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Subject: A First Step Towards a New Edition rss

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Alex Yeager
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Hello. My name's Alex Yeager. I used to be with Mayfair Games, and I'm currently, to lift a line from We Bare Bears, "currently self-unemployed."

That said, I received a couple of lovely parting gifts when Mayfair closed up shop, and the worldwide rights to Martin Wallace's Automobile was one of them. It's a game that, for me, is every bit as interesting as when it was first released, and still feels unlike other business games on the market. I'm excited to have the chance to reintroduce this game to a new generation of gamers.

That said, here's where things stand:
- I've formed a company, Improbability Entertainment. This game is not the sole reason for the company's existence, but it is very much relevant to the startup phase of things. (I'm still looking for a full-time gig with a publisher, mind you, but as gaming jobs are few and far between, if I've got to work for myself, I'll do it.)
- I spoke with Martin Wallace at UK Games Expo about the game. He's busy with other projects, and to be blunt, it's not like the game requires any additional work on his part to be publishable. So, I hope to do him proud, and he's aware of the project.
- The game will be published in a form that allows for the exact same game mechanisms that were in the current edition. There's really nothing I feel is needed to make the base game better.
- There will be additional material, designed to vary the base game experience optionally. I've got a couple of people (hello Chris, hello Nicholas) that will be working to get these materials ready for review, and my hope is that we can get enough BGG folks interested to help in that process. The first mini-expansion that I'm working on now would add historical events that will affect each round. There's more being considered/developed.
- It's probable that this will be Kickstarted. I've spoken with a couple of companies whose products I admire (and I am very aware of current Martin Wallace products on the market). There's still work to be done on my side on bonus material, so it could find a spot on someone's schedule down the line (and I'd love to have a collaborator on this project). But, if I can find the right expertise, perhaps I'll do it in-house. Initial conversations with others have been positive, but everyone's got their own schedules, and I would potentially realize more revenue to get the other parts of my company up and going if we did it ourselves.

So, to sum up: I'm the guy with the rights, I've been working with the game long enough to know what doesn't need to be changed (mechanics) and what does (money, board layout, component usability). I want to add some bells and whistles, and a lot of this will be documented and done in front of the fans of the game here on BGG.
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Stephen Croft
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This is very exciting. Congrats on gaining the licence and best of luck.
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Tim Bueschel
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Sounds like great new. As I posted elsewhere the biggest change you could do is the board. I think some direction should be on it. Especially what the "Characters" abilities are. I know there is some iconography but we always need to have a reminder of what they do.

Good luck with the new edition!
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Chris K
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Fantastic news! Can't wait to see what you and your team come up with, Alex. Best of luck!
 
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Hi, and that's great! I would, however, suggest you look at the 3-player game. It definitely feels kind of wonky in comparison to 4er and 5er (and BGG users seem to agree!) so maybe you could some mechanicisms to tweak that player count!
 
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Chris Funk
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prrt949 wrote:
Sounds like great new. As I posted elsewhere the biggest change you could do is the board. I think some direction should be on it. Especially what the "Characters" abilities are. I know there is some iconography but we always need to have a reminder of what they do.

Good luck with the new edition!


Can you point me at some of the 3 player discussions? I can't find a forum post that is specifically pointed at it yet. Very interested to find the issue you're referencing.
 
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Robert Forrest
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FunkyBlue wrote:
prrt949 wrote:
Sounds like great new. As I posted elsewhere the biggest change you could do is the board. I think some direction should be on it. Especially what the "Characters" abilities are. I know there is some iconography but we always need to have a reminder of what they do.

Good luck with the new edition!


Can you point me at some of the 3 player discussions? I can't find a forum post that is specifically pointed at it yet. Very interested to find the issue you're referencing.


I assume they are talking at least partly about the player count poll that has 46% of voters saying it isn't recommended with 3.
 
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Chris Funk
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Edward J Grug III wrote:
FunkyBlue wrote:
prrt949 wrote:
Sounds like great new. As I posted elsewhere the biggest change you could do is the board. I think some direction should be on it. Especially what the "Characters" abilities are. I know there is some iconography but we always need to have a reminder of what they do.

Good luck with the new edition!


Can you point me at some of the 3 player discussions? I can't find a forum post that is specifically pointed at it yet. Very interested to find the issue you're referencing.


