Creation: National Game Development Month 2012

2012 National Game Design MonthI’ve decided to participate in the National Game Design Month. November is also Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month and National Pomegranate Month, but those don’t seem nearly as interesting as trying to create a playable game in 30 days.

There are many sane gamers that have no aspirations of being a game designer; unfortunately, I cannot count myself within their number. For whatever reason, the same creative drive that fuels this rambling and pointless blog also moves me to try and create my own board or card game that with luck will eventually grace the shelves of a FLGS near you.

According to the NaGaDeMon website:

National Game Design Month is about making and playing games. During the month of November I want You to create and play your own board game, RPG, flash computer game, choose-your-own-adventure book, war game, card game or other distracting novelty. The rules are simple – create, write, play (at least once) and discuss a game during the month.

I’m going to break this creative series up into four posts with this one being the first. Each post dealing with one of the four rules for NaGaDeMon: Creation, CompletionPlaytesting, and Discussion

I had an idea for a game about food trucks almost a year ago, but I was unhappy with my initial efforts and even more dissatisfied with my subsequent attempts for revision, so I shelved the concept. I think NaGaDeMon 2012 is a perfect opportunity to dust off this concept and try again.

Working title: The Food Truck Game

Basic concept: Players begin the game with a simple food truck and seek to earn popularity through recipe and truck upgrades, social networking, good reviews, advertising, and customer satisfaction. The player with the most popular food truck after a set number of rounds wins the game.

Game mechanisms: I suppose I would call this a resource management game. Money will be the primary resource that drives a player’s ability to earn popularity and upgrade, but it will have no endgame value other than a tie-breaker. I would also like to include a random element with dice rolling, because my wife likes to roll dice. I would like for some of the available upgrades to have the ability to influence the results of those dice rolls.

Components: I want a game board and I think it should be a city map that is broken into regions. Some areas of town will have easily available parking for food trucks, while others will have restricted parking based on a fee, a popularity value, or a combination of the two. I will need dice and I think that I would like to have a certain amount of plain six-sided dice to represent customers and maybe a few additional dice in the same color as the player’s trucks. I will need some cards to represent events or bonuses perhaps, and some tiles that will represent upgrades to the food truck and a player mat or frame that represents the truck itself.

I think a round should be broken into four parts:

  • Development
  • Supply
  • Placement
  • Production

During the development phase a player could spend money to upgrade their truck, develop new or improve old recipes, or advertise. This would all cost money, but a player could take a loan if needed.

The supply phase would be all about paying for things that need to paid for each round, like ingredients and fuel. Travel might affect fuel, but I was thinking more along the lines of certain upgrades and fancier recipes costing more each round in terms of supplies.

During the placement phase, players would decide where in the city they would like to park their truck. I think this is important because some areas will be better than others, especially if there is a festival or event. Parking may be limited in some areas and may require a fee. I would like players to have to secretly determine their initial placement so there will be some conflict involving parking. I’m not sure how those conflicts would be resolved. I would like to keep it simple, so maybe there would be a rotating start player and placement would be resolved in player order. If there are no available spaces, then a player would have to choose a different location.

The production phase would be when players actually sell food to customers. I envision the customers as dice. I want there to be some relationship between the value shown on a die roll and the cost vs. profit value of a recipe. Maybe the players would roll the dice and then assign die to a recipe and that would determine profit and potential customer satisfaction. I don’t really want the players to know exactly how many customers will be at a particular location. Also, it seems natural that if more than one truck is at a location, then those customers will be split up.

I’m just thinking/writing out loud all of my ideas. Feel free to toss in your two cents in the comments. I will update any new thoughts in the comments as well.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work by Jeff Myers is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

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