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Subject: [WIP] 'Mower Mania' - 2016 Mint Tin Design Contest - Component Ready rss

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Mark Tuck
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Files now available at Mower Mania


A garden mowing game for 1 player
Age 8+
Playing time: approx 45 - 60 minutes (to be confirmed)

In these days of recession, it's not that easy to scrape an honest living. But there's always a neighbour’s lawn waiting to be mowed.
Fortunately you have inherited your grandfather’s MowMaster 2000, in it’s day the height of grass removal technology. Unfortunately that day was about 100 years ago and mowing with it now is tricky, due to the machine’s somewhat limited functions.
Mind you don't smash it into those trees, because it'll cost you for repairs and watch out for that dog. Above all try to steer clear of the customers' flower beds and prize vegetables as they get very upset at the sight of beheaded daffodils or mashed marrow.

Components:
- 44 Garden tiles (square)
- 1 Mower controls tracker card
- 1 Earnings tracker card
- 8 7 cubes/tokens to track mower functions and money earned
- 2 regular dice for movement
- 2 regular dice to track fuel
- 1 rule sheet/booklet
All hopefully fitting in a mint tin.

Done list:
Very quick playtesting (with some scribbled bits of card) - needs more work.
Create a logo.
Started artwork for components

To do list: All done now
Do some proper playtesting to see if the game actually works and is fun.
Then finish artwork for components
Make component-ready files available
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Mark Tuck
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Re: [WIP] 'Mower Mania' - 2016 Mint Tin Design Contest - Idea Phase
A bit of background information.

In my youth, many years ago, I owned a ZX Spectrum. The magazines at the time, such as Computer and Video Games, used to publish games programs as listings of code. If successfully inputted then, when run, a simple game would appear on screen. The equivalent, I suppose, of today's Print and Play ('Type and Play' if you like).

If, however, you made just one mistake when typing, an error message would appear and you'd have to painstakingly check all your work for the mistake. I made many mistakes but, in reading through the code, I grasped the basic principles of Spectrum Basic programming.

Armed with this knowledge, I then started to create my own simple games and even sent a few off to the magazines (must have been on cassette tapes). I think I was paid the princely sum of around £50 for each one published.

Anyway, the point of this reminiscing is that the subject cropped up a few weeks ago in conversation with a work colleague. He then went off Googling and, to my surprise, found that the games exist on the web. Someone has typed in many of these games listings, converted them to files which can be played on emulators and catalogued them by year and issue (a real labour of love).

I immediately downloaded Fuse (a free Spectrum emulator) and proceeded to take a trip down memory lane.

One of my games was about mowing lawns and trying to make some money whilst avoiding flowerbeds, walls and pets. It was called Mower Mania. I thought it would be a fun theme to try to fit into a mint tin...
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Mark Tuck
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Re: [WIP] 'Mower Mania' - 2016 Mint Tin Design Contest - Idea Phase
The game is a mix of puzzle/strategy (working out best routes through the gardens), resource management (your mower functions) and luck (dice for movement and randomness of garden tile layout).

When you land on a long grass tile, you turn it over to reveal it nicely mowed. Landing on vegetables or flowers, however, results in loss of points (money). Land on a pot, or go too fast into a tree or garden feature, and you'll also sustain damage to your mower.

The amount you earn will be based on how much of the lawn you've successfully mowed (a minimum amount required to progress to the next level) and how much damage you've caused. Not sure if money should be $, £ or an invented currency. You'll then have to pay for mower repairs and to replenish mower functions you used.

Whilst trying to test the gameplay, and rules (in my head), I'm also carrying on with the art. Here are the front and reverse of a few tiles:
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martin
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Re: [WIP] 'Mower Mania' - 2016 Mint Tin Design Contest - Idea Phase
Very Impressive graphics Mark, Those colors really "Pop"

When can we expect the rules? Dice rolling and solo play are always a plus in my book. I may have to give this game a try.. even if its after the contest unfortunately. I already have about 4 other games printed and ready to play, but time is not on my side these days.