I assume they are talking at least partly about the player count poll that has 46% of voters saying it isn't recommended with 3.


Yes, but as one of the people working on this project, I'm honestly curious as to the reasoning for that. I'll keep scanning the forum posts for more info, I was just curious if there was a thread I could be pointed to to save time.
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Chris Ferejohn
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I actually thought it worked better with 3 than 5 personally. With 5 your tile draws just don't give you enough information. Honestly though I think it is best by a significant margin with 4.
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Matthias Habelitz
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Are there any plans to make it playable with 2 players? I am very interested for years but I usually don't back/buy games that work 3 and up. I've got 2 games in my shelf for years that work with 3 and more people and I do not get them played...
So I will not back it if it doesn't work with 2. Further more I'll back only if it doesn't use some dummy players/Automa...
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Anthony Simons
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I am interested to know whether or not the next version will match or exceed the production quality of the Warfrog original.

It seems that as KS is going to be the likely approach, this is virtually guaranteed, and I know specifics are unlikely to have been hammered out at this stage, but I am interested in which approach is to be taken.
 
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Francis K. Lalumiere
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As a veteran player of Automobile, I volunteer to ruthlessly test the new material!
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Phillip Millman
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Congrats and I can't wait to buy it.
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Nick King
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I'd love to see Ian O'Toole take the graphic design and art on this one to the next level.
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Anthony Rubbo
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Two votes here: 2 player version, and another denomination size of wooden car.
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Alex Yeager
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Matthias19281 wrote:
Are there any plans to make it playable with 2 players?

It would be very nice if we could. I'll be talking about this with the team as we move forward, but I do want to proceed carefully - in the absence of Martin, I don't want to do much to the base game that interferes with the game we all know and love. (I mean, I was the lead developer on Steam, so I know how to take care of a Wallace design, but if we can't come up with something that feels like Automobile, we won't include it.)

Matthias19281 wrote:

Further more I'll back only if it doesn't use some dummy players/Automa...

In general, there are two scenarios: one is that we try to get this out in 18 months or so ourselves (Kickstarter version), or we work with a partner and it goes at least 2-3 years out (based on the conversations we've had so far), and possibly not Kickstarter. The breakdown that will be used are the things we can get done quickly that don't interfere with the base game, and those things that will be on a wish list as time permits. I've been working with this game since before its release by Mayfair/Phalanx, and I know that 2 players is not a casual thing, let alone a robust automa. (They do overlap a bit if 2 player could be handled with automa, but still.) Based on the data I have, I could take the game "as it is" (can't - more on that later), drop it in a box, and have a reasonable success. I want it to reach more players, but timing and benefit-for-effort will play into it.

One thing that will be the case: there won't be a lot of "black box" by the time this hypothetical Kickstarter occurs. I expect that everyone will know what the new mechanisms are, and have largely had a chance to try them, before we pull the trigger. (I am supremely uninterested in KS games that require stretch goals to make them the "proper" version. We'll tell you what will be in the box for the game up front, and if people want sparkly cars and a chrome rim first player marker as a stretch goal, we'll talk.)

fellonmyhead wrote:
I am interested to know whether or not the next version will match or exceed the production quality of the Warfrog original.

For those of you that weren't here first time around, there were three versions: the original Warfrog, the Phalanx version (that Mayfair distributed), and the Deluxe version (same components as the Phalanx, but a wooden box, wooden cars as in the Warfrog edition, and a numbered certificate). I was originally reluctant to do the game through Kickstarter, because, to be blunt, this game is a classic game that should remain in print and supported through retail well after release. I've relented a bit on the Kickstarter piece, but it does mean that the game's price should be practical through distribution. There are compromises to be made, but what I can tell you is that my goal is to match the general vibe of the Mayfair edition, with cars instead of tiles. For the Kickstarter version, I would love to offer a variety of component upgrades, and depending on how those go (for example, paying for the molds for car pieces), including them into the retail version would hopefully become practical. In any event, I want the game to be playable (components appropriate to size and space - the comment about a "5-car piece" duly noted), I want it to look good on a table, and, as it would be my first project for the company, better-than average quality as price permits.

ohgeetee wrote:
I'd love to see Ian O'Toole take the graphic design and art on this one to the next level.

