Ridere, ludere, hoc est vivere.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Tale of Two Game Designs

Burton ship, image courtesy of
I've actually had two game designs in work.  I've already mentioned one, "East India Company," and today I typed up a number of rules changes based on the Father's Day playtest session that went so well.  I feel like just a few minor adjustments have really improved the initial setup (making sure that the initial commodity-colony tiles are not too far away from Europe), end game (going through two-thirds of the tiles rather than just half), dividend declaration mechanic (simplified to a table-read of dividends-to-points), cheaper ship construction, cheaper colony investment for taxes, and more appropriate physical component sizes.  I'm almost ready for another playtest.

I haven't mentioned the other work-in-progress, which I actually put together sooner and playtested a few times already.  This earlier design has the working title "Supply and Demand."  The board is a matrix with axes indicating supply (horizontal) and demand (vertical).  A cross-reference of each index yields a commodity price on the board.  A transparent marker on the board shows the current price of the commodity.  Players get partial information into cards that show positive or negative movement in supply and/or demand.  Players then buy and sell "contracts" among each other at whatever price they think will earn a profit when all the cards are played face up and the final market price resolved.  Players who bought markers have to sell them to the bank at the final market price; those who sold markers to other players have to buy them back at the final market price.  So a profit is made when a player bought lower or sold higher than the final market reconciliation price.  After two playtests (one at home, one with my local gaming group), I made some simplifications and other improvements.  I think the result is pretty smooth and ready for some serious attention.

The problem is that I just read on Seth Jaffee's blog about a very similar-sounding game called Panic by James Earnest, Greg Parsons, and Mick Sullivan.  This seems to be the story of my short game-design life.  I could dedicate an entire blog post to games I've designed just in time to discover another professionally made game that already does what I was trying to do, better than I did myself.

Oh, and now I find that there is already a computer game with the title East India Company, so I guess I will probably have to change the working title of my colonization-trade game, too.

Nature of the beast, I guess.


  1. Oh, nooo! So sorry to hear that, Paul. How frustrating. But I'll bet East India Company (or whatever you rename it) won't have any duplicates out there. It's a special game.

  2. I remember your Supply and Demand game, and enjoyed it. I look forward to a future playtest.

    Hard to believe, that was three jobs ago for me.

  3. Thanks, I'd like to develop it further. There's another game I learned of more recently, Divinare that seems like it might have some similarities to "Supply and Demand," so I'd like to see that game, too.