Anyhow, I'm very curious to see where you will take this design.

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Mark Tuck
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Re: [WIP] 'Mower Mania' - 2016 Mint Tin Design Contest - Idea Phase
melbards wrote:
Very Impressive graphics Mark, Those colors really "Pop"

When can we expect the rules? Dice rolling and solo play are always a plus in my book. I may have to give this game a try.. even if its after the contest unfortunately. I already have about 4 other games printed and ready to play, but time is not on my side these days.

Anyhow, I'm very curious to see where you will take this design.


Thanks for your interest Martin.

The graphics are actually found royalty free images, some of which I've then worked on for a more consistent style.

Being optimist, I'm hoping to finish all the components end of this weekend and have some draft rules done by then as well.
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martin
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Re: [WIP] 'Mower Mania' - 2016 Mint Tin Design Contest - Idea Phase
Quote:
Being optimist, I'm hoping to finish all the components end of this weekend and have some draft rules done by then as well.


Great! I`ll keep my eyes open for it.
 
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Mark Tuck
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Re: [WIP] 'Mower Mania' - 2016 Mint Tin Design Contest - Idea Phase
I've now done all the art for the tiles.

I've also just done a card to represent the control panel of the mower.

This originally started out all shiny chrome but that looked far too slick.
So I've gone with an older, wood and brass, feel - which has turned out looking pretty steampunk.
I'd imagined that the player has inherited this piece of kit from their grandfather, and, whilst reliable, is not particularly fit for purpose and has some strange quirks.

I couldn't think of a better word than 'absorbers'. These basically buffer any impact. Once both are used up then a further collision means the mower stops working. 'Shields' didn't seem right.



Anyway, now on to a bit more playtesting and drafting some rules.
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Benjamin Wack
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Re: [WIP] 'Mower Mania' - 2016 Mint Tin Design Contest - Idea Phase
Bumpers ? Or is that reserved for cars ?

After seeing this I'm going to want to add rocket boosters to my lawn mower anyway...
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Mark Tuck
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Re: [WIP] 'Mower Mania' - 2016 Mint Tin Design Contest - Idea Phase
I've now written the first version of the rules - all on one sheet which, when folded, fits in the tin.

As do all the components:

.


Also got in another playtest and took some more pics:

Here is the initial set up for the first garden. I used two small 10mm dice on the Mower tracker, but larger dice (which are shown in the tin image) work just as well:



And, after 15 minutes of mowing, I managed to complete the round, but not before I took out several flowerbeds and hit a tree. Somehow I avoided the dog who remained asleep the whole time.



I earned 21 coins (the 3 tiles which remain unmowed are within the conditions for completing the first garden, but reduce my score).

I then had to top up my fuel, repair one 'absorber' and renew 3 of the functions I used. All this cost me 15 coins, leaving me with a small profit of 6 coins.

I just want to make a few tweaks to the graphics of the Mower tracker card and also finish a Garden Reference card which tells you which tiles are used for each garden and the conditions for completing them.

So hopefully tomorrow everything will be uploaded.

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Andrew Orel
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Re: [WIP] 'Mower Mania' - 2016 Mint Tin Design Contest - Idea Phase
This is looking really polished.

You've turned a mundane activity into a fun looking game. Great stuff thumbsup
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Mark Tuck
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Re: [WIP] 'Mower Mania' - 2016 Mint Tin Design Contest - Idea Phase

Okay - I've tweaked the graphics and spell checked the rules.

Also done the Garden Reference card - not the most interesting of cards but an opportunity to get some punning names in there:

Had another play through this morning and made it to the final garden, where mayhem ensued - including taking a dip in the pond and deliberately mashing Reggie's prize marrow (as it was, unfortunately, en route to the final piece of grass). I ended up earning 24 coins.

The files are now available to download at: Mower Mania

You don't need to scale when printing, as they work for both A4 and letter size.
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G. Uitz
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Mark,

I can only say 'Wow'. What beautiful artwork, what a neat idea for a game and how well you managed to capture the atmosphere of mowing the backyard. When playing the first round I could almost smell the cut grass.

