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Scott Rogers
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Thousand Oaks
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Hey everyone!

After reading hundreds of these [WIP] design threads, I thought I would give it a try and do my own as a way to share my process, hone down on ideas and stimulate new ones, have discussions about a game design with other designers and try to motivate myself to create new game from the ground up.

THE CONCEPT

Players compete for land and customers as they attempt to evolve their humble fruit stands into empires of tourism. Cultivate and harvest produce, sell and craft your crops into unique delicacies to tempt the passing tourists to stop and spend their money. Can you build your roadside empire?

THE ORIGIN

On the drive to ProtoSpiel San Jose this Spring, my travels took me through Gilroy, California - a town I have passed through many, many times. Gilroy is known as the "Garlic Capital of the World" and hosts a (supposedly, as I have never attended) really good Garlic Festival in July. You can eat anything with garlic in it, including ice cream!

Gilroy and nearby Hollister, have an abundance of roadside stands to lure travelers on the 152 and 101 highways with fresh produce and other home-made delicacies such as jellies, hot-sauces, jerky and other treats.

Even though I have passed these towns many times, I finally stopped at Casa De Fruta, the largest and most established of these roadside fruit stands - it's really unfair to call it a fruit stand. It's a tourist attraction than has evolved from a fruit stand first started in 1908. It has a huge store, two restaurants, a gas station, a motel, a petting zoo and carousel. Stopping here got me thinking about the evolution of a humble fruit stand into a place like Casa De Fruta and what would that be like in board game form.

While I was thinking of this, I was thinking about all of the great Eurogames named after famous cities in Europe and wondered why haven't I heard of ones named after US cities? I'm sure they exist, but they don't come easily to my mind.

Hence GILROY was born.

FIRST STEPS
I carry around a notebook with me where ever I go in case inspiration strikes. After visiting Casa De Fruta, it did! Since I was driving, I had my traveling companion write down a "stream of conscious" list of all of the things we saw there.



Then I started to think about the layout of the game. There should be a road and space to build on. This is what I sketched out.



The idea is to split the land into several squares and then lay tiles on top to represent the store, the crops and other things for the player to grow and evolve. Tourists will drive down the road and eventually get lured in by billboards on the side of the road. These roadside signs are everywhere along the highways and are part of the color of these attractions.



I redid the map in color in my sketchbook, to get a better picture of it in my head. I find that having one element of the game - be it the box cover, the board or some player pawns - help me wrap my head around the theme of the game. The board will be an ongoing process as I figure out how many squares of real estate will the player need, what will the spaces be used for, etc... I have a feeling this map is going to shrink and grow as things progress.

I have some experience with farm-related worker placement games - my two touchstones are Stone Age and La Granja but I haven't played Agricola yet! I need to wrap my head around how these games work in order to figure out what mechanisms I want to use and which ones I don't.



Finally, this last page are just more lists of things (sometimes they get a bit redundant) as well as a couple of gameplay concepts - like how does the player realize what the tourist wants? I see this a bit like a "want list" and the player will try to fill it before the tourist arrives. Is this concept too weird? Like the player is psychically trying to have what tourist wants before they arrive? More thought obviously needs to be done on this and many many more things.

Well, that's it for now. I'll be posting more soon. Your thoughts are welcome below!
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Kansas City Here
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California
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Re: [WIP] Gilroy or figuring out how to make a worker placement game
This is a really fun idea Scott! K.C. Here by the way. Being fond of that area having lived in Santa Cruz I think tributing (and having fun with) FOOD is such a great central theme. Sort of Food Tycoons if you will.

I think tributing the history of Gilroy and all things Garlic is really fun.

My own little brain dump (storm?) is seeing elements like:
- Best Signage (to draw in cars/travelers...mostly cars, maybe a bus load of tourists is a big bonus)

Then and hazard deck of some sort with things like "Frost", "Flood", etc. Things that affect crops (Bugs).

Of course this is narrowly focused on the road side carts (where it could stay mostly) but if you wanted it to grow bigger then you could keep it in the food theme. Restaurant, Chain of restaurants, winery, canning factory.

Anyway, take that with a grain of garlic. It tickled me enough to write so I think you're on to a whole series of games named after cities that both have fun with them but also tribute cool things about them.
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Scott Rogers
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Re: [WIP] Gilroy or figuring out how to make a worker placement game
Tembrock wrote:

My own little brain dump (storm?) is seeing elements like:
- Best Signage (to draw in cars/travelers...mostly cars, maybe a bus load of tourists is a big bonus)

Then and hazard deck of some sort with things like "Frost", "Flood", etc. Things that affect crops (Bugs).

Of course this is narrowly focused on the road side carts (where it could stay mostly) but if you wanted it to grow bigger then you could keep it in the food theme. Restaurant, Chain of restaurants, winery, canning factory.

