Kick The Box
Interview with Ryan Smith, Creator of CITY
Kick The Box: I’m excited for CITY. I hope this game becomes a reality. How long have you guys been designing and playtesting CITY?
Ryan Smith: Thanks, we’re very excited too. I started developing this game over a year ago. My sister was in town, and together we made a simple CITY, I’ve been working pretty steadily since then playtesting, refining and writing the rules for the game. By the time I was introduced to Castle Games Inc., I had personally played over 50 games of CITY and had watched nearly as many games played by family and friends.
KTB: What were some of your inspirations for creating this game?
RS: For as long as I can remember, I wanted to create a game that had that classic SimCity feel to it. I also LOVE Carcassonne… and own just about every single expansion for it… and so the two themes kind of naturally came together in my head. I’m also a prof at the University of Winnipeg, where I teach Human Impact on the Environment, and so there are many ties between the game world and my research and academic interests.
KTB: Oh, Wow! Who is doing your artwork for the game?
RS: Predominantly me! I’m no expert artist, but I’m an avid photographer. I was able to transform many of my images into fun, hand-drawn-esque tiles and cards. The game now has a real ‘indie’ feel to it, which at first I thought would detract from the gameplay, but now I see that it makes the game very unique and helps it stand apart from other ‘standard’ games on the market.
KTB: I like the unique look to it. How many of the components displayed are final production?
RS: The final products will be made of much nicer materials, and will be more vibrant and glossy. The skyscraper pieces are the largest unknown at this point – I want them to be super cool, with little windows – a good stretch goal, I think!
KTB: Is the style of skyscraper pieces the final style?
The skyscraper pieces are actually repurposed from Carcassone: The Tower... so no, we will need to come up with something different for the final design.
KTB: I can’t tell from the gameplay video, but is the board modular?
RS: The answer is yes (ish) The board is made of tiles that are 3″ x 3″. Tiles are selected randomly at the start of the game, in games with less people you can use less tiles to make the game faster and more competitive. The placement of the tiles can be randomized both by position and rotation to change the layout of the CITY before each game. They are not puzzle cut, but they are regular shaped and separate tiles.
KTB: Watched your gameplay video. You did a nice job of explaining the mechanics as you played, but I was wondering, why is it that a player can only have one of their citizens live in a house? And how do you keep track of the houses that are being lived in if you move the citizens to work. It would seem like it would get difficult to keep track of who’s citizen’s live where.
RS: Thanks. Yes, one citizen per house is correct (unless a tower is built). This mechanic is really key to the strategy of the game – and it’s also very different from lots of games out there. Basically, for every residential zone you have access to (i.e. your roads connect to), you can have one citizen in play. So instead of thinking of residential zones as places where the citizens ‘live’, think of them as city upgrades which increase the city’s population ‘capacity’. We have these really cool player mats planned that will have a little counter on them, allowing players to keep track of this number. Truthfully, after the first two or three rounds of your first game, it becomes really easy to keep track in your head.
KTB: Interesting. Seems like that money is only used to buy roads. Does it play as much value into the game as the resources?
RS: Yes, early in the game money is used almost exclusively to purchase roads – which help the player reach out and tap into new resources. Money can also be used to tear up old road segments. Most importantly, however, money = points at the end of the game. Players can also buy and sell resources between themselves – and as resources become more scarce chances are players will begin selling them for a higher price!
KTB: Once a player has a road built, can it be demolished by another player and lay it’s own color in it’s place?
RS: No, you can’t influence other player’s roads. BUT roads can criss-cross, which means there are almost always other avenues available to players to connect nearby zones.
KTB: So, I’m assuming another player can’t build off another player’s road?
RS: No, roads are exclusive.
KTB: I know this seems like a silly question, but there are so many games that don’t include player reference cards, I have to ask: If the game is funded, will there be player reference cards?
RS: Yes, most definitely. Aside from the population counting ladder I mentioned above, there will be a little space to remind players what the different resource values are and the different options they have available to them on their turns.
KTB: Good! Also, can a player place one of their skyscraper tokens on top of another players?
RS: Yes, and this opens up the potential for ‘sharing,’ another critical element to the game. Players can sometimes work together to gang up on the leader. The residential towers, in particular, often end up being shared by the end of the game.
KTB: That’ll make for some interesting gameplay. Do you happen to have a sneak peek at some exciting stretch goals you have planned?
RS: Well I can’t say too much about this now… but I currently have three expansions for this game which really add new elements to the game. One hint? Natural Disasters.
KTB: That sounds exciting! Good luck with the campaign and thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule for the interview!
You can find Ryan Smith’s CITY on Kickstarter by clicking right here.