I love the simplicity of the design and the running dog once you wake him.

Here are my comments:
* May I finish the work on a garden once I achieved all objectives or do I have to keep on mowing until I run out of fuel?

* When are the mower functions "break" and "accelerate" applied? Directly to the dice roll or at the end of movement? While this is irrelevant to the number of tiles moved, it will have an impact on the mower's behaviour at the garden borders. It will turn right at an even dice result and left on a right result. In other words, a break or accelerate action will impact the dice or not.

* Do mowed special tiles like the turtle count as the number printed on them or is it 1 + the number printed? I would propose to make it a "+ X" value. That way it is in accordance with the penalties for moved down flowers. Counting is +1 for each mowed tile, -1 for unmowed tiles and then appliying all modifiers "+" and "-".

* The trees on the tree tiles cover so much space, that you have to look twice to check if they are already mowed or not. Maybe you can modify the shape a bit to show more of the "stripes" of a mowed tile.

* The rules imply but don't state clearly, that the tree and fountain tiles have to be mowed as well, although the are obstacles.

All in all a very solid piece of work, well done, Sir.

Dark.
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Mark Tuck
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DarkPadawan wrote:
Mark,

I can only say 'Wow'. What beautiful artwork, what a neat idea for a game and how well you managed to capture the atmosphere of mowing the backyard. When playing the first round I could almost smell the cut grass.

I love the simplicity of the design and the running dog once you wake him.
Thanks!

Quote:
Here are my comments:
* May I finish the work on a garden once I achieved all objectives or do I have to keep on mowing until I run out of fuel?
Once you have achieved the minimum number of mowed Grass tiles, then you may stop work and you'll get paid. In that way you can save some fuel for the next garden. Note, however, that, if possible, you must complete the mowing turn (i.e use both dice rolls) before you finish.

Quote:
* When are the mower functions "break" and "accelerate" applied? Directly to the dice roll or at the end of movement? While this is irrelevant to the number of tiles moved, it will have an impact on the mower's behaviour at the garden borders. It will turn right at an even dice result and left on a right result. In other words, a break or accelerate action will impact the dice or not.
These are applied to the die score, so will change an odd number to an even and vice versa. I'll make that clearer.

Quote:
* Do mowed special tiles like the turtle count as the number printed on them or is it 1 + the number printed? I would propose to make it a "+ X" value. That way it is in accordance with the penalties for moved down flowers. Counting is +1 for each mowed tile, -1 for unmowed tiles and then appliying all modifiers "+" and "-".
Yes it's just the number shown. Your idea would make things clearer. So every mowed Grass tile is worth 1 and then some tiles have a bonus (shown as +1 etc). I'll change this on the next version.

Quote:
* The trees on the tree tiles cover so much space, that you have to look twice to check if they are already mowed or not. Maybe you can modify the shape a bit to show more of the "stripes" of a mowed tile.
I wanted the trees to be as big as possible. But I'll see what they look like reduced a little.

Quote:
* The rules imply but don't state clearly, that the tree and fountain tiles have to be mowed as well, although the are obstacles.
Yes, trees, fountain and pond are Grass tiles and, as such, need to be mowed as part of the requirement of being paid.

Quote:
All in all a very solid piece of work, well done, Sir.

Dark.
Great feedback. I'm glad you enjoyed the game.
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Benjamin Wack
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Hi,

Gave this a spin just an hour ago. Usually with PnP games I don't go through a full game on first playtest, with this one I did, which I think says it all about how engaging it is.

- Garden 1 went quite well, even considering I was just getting to grips with the machine. I earned 19 coins but spent 10 in fuel and functions.
- Garden 2 was a bit harder but not too much. I decided experimenting with trees and absorbers to gain further control over my trajectory, but in the end it cost me all of my wages, plus 3 from my previous earnings.
- Garden 3 was hard, I broke a lot of things and spent everything single function/fuel/absorber on the way. Again I had to spend all my wages plus the last 6 of my savings to get my mower up and running again
- Garden 4 went comparatively very well, the decrease in tiles to be mowed ends up easing things a bit. I started from a risky position which turned out to pay well, and I spent only one fuel tank and did not break much more than a cabbage and a flower bed. Still, repairs took their share again, and I ended up with a grand net account of 1 coin.

