Feb 22, 2006

Theme Park

Theme Park is one of my designs that I've set aside without abandoning. I've run into a wall in the initial design and haven't yet figured out how I want to handle it. I have a few ideas, but none of them seem satisfying. Let's see if talking about it here spurs my creative juices the way it has with Utopia and Television Executive.

In Theme Park, the players are running competing sections of a theme park. The winner becomes the new manager of the entire park. The game components include money, a deck of Building cards, a deck of Visitor cards, and an Entrance Marker. The winner of the game is the first person to simultaneously have five Customers using buildings in their section of the park.

During the game setup, one random player starts with the Entrance Marker. Shuffle each of the decks. Each player begins with 20 dollars (I ignore scale of numbers until late in design, the important thing at this point is the relative difference) and a hand of four cards from the Building deck.

The first phase of each turn is the Visitors phase. Turn over the top two Visitors cards and place them in front of the player with the Entrance Marker. Each player, beginning with the one with the Entrance Marker, may now use any actions marked "Visitor:" on their Buildings, but only once for each Building.

Second is the Research phase. There are no Research phase abilities. Two cards for each player are drawn from the Building deck and placed face-up in the center of the table. Each player, beginning with the player with the Entrance Marker, chooses one Building card to add to his or her hand. Then they do this again, only in reverse order.

Next is the Build phase. Each player, again in order, creates new buildings in their section of the park and use Build phase abilities. Buildings have several features.

At the top of the card is the name. Below that are five numbers. They represent Fun, Dizziness, Capacity, Ticket Price, and Construction Cost, respectively. Fun and Dizziness affect which customers will use that building. Capacity is the number of customers that can simultaneously use that building. Ticket Price is how much money you will receive each time that building is used. Construction Cost is what you must pay to add the building to your section of the park.

Below those numbers is the Building Type. It can be an Attraction or a Utility. Utilities are not used by customers, but they affect your other buildings in a variety of ways. Below the building type are the Sub-categories. They also affect which customers will use that building.

Finally some buildings have a special ability. If there is a phase name with a colon preceding the ability, that ability can only be used during that phase, and only once per turn. If there is no such phase name, the ability is constantly operating.

Shown above are two rides. In addition to rides there are shows, food and beverage stands, bathrooms, and souvenir shops. For Utilities there are ATMs (which increase the Ticket Price on all of your attractions), decorations (which increase the Fun of rides with a theme matching the decoration), and security offices, which keep away vandals (visitor cards that disable rides). These lists are not complete, but they give you an idea of the kinds of buildings in the game.

Next is the Rides phase. In addition to using Rides phase abilities, this is when customers are assigned to Attractions. Customer cards will have both a maximum Dizziness and minimum Fun number. They will never use an Attraction that is beyond those numbers. So a small child customer cannot ride a Roller Coaster, because its Dizziness number is too high, whereas a teenager customer won't ride the Teacups because its Fun number is too low.

They will also have several sets of preferences. A single set of preferences might be "Space Thrill Ride; otherwise, Roller Coaster", or "Bathroom; otherwise, Bench". Which set of preferences on customers will be determined by some randomizing device, and customers will all have different preferences activated by each outcome. (This is where I hit the wall, I can't come up with a satisfying weighted randomization device.) Whichever set of preferences comes up, the customer will first look to find its highest preference (in our example, an Attraction with all of the words Space, Thrill, and Ride in its Sub-categories). It checks the area of the park it is currently in. If it cannot find a matching building, it will look at the next area going clockwise, and so on all the way around. If no area has a building matching its first preference, it will repeat the procedure with its second preference. If neither preference is met, the customer is placed on the bottom of the visitor deck.

Only one customer is examined at a time. First all of the customers at the player with the Entrance Marker's section in the order of his or her choosing, then continuing that way clockwise.

When a customer finds a match, it is placed on top of that Attraction and the owner collects the ticket price from the bank. A customer will not see a building that already has a number of customers on it equaling its capacity. If there is more than one match in the same area of the park, that area's owner chooses which Attraction the customer uses.

Finally there is the Move Phase. The first thing that is checked is whether any player has five customers using his or her buildings, if so, he or she wins. If more than one player meets this and they have the same number of customers, the player with the most money wins. Next all customers are detached from the buildings and moved one player clockwise. The Entrance Marker is also passed clockwise and the next turn begins.

Basically that is it. Most of the game lies in the interactions between the buildings through their abilities and the drafting during the Research phase. As I said, this game is not under active development until I can figure out a good way to randomize the active preference set.


  1. John B.3:57 PM

    This sounds like a great game. I especially love the theme park feel of it. If you ever develop it, be sure to have "dark ride" ride type. In fact you could even give bonuses to players that try to create a "theme" in their part of the park.

  2. Thank you. What would a dark ride be? As for bonuses some of the utility buildings increase the Fun of your Attractions if all of them are a certain type.