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Q&A with freshman Franklin Vrtis, board game design, business

Submitted Photo: Franklin Vrtis
Freshman Franklin Vrtis plays his game Roundabouts with his father. He said that he was inspired to make a tile based game from another popular card game, “Carcasonne.”

Freshman Franklin Vrtis created “Roundabouts,” a board game based on the City of Carmel. Here is his story.

What made you want to design a board game based on Carmel roundabouts? 

We moved here from Texas a little while ago and immediately the first thing we noticed when we moved here is that there are so many roundabouts; it took us a little bit to get used to them, too. But when I was in my bedroom working on (some) card game ideas (with my dad), we were thinking about what’s around us and immediately me and my dad’s minds went straight to roundabouts. There was a game we would play called Carcassonne where you build tiles very similar to how you do with roundabouts, so we reasonably started applying that, so I was inspired by that game to make a tile card game based on that game. 

A photo of Vrtis’ game “Roundabouts.” He said his inspiration for the game came from “Carcassone”, but he wanted to make it simpler. (Submitted Photo: Franklin Vrtis)

How long did it take for you to design it?

(I started working on it in) summer of 2022 (around) August or so. It took two months to get the game-play basically finalized, but to get the company to produce the game and to pitch (it) to All Things Carmel, that took a little bit longer. So I think it finally went into stores in December of 2022, so from August to December is when the full development of (the game) was. We are still working on new developments today; I need to update some of the cards for graphic design and more of that. So, (right now, I’m adding on to) it, but the initial development and completion of it was from August to December. There’s always room to improve, so we are removing one of the aspects of the cards for more readability, and I’m also thinking of adding in cute details of the statues in the middle of the roundabouts like we have in Carmel. 

What went into the design of the board game? What kind of outside resources did you use?

The biggest inspiration was from the game called Carcassonne, where it’s like you’re building a kingdom with castles and roads, but (my dad and I) wanted to do a more simple approach because we (were) new – especially me – at making card games and I didn’t really know how in-depth I wanted it to be. So from the beginning, we knew we wanted it to be a tile game where everyone makes roundabouts and we knew we wanted it to be super simple, and so we got some prototyping on some online games and we messed with some of the point values and game-plan mechanisms. We tinkered with that and at first we didn’t have the mechanics where you can place a card down and reserve a spot, but when we were playing we knew something was missing with just the cards and nothing else. So we added in the mechanic where you can reserve a spot with your card and that adds a whole other layer of strategy, while still keeping it pretty simple. 


Lydia Teeter

What do you plan on doing with your board game? Do you have any plans to trademark it or sell it or anything like that?

We’re always looking to expand. For right now, (the game is distributed through) All Things Carmel, but I think it’d be even better to get into bigger retailers or even just (collaborate with) more retailers. I think at this point of development of the company, though, we’re not too focused on growing the business value as we are (on) growing the brand of the business. We’re trying to get our name out. We’re trying to be like, “Oh they made that one card game a while ago. I’ll buy their game again.” So after you give it a base of knowing who you are, then you can start to develop all of the business strategies, but I think right now All Things Carmel is a good spot to just start getting our name out there

Do you have any tips or anything to say for anyone who might want to create their own board game as well?

There’s a lot of free resources online that you can use. There’s a game crafter, specifically, that is what we used to make card games and it’s free to use, but it still costs money to buy the card game. And then there’s also free art programs, which I use, and there’s many resources on YouTube, too, there’s tutorials on what to do. I would also say not to give up. I think my first-ever card game I ever designed was not fun at all; no one enjoyed it. I played (with) my dad’s side of the family. It was not exciting at all. But after developing it a little bit more, we got it to be playable. 

Do you have plans to go into business or for it to be a possible career path?

I think I should be taking a business class, but I’m not, but I thought about it. I think, since I’m a freshman, sophomore year’s already filled up for me, (but) I think in junior year (I will take a business class). Intro to Business is a class I’m thinking of taking because right now. My dad is very helpful in the business aspect of things. He’s going out and getting the (contracts) signed and stuff; I’m not doing any of that. I’m more of the design (person), he’s more of the, what you would call a manager; so when he’s not able to do that, I’ll think it’ll be helpful if I (know how to). 

Anything else you’d like to add?

I have a link to the online (version of the game), if people can’t go in person.
Here is the link to purchase it on the All Things Carmel website.

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