Game Design Contest: Prioritization and Playtesting

So, following the feedback from Alien Ambassadors and my inability to get a game test over the weekend, I’m looking at a next-available-playtest date of Thursday, with the due date for a finalized game concept/presentation on Friday.

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‘Twas not meant to be, methinks. Not for 2017, at least.

Unfortunately, that’s not really doable, especially if any issues whatsoever persist in the v2 Ambassadors iteration. I’m feeling that more and more it’s looking like I’ll be getting one playtest per week, meaning that I have to drastically rescale my games in progress to account for these likely shortcomings. I think I’m suffering slightly from a bit of frustrated expectations from players: Green-Circuit Mercs didn’t make a fantastic first impression, and the second revision did better but it still wasn’t a sought-after game. Alien Ambassadors did slightly better, but I think my players are possibly starting to be disinterested in trying new games.

More under the cut, along with the new schedule:


I feel like the best solution to this issue is to basically “complete” the games I have in-motion at the moment. For example, Holy Press still needs art and blind playtesting to get the rulebook polished up (and in that order, since nice art tends to be a good draw for cusious players), but I feel that the core gameplay is “done”. That said, here’s the new schedule, pared down to account for only one playtest iteration per month:

  • Cardboard Edison Award: January 31st
    • Holy Press: Submitted, at Prototype step
  • Trick Taker Challenge: March 6th
    • Green-Circuit Mercs: Not submitted, at playtesting step
  • 2017 Northwest Luci Award: April 7th
    • Alien Ambassadors: Not submitted, at playtesting step
  • Button Shy Wallet Game Contest: April 23rd
    • Boatbuilders: Not using for contest due to component revision, at playtesting step.
    • The Order of Artemis: Not submitted, at prototype step. This one I’m shelving indefinitely, as I feel there was way too much stuff that needed a lot more polish before it would even have a strong core gameplay loop.
    • Mamluki: Not submitted, at playtesting step. Also shelved, but mainly until after Green-Circuit Mercs is released because there will be heavy art and logo crossover, and I want the shared universe to feel well-represented between the two games rather than try to meld them after the fact
  • Thunderglyph Survival game contest: April 30th
    • Hunter’s Quarry: Design step. This one is veeery tentative, and will probably unfortunately get shelved too. I love Thunderglyph’s art and such and I think the game has a ton of promise, but I want to make sure I revive my playtest base instead of screwing that up and crippling myself for later testing stages.
  • Big Box Challenge: June 5th
    • No design yet
  • Gamelords Dungeon Crawler Challenge: August 15th
    • No design yet, although I have a strong inclination to use a previously-shelved rough outline idea for a Legacy-style dungeon delve game.

Current focus is on testing Green-Circuit Mercs and Alien Ambassadors, and getting those out of the way as well as getting Holy Press developed into a final releasable game.

This is really rough, as I feel like a screwup for eyes-bigger-than-stomach, as well as potentially damaging my only playtest source at the moment. I’m also going to be pushing to see about other playtest options as well, but that will require some checking around to make sure it fits comfortably with home, work, and Ironwatch needs as well.

Until next time; I think I’ll be working on cranking out the design outline for ClikB8 this Friday. Please let me hear your thoughts in the comments and reblogs below. Cheers!

Friday Update: Gameplay Tweaks

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So, got a game playtest in for Alien Ambassadors. Overall it went decently, but it definitely needs some changes before it will be ready for submission.

What Went Well:

Players really liked the weird actions, and seemed to enjoy the Interference changes as well. I was worried the latter might be too confusing or hard to track, but it sounds like they didn’t mind and liked how it changed it up from just being a basic 20-questions format. I am going to tweak a few of them (the ones that make an answer compounded with another action card), but overall this section went over swimmingly.

What Needs Improving:

The question categories are way, way too broad. While I might be rubbish at 20-Questions, I was only able to guess correctly for 2 of 15 cards. I had originally debated having a list of options players picked from, but had rejected it out of hand due to the sheer # of cards that would need to be added to make the list robust enough to provide some degree of challenge.

One option could be to make the choices as numbered tokens drawn from a bag, corresponding to a big chart of Places, Animals, and Things. While this would solve the issue, it doesn’t address a second concern I noted as I was playing:

There was basically no player interaction.

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Like this, but for board games and fun

Party games survive or die by their group fun-ness, and right now Alien Ambassadors has no player-player interaction other than the rotating interaction of the Translator and the Aliens. I figure I can kill two dangerous birds with one stone here, and roll in the goal of what players are trying to have the Translator guess. I can even call back to the original Alien Ambassadors constraint and have the monocolor cards.

The one drawback is I have to kill the Translator.

Honestly, the alien communication was the most-fun part, and as a Translator I felt more frustrated and useless than engaged and having fun. What we’ll do instead is have a common list of items, depicted by a picture most likely; each has a corresponding card, and at the start of a round, all players get a minute to ask questions using charades to the player to their left, and by the end of the minute they must place their guess by putting a marker on the icon on the board; if right, both they and the other player get a point, and otherwise they both get nothing.

Then the next round they draw new cards to replace the old ones, and do it again with the player to their right. This repeats swapping left/right until the game ends. In addition, at the end of each round, the player with the highest current score swaps seats with the player directly across from them (their choice if there are 2 options), so you don’t get permanently stale combinations of players. Play continues until someone hits a target point goal, say 15 or something.

Closing Thoughts

Now we have a direct player investment in both good charades/guessing, as well as good clues, a general semi-cooperative feeling, and best of all a constant ability to both use deduction as well as the alien language.

So, what do you think of the changes to Alien Ambassadors? Please let me hear if you like this better, worse, or something in-between in the comments and reblogs. Next week I’ll be doing a little design for a game I’ve got in mind called ClikB8, based on the idea of social media news. Until then, thanks for reading; cheers!

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Game Design Contest: Preparing Alien Ambassadors for Playtesting

Continuing from yesterday, I’m working on figuring out the cards, components, and rules for Alien Ambassadors for submitting for the 2017 Northwest Luci Award.

Oh, and since I forgot it last time, here’s a Cooltext logo for us to work with:

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The Deck

Alrighty, got these banged out here. Weighted most of the Actions to being spoken nonsense words, but but there’s still a healthy splash of around 25-33% of the cards being physical things. Enough to get a little humorous physicality into the game, but not enough that it threatens the ability to do charades for your clues.

The revised Preference cards is covered in more detail in “The Rules,” below.

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The Monday Game: Alien Ambassadors and Mistgore

So, first an update on Mistgore. I’ve been working on this for the last week or so, bitten by a bug to get this up and running soonish so it stops creeping into my other game design thoughts. I’ve got the basic rules, the first two warbands, and (most of) the first City module if you wanted to take a look and let me know what your thoughts are on it so far!

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We’ve got a new game design contest, this time for just a “great game,” the 2017 Northwest Luci Award. (They’re good games, Brent.) I’m excited for this one, as the contest finalists will be at the Evergreen Tabletop Expo, which is near my family and relatively close geographically!

Slotting this into our existing schedule:

Unfortunately didn’t have a chance to test Green-Circuit Mercs this last week due to playtesting the 2nd edition of the Stop Thief playtest, but going to try and get in a playtest game this Thursday with the local game group hopefully so we can get the design hammered away for that one!

Picking our parameters will be below the cut!

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Plus, now I found out there’s a gaming expo almost in my backyard in the form of ETX

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