There were a few things that brought us into the same circle. We both had recently moved to the Philippines. We both were from the States. We both loved the great outdoors. We both loved board games. That is a recipe for friendship.
After playing several board games with others and talking about past experiences we came up with the idea that we wanted to play a game that represented our love and passion for the outdoors with out compromising the integrity of a well developed board game.
Over the next several weeks we went over a ton of different ideas on what our game could be about. We eventually decided on one of our favorite pastimes. Bicycle touring. Being able to pack all your gear on your bicycle and just ride. When you are tired, you rest. When you are hungry, you eat. It is the best way to travel any country as it requires you to take in all the sites and sounds as you roll across the different landscapes. You truly relish every push of your pedal. So we began our quest.
Once we had established our initial idea, we realized we needed to make physical copies of everything and play constantly. Since we are both visual and kinetic learners we had to create drafts of the board so we could see and talk things over. Our first real draft (minus the one up above) included looking at the United States Bicycle Route System (USBRS) Map to design our routes over, or as close as possible, to established bicycle routes in America.
After we had established the routes. We needed to come up with gameplay ideas. Our basic idea was to have individual game play boards called panniers (which are the name of the bags that go on bicycle racks which are filled with the rider's gear) be the main focus. These can be "filled" with the supplies a rider will need to get across the country.
Once we got the pannier idea down, we had to come up with the game play. We spent several weeks trying out different ways to play the game. After a lot of trial and error and thought we had a pretty good idea on how we wanted the game to be played. Of course this would be changed time and time again as more people played and as we developed more parts to add in. It was an exciting process as we were gaining new ideas and insight which helped us finally solidify The Open Road.
When we played it on the above board countless times we felt that we could no longer use the grid system as it was just too difficult to move around. So we decided to implement the segment system instead. This was a great step in ensuring that the distances between any two places was equal. Once we decided upon this, it changed what we could do with the map.
With the segments in order and the board becoming easier to play, we had to start advancing the process a little more. We wanted a few things from the beginning with The Open Road. We wanted the game to be simple enough that you could explain the rules as you were setting up the board. But also be advanced enough that the strategy involved changed with every game you played. It is hard to sit through games that take several hours to go over the rules and make sure you understand the basic moves. We wanted to eliminate that side of it, but still maintain a level of difficulty when you play. To keep strategy, ease, and fun all firing simultaneously. When we figured this out we were ready to print our first prototype playing pieces and our first color board game.
From this moment on, we actually had a physical game that we felt confident playing in public places with a variety of different people. So that is exactly what we did. We played constantly trying to find any holes in the game play or with the map. When we did, we fixed them. We continued to play in a variety ways changing up everything we could and taking a crack at it from every possible way.
As the game play was evolving we reached out to a brilliant illustrator from Amsterdam named Saskia Rasink. She took a chance on us because she liked the idea of illustrating a game which was something new to her. If you look at her website (saskiarasink.nl) she is quite the celebrated illustrator. So we were thrilled when she said she would work with us. She ended up making our dreams a reality. Her professionalism, her style, her ability to convey what we wanted was so essential to our growth. We owe so much to her and all of the illustrations you see in The Open Road are her original designs.
Once the artwork was in. The process of playing continued on. We would get a variety of people to come and poke holes in the game. To give us criticism if they had any, and help us make the game better.
With the designs in place and a proper prototype in play, we continued to have people enjoy the game and critique it as much as possible. By this point we have reached out to several game manufacturers to ensure that they are able to produce our game with all the pieces and parts. Thankfully we have heard back from several of them so once our Kickstarter campaign hopefully becomes successful, we have multiple options to fulfill our orders as quickly as possible.
After the game play was getting finalized we needed to start producing prototypes that would look as much like a game as possible. We wanted to get the word out as we began to take the game to game specific stores, and different restaurants and bars. We had to create the boxes, proper boards, and uniform pieces, to make it look as real as possible. So we spent the next several weeks making boxes and boards.
Being so close to launching our Kickstarter campaign, we still had one more thing to get done. Have our caring, loving, and supportive wives finally play. We had been purposely keeping them from the game until we felt proud enough with our product to lay the whole thing out to them. We felt that if they enjoyed it, anyone would. To our great surprise, they loved it!
So with the last piece of the puzzle done we need to accomplish one more thing. Have a successful Kickstarter campaign. We are looking at launching in June of 2017 and everything is set in place. We have our fans who have played the game, we have our suppliers ready to print and manufacture the game, we have our distribution channels lined up, and we are ready to go! Thank you to everyone who has supported us along the way. We are thrilled and cannot wait to see our dream become a reality that everyone can play. Please share with anyone you can, and spread the word about the original bicycle touring adventure board game called The Open Road.
Blair and Carl