20th Century Limited

This will be my blog home for 20th Century Limited. In this blog I will try to give as many insights as I can into the development and hopefully the publication of this game.

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A real-live game

Jeff Horger
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So I am happy to announce that over the 4th of July weekend Carla & I signed a contract with a large hobby game company to bring 20th Century Limited into production. Hopefully within a year from now. As things progress and as I am allowed, I will continue to fill you in on the progress of the game. It is very exciting and I believe that this is the best game Carla & I have completed so far.
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Mon Jul 7, 2014 5:01 pm
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2-Player Revisions

Jeff Horger
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Over the last two weeks we have been honing 20th Century Limited's 2-player iteration in an attempt to shore up the one area that the previous suitor left alone as we focused on fixing the "crowded board" issues. The "open board" issues were glossed over. I am getting very excited for this game again with the revisions and twists of the two and three player versions. Can't wait to get it in your hands at some point.
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Wed Apr 9, 2014 4:16 pm
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Out of Limbo into the fire

Jeff Horger
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So it has been a long time since I spoke on this game. The reason is simply that its future has been up in the air for quite some time. Recently we got the news that after a 18 month courtship with Mayfair that they cannot get it into their production schedule in the near future. So Carla & I have reclaimed ownership of the completed game and are deciding on the game's future.

It will be printed, the question is simply where. We have a couple of options to explore with the most exciting option being that we print it ourselves as the first full-scale board game from our very soon to start publishing enterprise. It is still possible that we will see an outside publisher take it, but no matter what the game is on its way. Now that the wait is over, I can begin to be more forthcoming with information.
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Thu Jan 23, 2014 5:32 pm
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Carla's Influence

Jeff Horger
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20th Century Limited started out as most our games do, in my mind as some elaborate euro-american game that would take four hours to play and cover every aspect of the topic. I like deep games and the more chrome the better. But the first time I set the game up and played solo I knew this was one Carla needed to play a major role in refining. Many of her favorite games fall into the train game category such as Ticket to Ride, Trans America, Railways of the World and Rail Baron. If she was going to get excited about this one, I needed her on-board from the beginning.

Quickly dismissed was the pick-up and deliver mechanic that the game included (maybe I'll return to that in a separate game). She wanted to keep and focus on the route building component. The historical rail company cards were a big hit with her and we worked quite a while to get them refined.

Obviously she was a major participant with me in the two-player play tests. As the game clocks in at under an hour for veteran players we were easily able to do a run-through each night after work and look for trouble spots and make corrections that we saw from other play test sessions.

Carla is also not a direct confrontation player. She prefers to play the system and have the system beat you. As such she was instrumental in helping us tone down the confrontation when asked to do so by our possible publisher. We made the game much easier to get out of the congested northeast without getting overly squeezed in the first two regions by allowing players a choice of regional routes to follow. She was also instrumental in the Entry Waiver system to prevent players from being blocked out of cities by other players.

Maybe her biggest contribution to the game is the work she did on the "long-route" strategy. The main three play testers always tried similar strategies when we played and tried to gauge how they evolved with changes in the game and how rules tweaks changed those strategies. Carla's prime strategy was to try and complete the long routes. As we fixed and edited rules her chosen strategy became more and more possible to achieve success. In our final tests, if done correctly, the long route strategy is viable in both short games (where someone is pushing the action) and long games where no one is pushing for an early end.

I have said it once and I will continue to say it until I'm blue in the face, Carla is the one factor that cannot be overlooked in our games. She helps tidy them up and makes them more suitable to wider markets. But her biggest challenge lies ahead, can she soften up WW2 Manoeuvre?

20th Century Limited currently has a Facebook presence at:
https://www.facebook.com/20thCenturyLimited

I am also on Twitter if you want to know when gaming events happen.
https://twitter.com/Jeff_Horger
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Thu Aug 1, 2013 3:10 pm
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A Better Game

Jeff Horger
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If you freelance like Carla & I do, you had better learn to take criticism, advice and suggestions well. If you do, you are very likely to come up with a much better game than what you started with. Every game we have turned into a publisher has ended up better from their advice and suggestions than what we took to show them. Respect these people, they understand what it is they are doing. They want the game to be as successful as possible and it is their job to ensure that they produce games that can be sold in the thousands. That same effect has occurred to 20th Century Limited. The possible publisher has given us voluminous and detailed feedback. We have taken that freely offered advice and adapted it to the specific game and the game has become better and better with each refinement. Many of the ideas were things we would not have come up with on our own. Some examples of this are below.

1) Refining the Entry Waiver System. In the game you can use other people's tracks by paying them one VP per track used up to 5 per player per turn. You have 10 of these to use per game. This is a clear improvement on our original idea which was to have one card, worth 5 VP that you gave away once per game to use someone else's track.

