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1987 Channel Tunnel Design Diary (1/4)

Isra C.
Spain
Valdemoro, Madrid
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We are writing this making of because of 3 factors:

1: We had in our collection 1920 Wall Street and we had been fascinated by its mechanics during the prototype con Protos and Tipos in 2017.


2: We had tested the prototype of what would later become 1906 San Francisco and we loved it.


3: Pedro Soto told us during the convention Jesta in 2017: "Let's see if you can design something for the 1900 series".

Why not to accept the challenge? We had defined very well the design parameters but with the freedom of mechanics. It had to fit into a small box (having 1920 at home helped a lot because we constantly tested if the game fitted), the theme must be an event of 19xx and had to be driven by a simple core mechanic but with depth like the rest of the series. We like challenging ourselves so we started working.

When we design -usually- we like to start from a theme. It helps us a lot because having a theme ,we can come up with different actions that suit the theme. So the first thing we had to do was look for a theme that would motivate us to create a new game. We got down to work documenting ourselves about the 20th century by reading Wikipedia for hours and watching a series of Discovery Max documentaries about the decades of that century. How difficult it is to look for a theme that is not a tragedy or a war! And we one of the things we decided: Wouldn’t be about something sad.

But a theme emerged that a priori matched perfectly with these premises: The Radio Row of New York. Sale of radios and electronic components, collectors, scrap that piled up in the streets... in New York at the end of the 20’s...? That’s a good theme for a game!. But on the other hand we didn't want to make a game set in the USA after Wall Street or San Francisco (which we didn’t know that would be set in Frisco so was a good choice).


We toyed with the idea of making a game about the Chernobyl disaster, but in the end we discarded it because three things: Was a very sad theme, maybe it was too soon and the theme suits perfectly for a cooperative -and we’re not fan of them so will be a problem.

We are eurogamers, and one of the most recurrent themes (apart from the Romans and the Renaissance) are the Egyptians. An event that has always fascinated us has been the transfer of the temple of Abu Simbel by the construction of the Aswan Dam in 1968. Perfect. We have Egyptians, temples, logistics, dams... Smells like wooden cubes being pushed up and down the river!


As a result of thinking about the Aswan Dam, we came up with the idea of developing a route that would connect two points, which would be "built" little by little from the ends, with a player on each side, it seemed to us that this had a powerful image in a game. And although the theme helps us to create, sometimes mechanics are imposed. Finally we opted to carry out a eurogame for two, because the layout was screaming for it, but the theme we initially chose no longer served us.


Searching through our list of discarded topics, we spotted the construction of the Channel Tunnel. It had everything! A delimited route(elements to build), that joins two countries (2 players) and has a delimited end (a country builds its part), is set in Europe and is contemporary to us. Besides, what is more euro than a Eurotunnel?

At this point, we had our fears: We didn't know if the nice people in Looping Games would be convinced. We didn’t have all the odds with us: The theme is dry as a desert and being a game for two wasn't an advantage either, as games with a wider range of players are generally preferred.


But designing is taking risks, and we were very happy with what we had came up so we continued. The important thing was to make a game that we could enjoy.



All these premises started the design of Dover - Calais, or as you may know it now: 1987 Channel Tunnel.
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