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The meandering progression of a board game – The City

As I was preparing the most recent prototype for play testing this weekend, I began pulling out all of the old versions and thought it would be worth comparing them.  I've been working on The City for 9 months now.  One of the original concept has nearly been lost (developing intuition about electricity) and most of the parts and even rules have changed, but some key components remain and overall, it's a pretty darn good game.

Evolution of The City board

It's interesting to see what you thought would matter (like having a randomly generated board in version 1, furthest on the left), what actually matters, and what you didn't even think about.  The board being able to fold kind of took me by surprise - luckily I've got a nice and easy way to do it now!


From breadboard to PCB, from janky to half decent

The Power Poles took the longest - started with trying to build my own contactors - ended up just producing it all on a printed circuit board

Though I was warned by many at the beginning about cost of making a board game with wires and PCBs, I tried anyway.  Cost remains the biggest hurdle, but removing the electric grid will take a lot out of the game.  However, it has helped me think and develop concepts which I'm now working with Sparkfun on (a game which focuses on the electronic piece), so it's definitely been worth it!

The most recent version - pretty sexy, right?

The newest version is pretty cool looking - I've got all of the designs in Eagle (printed circuit board design software), and can print them myself on demand using the PCB etcher at Maker Works.  Overall, it takes me about a day to make a game, start to finish.  If I did it a lot, I could probably get it down to half a day.

Looking forward to play tests this weekend at Great Oak Game Day - I made some fairly significant rule changes that I hope at least don't break the game, and at best address some of the final remaining gameplay issues.   Also, next month I'll be at the Meaningful Play conference at MSU showing off this game, and also giving a brief talk about ways we can incorporate developing intuition about the physical world into gameplay.



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