2) The first region is much less forgiving. In our design phase of the game the East and to a lesser degree, the Midwest, was a dogfight early in the game. This was simply taken as a gospel early on. The publisher, wanting to appeal to a broader audience requested that we lessen the competition in the early stages to make it less bloodthirsty. What resulted was two different rules that work great together.
The Chocolate: When drawing Region Cards, each player gets two to choose from and must complete one. You then have a choice of two different paths and can use them to either take the path of least resistance or the path that best suits one of your Company Cards.
The Peanut Butter: People like little victories to draw them in. So we made the Eastern Seaboard (Region) possible to complete in just one turn. So on your first play you complete a track, see how things work, get some points and move on.

3) Balancing the Routes. When we turned the game in it still had my "pet" scoring where the major cities provided slightly elevated scoring. I still stand by it as realistic and if I were writing a book on the matter, New York, Chicago, St. Louis and Kansas City would have predominance. But this is a game and that scoring bias needed to go. A player whose regional cards did not take him into said cities was at a disadvantage. It was also penalizing players doing just as much work in other places but getting less reward. So the big city bias was removed.

It is important as a game designer to listen to people who have ideas for your game. Almost any game can be made better and the publishers and developers in the industry have an incredible amount of stored up knowledge. Access that if you have a chance. Listen to them, do not waste your valuable chance to get their insight by debating with them. Your game and this game will be better for it.

20th Century Limited has a Facebook presence at:
https://www.facebook.com/20thCenturyLimited

I now have a Twitter presence at:
https://twitter.com/Jeff_Horger
Follow me and get the first updates on important news only.
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Fri Jul 19, 2013 12:45 pm
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Another Quick One

Jeff Horger
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After Origins and a fairly successful meeting with the current possible publisher (meaning that they didn't reject it). Carla & I have been busily working on some revamping of the current game to sand down some rough edges and make the game as polished as possible.

In that vein we worked mostly on balancing of Regional Cards, making sure every city was represented on at least one Company Card and trying to knock precious minutes off the play time.

The change in play time was affected by reducing the number of links required to complete the game if you are pushing the Regional Card ending.That should help all methods of ending the game move faster.

We will be sending the revised game back to the publisher in July and hopefully hear good news after GenCon. I have been doing the beginning research for The Orient Express (10th Century Limited in Europe). The European train system is very different from the American version and I am looking forward to making a wholly original game using the same mechanics.
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Tue Jun 25, 2013 4:03 pm
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Still Going Here

Jeff Horger
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I just wanted to post a quick update to let let everyone know that Carla & I have not fallen off the face of the earth. We have spent the entire month of January perfecting, finishing, and printing 20th Century Limited for its return to an interested publisher. We drop it in the mail tomorrow. Wish us luck. We will have more details on what we did and how we did it next blog.
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Fri Feb 1, 2013 7:12 pm
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Update

Jeff Horger
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Just a brief update on the revisions for 20th Century Limited.

Rules fixes = implemented

Board fixes = In progress. We are actually working on three different board possibilities that range from minor to gaudy.

Regional Cards = Revised but waiting on the map to finalize.

Components = Fixed

Bonus Cards = In play test.

Sorry it is so short, but I wanted to post and there is not much going on except for some boring map work.
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Tue Oct 30, 2012 7:19 pm
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Setbacks & Progress

Jeff Horger
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Columbus
Ohio
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Recently I received a message from the company that currently is the most interested in publishing 20th Century Limited. Officially it was "returned" to me but Carla & I were given a lot of direction and encouragement about resubmission. The last week or so I began planning out the necessary changes that would be needed to streamline the game and take it the last 10% of the way home.

Very few rules changes were needed but it was clear to me from the response that I received that I had poorly written the rule about removing trains from the board when playing a Company card and it was making play a bit wonky. Mostly the issues involved something that I was seeing in my own play tests, a difficulty in spotting the various cities on the map.

So we have a few rules to tweak, a few revisions to the board and cards and some general clarifications to make. We are confident that come Christmas time, we can send the revised game to the publisher with confidence that it will be a game that can sell.

I have developed a Facebook page for this game. It is pretty sparse right now, but I expect it to be expanding soon.
http://www.facebook.com/20thCenturyLimited
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Tue Oct 9, 2012 3:39 pm
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Buckeye Game Fest

Jeff Horger
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We just wanted to get the news out that Carla & I will be at Buckeye Game Fest next month with all of our P500 games. So if you are planning to attend, stop by and give the new games a shot.
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Wed Aug 29, 2012 10:21 pm
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