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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4283 Members Latest Member: - otto Most online today: 62 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: [Hell for Leather] Playtest disaster: The London Fiasco  (Read 914 times)
Sebastian K. Hickey
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Posts: 141


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« on: January 25, 2010, 06:34:36 AM »

I was recently in London where I got a chance to run a playtest with Graham Walmsley and Adam Kelly. It was a disaster.

In the interests of transparency, I'm popping a link to my autopsy over on Cobweb Games. No doubt it will be glossed over and no one will ever read about it or remember it. (Phew!)
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Ar Kayon
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Posts: 190


« Reply #1 on: January 26, 2010, 02:48:16 AM »

Yeah, I read it! 

What's important is that you've effectively utilized your playtesting as a diagnostic tool, and through your articles, you can show others what to look for when they're playtesting their own designs.

I particularly liked your reference to Battle Royale; I think the comparison fits your game properly.

Have you been updating the manual so we can see the changes you've made?
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Sebastian K. Hickey
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Posts: 141


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« Reply #2 on: January 26, 2010, 05:29:32 AM »

I confess, I am an amateur when it comes to receiving criticism, but I think that this kind of documentation helps me to put a positive spin on feedback that I would otherwise find destructive. I'm going to continue posting my playtest reports and conclusion until I can begin to be sure that the game is complete. Until that stage, I'm going to leave the beta draft (v1.01) alone. Although it is a lesson tardily learnt, I now realise how much of a waste of time it is to publish faulty rules. Once they're tidy, and I'm happy, I'll post a newer draft.
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Gregor Hutton
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« Reply #3 on: February 02, 2010, 11:40:56 AM »

Hi Sebastian

Gah! I now am doubly troubled that I didn't find you at WarpCon on my travels around the con. :-/

I think reflection on what went wrong can be very useful, and you should try, as best you can, to step back from the emotion of the experience. Blogging about it when it's recent and fresh is great for looking back weeks later and musing over. And it's a great documentary record.

I talked with Joe Prince about the game and the PDF before WarpCon actually. The PDF looks far more polished than the game currently is. So, as far as layout goes, you'll be fine and can leave it for the moment -so it can wait until you've got the thing to go in the book done. I'm right on with that.

We feel you should look back to your core idea for the game and how/why you kicked it off. I think you're overcomplicating the game and adding circles within circles overreacting to things that come up in individual playtests. Try sticking with a reasonably stable iteration of the game and play with that.

Playtests can be rough, or too smooth, to give you completely accurate feedback. I think it's often better when they are quite rough (from experience), but where I can see what's going wrong and what's going right. Sometimes (inevitably?) that's exacerbated/clouded by other factors (like your note of your anxiety about it and Graham's trip across London -- and perahps the awkwardness of the group, even). Certainly I wouldn't look for validation or praise from playtesting.

David Donachie wrote _somewhere_ (and I can't find where! Gah!) about his experience of a terrible playtest session of Solipsist and how it was great because in it, on reflection, he could see where the game worked and had to go. (The session was this one: http://archive.collective-endeavour.com/node/652 ). I'll have to badger David to see if he can remember where.

Anyway, on more useful terms have you tried having different sized target circles? For beginners it could be bigger than for expert target throwers like yourself? That's just an observation from some of us throwing dice on a table on a Monday night and scratching our heads at our initial inability!
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Sebastian K. Hickey
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Posts: 141


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« Reply #4 on: February 02, 2010, 03:29:47 PM »

Hi Gregor!

I asked the con director to help me find you but he said that you weren't there this year. Lies!! Damn it!

Thanks for your support on this. There have been some significant improvements to the game in the last week. I took a few blows from the London playtest, but I needed the bruises. The resulting game, a much more customisable, free flowing and forgiving version, has been put to the test by some of the Cork gamers and some of the IGA over the weekend, with positive results. I'm very happy with the game as it stands, so I'm going to write up another edit this week.

As for game difficulty, and bigger circles, you'll be delighted to know there is a new version of the play sheet sitting on my hard drive waiting to be uploaded (with bigger circles).  Furthermore, the throwing of the dice can be quite tricky unless you use the patented "release technique." I'll be slapping great big diagrams in the book as to how to roll correctly (and easily), and maybe I'll stick a movie on the website. It's very much a case of easy-when-you-know-how.
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Ar Kayon
Member

Posts: 190


« Reply #5 on: February 04, 2010, 09:13:17 AM »

You should call that section, "from knife throwing to dice throwing"
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Sebastian K. Hickey
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Posts: 141


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« Reply #6 on: February 06, 2010, 07:48:56 AM »

Maybe I will. Do you find the dice throwing as nerve racking as knife throwing, by any chance?
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