Short and Sweet or Down with the Sickness

Today, I’m sort of phoning this one in, so apologies in advance for the shortness of my post. I, evidently, have contracted something or other which I don’t expect to hang about to long, but it is currently making me feel like I went on a three-day bender. At any rate, I’m going to forgo the world building discussions until my head isn’t so fuzzy, and give a short recap on last night’s playtest in broad strokes.

Hrmmm. Thinking this through as best I can. The playtest concerned a new IP we have in the works with a rules set we’ve not yet released any materials for. I enjoy the system, but have only had limited opportunities to use it–so many plates spinning in the air, it’s hard to throw another one into the mix. The system played out much quicker than anticipated; the character generation needs a lot a of work, but the guys felt I captured the feel of the characters they played. Like many folks, in certain playtests, it’s a good idea to use touchstone characters already known in popular culture as most gamers can concur on a relative baseline–or feel- for a particular character. For example, creating Conan or Fafhrd & the Grey Mouser when playtesting a Swords & Sorcery game is reasonable, Musashi (or any of a half-dozen other folks—some from Avatar the Last Airbender series ) was fun to do for Iron Dynasty,  and I’m certain more than one hombre has created Jonah Hex–or a variant thereof- for Deadlands somewhere along the line.

At any rate, having played a lot of games in this particular genre before, I’ve found character creation by and large time-consuming, and combats taking a good bit of time. In this system, things went so much quicker than I expected we had some dead space at the end of the session and we discussed some of the finer points I’m concerned with, such as scalability and emulation of the genre, and so on. I was pleased with what I threw together in these three days, as it’s given me a good sense of where to take things in the future.

Perhaps that’s the takeaway message for today. Ahem. Let me pull it out of my head and share it with you. When undergoing a new project, it’s a good idea to give incremental playtests to gauge your depth, and to ascertain whether or not you’re going in the right direction. Feedback can be useful, but you must remain strong to build things to your vision. Entertain ideas carefully, but what you’re pushing for in the first playtest is critiques of what the players liked and didn’t like. When I say push, I mean it. Have them give up the idea you’re a fragile flower –at least in regards to the playtests–and speak with them open and candidly. While it may all be well and good to have outside folks playtest your material, it is essential for you to test the material yourself in the early stages as it shapes the material you are creating. Take an engineer for a car manufacturer. While it may be a professional driver behind the wheel at some point, you can bet your money the engineer is running scads of simulations and “playtesting” the performance and safety features before it gets poked and prodded at large. Yes, I’m simplifying, but I trust you’re clever enough to pick up what I’m laying down.

Now, I must go put on a show for *cough* research, pop some Vitamin C, and will myself to power (or at least feeling better) as I’m guest hosting on Beautiful Brains tonight, so I need to have my game face on later on, so if you want to ask me anything, tonight’s your chance. Until tomorrow—or possibly tonight–I bid you, dear reader, adieu!

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