So, the tl;dr of this is that unfortunately, Holy Press didn’t win a spot in the finalists. A shame, but it looks like the finalists field is quite good looking so I understand there was probably fierce competition.
While it didn’t become a finalist, there was some incredibly-valuable feedback from judges regarding points they liked and didn’t like for the game, as well as areas they’d suggest expanding on in the future. I wanted to group all of that together below and go over my thoughts in response to the feedback.
What was the game’s strongest aspect?
- Very original approach to a programming game!
- It’s a unique game! It’s a mix of party and strategy games. You’ve got the goofy mad libs mixed with programming actions that combine for a very odd mix that could fit into that niche.
- The theme and mechanisms are interesting and engaging. There is a solid platform to work from in this game. The concept of writing my own commandments is awesome.
- Cute concept, great player count spread.
- The game looks like a lot of fun! Love the programming mechanic. Very cool!
It seems like having a light programming game was a really popular point. The theme was very much a divided opinion (as shown in the below section of what they thought the weakest aspect was), but overall I got the impression that the theme was ok, but it should be approached carefully to avoid being overtly or directly offensive to religious and secular players.
In light of the feedback, I’m definitely glad I changed the mechanics to continue movement from where you ended the last turn rather than starting from the center, as that I think really helps make the programming feel important rather than making each player turn feel like a trial-and-error exercise.
The other feedback is below the cut!
What was the game’s weakest aspect?
- Just a matter of making sure that the strategy and party aspects of the game are well-matched. The rules aren’t too intricate, which is a plus.
- The theme and the mechanics (specifically the programming) don’t seem to gel very well. I would wonder if you can change up the “programming” aspect to something that fits the theme of “monks on a board” better?
- I am still a bit uneasy how the programming is done and how it truly plays out. Also, I am unsure where the tithes and dispensations come into play. Also, with such a solid footing and a connection to RoboRally, I wonder if more could be done with this game –> gears and pulleys and such.
- The rules and video made this difficult to judge, unfortunately.
- The theme is very original, but I worry it would turn off some players.
There’s a few notes on the specifics of theming here, and making sure it feels natural. I think art will help this a little, as will possibly a better written blurb explanation of the movement of the printing press factory.
The issue of possibly turning off players is something I was keenly aware of in designing the game. I sought to make the game purposefully lighthearted and ridiculous, as I felt that having the game be entirely serious Acts like ‘Kill’ and ‘Worship’ and Nouns like ‘The Gods’ and ‘Money’ would kill the mood of a session, and might be seen as a direct commentary on a religion or religious group/practice. Instead, I feel that adding nonsense or funny Acts like ‘Lick’ or ‘Juggle’ and Nouns like ‘Cats’ and ‘Porridge’ helps keep the overall theme light and jovial.
Still, these comments are a stark reminder that this balance is important, and I think I’ll do a few blind playtests to make sure that the current set of Acts/Nouns feel appropriate for multiple groups, rather than just the ones I’ve tested the game with so far.
I absolutely loved the idea for more physical interactions with books on the factory floor. While that initially strikes me as possibly being “too much” for a base game, I think that would be an absolutely killer expansion, especially if bundled with more Acts and Nouns.
The worry about Tithes and Dispensations echoes a worry I have that the mechanics might feel tacked-on rather than an integral part of the game. While it’s true that they aren’t necessary to the core game experience, I think they’re important due to adding a layer of choice and randomness into what is otherwise a game almost-entirely without hidden knowledge.
Lastly, the video. I’ve added it below, but it’s definitely something I’d want to redo in a better fashion. One huge aspect was that the upload speed for avi clips into the video-maker was painfully slow, possibly due to the USB-stick-based wifi I was using, and so I would definitely make sure my internet connection was faster next time before I start working on it. Barring that, I’d be working to use a more efficient and faster program even if there might be a larger learning curve.
Any additional comments?
- I’m a little worried that the theme would be a turn-off, or at least a barrier, for secular players. But that’s just a thought, not a valid criticism yet.
- It’s certainly something I would like to try, simply due to the goofy ‘scripture’ you create. I think you need to make a decision whether to keep your theme and shift the mechanics to fit better with that, or vice versa. A dark ages programming game is just don’t seem to fit together as part of the experience.
- I would be willing to give this a test drive.
- Seems like there’s a good idea here, communicate it more cleanly and it could be a seller.
- Game looks solid. I would love to play it!
The summary ideas here basically echo what was said above: general enthusiasm for the theme and core mechanics, but worry about the theme matching the mechanics, and the theme itself being a potential player turn-off. Definitely glad here that two of the five judges expressed an interest in playing the game itself, just based off seeing the game in action.
My eventual hopes would be to demo this game at a convention, and so having something that has clear appeal from just an elevator pitch and a glance at the rules is absolutely huge. Add into that the social joking/laughter you get from the ridiculous Scriptures players are making, and I think this would be a game that would be surprisingly successful at a convention; from my limited experience, having a game that is A) visually appealing and B) easy to grasp the gist of is a surefire way to move copies of a game as fast as you could possibly want.
From here, I’m going to be setting up a print-and-play document so I can hopefully get some blind playtesting, as well as local blind playtesting as well. After that, it’s just getting box and component art, and getting this sucker ordered so I can set a copy on my shelf!
So, what do you think of the feedback, and is there any comments you have for the game or things you’d like me to address from the judges’ comments? Please let me know in the reblog and comments below. Cheers!