What - no Czarnè or Klemens Franz love (who worked on earlier editions)?... The art will need to be redone completely. Improving the board's usability (and that paper money - ugh) is important, and the whole project hinges on an interesting question: was the use of the car art in the original editions legal or not? (I am paying someone to professionally answer this, so please don't bother speculating here about - oh hell, too late.) This game demands to be grounded in the reality of the early automotive history, and I want the art to reflect that as much as possible. I had the opportunity to visit the Henry Ford Museum last weekend, so I'm feeling particularly inspired. Artists need not apply quite yet, but no decisions have been made.

Beyond that, who knows? I had a second side of the board doing nothing, and perhaps a reskin/character tweak to give European automotive history some love would be nice. I keep having urges to try and get a Smallworld-esque sell-and-restart mechanism that mirrors the ebb and flow of those early car companies, but the game only lasting four rounds makes this very impractical within the confines of this project. Ultimately, I'm here talking about this on BGG now, so that we can wishlist what we want (and by "we" I do mean fans as well as us).
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Christopher Hill
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Alex,

Great news. This is a wonderful game. Glad to see it will continue to stay relevant.

I liked Automobile so much I bought all of the versions. I was a little disappointed with the deluxe wooden box version from Mayfaire as it was basically the same as the standard Mayfaire edition albeit with some wooden cars and a certificate. I was hoping for better money. I personally didn't mind the paper money, it was just difficult sometimes to tell the difference between the denominations. Certainly, poker chip money would be an awesome upgrade.

I also like the idea of using European cars. The double sided board with US cars on one side and European on the other would be awesome.

Anyway, I wish you success in your endeavor.
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Alex Yeager
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kinga1965 wrote:
I was a little disappointed with the deluxe wooden box version from Mayfair as it was basically the same as the standard Mayfair edition albeit with some wooden cars and a certificate.

Just to be pedantic, Mayfair was simply the distributor for both the base and deluxe editions of Automobile. I would have liked to see more differentiation (especially with the wooden cars in the "base" Warfrog edition), but I'm glad to have one (well, and another couple in boxes laying around somewhere. I oughta find those.)

kinga1965 wrote:
I was hoping for better money. I personally didn't mind the paper money, it was just difficult sometimes to tell the difference between the denominations. Certainly, poker chip money would be an awesome upgrade.

So here's a window into all of the little decisions that have to go into this. My problem with the money was always that bizarre way the numbers were printed and the difficulty to instantly know one bill from another. Given the resistance to paper money in general, you've really got to make it easily usable by players to not get chewed out for it.

But, no one walks into a car dealership and pays for a car with poker chips (except in Vegas, maybe). There's a suspension of disbelief that comes with the money components that some games make that's hard to swallow, and particularly in a historical context, you've got to take into account what would be used in these scenarios. With Automobile, you could abstract things up to where you would use higher-demonination stock certificates from tilesheet, for example, but then you're purchasing cars with stock certificates, which still feels weird. There are options other than paper for paper money, but using bills for currency in this game feels proper.
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Chris K
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AlexYeager wrote:
[q="kinga1965"]So here's a window into all of the little decisions that have to go into this. My problem with the money was always that bizarre way the numbers were printed and the difficulty to instantly know one bill from another. Given the resistance to paper money in general, you've really got to make it easily usable by players to not get chewed out for it.

But, no one walks into a car dealership and pays for a car with poker chips (except in Vegas, maybe). There's a suspension of disbelief that comes with the money components that some games make that's hard to swallow, and particularly in a historical context, you've got to take into account what would be used in these scenarios. With Automobile, you could abstract things up to where you would use higher-demonination stock certificates from tilesheet, for example, but then you're purchasing cars with stock certificates, which still feels weird. There are options other than paper for paper money, but using bills for currency in this game feels proper.


It's more costly but maybe the most satisfying workaround would be to have cardboard tiles printed to look like money. This is the way GeGe Co. dealt with money in the Chinese version of Modern Art, and I think the result looks really sharp.
 
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I'm actually selling my of the game today. I liked it very much, but after a few plays all games turned out the same way, with very little variance and I couldn't help but hope for an expansion or something that added more to think about.

So I would be interested in a new edition of there was more to it than just the old game. I felt the original was too self-contained to be truly great.
 
