Monday, February 28, 2011

Board Game Twitter: Trying to Make "Can't Stop Shopping" the Next Monopoly ...

While Sinatra sings “Blue Moon” off my old turntable, I’m typing new title ideas for fortune cards in a board game you have not yet heard of, a game called Can’t Stop Shopping. My friend Boyi Yuan (above) and I, who invented what is sure to rival Monopoly (you need self-motivation to embark on these projects), played it a few times last night. A “Sale Ends” card means any discount cards held by players must be returned. Boyi excitedly declared, that should include ALL fortune cards, including free taxi rides to anywhere on the board.

Really? Creativity, sometimes in a burst shaking a fragile status quo, can lead to the changes you need. So I listen to Boyi, as he listens to me. Did you Monopoly lovers know how long the game (my one true love) was played in many forms before Parker Bros in 1935 finally, after grave doubts, took it on and made history? It came from an earlier invention called The Landlords, created by a woman in Philly. Even a recent sensation out of Germany, Settlers of Catan, took a few years to take flight. Yes. Go look it up. (Please take note, any Mark Monopoly Zuckerbergs out there: our design and rules are fully copyrighted, Sorry.)

Monopoly in the beginning: The Landlords, patented in 1904 by Lizzie J. Magie, a quaker who belonged to a tax reform movement advocating against landlord advantages.

So here I am, in our The Landlords stage, thinking of how to clearly link the discount AND free taxi ride cards under an umbrella title, which I will propose to Boyi when next we network. See what he thinks. Discount Days Coupon? Sale-Athon Coupon? (How clever I thought, until I found that “Saleathon” is already a word. ) Sale Away Coupon? (That sounds original!?!) I settled for now on simply "Sale Day." I'll run the other ideas by Boyi and see how he reacts.

We’ve put up a Flea Market (for losers needing to raise cash fast) amidst the various stores from which players make purchases in a mad ruthless scramble (dice rolling luck and shrewd strategic planning) to be the first to reach one of two shopping goals.

Sinatra just sang “It all depends on you”. He means us, the inventors?

We play the game with as many testers as we can con – Experts tell you to sit there and watch the reactions of others. That’s the only way your game can viably develop. Body language does not lie. Wordlessly, people reveal a whole lot. And you gotta take it.

First and second games played over Chinese rails last April, on the T15 from Beijing to Guangzhou

Third and fourth games played in room 1110 at the Taishan Gaoyi Hotel in Taishan

Carping comments from the unimpressed? “That’s the best feedback!” Boyi once remarked after I’d played another of my game attempts in San Francisco to some uppity game board addicts (OK, that game -- Hired! Fired!, in limbo, was way too complicated). Can’t Stop Shopping is causing more player excitement as we make changes. A month or two ago, one glum guy, himself a game inventor who claims to make a living at poker, sat there not revealing a shred of emotion. Humbled, only thing I could get from him at the end was, ‘I think the players need more choices.” A few words can open big creative doors.

After a day or so of acute wandering-in-the-darkness depression, I pulled out an older idea that Boyi had floated in passing, tweaked it a tad, we talked about the tweaking angle and it lead to a major revamping of how to win our game in a way that allows all players to easily track the progress of their rivals. Which is like suddenly watching a horse race in the sunshine (good) that you were trying to watch through a dense fog (bad).

I’ll show these new title ideas and other stuff we talked about needing clarity when I see Boyi end of the week. We go back and forth, easily ...

Sinatra is now in his blue heaven, not one of his best efforts. But I wait for “September in the Rain.” This is not an album I give my full attention to. Tonight, to compensate for giving him short shrift this morning, I might sit down and savor every monent of his classic LP, “Only the Lonely.”

As for next, semi-background: maybe the CD that I first heard at the tea house, Gran Riserva? I'm tying to read the cover; it's in a foreign language! Some names: Dzihan - Kamien -- “Deep Kitsch” is the track I heard that made me buy it. Most of the tracks amply fine.

I couldn’t stop shopping after I heard that one beguiling track — even without a free on-line taxi ride.

Our semi-latest prototype version reflects critical design changes, some prompted by test-player feedback


Harry Kingston said...

That can't stop shopping sounds like me working the flea markets and estate sales for goodies.
My sale ends is when I ask the dealer can you do any better or lets make a deal.
This is my gambling and many times I hit the jackpot.
Money talks and you know what walks.
Harry in Texas

Showbiz David said...

So, Harry, we will have to list your name and e-mail on our Flea Market sign!

Anonymous said...

OKAY DAVID, I'm dying to come out there to California and play this game with you and Boyi, and see what it is all about.....IN PERSON! I'll meet you at the Tea House.


Harry Kingston said...

Your game looks like a winner and hope it makes you a muillion or two.
Boyi must have won with that grin on his face.
Keep an eye on him he might have some cards up his jacket sleeves, lol.
Harry in Texas