All in all, it's spot on for me : tight resource management, harsh decisions at every turn, clever mini-puzzles to be solved with what the dice throw at you. And of course it's beautiful (my wife concurs).

I just doubt anyone will ever be able to get the bonus tip on any level except by sheer luck. I'd say either of the two requirements (all tiles mowed/nothing broken) would be hard enough to reach.

Just one question rule-wise : if you've mowed enough tiles, are you allowed to end a garden whenever you want ? or are you forced to continue until you've met one of the three listed conditions ?
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Mark Tuck
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Quinarbre wrote:
Hi,

Gave this a spin just an hour ago. Usually with PnP games I don't go through a full game on first playtest, with this one I did, which I think says it all about how engaging it is.
That's good to hear

Quote:
All in all, it's spot on for me : tight resource management, harsh decisions at every turn, clever mini-puzzles to be solved with what the dice throw at you. And of course it's beautiful (my wife concurs).
Thanks!

Quote:
I just doubt anyone will ever be able to get the bonus tip on any level except by sheer luck. I'd say either of the two requirements (all tiles mowed/nothing broken) would be hard enough to reach.
Having played it quite a lot, I agree with you. I think I'll change this to a bonus for just mowing all the grass (an incentive to finish even after you have achieved the minimum mowed grass required) and then a larger bonus for avoid damaging things - but only, say, the vegetables in Reggie's garden, the flowers in Garden 2, the pots in garden 3 etc (i.e. those features precious to those owners).

Quote:
Just one question rule-wise : if you've mowed enough tiles, are you allowed to end a garden whenever you want ? or are you forced to continue until you've met one of the three listed conditions ?
Once you have mowed enough grass (as stated on the garden reference card) and finished that turn, you can choose to stop and you'll then be paid. The 3 conditions listed in the rules under 'End of Round' will stop the round prematurely (and you won't be paid unless you have also mowed the minimum grass).

Many thanks Benjamin for playing and for your positive feedback (I hope you manage to earn more coins on future plays!).
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JK
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Oh man, I've gotta build this one too! Damn you Mark Tuck - stop making such cool games and distracting me from more important stuff.

But since I won't be housing it in a mint tin (not available here) I want to make a cool standee. I'm picturing something like this:



Oh, this is gonna be good!
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Mark Tuck
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JohnKean wrote:
Oh man, I've gotta build this one too! Damn you Mark Tuck - stop making such cool games and distracting me from more important stuff.

But since I won't be housing it in a mint tin (not available here) I want to make a cool standee. I'm picturing something like this:



Oh, this is gonna be good!

Great image!

Just noticed that Coldwell did horse powered mowers - presumably so you could fertilize at the same time (an idea for an upgrade?...)

If you're not fitting into a mint tin then you may want to print out the Tracking card a little bigger.
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JK
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Hi Mark
I'm part way through building this but noticed a small problem. The backs don't line up correctly on the strip of four locations on pages 5 and 6. On p5 the order is Dracaena, Ficus, peonie, daffodil, but on p6 it's peonie, daffodil, Dracaena, Ficus, which is not the reverse. You may want to re-order them (assuming you don't intend the species to morph into each other when mown). Otherwise, so far so good. I'll post some pictures when I'm done.
Cheers! JK
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JohnKean wrote:
Hi Mark
I'm part way through building this but noticed a small problem. The backs don't line up correctly on the strip of four locations on pages 5 and 6. On p5 the order is Dracaena, Ficus, peonie, daffodil, but on p6 it's peonie, daffodil, Dracaena, Ficus, which is not the reverse. You may want to re-order them (assuming you don't intend the species to morph into each other when mown). Otherwise, so far so good. I'll post some pictures when I'm done.
Cheers! JK


Thanks for spotting that John. It's now been fixed.

