Travel Journal

Roadtirp! Game Evolution
Roadtirp! Game Evolution

What was your inspiration for Roadtrip!?


I have been asked many times where in the world did I come up with the idea for Roadtrip! In a way, it’s just like all the other games I’ve come up with over the years – it just came to me. Like most creative impulses, the inspiration just materialized. No, it wasn't fully formed, just see the game evolution graphic. A vision of game play appeared as I was toying around with ideas for my brother’s birthday about five years ago. What could I give him that was fun and not too expensive (at the time my funds were very limited) and yet personal? Letting my mind wander, my own mental brainstorming, three central themes came to the forefront:


The late 50’s-early 60’s – my brother has a couple vintage vehicles from this time period


The National Parks – I was watching Ken Burn’s brilliant series on their history (really if you haven’t watching National Parks: America’s Best Idea you should)


Vintage Trailers & Glamping – something my brother had recently introduced to me as a way to keep me interested in his vintage car hobby


Well, what do you get when you smash all those together? Exactly!

Were there any other considerations?


After the first few iterations of the game, I decided that if I wanted to be serious about this endeavor, I needed to set some parameters by which to help further shape the game. As most engineers would tell you, vision is one thing, reality is another. To my own general game design goals (rich, accessible, and educational), I added a two more:


Scalable – Just like real road trips, I wanted Roadtrip! to be scalable depending on time availability, interest, and complexity. In other words, first I wanted players to be able to choose how long of a trip on which they took their game-families. In Roadtrip! this is accomplished by players deciding how many Destinations to visit. Second, by allowing players an option to choose which Destinations to visit, the game also permits them to scale by interest. Finally, third, players can scale complexity by adding Passengers. Just like in real life, the more people in the car, the more involved and interactive trip. Plus, the directions provide for easy instructions across 10 ready-to-play setups – 1 Learn-To-Play version and 9 basic variations. Of course, additional rules for advanced gameplay options are also provided. Needless to say, I’m sure players can find lots of other ways to customize Roadtrip! too; the design lends itself to adaptation.


Portable – I visualized Roadtrip! being played by family and friends crowded around a table in a trailer. After the first few iterations of the game, it became apparent that the game board would be the challenge from two perspectives. First, it persisted in being too large to fit comfortably on smaller tables. Second, it needed to be able to fold up and fit in a small box (I set the USPS small flat-rate shipping box as my goal). So, where could the design compromise? As much as I was able to shrink or eliminate other components, playtesters (nearly universally) loved the Destination Postcards, the Moodometer, quirky Passengers, the Vehicle dynamic, and game board map, in descending preference. So, the map had to compromise, and with it a couple of other nagging issues were address. Though I've achieved my goal now, I continue tinkering with materials for the board, like a cloth-based board or a water-resistant, thin lamination.

Roadtrip!'s First Real Board was nearly 2 1/2' square!
Roadtrip!'s First Real Board was nearly 2 1/2' square!

Playing an early prototype in Pete's 1977 GMC Kingsley!
Playing an early prototype in Pete's 1977 GMC Kingsley!
Playing in Brian & Scott's 1963 Shasta Trailer!
Playing in Brian & Scott's 1963 Shasta Trailer!

How have playtests affected Roadtrip!?


I've been very deliberate with my progress with Roadtrip! The game was in development for several years, sometimes on the shelf for months while I patiently waited for the right moments to tackle some of the mechanical issues. But now, I'm a year into serious play tests in various geographic and age demographics. I've done More than 50 public playtests and covered thousands of miles! Each playtest informed the design. I cannot thank those of you out there who helped take Roadtrip! to the next level!


Here's the complete listing of This Week's Roadtrip! for those of you want to read the playtest journey from beginning to end.


This Week's Roadtrip! #1 - GenCon Prep
This Week's Roadtrip! #2 - On the road at GenCon
This Week's Roadtrip! #3 - GenCon Results
This Week's Roadtrip! #4 - Alternate Play Options
This Week's Roadtrip! #5 - Advanced Play Options
This Week's Roadtrip! #6 - Celesticon, Advanced Play Options
This Week's Roadtrip! #7 - Ironstone, Advanced Play Options, Graphics Overhaul
This Week's Roadtrip! #8 - New Game Board Graphics
This Week's Roadtrip! #9 - On the road to Metatopia!
This Week's Roadtrip! #10 - Metatopia Results
This Week's Roadtrip! #11 - Thanksgiving Fun, Thoughts on Interactivity
This Week's Roadtrip! #12 - Usability Redesign & Some Mechanics Tweaks
his Week's Roadtrip! #13 - Part I on Publication, What method do I use?
This Week's Roadtrip! #14 - Part II on Publication, Components and Cost
This Week's Roadtrip! #15 - Part III on Publication, Hidden Costs
This Week's Roadtrip! #16 - Part IV on Publication, What's the plan?
This Week's Roadtrip! #17 - 20 Parks 20 Days: Road Trip for Roadtrip!
This Week's Roadtrip! #18 - Live from GenCon!
This Week's Roadtrip! #19 - Lessons Learned from GenCon 2016!
This Week's Roadtrip! #20 - Alaska Bound! Road Trip Prep