The Agency is a game of resource management and card development, where players role-play as an individual starting their pursuit of a career in the creative industry. Players race to gather varying resources in order to work their way up the corporate pyramid starting as an intern, with the winner being the first to claim the prestigious CEO card. Its not all-smooth sailing as the game throws various scenarios at the players, which could negatively or positively affect their game, its all a matter of luck, strategy and hard work. Will you be in control of the agency?
To develop, prototype, play test and present an analogue game
Idea: Theme informs mechanics
My aim was to create a game that loosely simulates/models navigating the creative industry’s corporate pyramid, while focusing on the ‘trade or bartering’ aspect required for workers to progress to the next stage in their career. Here I wanted to hone in on how different positions focusing on gathering certain resources and receiving different forms of payment.
I wanted the game mechanics to be streamlined and simple to allow younger and inexperienced gamers to grasp gameplay quickly. I wanted the branding of the game to mimic the simplicity of the game mechanics, thus employed minimalistic design and bright but pared back colour pallets and illustrations.
1.Who: 2-4 players aged 10 and above, focused on families and young adult of any level of experience
2. What: Minimal, colourful board game with streamlined and simple gameplay, focused on resource management, and card development, centred on the creative industry workplace
3.When: Develop the board game over the 13 weeks allocated
4.Where: Available for purchase in Australia online, with possible extension to major retailers (Kmart, Big W) and possible international distribution
5.Why: There was a lack games that explored the creative corporate industry in a way that was simple and fun, whilst being affordable.
6.How: Retail price should be between $20- $25, easy to reproduce and distribute thus material has to be lightweight and cost effective. Promotional campaign will be online mostly through online retailers and social media and could branch out to more traditional distribution if it became popular.
When it came to inspiration regarding game mechanics I drew inspiration from the limited number of board games that I had been exposed to. These included:
Splendor: Aspect = Resource collection and bartering
I wanted to emulate this trade aspect through my game but wanted to focus on resources that would be used in the workplace such as skills, money, workers and corporate points as resources.
Monopoly: Aspect = Dice and Chance mechanism
I wanted to use a dice to bring in an element of randomness and risk, and wanted to create chance cards that would present the player with a scenario that could positively or negatively affect their game play, and have them roll the coloured rather than numbered dice to see their fate.
Game of life: Aspect = Materiality and real life simulation
I love the materiality aspect of board games, so the more stuff the better, so I wanted to have several tangible elements to my game. Additionally when playing the game of life I loved how the events modelled were realistic thus I wanted my chance cards to represent events that would realistically happen within the workplace/industry.
Identity & Theme inspiration
1.Colour – bright and paired back
2. Type – Modern and Sans Serif
3. Look – Geometric shapes, minimalist, flat design
- Start – Players start where most graduates start, as an unpaid intern focused on gathering more skills and experience in order to progress to the next level.
- Middle – Throughout the rest of the game the player makes their way up the corporate ladder, managing their resources and developing their cards.
- End – Once you have enough corporate prestige can you acquire the covenant CEO card that will result in winning the game.
Levels of design
Creative, corporate, Industry, economy, money, modern, resources, job,
Become the CEO of the company by trading resources and developing your cards
According to Silverman (2013) my game is categorised as a ‘Euro-style’ game as it posses the following distinct characteristics:
- Highly focused on gaining a resource that allows you to win
- Last a certain number of turns or until one wins
- Strong themes that inform much of the design
- Requires a system of resource management
- Fewer elements of luck or chance than classic/family games
- Most bad luck can be combatted with strong strategy
Relies heavily on printed material on different levels of paper gsm weight, with textures:
- People, skills, Board game, Box packaging (300gsm, white uncoated)
- Cards& Card Packaging (250gms, white gloss)
- Money (250gsm, white uncoated)
- Dice (Coloured gloss sticker paper)
Contemporary & western
1.Genre: Business/trade simulation, life simulation, management simulation, resource strategy/tactic, 1st person, turn based, trading/collectable cards (mobygames 2017).
