GRUNN – A Game About Landscapes

Over the last year there are multiple projects we have been working on a big game production with multiple stakeholders in co-design: GRUNN – Pioneers in the Province. The project has a lot of unique aspects to it, making it very exciting (and a bit scary at start) to work on. So now we are in the later stages of the project, time to share more about it, with the pictures showing the prototype in all it’s stages. The co-creation is done together with Robert Brouwer. Pairing up certainly made concepting and going through the first iterations of prototypes a LOT faster and more fun!

One of the projects is a game for a client that wanted to make a version of an existing game about the history of the landscape in the northern province Groningen in the Netherlands. With the plan to sell the game at museums in the province. Sublicensing and modding an existing game that is famous turned out hard, even though there seemed to be possibilities at first. The project aims to add value to the museums and is subsidized by the province, that does mean there are multiple stakeholders and decision makers to keep on board during the development process.

We pitched our services and started concepting. We pitched 9 directions in concepts and together with the stakeholders defines some important aspects like theme, price point and target audience, making explicit what we aim for in play time, originality, player motivations, amount of complexity and luck. Another challenge with this project is to create a good core game, but have it be expandable with modules that can be collected at all the museums in the province where game is for sale. That meant planning for around 30 modules that somehow change/ add to the game play.

After concepting and iterating on 2 game setups, together we picked the one that is most fitting the design requirements and seemed to be ‘moddable’ by adding modules. Since then, the game has been iterated and tested plenty of times, with small test groups, at museums that participate and and at bigger events such as the game convention SpellenSpektakel, a local urban event Let’s Gro (with a city builder variant) and of course at the monthly tabletop testing nights of the Spellenmaakgilde and at the USVA.

What kind of game is it? As the pictures already indicate every player will create their own province, combining tiles to a 4 by 4 grid of different types of landscapes. There are 6 different landscape tiles in the game, each offering different ways of scoring victory points, offering in game money by developing them and offering building spots where players can build on for additional victory points. Player interaction happens because the tiles are offered in a general market row, where each turn a player takes the first tile and action card combination, or can pay money to skip them for another one down the line.

Each tile can be developed (turn around) reflecting the types of the landscape in the province and how it changed. For example, sea clay areas were claimed and became grass lands (cattle), other parts became famous for the grain. Forest was rare but used for lumber. The project initiator Heidi Renkema ensured the game is historically correct (as much as possible). The game in that sense is play first, yet is educational correct and facilitates learning about the province.

We are now in the phase of details and gearing up for production. After having 3 artists pitch their servives, now Emma Wilson has started with drawing the art work for the tiles and boxes and she has pitched multiple styles of drawing and graphic design, to make the most fitting choices with all stakeholders involved.

For the design we are now in the final stages of testing all the modules (which by the way can be combined!) and develoing a solo game mode. With that the game will facilitate play for 1 to 6 players (updated, 6 players is also possible). The planning is to have the game published after the summer, fall 2022. The game will also have English rules available online on this website.

Currently more art is created and here you can see a preview of the art for the landscape tiles:

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