Monday, December 20, 2010

Better Late then Never: BGG.con 2010 report

It's been a full month, but I have FINALLY gotten around to finishing and posting my BGG.con 2010 convention report geeklist!


Monday, December 06, 2010

New horizons... beautiful new, frozen-brain, iHorizons!

So last night I ran out and bought myself a new toy - I got an iPad! I thought they were cool when they came out, but mostly they seem like the next evolution of the Laptop. I didn't think I'd get one since I'd just gotten a laptop, I didn't really see the point. However, something's changed recently which has given me a reason to own an iPad... if I'm going to design games for them, then it stands to reason that I have one!

I've been hemming and hawing for 3 years (almost 4!) about the possibility of publishing my "two player Toppo with strategy" game - BrainFreeze. I've seen in a retail store a plastic timer with a digital readout and a start/stop button retailing for $10. I figure if that exists, then it should be possible to get a similar timer made, with 2 digital readouts, start/stop and a toggle button, cheap enough to sell with a deck of cards for $20. I haven't looked into that though , as I don't know who to go to for such a device.

I was having this exact conversation at BGG.con a couple weeks ago, but this time the conversation took a more modern turn - I realized that BrainFreeze would fit the iPad format perfectly! It happens that I don't really know who to go to for iPad development either, but I was introduced to a couple different people at the con that do exactly that kind of thing for a living. Mike and I are working with one of them now to implement BrainFreeze on the iPad (and potentially iPhone/iPod touch perhaps)!

So there's my excuse, I ran out last night and picked up a top of the line iPad, got home and installed the first draft of the app. It was awesome to play my game on the iPad, even if just solo practice mode with parts missing!

I'm looking forward to this project being finished (which looks like it will be VERY soon, relative to the April release date of Eminent Domain)! If this works out I'm sure I'll be looking into doing more games on the iPad.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Hot and Fresh, revisited

One of my older designs, formed and mostly finished before I even started to work on Terra Prime, is still one of the favorite game ideas I've ever had. That design is Hot and Fresh, and if you've been following my blog you've probably seen a reference to it now and again. The long and short of the idea is that players are pizza delivery drivers, making deliveries along routes that change over time due to changing traffic lights. There's also a press-your-luck aspect though, because tips (points) diminish the longer you take to make your deliveries. So you're encouraged to break traffic laws and risk getting busted in order to score better!

This idea has been on a shelf because I just never got a prototype together and finished it. This week my friend Steve was in town, and he likes to discuss game ideas with me. The other day we were driving to Red Robin and I took a side street (like I do every day to get to work), and mentioned that that's the kind of thing I wanted people to experience when playing Hot and Fresh - taking side streets because you know that particular light is always backed up...

Steve had an idea that revived Hot and fresh for me - he said it would be neat if players knew shortcuts that other players didn't know. We talked about it a bit, and came up with the idea that while the board would have main streets, the 'neighborhoods' (side streets between main blocks) could be empty grids for tile placement. Tiles placed by players would represent routes known only to that player, so another player would not be able to use that route. Originally I was imagining that the map would be set - after all, every delivery driver would have access to a map or might know the streets... but in retrospect it's probably more accurate that each player knows some streets and not others after all!

So we discussed how that would work into what I already had, and in the process I streamlined the 'traffic laws' which I think will make the game simpler. Originally I had an economic system of 'gas' as well, which was probably too much - not really necessary. Here's the new version:

1 Game board
15 Traffic Light tiles
100 - 125 route tiles (25 per player - should this be for 4 or 5 players?)
30+ Building tiles (extra House tiles, not sure how many)
60 Delivery cards
XX Tip counters
XX Demerit counters
4 (5?) Player pawns (plastic cars?)
40/50 green "safe" cubes (10 per player)
40-50 red "danger" cubes
4 (5?) draw bags

Place the board in the center of the play area.
Give each player the car pawn and route tiles in their color, and a draw bag with 10 green "safe" cubes in it.
Place the tip counters, Demerit counters and red "danger" cubes in supply piles near the board.

Shuffle the Delivery cards and turn a number of them face up depending on how many players are in the game (turn up 1 more card than there are players).
Distribute the 15 Traffic Light tiles to the 15 intersections, each with a randomly chosen orientation.

All players place their Car at the Pizza Shop location on the board. Each player draws 3 Route tiles into their hand. The game is ready to begin.

On your turn, you may spend up to 9 Movement Points. In general, moving your Car 1 space costs 1 movement point.

For a cost of 3 Movement Points you can place a Route tile onto the board and then draw another to replace it. Route tiles go in Neighborhood spaces, not along main roads [addition off the top of my head: Each player has 1/some Traffic tile(s), which is placed on a main road space instead of on a neighborhood space].

Some Obstacles (Stop Signs, Crosswalks, Traffic lights) may increase the Movement Point cost of entering a space on the board. However, instead of paying these additional movement points, you can "break the law" and risk getting caught. For each "infraction" (tile for which you paid less than the full amount) you add some number of red "danger" cubes to your draw bag - that number depends on the offense:
- Crosswalk = 1 "danger" cube
- Stop Sign = 2 "danger" cubes
- One Way Street = 2 "danger" cubes
- Red Light = 3 "danger" cubes

At the end of your turn you must draw 1 cube out of your bag for each of the additional movement points you didn't pay. If you draw any red "danger" cubes, then you have been busted! You get a Demerit token for having gotten a ticket.

Originally I was going to have your orders expire as well, since the ticket makes you late, but that seems like such a harsh penalty that players may never break any laws - and that's no fun! So maybe just the Demerit token is better, and then the effect of the Demerit token needs to be such that you're not too worried about taking one or 2, but then you start to really worry about getting another after that.

When you pick up an Order card from the display, it comes with a number of Tip tokens (indicated on the card). The first thing you do on your turn is to remove 1 Tip token from each order in front of you. Thus, you want to deliver the orders as quickly as possible, because when you deliver an order you claim all remaining Tip counters for your score.

Also, each Order card has a Building tile depicted, and when delivering an order, a player gets to place a building tile of that type. Building tiles act as routes that any player can use, but more importantly they modify people's existing routes... A School adds to the delay value of all adjacent crosswalks (because the crosswalks are more busy near a school than otherwise). A Police Station increases the delay value of adjacent Stop Signs and Traffic Lights. A church also makes Crosswalks worse, but not as much as a school does. And a Shopping Mall affects Stop Signs, Crosswalks,, and Traffic Lights.

So by making deliveries players score points and place buildings.

Whenever an Order is picked up, it will be replaced with a new card from the deck. Order cards also indicate which Traffic Lights advance - each card will have 1 or 2 lights listed, and those lights change (green->yellow, yellow->red, red->green).