Buy This Board Game – Update #2, The Thing About Accounting

Originally posted on TenuredGames.com

Keeping Track

The more complicated the game, the more difficult it is to keep track of all the fiddly currency. So far, we have money, both single use and recurring, time, and experience as forms of currency. We focused this session on ways we could simplify use of these currency types so they game feels crunchy, but not burdensome.

Time

We all have a finite amount of time to accomplish our goals. Time is represented as a use-it-or-lose-it currency. Developing games or marketing them all have some amount of time requirement. How should we keep track of that currency?

We are considering individual player mats designed to look like a calendar. There are four weeks of seven days on the mat. We aren’t sure if we love that yet, considering most months have 30 or more days really, but it would make for a simple mat design. As players take actions that require time, you move a “Today” marker along your calendar, representing a progression of time. This is shown in the mockup below.

Time as a Currency

Time is a use-it-or-lose-it currency in this game. In each of the twelve turns, players can use between 20 and 28 days to complete actions. Every day over 20 will be considered overtime, and players collect fatigue for that extra effort. We haven’t yet figured out what the cost of fatigue will be. To start, for each overtime day worked in the previous month, a workday is lost from the next month. Players take “Vacation” (sun icons) tokens and place them on workdays on their calendar to indicate work will not be done that day. Your mental health is important! If you overwork yourself, you’ll be forced to take a vacation next month.

If the average action uses 8 to 10 days to accomplish, then players will on average take three or four actions per turn before running out of time. Once players progress in time, they cannot go back and use a weekend later. Any time not used at the end of the round is forfeited. Time resets at the beginning of the next turn.

Blue Player Mat Mockup

Players may stick to the work week only or may utilize weekends. However, working overtime on weekends will result in the slow accumulation of exhaustion, making future actions more costly as your tiredness makes you inefficient. Players can only ever move forward in time, so if the player chooses not to work on a particular weekend, they cannot go back and use that time later.

Brand Equity

Another important item to track is Brand Equity. Brand Equity represents both the victory points needed to win the game as well as thresholds for recurring sales. We brainstormed a personal equity track, shown on the calendar mockup above. The blue player mat has red hearts that represent when a recurring currency threshold is obtained. For every five brand equity points scored, one recurring dollar is captured. In the example mockup, the blue player has seven brand equity points, and so will receive one recurring dollar at the start of the next turn.

Shared Opportunities

We think a small number of face up Market Action cards that is viewable by the public will make for interesting, shared opportunities each round. This would represent a known market change that all competition can see and capitalize on, like the announcement of a convention in a local area. Players can pay the costs of the cards and secure their benefits but cannot claim the card as their own experience. We think putting these cards on a pop-up stand will give the game a little dimension while also making it easier for players to see the public opportunities of the round. At the end of each round, the opportunity is discarded and new opportunities replace them.

Market Action Card Tracking

Each Market Action card has a few specific elements:

  1. Cost – this is the cost the player must pay to reap the benefits and experience of the card. Types of costs include time and money.
  2. Experience – this is a time or money discount. If a player has built up experience in a particular channel, it costs the player less time or money to play the card that uses that experience.
  3. Reward – this is the specific amount of brand equity built by executing the card. Brand equity is tracked on individual player mats immediately after the card is played.

Each channel of cards has a slightly different leaning or quirk to it. For example, some channels may have cards that are generally more expensive while other channels are better building blocks for shared experience with other channels.

The true cost of the card is what is stated on the card, plus the penalty for the channel saturation, less what can be discounted from experience. We aren’t sure yet if that is too much math to keep track of for each card, but we are considering a way to add and remove tokens during the game so the value of each card does not need to be counted each time. A blocking effect where only one player per turn can use a channel may make more sense. 

Market Saturation

The value a player gets from taking a specific action can be thought of as a ratio of the cost in resources to the reward received. Adjusting this ratio to reflect a diminishing return can be done in two ways – increasing the cost to performing the action or decreasing the reward from taking the action. We think increasing the cost to players as a specific channel becomes saturated because the barriers to entry set up by competition increase proportionally to how much competition is already there, generally speaking.

We also wanted to capture the saturation latency of the system. Channels take time to become saturated and do become unsaturated if unused. Our current idea is to have Saturation Tokens represent how over or underutilized a channel is. Every round and in each channel where at least one player has used a Market Action, a Saturation Token is placed. This indicated the channel is more costly to work in moving forward. Each round where at least one player takes an action, another token is placed. If a channel is used five turns in a row, for example, it will accumulate five tokens making it a very expensive channel to operate in. On the flip side, for every turn a channel is not used, a Saturation Token is removed. A channel can never have negative saturation.

Time Keeping

After our second week, here’s where we stand:

Data as of 6-18-2022

Recommend0 recommendationsPublished in Designer Diary
Design Theory
Carla Kopp

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