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General_Norris wrote:
I'm actually selling my of the game today. I liked it very much, but after a few plays all games turned out the same way, with very little variance and I couldn't help but hope for an expansion or something that added more to think about.

So I would be interested in a new edition of there was more to it than just the old game. I felt the original was too self-contained to be truly great.


Norris, may I ask if there are any other economic games that you feel are more varied? I find that Automobile, like several other economic games, has a fairly straight forward path (invest, produce, sell) but that the variation comes from having to adapt to the other players' actions.
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General_Norris wrote:
I'm actually selling my of the game today. I liked it very much, but after a few plays all games turned out the same way, with very little variance and I couldn't help but hope for an expansion or something that added more to think about.

So I would be interested in a new edition of there was more to it than just the old game. I felt the original was too self-contained to be truly great.

That's an interesting comment: in my group, Automobile is one of the rare games with a fixed setup that *never* unfolds the same way twice. We're always awed by that.
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nhjelmberg wrote:
Norris, may I ask if there are any other economic games that you feel are more varied? I find that Automobile, like several other economic games, has a fairly straight forward path (invest, produce, sell) but that the variation comes from having to adapt to the other players' actions.

Well, I think most of them are more varied, so far Automobile is the only game that became samey in less than a dozen plays.

weishaupt wrote:
That's an interesting comment: in my group, Automobile is one of the rare games with a fixed setup that *never* unfolds the same way twice. We're always awed by that.

For me it simply played more or less the same, with the big "spam Model Ts with Parts factory with the double-discount" finishes and the "hey, I'm going the early luxury route" detours.

I think the game is simply quite small (about 10 real actions) not very complex and not very chaotic so the games tend to be more similar than in other games of its kind.
 
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Nicholas Hjelmberg
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General_Norris wrote:
nhjelmberg wrote:
Norris, may I ask if there are any other economic games that you feel are more varied? I find that Automobile, like several other economic games, has a fairly straight forward path (invest, produce, sell) but that the variation comes from having to adapt to the other players' actions.

Well, I think most of them are more varied, so far Automobile is the only game that became samey in less than a dozen plays.

weishaupt wrote:
That's an interesting comment: in my group, Automobile is one of the rare games with a fixed setup that *never* unfolds the same way twice. We're always awed by that.

For me it simply played more or less the same, with the big "spam Model Ts with Parts factory with the double-discount" finishes and the "hey, I'm going the early luxury route" detours.

I think the game is simply quite small (about 10 real actions) not very complex and not very chaotic so the games tend to be more similar than in other games of its kind.


OK, although we disagree I'm grateful for your perspective.
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AlexYeager wrote:
kinga1965 wrote:
I was a little disappointed with the deluxe wooden box version from Mayfair as it was basically the same as the standard Mayfair edition albeit with some wooden cars and a certificate.

Just to be pedantic, Mayfair was simply the distributor for both the base and deluxe editions of Automobile. I would have liked to see more differentiation (especially with the wooden cars in the "base" Warfrog edition), but I'm glad to have one (well, and another couple in boxes laying around somewhere. I oughta find those.)

kinga1965 wrote:
I was hoping for better money. I personally didn't mind the paper money, it was just difficult sometimes to tell the difference between the denominations. Certainly, poker chip money would be an awesome upgrade.

So here's a window into all of the little decisions that have to go into this. My problem with the money was always that bizarre way the numbers were printed and the difficulty to instantly know one bill from another. Given the resistance to paper money in general, you've really got to make it easily usable by players to not get chewed out for it.

But, no one walks into a car dealership and pays for a car with poker chips (except in Vegas, maybe). There's a suspension of disbelief that comes with the money components that some games make that's hard to swallow, and particularly in a historical context, you've got to take into account what would be used in these scenarios. With Automobile, you could abstract things up to where you would use higher-demonination stock certificates from tilesheet, for example, but then you're purchasing cars with stock certificates, which still feels weird. There are options other than paper for paper money, but using bills for currency in this game feels proper.


I honestly don't think I've come across paper money in a board game that I have liked. Automobile had a large amount of denominations too, not that I ever had a lot of cash on hand for long. cry

What about money printed on cards? Or, crazier idea, no money versions where you bring your own bank. Probably would be too much hassle for some folks, but just a thought.
 
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