Amazon Return Button Not Working

I managed to squash an insidious bug while trying to return things to Amazon. This outrageous, preposterous CSS bug might seem a too simple and basic to make a mammoth organization like Amazon look impotent. Maybe it’s not a bug, but a feature?

Conspiracy theories aside, if you run into a grayed out “continue” button during your Amazon return process, this simple fix will get you through to the next page, your unwanted trappings back to Amazon and your money back in your pocket.

This doesn’t have anything to do with the development of Awesome Town, or my budget template, but never mind that. 

Zeroing in on Fun

One goal of this project is to bring that nail-biting suspense so many video games provide to the table-top board game. The best board games have this imho. 

To pull this off, I created an “AI” town that competes against the players. I quote “AI” because, I’m not an artificial intelligence expert and the competing town, Herndon (sorry Herndon) is essentially run with a significant number of if/then statements.

Chrome will only let me zoom out to 25%, so I animated a gif to show the table keeping track of it all:

awesome town ai data

The result is, I’m able to chart out player visitors vs AI visitors easily game after game after game. With little tweaks to the game’s “economy”, I can make it more exciting. 

graphs of player visitors vs ai visitors in four different games

1st Play-Test with People Completely Unfamiliar with the Game

This was a big moment for me. Four people with zero knowledge of my game played it for the first time! They were 100% helpful and fun – what they found was 99% frustrating! At no fault of theirs, they found a missing feature that brought our test to a premature end.

5 young adults sit around a table with a monopoly board and laptop playing awesome townThis eats at me because I knew I wanted to add this feature, I just never got around to it. Since Awesome Town’s hybrid component is web-based, all of the game’s information is stored within the player’s session. If you leave the page, you lost all the game data. They got a couple rounds into their first game and accidentally hit the back button…maybe the touch screen, maybe a hidden Chromebook gesture?…either way, going back = game over.

I was able to quickly catch them up though and they were able to do a couple more rounds. It seemed like they were about to get it when it HAPPENED AGAIN!

a close up of the board game monopoly with a laptop in the center playing awesome townI couldn’t bring myself to ask them to try a 3rd time and I didn’t know how to fix that quickly. Turns out it’s a super simple “window.onbeforeunload = function() {return true;};” function…Ahhh, had it known, I would have fixed this already.

Regardless, big thank you to Rachel, Allie, Will and Riley. The few rounds you did complete gave me lots to work on.

a check list of tasks to complete in the awesome town development

Making Every Play-Through Different

Virtual Tourists

Make Every Game Different

Discovery is a fun part of any game. That’s why I wanted the virtual population of tourists to change every time you played Awesome Town. One game, there might be a lot more Budget tourists. Another game might be mostly Luxury-minded visitors. Finding out who your customers are is part of the fun. So, here’s how Awesome Town randomizes one of the pillars of the game.

Why I Made Awesome Town

The Legacy of Monopoly

Growing up, I would beg my two older brothers to play Monopoly. That enthusiasm to play died prematurely.

You see, anytime they’d land on one of my big-money properties, they’d quit unless I gave them a sweetheart deal that usually included some of my properties. I basically paid them to lose to them. 

Those memories resurfaced after playing some co-operative board games.

I began to wonder, “Why couldn’t you change the rules of Monopoly and make it cooperative?

Continue reading “Why I Made Awesome Town”

Project Concerns

At first, I was worried that adding a screen to a board game would negatively impact board games “One more screen people are glued to”.

I think technology (screens or AR) blending with board games is inevitable, but I also think it could be amazing if done right.

Best practices for blending digital with analog game elements:

  • Adds value not addiction.
  • Provides enjoyable experiences without sacrificing well-being.
  • Creates fun elements unachievable any other way.

This Project Represents Potential

I see potential for

  • Combat games like Risk could have fog of war, heroes, cover, flanking, moral, fatigue.
  • Economic games, like Awesome Town, could be mass multiplayer in a persistent world. 
  • All kinds of games could have vast “replay-ability” with randomized scenarios like alien invasion, zombie apocalypse, natural disasters, influencers, etc.
  • Another HUGE potential is how game developers could make games as platforms for user-generated content. So, maybe Isaac Childres publishes Gloomhaven with it’s 95 scenarios and fans create another 300 scenarios.
  • Lastly, I see AR infused board games as a way to draw video gamers into a more social game setting. My friends and I played a ton of Star Craft, Command and Conquer, etc. we always sat alone in front of our computers. Can you imagine how fun it would be to play a realtime strategy game with AR in your living room together with your friends?