Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Blast from the past: Hot & Fresh

I was just reading through an old blog post - something called "The List," which is how I keep track of old game designs. I read the bit about Hot & Fresh, and got to thinking a little bit about the game.

The most recent idea (and at this point, it's not all that recent anymore) was to add a system of 'shortcuts' - players play tiles in the space between the main streets which represents paths that they are familiar with and their opponents are not. So you can drive on your own tiles, but you cannot drive on an opponent's tile unless you connect a road to it with your own tile first.

This was a big step forward, I think, and when I first implemented it I finally was able to get a playtest in. However, the fundamental problem is that as far as distance is concerned, these paths are not really 'shortcuts' - they're more like 'same-distance-cuts.' Therefore they're only useful if the traffic light happens to be red, and then just to dodge the corner.

It had been suggested - maybe more than once - that there should be some semblance of traffic modeled in the game. I had hoped that worrying about traffic would not be necessary, and that the dynamic routes created by changing traffic lights would be enough to drive route planning decisions. I like the idea of the shortcuts, but I think I have to face the possibility that the whole idea of red lights doesn't really work unless traffic builds up behind them. With that in mind, I thought about how I could model such traffic in a simple, intuitive way. Here's what I came up with:

Currently, if I recall my own game correctly, every so often some of the traffic lights advance from Green to Yellow to Red. The lights that change are noted on the delivery cards that come up. Suppose that after adjusting the appropriate lights, each intersection resolves some "traffic." Add a Traffic token to the street behind any red light (line them up if need be), and remove 1 from behind any green light.

When moving through these Traffic tiles, players will have to spend more movement points, so the effect of the traffic is to cause delays. These delays will build up at intersections as their lights are red, and will slowly diminish as the lights are green. I think this sounds like an easy enough system (though a bit more fiddly than it was), and I think it may give the feel of changing routes that I was going for in the first place.

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