A day late! But it has been a busy week…
Another Playtest Event Completed!
Last Thursday night I stopped by the Tabletop Thursday Game Designer Night at Hotel Durant in Berkeley, sponsored by Games of Berkeley. It was a blast and I met some great people and some fledgling designers like myself. I got two playtests of Roadtrip! in – one 2-person and one 3-person. Again, the predominate reaction was laughter and smiles, with some concern for a few graphic design issues. However, the lighting and layout of the event did not lend itself well to a larger game or one with some text in 10-point, non sans-serif font. That said, a few interesting suggestions for game play arose:
- A single-player option? The more it was discussed the more it made me wonder if one would be possible. There is nothing to suggest that it would not work. Of course, I’d need to provide a scale against which to measure your Fun Score – Laughable to Impeccable. The big issue is whether or not playing Highway Cards only on yourself is enough of a penalty. Perhaps you need to play 2 per round? I will test out this idea over the next week.
- A cooperative option? Just like the single-player option, this might work too. Perhaps each player would be responsible for a Passenger. Play would pass in rounds, like normal, but there would only be one Player Vehicle and one Moodometer Score to track. Highway Cards would apply to the players as a whole. Plus, I think this option would be better served with more Destinations, perhaps even as many as 10. Again, there would have to be a scale against which to measure a successful Fun Score. I will test this out as soon as I get a chance with some of my more trusted beta testers.
- A team option? Team play has been suggested before. More so than single- or team- play, I can visualize a scenario like this working. I think the travel phase would be best served going around the table by teams. On each team’s turn, each team player has to play a Highway Card from her own hand (that is to say each player still has his own hand of cards). Like the game play above, it’s likely this will work better with more Passengers and more Destinations. At the very least, this option would allow for more than 5 players to comfortably play. I should be able to test this out at one of my upcoming events, should I get more than 5 players at one time who want to play.
- Hidden Passengers? A suggestion was made to keep Passengers hidden until such a time as a player needs to negate a Highway Card. In this way, opponents wouldn’t know immediately whether or not some cards would be effective. In general, I think this is an fun idea, though perhaps for an advanced-play option. However, a lot more thought and experiment will need to go into the rule, simply due to the overall mechanics behind the cards. I’ll try this out with my beta testers too.
- Same-Hex Trades? I’ve yet to see players actually try to trade in a game, regardless of relative location. However, this suggestion has been made many times, though for different resources and hazards. Of particular note, this past playtest session was the idea of swapping Passengers. “No really, if you just take Uncle Harold, I’ll give you five dollars and take Teenage Barbara!” Certainly, any formal trading rules, would be an advanced-play. I have intentionally left out restrictions on trading in the directions, just to foster this type of creativity or, at least, not to restrict it. Nevertheless, the question has come up enough now to warrant adding formal rules, even if I likewise suggest house-rules as valid alternatives.
This list continues to affirm my second-best-loved aspect of Roadtrip! – its adaptability. It can be short or long, easy or challenging. It can perhaps even support single, cooperative, or team play… let alone a host of other alternative and addative rules (all coming from players). My first-loved-aspect, by the way, is its humor – people seem to laugh even when they lose.
More Playtests Scheduled!
The list continues to grow, so be sure to keep checking the website here. In this past week alone, I added:
- Stanford Campus Playtesting – Saturday, August 15th 7pm. I’m hoping to get in on the fun this Saturday!
- Locally Grown Game Sundays – 2nd Sundays 12pm-6pm, Berkeley; sponsored by Games of Berkeley. I’ll be there to play other games and have fun August 16th, but I’ll be bringing Roadtrip! September 20th and October 18th.
- Home Brewed Game Night – Wednesday, August 19th, 6:30pm, San Bruno; sponsored by Heretic Games.
- Metatopia – November 5th-8th, Morristown, NJ.
Print and Play (PnP) Version
Over the past week, I’ve decided to build an ink-friendly PnP version intended for a wider-scale of playtesting. I had hoped to find a way to print a few games to send out to folks in different parts of the country. However, for two reasons, I decided against it. First, I couldn’t make the cost work for my limited budget, even if I constructed a small scale version of Roadtrip!
Second, the majority of the constructive comments about the game revolve around graphic design issues (at this poitn, ~80%-90%). Hence, I felt that sinking funds into production of gameboards, cards, and chits, which ultimately will look more refined, was not worth the cost. In other words, making a PnP version which was a bit smaller, without as many illustrations, and much less ink-saturated, should afford more comments focused on mechanics. None of this is to say that it won’t have the fun flavor, but rather it should be easier for testers to focus on gameplay over graphics. I’ll keep posting on development as the PnP version matures, though it should be complete by mid-September.
Double Exposure – Again, I cannot thank them enough! It is their generosity and support which is allowing me to attend Metatopia in November! I cannot wait to meet more game designers and eager playtesters, and then share the experience and lessons learned with you.
Laboratory Mayhem – A big thanks to the folks at Lixivium Games for playetesting Roadtrip! this week and providing some wonderful suggestions. Please visit their homepage and try to make it to one of their events. I hope to play the game soon myself (though I got a fun promo card, called the Insatiable Horror). Look for their Preview Edition launch at the end of September at Games of Berkeley!
Coming soon in This Week’s Roadtrip!
- Design Tips from a New-to-the-Industry Game Designer (this next week)
- More results from playtests as I get out and about!
- A Female GM?! Lessons Learned and Funny Stories from around the RPG Table
- More information on a Print-on-Demand Version of Roadtrip!