It’s me again, finally! When I decided to undertake this project almost a year ago, I knew that it would be challenging, as well as fun. I knew that I’d have to work on Roadtrip! itself (my favorite part), and also to learn about websites, blogging, playtesting, graphic design, and social media. I can see why bringing a game to life is much easier with a team. Regardless, I’ve learned a great deal about my strengths and weaknesses as a sort of solo project manager. Though, I’ve not posted much here over the past few months, I’ve been hard at work playtesting and updating Roadtrip! Next week, I’ll bring you an update on publishing options I’ve been exploring. As well, keep an eye out as I begin a much needed update of the website itself.
Sadly, I was unable to attend the DundraCon protospiel. The flu kept me from testing out some of my new tweaks. However, I am close to 50 official playtests, not to mention the hundreds of alpha tests I’ve run over the course of the game’s evolution. As soon as my new components arrive, I’ll be able to organize another series of playtests, which should vault me over that goal.
From the feedback I’ve gotten over the past several months, I decided to focus a major update in two main aspects – Usability and Mechanics. Don’t misunderstand me, Roadtrip! is still the same game as it has been, but, as I’ve said before, I really do listen to your comments. First, let me detail what I’ve been up to in usability:
New Graphic Design. I had a few meetings with a graphic designer who provided me with a few tips. Additionally, and coincidentally, Christina Major posted a new article on League of GameMakers about fonts. It’s an excellent overview with great resources, so you designers should check it out. What does this mean for Roadtrip!? Well, I’ve a new game board, new Moodometer, new Destination Cards, and new Passenger tiles (see below). Other updates are to follow as well, once I proof the new pieces.
Redesigned Passengers. I have taken great pains to redesign the Passengers, which, for the novice gamers, were proving to be somewhat confusing. First, I changed them from a card (in similar size and shape to Highway Cards) into hexagon tiles. Then, more importantly, I reorganized the traits. Now, each passenger has one instant trait and one ongoing trait. In other words, when you add a passenger to your car, one action will happen immediately (e.g. gain money or reduce Mood), after which, the tile can be flipped and that aspect ignored. The player only has to track the ongoing trait (e.g. limit souvenirs or ignore auto hazards) from that point onward.
Next, it is a tricky balance making the game challenging enough to satisfy serious gamers, while not ostracizing novice players. Roadtrip! is meant to be played by family and friends in a fun, social environment and to elicit humorous memories of past summer vacations. Therefore, it has to be approachable to various levels of play. To achieve those ends, I’ve redesigned or added a few mechanics:
Learn-to-Play version. This version is meant to address the general trend in board games that within 5 minutes players want to open the box and play. The bonus of this version is that it also provides a much more gentler learning curve for novice gamers. While I won’t go into details at the moment, this version has been successfully tested.
Player Tiles. Interestingly, the combination of a Learn-to-Play version and the redesigned tiles have led to a new gameplay option where players drive around picking up passengers as they go. After all, those new tiles do fit nicely into the hexes on the game board. I’ve yet to fully flush this out entirely. However, since it would address experienced gamer concerns about end-game linearity, it has me wondering if perhaps this variation would play more robustly overall. More to come, as I playtest this variant.
Highway Cards. In response both to concerns that the game can be too harsh and to the universal love for Attractions, I’ve made a few new tweaks to Highway Cards. First, I changed the ongoing negative Passenger traits away from incentivizing other players to penalizing the player with the negative trait. Now, the trait restrains the player himself; he can only play those Hazards on himself. It has the added benefit of reducing complexity as well. Second, I added conditional text to about half of the Boons that incentivize players to play positive cards on opponents. As before, more to come as I test this option.
- The Manhattan Project: Energy Empire – My friends at Minion Games currently have a fantastic Kickstarter ongoing. I’ve seen this game played, and I highly recommend you give them your support. They’ve got a couple low pledge levels too for those of you with a tight budget.
- A.E. Marling – Thank you for the gracious toast in your latest novel Magic Banquet. For those who haven’t checked his works out yet, you don’t know what you’re missing! Chimera Stew was served at the banquet.
- Glass Cannon Podcast – I continue to laugh at your hilarity. Truly, those of you dedicated RPG’ers out there who are looking for a quality podcast, these guys are the best I’ve yet to uncover. Rich sound, great storytelling, and fun roleplay abound!
- Godsfall – In my ongoing quest to unearth great RPG podcasts out there, I’ve recently stumbled upon this crew out of DC. What I love about it is the original campaign setting and the authenticity of the PCs. Please check out the website as well, since it is crammed full of wondrous content.
Coming soon on VickieGames…
- More on publishing options for Roadtrip!
- More Tips & Tricks from a Female GM – have a few more ideas to share and an update of my last post
- The First Fifty Playtests – thoughts about what I’ve learned after 50 playtests of Roadtrip!
- Demographics?! What should a designer know about that marketing stuff?