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[Medical Hospital] Playtesting with n00bs

Started by Jason Morningstar, August 04, 2008, 07:52:30 AM

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Jason Morningstar

I ran a session of Medical Hospital last night with three people who are not gamers.  It went pretty well. 

Positives:

1.  Character creation is both fun and easy.  They all liked it a whole lot.  One said "I could just do that all night, without any conflicts or trying to resolve anything".  I think this is a pretty interesting comment.
2.  Surgery is both fun and challenging.  All three really enjoyed doing both trauma and elective procedures.  My doctor was on call for someone with a head injury, and I had a complication, and they gleefully looked over the list and ambushed me mid-procedure with an additional wound.  It was great.  I got a sense for how long various procedures should take, too - there's a complicated hip joint operation that I'd marked at 50 seconds that should easily be 120. 
3.  All the personal scene machinery works fine.  The confessional is perfect, and Clinton's suggestion to use it to halve Stress worked very well.  One of my friends fixed the clumsy rules for assigning elective surgeries to doctors in an elegant way I never would have thought of.

Not so positives:

1.  The stress economy is a little too unstable - a few lucky outcomes to relationship scenes cut everybody's stress down near zero, and one bad trauma case cranked one player's up to nine.  It didn't feel right.
2.  The interaction of stress, perks, complications, and scene types was a little too much for these guys.  They found the games systems confusing.
3.  Re-writing another character's want to mirror your own was also confusing for them.  Introducing location and event pairs was also a little ambiguous and confusing.
4.  The surgical scenes were so fun that all the "story" stuff took a serious back seat.  I do not want this to be the case.  They had some hard questions for me as to why I don't just toss out the "roleplay" bits, and my answer is predicated on my own experience as a gamer.  That, too is illuminating. 

So overall it was hugely instructive!  I need to tweak the game's economy a bit, find a way to make the personal scenes more engaging and rewarding, and streamline the mechanics.  One player suggested introducing the different sbu-systems one at a time, and that's a possibility. 

If you are playtesting, I can't tell you how valuable it is to see people who are not habitual roleplayers interact with your systems. 

Jason Morningstar

I playtested again last night, with my regular gamer crew, and figured it does not deserve a new thread.  It went very, very well, and some of my concerns appear to be related to the experience level of the players.  This isn't super great news, but I did find out that the latest iteration of the game works very well.  We played a three hour session without a hitch and I learned a lot - Remi uncovered a death spiral that I need to fix, and we had a very fruitful conversation about the game's currency and focus. 

I took a lot of notes about procedural issues, things that need to be re-worded or re-named for clarity, and have a lot to think about.  We brainstormed a really effective way to wrap the patient care experience into other scenes, rather than atomizing it (there are currently six different types of scenes with different effects, which is a little silly and will be fixed). 

It was a really fun night. Medical Hospital is really coming together.  I think there will be a huge information design and production challenge once the rules are solid, but one thing at a time.

As a special treat, here's Joe repairing a prolapsed rectum!