With voting underway in the 12th Roll & Write Design Contest over on BGG, I am going to tell you a bit more about my entry Roll Into Town. Last week I gave you a little bit of an overview of what the game is and what inspired it. Today I am going to run through the development of the game from the first iteration to the latest version which was entered into the contest.
I started with the goal of creating a city building game with a bit of a new twist that I haven’t seen in many roll and write games. You would need to gather resources to feed your people and build your city. These would be drawn from rolling the dice but as you collected them you had to erase them from your grid. The first version was to test how this mechanic worked and also was to focus on the core of earning resources and it having a nice flow from early to late game.
There was quite a few problems with the very first version. You needed to feed your citizens every turn, which meant that on my first game my town starved before I got to the end of turn three. The drawing and erasing was a bit cumbersome since there was no reason not to erase every turn which got tiring after a while. However, the basics where there and there was just a few small changes needed. After some tweaking version 0.3 was ready which is very close to the actual version you can find today. A growing rule was introduced for the trees, this gave you a choice between erasing them this turn or letting them accumulate so you could get a better return on a later turn. It reduced the tedium of the draw, erase, draw, erase cycle and also lead to some interesting decisions on when to cut down your forest or getting over run with trees. The resource production was definitely running smoothly now and would only require a few small changes here and there as new buildings were added.
So let’s now talk about the buildings. As you can see in the first version, there was only a few buildings and you already started with 3, this meant that at the end of the game you had just amassed a great stockpile of stone, wood and food. From version 0.3 onwards new buildings were being constantly added to make use of this stockpile. Some were to provide extra resources, such as the Windmill, which was originally incredibly strong and largely made making harbours irrelevant. Others such as the Lighthouse would give you points at the end of the game. The Market was also added in version 0.3, this let you trade resources, meaning that you couldn’t end up in a situation where you had no wood because you just never rolled a tree for the first few rounds.
Version 0.3 is actually quite close to where the game ended up, there was a lot of back and forth throughout the other iterations with balancing the harbour and the windmill (which is now a watermill) buildings. There was a lot of consideration into the balancing of all the points each catergory scored but in the end I decided that not every route to victory should be equal. It is a city builder after all, the city should be the most important thing. By version 0.6 the game was pretty much complete and it was onto improving the rule book and starting to think about how a solo variant would look.
The rulebook is not very exciting so I won’t spend much time detailing all the work that went into it. It was mostly just making example pictures to clarify situations that came up from other playtesters and then putting it all together into one file. On the other hand I had a lot of ideas for solo variants. One of the most typical is a score target, most games if they have a solo variant it is something like this. I am not opposed to these but they aren’t all that exciting once you have played a game a lot, but I had played this game a lot and had a lot of different results where I could make different targets, with 80+ being the best achievable (I’ve done this only 3 times over countless playtests). My original idea however, was to create challenges. Inspired by Cascadia, I set about making a list of possible challenges and scenarios that could be achieved during the game, such as score X amount of points but without ever drawing a tree or where you would start with a half filled map and had fewer turns to complete the game. I ended up deciding to merge both ideas together into a small campaign. In time for the submissions to the contest I was only able to create one short campaign story with four chapters, where you take over as mayor of your first town. You play through one term pretty much as a normal game with a few targets you must reach inbetween. Then something happens to your town and you have to recover from the disaster. This campaign mode is planned to be similar to the career modes in games like Theme Hospital or the Two Point games. You will move from town to town, each with their own unique goals and challenges. For now only the first level exists, which also acts as an introduction to the game.
I believe that brings you up to speed with where Roll Into Town is now. There is a lot of things in the works for the future of the game. For one I hope to add many more campaign chapters in the near future, along with a few other things which I hope to be able to reveal next week after the conclusion of the contest. Until then let me know what kind of town you would like to be a mayor of?
It is great how the game has evolved to reach its current status