turn the hype pile is reduced by discarding.

let-off studios
let-off studios's picture
Joined: 02/07/2011
Reward Tiers & One-Time Bonuses

Have you tried reward tiers based on comparing the players to one another? This can be coupled with one-time bonuses that are awarded based on cards played that turn.

For example, imagine that in a four-player game, there are four tiers: $3, $5, $8, and $10. Cards are played, and the player with the most hype collects $10, the second-place player collects $8, and so on.

Meanwhile, some specific cards generate hype and extra cash in the round they're played. For example, "Radio Advertisement" awards a one-time bonus of $3, and the "Viral Video Campaign" card rewards a one-time bonus of $5. If you want to be really fancy, you can allow players to collect a "radio advert" token, and if they play the radio advertisement card again, they gain bonus cash that's amplified based on the number of radio advert tokens they've already collected.

(Incidentally, I don't recommend the opposite effect of reducing the impact of the bonus, unless testing warrants it. Generally speaking, penalties aren't fun and increase the math required.)

I don't know anything about your in-game systems or economy, but you can tweak the dollar values I hypothetically proposed above as you see fit while testing. I think this sacrifices realism in the name of keeping things simple. If players feel rewarded enough by the system, then it may be passable enough for your needs.

deFunkt29's picture
Joined: 01/04/2011
Thanks everyone for the

Thanks everyone for the suggestions. I've gone back to the drawing board a bit as some of the other mechanics weren't fun yet and the game didn't have enough tough decisions to drive gameplay yet. Most playtests that players always very similar hype and money levels at the end of each turn, so somethings not working there.

@Git80 I see what you mean in that it adds unnecessary complexity. It was added to pressure the players and add a timer to the rounds. As hype decreases, income decreases (and you can eventually lose money, something I didn't describe in my original post), so players are encourage to try to play cards quicker rather than trying to just hold onto them for larger combinations. I think it does this well but there may be a simpler way to achieve this that still fits the theme. But I see what you mean for sure and am working on some different methods.

@wob Using the cards is an interesting idea! I like having players keep their cards so that at the end of the game they can look down and see what their festival looks like, so maybe players could just place cards face down instead of discarding? I'll have to think on this. Thanks!

@let-off studios Also a good idea. Much easier to track for players for sure. I already have a different mechanic in the end game that resolves around players having the most hype/score for certain colours, but maybe parts of this could be implemented into the main turn structure as well. I like the idea of each individual turn being a contest for the most hype, and I still think there's a thematic link with players competing for the same audience. Also nice idea with the advertising cards, definitely similar to some mechanics I've been thinking of but I dig the idea of amplification over time if players decide to go with this strategy.

Thanks again everyone! I'm going to be deconstructing things a bit in the coming weeks but will hopefully post some more and share potential game assets when more progress is made :).

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