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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 158 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: [Business Solutions] First Playtest  (Read 4048 times)
Jason Morningstar
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Posts: 1428


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« on: December 02, 2006, 05:31:05 PM »

Me, Shane, Ian and Andy playtested a little game I’m working on today.  It is called Business Solutions, and it is a comedic trifle about the lives and loves of photocopy repair technicians.  The test went well and I was relieved, because I had some big concerns about the handling time and fun factor.  I think it will turn out to be a very fun, short-form game.  It's what I've been working on between bouts of Grey Ranks.

Business Solutions is a three-player, GMless game, so I sat out and let them play with my guidance.  You play using two decks of cards, determining success or failure based on color (stolen from Contenders where it works great).  Players have to create a pair of characters (an expert and a trainee), and also a business that contracts with Business Solutions.  Creating characters and businesses was seamless and fun. 

We played through three service calls, which is half a game.  Each client also has someone working for them who has a relationship with a repair technician – we had a clingy ex-girlfriend, a former lover from a homosexual fling, and Andy played the meanest former boss in the universe (he had a fanmail-worthy moment when he made the repairmen wait while he browbeat his wife on the telephone).  Everyone jumped into these over-the-top characters readily.  And the repairmen were also easy to grasp – each is defined by a type, which is something like “Earnest Dork” or “Bitter Hipster”.  Here’s what I learned:

1.  The card handling isn’t too complex – I was worried.  It needs some props to help organize things, but it will be fine.

2.  The repairman types need some refinement – I need to add “Old-Timer” and make them three pairs of opposites.

3.  The client phoning in to Business Solutions is a really funny and productive little scene every time. 

4.  The copier repair challenges (in which you actually diagnose real copier malfunctions using cards as guessing currency) are gold.  They are funny as hell. 

5.  The relationship challenges need some work – players need more guidance.  One thing Ian suggested is putting a feedback check-box on the work order – “Were these repairmen punctual?  Professional?  Polite?  Please check here”, as well as a signature for the client to sign off on. 

So I think Business Solutions is a keeper!  I was very pleased and will be trying it out with some other folks as soon as I can.
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Isbo
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Posts: 17


« Reply #1 on: December 04, 2006, 07:46:56 AM »

Hey Jason--

I think this game is already a good deal of fun, so I'm looking forward to seeing its final form.  I just have one quick thought I wanted to toss out there.  As I thought back over play, there was one element I didn't really use in any powerful way--the Need of the repairman.  While I see the appeal it has in adding just one more way to get into the character quickly, we had more than enough to work with just using the types.  I'm betting that you could cut that from the character sheet without any measurable loss of fun.  I bet a lot of the work done by that attribute is already rolled into the types and the part that isn't may go at cross-purposes to the coolness of type. 

I'm thinking in part of my 'Earnest Geek' repairman--I chose 'Slack' as his need because the others just didn't quite fit my vision of the type.  I could see him as a little lazy but sincere and working really hard to make good when he slacked too much.  But, in play, I pretty much let that one slide.  With my other repairman, 'Unsavory Hipster,' I think I chose attention.  I feel like that worked out ok--not because I was consciously focusing on attention but because that just dove-tailed with my idea of Unsavory Hipster.

I'd be curious to see how Shane or Andy felt about them.  It definitely looked, for example, like Shane tapped into the 'Slack' for roleplaying inspiration, so maybe it's also possible that I just chose poorly?  I don't know.  You virtually can't pick a bad type combo--which is perfect for the fast pick-up nature of this game.   If you can pick a bad need, the mechanic might gum up play a little.

--Ian
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Jason Morningstar
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Posts: 1428


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« Reply #2 on: December 04, 2006, 08:24:45 AM »

Thanks Ian, it hadn't occurred to me.  I thought of Need as something requiring action - you could be a passive Irritating Geek, but if you need power, that drives your play a bit.  You're right that it didn't come on strong in the game.  Also, you guys all picked the same two Needs across six characters!

Based on the playtest I revised the service call log over the weekend. 

If you are interested in Business Solutions, I've thrown up a copy of the draft rules here.  Commetns are definitely welcome!
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ShaneJackson
Member

Posts: 14


« Reply #3 on: December 06, 2006, 11:36:38 AM »

As Ian noted, I did pursue the needs on my characters, espectially the first one.  Of course, with the Slack I was pursuing, I was trying to write myself out of the scene so I could hang out in the van and listen to the radio, but it wasn't dull because I had to make three attempts before Andy finally gave in and let me go.  So in my opinion, need is worth having.  It certainly doesn't hurt anything.

I really enjoyed the game.  It was fast and a lot of fun.  One thought I had dealt using the cards to diagnose malfunction.  I never saw it work out that a misdiagnosis cost anything.  If I had only applied one card to the copier repair test, stated what I thought the problem was and was wrong, and then the business put out all failures on its cards, would I have still failed even if I did get a single success on my card?

Thanks for letting us play,

Shane
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Jason Morningstar
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« Reply #4 on: December 06, 2006, 02:38:27 PM »

Hey Shane, if you fail to diagnose the copier malfunction you fail the challenge, full stop.  If you succeed, then you get to try to fix it, and you may end up failing anyway. 

My bigest concern right now is balancing the card currency to make it hard but not impossible for the active players to win - in the current draft they each get nine cards, plus a potential two per scene in bonuses, which seems like it will overmatch the client.  I hope the endgame win condition encourages hoarding some cards.  More playetsts will tell.
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