Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Further Ground Floor thoughts

Nomenclature
I don't like the term "Recovery" as it doesn't sound right, and also it means I can't abbreviate the different Economic phases of the game. I'd like to rename that one Upturn or Upswing, and as such they can be abbreviated:
D=Depression, R=Recession, U=Upturn (Upswing?), B=Boom

Game Length
My biggest concern about Ground Floor at the moment is that it takes too damn long to play. I definitely would like to cut he time involved down, but I'd also like to make sure players have enough game time to get useful and interesting things accomplished. As an example, Factory Manager is only 5 rounds long, and while you do end the game just as you've gotten to the point where you are over-stuffing your factory, it always seems like the game ends just when you're getting started. You've finally built up a good factory and you don't get to see it run very much. I don't want to cut Ground Floor too short because I don't want people to feel that way about their business. I want them to experience the ups and downs of the market, because building a business is about sustainability - you want to make a business that will prosper in the economic highs, but also survive the economic lows. That said, I wondered this morning if 9 rounds wasn't more than enough game time to do interesting things. I'd like to try 7 rounds, divided into phases I, II, and III like so: 2/3/2 or 2/2/3, probably not 3/2/2. This means that you have 2 rounds to set up before buying a new Floor on round 3. Then you have 4 rounds to make use of that floor, 3 if someone builds out (ends the game by building their 6th new floor) in the 2nd to last round (which I think should be possible). Though maybe building out isn't so necessary, and players can just play all 7 rounds every game. If Building out is to remain in the game while the length is reduced, perhaps it out to change to the 5th new floor, which should be possible in round 6, maybe even round 5 in a really good economy if someone tries really hard (though I'm not sure that's really possible).

In light of that, it might also be good to adjust the pricing on the Construction Co to (3,3) rather than (4,4). I'm wondering if in fact the Construction Co shouldn't cost (3,3) to get in, then Floors cost (3,3)+(3,3)/floor rather than (2,2)+(2,2)/floor. These are just stream of consciousness thoughts at the moment, and many of them aren't necessarily valid until the game is tried at 7 rounds.

With a 7 round game, of course the Economic Forecast deck would have to be modified. Currently it's pretty nicely laid out:
4 Depression cards, use 2 - #Consumers: 0/0/1/1
6 Recession cards, use 3 - #Consumers: 1/1/2/2/3/3
6 Upturn cards, use 3 - #Consumers: 3/3/4/4/5/5
4 Boom cards, use 2 - #Consumers: 5/5/6/6


(that number of consumers is for 3-4 players, and is modified a bit for 5-6 players I believe).
This makes for a nice way to keep players from knowing the number of consumers even if for example a Recession already came by with 3 consumers. You can't say "well, there will be at least 4 this time" because there could be 3 again! As you can see, a deck of 10 cards is used, and there are only 9 rounds, so 1 card will not show up each game (the last one). I like how that works.

In a shorter (7 round) game, the deck would have to be modified, probably lie so:
2 Depression cards, use 1 - #Consumers: 0/1
6 Recession cards, use 3 - #Consumers: 1/1/2/2/3/3
6 Upturn cards, use 3 - #Consumers: 3/3/4/4/5/5
2 Boom cards, use 1 - #Consumers: 5/6


Or potentially a more varied deck like this (though I think I like the above one better):
4 Depression cards, use 2 - #Consumers: 0/0/1/1
4 Recession cards, use 2 - #Consumers: 1/2/2/3
4 Upturn cards, use 2 - #Consumers: 3/4/4/5
4 Boom cards, use 2 - #Consumers: 5/5/6/6


Again, these numbers are for 3-4 players. They would be slightly higher for 5-6 players and lower for 2 players.

Merchandising
On a completely unrelated note, in Recession/Depression economies I think it might be a good idea to outlaw the top/top 2 price brackets (respectively). If fewer players than demand are in Production, they should still suffer the consequences of the Recession or Depression rather than scoring an easy $16 or $12. It makes sense thematically as well as mechanically.

Alternatively, it could be good to have more Consumers in general (still a range based on player count), but change the payout in each type of economy. In a Boom, people will pay more for stuff in general while in a Depression they won't. In addition to this, players are still fighting for a set number of Consumers which would range from maybe N-2 to N or N+1 (N = number of players in the game). This could be accomplished by changing the Merchandising space to look like this:

|4|
|3|3|
|2|2|2|
|1|1|1|1|

And then say that the payouts for each slot are:
Depression: x1 | Recession: x2 | Upturn: x3 | Boom: x4

One problem with this is that the numbers get way too low on the low end. I guess I don't like this idea in this exact form, but maybe some variation of it could be good.

Then again, maybe pricing something at the maximum ($16) and having that 1 consumer who's out shopping in a Depression go ahead and buy it is just fine.


Edit: After a little thought on the subject, I think it's clear that the bit above is total crap. But I think limiting the amount you get in a Depression/Recession might be good.

In the game as-is, I think the Merchandising chart should be modified from the current:
|16|
|12|12|
|10|10|10|
| . 8 . | . 8 . |
| 6 .|. 6 .|. 6 |

To this:
|16|
|14|14|
|12|12|12|
| 10 .|. 10 |
| 8 .|. 8 .|. 8 |


Because the total cost to get a product into Merchandising is (')+(2,2)+Supply or between 7 and 8 units, so selling at the lowest possible cost shouldn't be a loss. A loss is when you don't sell and the product falls off the chart.

Further, as mentioned before I might like to see a Wholesale price that you get if your product does fall off the chart, in the amount of $6, or maybe $4. Either way it's a loss, but doesn't screw you over as badly. Lessening the worst case loss might serve to promote more competition in production, as players' risk is reduced, and more competition in Merchandising is really good for the game. I've never really thought it was so important to have a bigger jump at the top of the pyramid anyway. Although looking at just the top values of each price bracket I see that it was nicely distributed already. Either way, it's the bottom end I was worried about, not the top end.

1 comment:

DShort said...

So, after much research I found another term, that satisfies me thematically, to replace Recovery (which I have never liked, but I don't make up the terms used in economics). The new term is "Economic Expansion". This term seems to come up in economics circles almost as much as Recovery. So, it's Economic Depression, Economic Recession, Economic Expansion, and Economic Boom. I think it works.


And then there is the whole merchandising discussion. I have collected some thoughts on this (even though I still think it is working fine as is). Instead of a multiplier, maybe it's just a positive/negative adjustment. So, the base prices would be printed on the City Board like so:

|15|
|11|11|
|9.|.9|
|7.|.7.|.7|
|5.|.5.|.5|

But products would never sell for those prices. Instead according to the economy, the prices would be adjusted positively or negatively:

Depression : -2
Recession : -1
Expansion : +1
Boom : +2

So, for example, if the current Economic Forecast was an Economic Expansion, then the prices would be exactly as they have been in past versions of the game. But if the Forecast was an Economic Recession then it would be:


|14|
|10|10|
|8.|.8|
|6.|.6.|.6|
|4.|.4.|.4|

This accomplishes two things: First it makes it so product pricing is linked to the economy. And second, since in poor economies the bottom brackets are really a poor deal, then more players will opt to place their units on higher prices knowing they will drop in future rounds, but future rounds could bring better economies and therefore better profits. I like the idea that potentially more products are left on the shelf in a bad economy.

I think I like this idea. It's just not as elegant as the simplicity of the current stagnate pricing system.