Troubador Tour Board

screenshot: Troubadour Tour Board

Troubador Tour Board is a leisurely stroll game you play on your phone. You play a theatrical agent who goes from place to place, setting up routes between those places. Musicians take you on as their agent. You get more bonuses based on how many musicians are in places "connected" to you by the routes you've set up. Why is it a "stroll game"? Because you move around the game map by walking around in real life. The "places" you visit are actual places in your neighborhood.

I've played a bunch of location-based games, games in which you move around in real life to play the game. I like walking, so these games appealed. But I like walking, so these games didn't appeal that much because there tend to be short stints of walking amidst long stretches of standing around phone-fiddling. With this game, you haul your phone out of your pocket, fiddle with your phone for a few seconds, put your phone back into your pocket, walk a couple of minutes. Much higher walking:phone-ing ratio.

(Earlier versions of this game were more complex: there were different "types" of places to visit (restaurant, shop, water-y, …); in addition to musicians, there were other "NPCs" in the game (PR flacks, road-builders, goons, …). But these complexities didn't make the game more fun. At least not when I, a walker, thought Hey I could be walking instead of fiddling with this game mechanic.)

The game learns about local places from Foursquare. I wanted the game to use "landmark" places. Foursquare has those, albeit skewing towards restaurants. (Is there some online database of locations that skews more towards, uhm, landmarks? If so, I'd love to hear about it; there's no reason the game only uses locations from one service; it's just that I only found one service that I liked.) If you're the first person in some area to try the game, it doesn't "know" about local places yet. In a few minutes, it will ask Foursquare. I guess that means that most new players will pick up the game, see nothing to do, and give up on it forever. No doubt if I took this game more seriously, I'd be sure to "prime the pump" by making it learn about places in a bunch of places, but as it turns out, I'm pretty lazy so never mind that.

I put the Troubador Tour Board source code up on github. I learned things from making this game. I'd heard that newfangled web pages had abilities heretofore only for native apps: geolocation and fancy graphics. The rumors were true! This game's graphics are pretty cheesy-looking, but it's not your phone's fault. Nowadays, your phone probably has pretty amazing graphics abilities. Too bad my drawing skills aren't so great.

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