Players trade their resources in order to develop their cards to be the first to obtain the CEO card.
- Card limits: Player can only have one intern card, 2 assistant, 3 manager, 4 director and one CEO (result in winning game)
- Resource limit: 10 skill cards, $200, 10 worker tiles
- Player can only buy/obtain one card at a time
The chance card can introduce a number or positive and negative events from you being sued for sexual harassment losing a worker and their skills to a bad investment, profitable quarter, workplace automation etc.
- At the start of each game each player rolls the dice 3 times to determine the skills they start with
- Take 2 of the same type skill card OR 3 different type of skill cards
- Pick up an intern card (limit in hand is one)
- Trade in resources & cards to obtain next level of cards and receive associated reward
- At the start of each round once chance card is played and all players must roll dice to see if their affected by the card
IDENTITY: I expanded one of the colour first colour pallets and chose to go with the Gotham font (because Batman duh) and geometrical minimalistic illustrations.
SKILL TOKENS: Initially the main resource was going to be skills but based on associated Adobe software, however given copyright I chose to focus on the skill aspect and illustrate my own icons.
DEVELOPMENT CARDS: Information management and hierarchy was the most difficult aspect to management on the cards, but eventually I decided on a effective but minimalistic design, that highlighted the illustrations.
GAME BOARD: There were a variation of designs, however once I decided on a ‘4 way fold and cut’ system similar to that of monopoly thus the card placement and boards overall design had to be adapted to match this.
MONEY: When it came to money I looked to game such as monopoly and game of life for inspiration, initially I had 6 money types but had to reduce this to 4 to fit on the board.
WORKER TILES: I pondered the idea of 1cm by 1cm painted wood or balsawood cubes and poker chips, 3D printed tokens but decided to create printed tiles reminiscent the life tokens found in Game of life, and would match the paper and print of the skill tokens.
DICE: Opted to use colours rather than numbers, the 6 colours matching the 6 colours found on the development cards.
PACKAGING: I had this idea that the lid of the box should resemble the suitcase that I designed for the game’s branding, when placed on its side the handle located on top and clips at the bottom. The front of the box packaging design matching the layout on the card packaging and instruction booklet.
PROTOTYPE & IMPLEMENTS
I am currently in the prototyping and implantation stages and while I have developed the game mechanics, theme, design and various other elements. Currently I am further developing:
- Illustration of remaining 65 cards
- Optimising game interactions
- Small iterations in the rule set for optimal gaming
- Play testing to improve general game
- Looking into card and object management holder to be placed in game box
As mentioned before initially the cards would be distributed locally in Australia and order online, with plans to expand to retailers and international if popular.
Game Box contents:
- 6 different job categories skill tokens (15 tokens of each category)
- 10 of each group of money cards ($20, $30, $50 & $100)
- 40 people tokens
- 1 coloured dice
- Game Board
- 100 Development cards (25 Intern cards, 20 Assistant cards, 15 Manager cards, 12 Director cards, 6 CEO cards, 22 Chance cards)
- Card manager/organisation, Development card box, box packaging, instruction manual
- 1 A3 illustrated poster
Cost, budget, funding:
The game should cost between $20 – $30, online users have suggested gofundme or kickstarter as a great tool to obtain initial funding and gain support for the game.
Playtests & results:
What did work:
- The game’s mechanics was easily understood by even the more beginner players
- Design was found to be highly aesthetically pleasing
- Resource algorithm worked as there was sufficient resources despite several play throughs
- Nothing major due to my own play testing and constant development
- Work on optimising card trade for assistant, manager, director cards (do they keep the cards once obtaining the resources or trade in immediately)
- Forgetting to play chance card at the end each round this deciding to play it at the start instead
Marketing & promotion:
Would be determined once the game is finished and recording of gameplay can be recorded.
Silverman 2013, Envato Tutes, accessed 12/04/2017, https://gamedevelopment.tutsplus.com/articles/how-to-learn-board-game-design-and-development–gamedev-11607
Mobygames 2017, Moby Games, accessed 11/04/2017, http://www.mobygames.com/glossary/genres