24th April 2014

Another challenge

This is the rambling stream of consciousness part.  If you are not interested in the roundabout process by which the game came about you can skip this and just read the blog post which gives the game outline and rules etc.  The parameters are:

  • Mechanic  – Storytelling
  • Theme – Trains
  • Victory – Place all your pieces
  • Constraint – Can be played on a plane

Place all your pieces.  This makes me think of games like Beetle, Hangman and Yahtzee.  I’m liking those ideas because they are all played with minimal equipment (pencil , paper, dice) which works well with the idea that this game should be playable in a limited space.

This also lends itself well to the theme of Trains.  Trains are made up of components.  Maybe the winner could be the first to build a complete train (like Beetle), or to complete a certain number of tasks like Yahtzee with each task representing an aspect of a train

What are trains made of?  What characteristics do they have? What other things do I associate with the word ‘train’?

  • Engine
  • Carriages
  • Steam
  • Diesel
  • Electricity
  • Guard’s van
  • Caboose
  • Quiet carriage
  • Rails
  • Stations
  • Signals
  • Train of thought
  • Tender behind (lol)
  • Bridal train
  • Passengers
  • Freight
  • Network
  • Tickets
  • Guards
  • Ticket inspector
  • Eurostar
  • Tunnels
  • Bridges
  • Brunel
  • Tube trains
  • Fare dodging
  • Timetables
  • Announcements
  • lateness
  • whistles
  • Derail
  • Wheels


Trains / Lines I have travelled on

  • Eurostar London to Paris
  • The Rheidol Railway
  • Oxford to Paddington
  • Ffestiniog
  • Various model trains in parks etc
  • Pinewoods to Wells next the Sea
  • One near Port Merion
  • Couchette to Austria on a school trip
  • Up Snowdon from Llanberis
  • Welsh Highland Railway
  • Settle to Carlisle

This game is to use the Storytelling mechanic.  How can I link storytelling and Trains?  Famous trains from art and literature maybe?  Cultural significance of trains?

  • Runaway Train
  • Murder on the Orient Express
  • The Ghost Train (mmmm I like this)
  • Brief Encounter (‘now look at me bamberys all over the floor!’)
  • Hogwart’s Express
  • Platform 9 ¾
  • The Lady Vanishes
  • The Great Train Robbery
  • The Great St Trinian’s Train Robbery
  • ‘Choo, choo’
  • The Railway Children
  • Strangers on a train
  • Thomas the Tank Engine
  • Paddington Bear
  • Ivor the Engine

Oh and the games

  • Ticket to Ride
  • Snowdonia
  • Age of Steam
  • Rail Baron
  • Union Pacific
  • 1835

Played on a plane.  Well limited space obviously.  Also I think it would be useful if the players have some control over how long the game should be played for, to match the variability of journey length.  This got me thinking about the flights I have taken recently or am due to take.

  • London to Geneva
  • London to Antwerp
  • London to Doha
  • London to Dubai
  • Geneva to Stansted

Could the codes be useful – maybe for a word game (if I want to investigate the Hangman theme further)

  • LHR to GVA
  • LHR to ANR
  • LHR to DOH
  • LHR to DXB
  • GVA to STN

Might I make the game closely linked to the idea of travelling from one place to another.  Trains and planes are, after all, both forms of transport.  An educational game about the place you are travelling to – a game related to the language spoken there, if it is different from your native language – a game about landmarks and famous people from that country / city etc.

What resources are available to me on a plane?

  • Flight attendants
  • Duty free purchases
  • Magazines
  • Catalogues
  • Flight safety info
  • Pocket
  • My luggage
  • Sick bag
  • Plastic cutlery (I travel economy), sugar, napkin
  • Bottle, cans, cups, food tray, sandwich packet etc

Other stuff that came to me

Top Trumps and the idea of ‘comparison to win’.  Applicable to train characteristics and quality of storytelling possibly.

OK – so I’m liking the idea of ‘building a train’ whilst simultaneously building a story.  Using the term story fairly loosely makes me think of games where players are required to remember long strings of objects.  I don’t know what it is called but we play one which goes like this.

Player One – “I went to the shop and I bought an Apple

Player Two – “I went to the shop and I bought an Apple, and a Banana”

Player Three (or back to one again) – “I went to the shop and I bought an Apple, a Banana and a Canteloupe”

Maybe players could construct their train from facts, names and other items gleaned from the materials available to them when they travel.  If required, players could apply constraints to make the game more difficult and / or focused.  For example, if flying to Paris the items mentioned might all relate to France in some way.

So it strikes me that a game with this structure might be used when travelling with children, to keep them occupied and to teach them (and possibly their parents)something about the places you can visit when you travel.


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