And I'm impressed with your horticultural knowledge. I've been referring to them as 'the pinky flowers' and 'the spiky plant'!
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JK
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tucky60 wrote:
And I'm impressed with your horticultural knowledge. I've been referring to them as 'the pinky flowers' and 'the spiky plant'!


Actually on second look I think what I was calling a peonie may be more likely to be a dahlia... Either way they are prime mower fodder when I get my thrasher up and going! Vrmm vrmm!

The tortoise is indestructible eh? That sounds like a challenge...
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Niklas Hook
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Hook says :"I can paint for you if you need artistic help with you game"
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I love this idea And your design!
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JK
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Well, I just completed my first game of Mower Mania, expertly piloting Grampa's antique mower to a final score of 16 after completing all four lawns...



Gramps would be proud of the way I mulched my way through flower beds, vegetables and patio ornaments in pursuit of a quick buck. If only there had been a gnome to really get excited about destroying.

Here's the final state of the first garden...



Fun game and easy to play, though a refuel/repair reference card on the back of the garden reference would be handy.

A couple of rule clarifications: Presumably you can stop mowing a garden whenever you like? You don't have to fully refuel/repair between gardens? (though the fact that you do at the end makes no advantage not to).

My only other suggestion would be some sort of status result depending on your final score e.g. 0 - 10 novice, > 20 mower king or something (could colour code the score card bronze silver gold or something).


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Mark Tuck
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JohnKean wrote:
Well, I just completed my first game of Mower Mania, expertly piloting Grampa's antique mower to a final score of 16 after completing all four lawns...


Gramps would be proud of the way I mulched my way through flower beds, vegetables and patio ornaments in pursuit of a quick buck. If only there had been a gnome to really get excited about destroying.
I'm liking that standee - streamlined too.

Quote:
Here's the final state of the first garden...


I trust you didn't run over that dog.

Quote:
Fun game and easy to play, though a refuel/repair reference card on the back of the garden reference would be handy.
It mentions in the rules that the Mower Tracker card shows these costs. They are represented by the number of circles (coins) under each function. However, as there is room on the back of the garden reference card, I can list them there too.

Quote:
A couple of rule clarifications: Presumably you can stop mowing a garden whenever you like?
Yes you can, although if you haven't met the mowed grass condition for that garden then you don't get paid!

Quote:
You don't have to fully refuel/repair between gardens? (though the fact that you do at the end makes no advantage not to).
You don't have to replenish everything fully. If you want to save some coins you can gamble on having less fuel or functions for the next garden.

Quote:
My only other suggestion would be some sort of status result depending on your final score e.g. 0 - 10 novice, > 20 mower king or something (could colour code the score card bronze silver gold or something).
Good idea - I also could make room on the back of the Garden reference card (or in the rules) for this.

Just thought of 'Incapability Brown' for a scorer of <10.
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JK
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tucky60 wrote:
I trust you didn't run over that dog.


I did that time to end the level cos I wasn't sure if I could just stop. Don't worry - he was unharmed and subsequently hospitalised the mailman, so all is well.

Quote:
It mentions in the rules that the Mower Tracker card shows these costs. They are represented by the number of circles (coins) under each function.


Aha. I did see that in the rules but didn't know what it meant.

I wonder if the mower controls could be split over two cards to give more room. I would love to see the fuel gauges as split pin dials, like the pocket watch in Elemintary. It is fine as is, just a bit fiddly.

Quote:
You don't have to fully refuel/repair between gardens.


Ok but since you must at the end, there is no advantage in not doing so, except for the discount when filling a whole tank.

Quote:
Just thought of 'Incapability Brown' for a scorer of <10.


That's great. I know we can rely on you for some good groan-worthy puns!

 
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Alex Johns
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I've been following a lot of the mint tin games, and this is the first I have wanted to buy just by looking at it. This looks awesome. I have no means to print this, but wanted it to be known that this game looks awesome and I would buy this at retail or through kickstarter on what I've seen about this already in this thread.
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