Anyway, take that with a grain of garlic. It tickled me enough to write so I think you're on to a whole series of games named after cities that both have fun with them but also tribute cool things about them.


Hey K.C.! Thanks for chiming in!

I've been definitely thinking about things like weather affecting crops and, more importantly to California, the role of water and how it is a big of a part of the central CA farming lifestyle. The question is, how big of a part do I want it to be in the game?

Right now, I think it would be more fun for the player to build their crops and farms rather than to be limited by resources like water therefore I will probably focus my design attention (for now) on the growing (your "Tycoon" analogy is spot on!) and the "crafting" of food to appeal to the passing tourists. I'm sure weather will come into it later after the core game is developed.

Your "Best Signage" idea is definitely something I want to have. Best = biggest in this case. One of the struggles for the player will be between dedicating land for promotion vs. farming.

As for designing other California-centric games, the idea has passed through my mind, but I'll save that for another day. One game at a time... one game at a time...
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Scott Rogers
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Re: [WIP] Gilroy or figuring out how to make a worker placement game
This next page from my notebook has me writing out the "mission statement" - a very simple description of the game that I can use as a touchstone throughout the entire design process. It reads:



"It's a game about having a limited amount of space to be the most productive and meet the needs of the customers."

For a living, I teach video and board game design at a college level, and I am always telling the students to start with what I call the "primary action" - the main thing the player will be doing through the course of the game.

In the case of Gilroy, right now it feels like the primary action is space management. How big and fast do I grow my stand? How many crops do I cultivate? How many do I dedicate to selling at my stand and how many do I turn into other delicacies? But of course I ask myself, is that any fun? I do not know yet.

The other exercise I did was to map out some proposed actions for the player. In my observations and research of other worker placement games, I noticed that most games give the player a minimum of 9 things to choose from - usually with 2 to 3 workers to place. Some of these options are "one only", some are a few only and one is "everyone can do it" so that way the player gets something each round. Here is my list of these options in regards to Gilroy.



They are:

1. Place worker on plot to work land (would there be a "untilled/tilled state?)
2. Place worker to buy product (I'm thinking there is a way to buy items for your store as well as to grow them - maybe buy from other players too)
3. Place worker to harvest produce (how many items are harvested? A set amount or random like in Stone Age?)
4. Place worker to build billboard
5. Place worker to sell item - this is where you have to have a worker manning the cash register - or is this something that automatically happens? Seems a bit boring if you always have to have one person always in the same place - choice is better than no choice.
6. Place worker to get 1st player marker - this would be important in cherry-picking customers
7. Place worker to improve (I guess this would be like building a billboard - you could improve your store, your field, your billboard, add attractions, etc.
8. Place to increase traffic - this seems a bit weird thematically. I don't know if traffic should be in the player's control.
9. Place on other's farm to earn money - I am taking this idea from interactive games like farmville. You can always help out another player to earn $. The downside is, you are helping them get resources as they can assign you to the job they want you to do.
10. Hire more workers - seems like a no-brainer in a worker placement game - although I love the place two to get a third in Stone Age. I wonder if there is a way to do something like this for Gilroy (without inferring sex)
11. Need to have $ to make rent/pay workers - This is more a general concept than something the players can do. Rather than feed the workers, paying them seems like a realistic thing to have.
12. Workers to flip prices - this is another concept, that prices can be driven up due to artificial inflation, demand, etc. This feels like it might be too advanced a concept for what I hope is to be a simple-ish game.

Let's hear your thoughts about all of this!
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Brian Fouts
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San Martin
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I love this idea! I live just north of Gilroy.

If you have a road running through your board, you could maybe have cars move through, and you could have players build parking lots. Each round could feature cars entering the board from 101 south or 152 west, which is the main route for people entering/exiting the bay area. Maybe use a small deck of cards to indicate the number of cars /buses that enter each round? The last round of the game could be the garlic festival! Gilroy has a population around 50,000 people, and last year 80,000 people attended the garlic festival.

You've got to find a way to include garlic ice cream in the game too. whistle

Let me know if you need a playtester.
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Scott Rogers
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Hey Brian! Does that put you in Morgan Hill or San Jose? I lived in San Jose for 8 years. I still miss it.

The road is meant to be a big part of the game - bringing in customers - which makes the player have to debate how much land to dedicate to parking or other attractions and how much to dedicate to the store and farm land.

I'm still determining how the cars/cards will work, I foresee it a bit like the house cards in Stone Age. Buy one and the next one flips. But I also want little cars on the road that pass by. So many options.

I love the idea of using the festival as the last round of the game. I'll have to think more about how it would implement itself gameplay-wise.

Some great "food" for thought! So thanks!
 
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