It’s been too long. I know! I admit that I love game design, even the graphics aspect. I love the thoughtfulness of it all. In turn, I tend to get a bit focused and I forget to post updates here. I admit it.
So I’ve added a side column to my whiteboard organizer now which includes the things I need to be doing everyday and every week to connect with folks. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think of any of this as a chore. In fact, I find it very creative too. However, in my one-woman shop, I’ve no boss looming over me reminding me of all my deadlines. As I’ve stated before, I’m learning as I go.
Well, what have I been busy with? A few more playtests, a classic car meet, and a graphics scrubbing… and sadly, my twenty-year-old kitty Dakota passed away two weeks ago.
- Ironstone Concours d’Elegance – What a great event (again!). I was raised in a family of classic car lovers; I’ve been to a lot of car meets. Nevertheless, this particular event tops my list. It’s a bit like Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, but a thousand times less pretentious (and less pricey). Plus, they have a small class dedicated to vintage trailers. Have I mentioned how much I love vintage trailers? They were a big part of my inspiration for Roadtrip! At Ironstone I did not get a chance to setup the game for play, mostly due to the horrendously hot weather and lack of suitable shade. However, I did walk around and speak to the trailer owners the gaem. I explained the premise and showed them some components. It was enthusiastically recieved and I was encouraged to speak to the presidents of the various clubs. Next This Week’s Roadtrip! I should have some further info on possible larger vintage trailer venues.
- Dedicated Playtests – Last weekend, I ran the first in a series of playtests intended to run multiple consecutive games in order to get fuller feedback. This type of playtest allows me to test the advanced play options as well. Players get a chance both to learn the game and then to try out different strategies for winning. In the first playtest with this format, the cool thing was Roadtrip! stumped them strategically. These experienced gamers were not able to figure out any single path to victory. Admittedly, a couple of games hardly makes a trend. Yet, it was quite heartening. Furthermore, one of the playtesters at the outset blatantly stated she disliked board games. At the end of the game, she was shocked she was not bored. I’ve another one of these dedicated events coming up this next week. Updates will follow.
- Money Balance Fixed – Of course, I’ll know more after a few more playtests. However, I believe the latest rounds of tweaks (outlined in This Week’s Roadtrip! #6) have tightened up the balance.
- Hidden Goals In – Oh yes, this was a success. Now, it’s only been tested once so far, but it added that hidden element to the game that experienced gamers were looking for. I currently have seven different goals in testing. They are single condition bonuses, as opposed to my initial idea of a two- or three-tiered approach. Remember? Simple is better! I’m still working kitschy name for them, not to mention for the option as a whole. If you’ve any fun ideas, please let me know! Here’s one example, which was tested last week: Penny Pincher – If you end the game with the most money, add +3 to your Fun Score. Most of them add a static +3 bonus, which will likely be lowered to +2 in order to keep the winning bonus of +3 still paramount. More to come!
- Billboards Out – I never really got a chance to thoroughly scrub Billboards, but the mechanic just seemed too clunky. Not only did it mean that Roadtrip! would have to include extra pieces (a big no-no when you are trying to make the game more compact), but also players just didn’t seem interested in them. I did discuss the option with folks, but it didn’t grab anyone outright. Given the initial success of hidden goals and my instinct about the (yet-to-be-tested) Wells’ Bus Depot and Used Car Lot (see below), I think Billboards are unnecessary.
- Graphics & Marketing Tweaks – Let me just start by saying that I’m happy that folks are providing a plethora of feedback in this category. Essentially, it confirms that the game strategically is quite solid. Nevertheless, I do listen. I spent the last week scrubbing and tweaking and redesigning the layout for new sets of Passenger and Highway cards. I’ll have them back in time for Metatopia. The Destination Postcards need another pass as well, but this leads me to the layout of the game board itself. The two components are interdependent. In the long run, for a Kickstarter campaign, I will hire an editor and get a graphic designer to give everything a once-over. I would also love to commission a stylized, more cartoonish board. As that’s an expensive proposition, it’ll probably be a stretch goal. However, I have been looking at other designs (see below).
- Wells’ (formerly Elko) Bus Depot & Used Car Lot – In the 1960’s Wells was a bustling, little Nevada town of 1,000+ at the intersection of US Route 40 and 93. This option will allow players to send a passenger home (Bus Depot), trade Vehicles (Used Car Lot), and exchange/add Destinations (Visitors Center). I may also allow players to gain money (Savings & Loan). Each option would take a turn; some would cost money. I’ve yet to playtest this option, though I think it will add a further dimension to the game. At least, it should eliminate the perception of the end-game’s linearity. Note that I still do not think that the end-game is as linear as a few playtesters have thought. But perception can be just as bad as reality. More to come.
- New Game Board – Over the past couple of weeks I have worked out a couple of different board options in response to the questions I’ve gotten above. I’ll post my sample layouts next week. With the couple that I’ve already done, however, I think that the current design is not too far off. I think what it really needs is to have the topographic less emphasized and a re-visioning of the Destination symbols. As well, I’d like to order a bandanna-style board and try out a fold-up map-style version.
- Double Exposure – It just hit me this week that I’m headed to Metatopia in a few weeks! Whoo hoo! Oh, and I’d better really start getting ready…
- The Cardboard Knight – Their starting a new series of articles called Knight’s Watch, and guess what?! I’ll be in one of their first features! So, a big thanks goes out to them for including me in their new endeavor!
- Games of Berkeley – Locally Grown Game Sundays goes out with a big bang this Sunday as part of Sunday Streets Berkeley! I’ll be there. Come out and stop by. At least it won’t be 100 degrees in the shade!
- Heretic Games – Thanks for hosting another Home Brewed Game Night on the 7th! I know I missed it, but I should be at the next one in November!
- Foxtrot Games – I’m super excited about World’s Fair Kickstarter. What I love most is that it’s rich with an educational, strategy, non-fantasy, non-scifi theme. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve talked about this before, I do love those genres. I just think that it’s about time to break the mold and reach out to a wider audience with thoughtful games.
- Jeff Dehut at Explosive Limes – Ok, just as I said I love the non-fantasy genre boom, I’ll have to say I did back the new Pocket Dungeon expansion. Alright already, I also have a thing for the random tables in D&D books. This game just tickled that fancy.
Coming soon in This Week’s Roadtrip!
- A Female GM?! Lessons Learned and Funny Stories from around the RPG Table. Finally got the outline done; it’ll be up next week!
- A Point Does Not a Trend Make – lessons learned from my first time seriously playtesting
- For the love of D&D randomness, I decided to start Project Random Dungeon…. more to come… maybe, it’s just that I love rolling d20s?
- More information on a Print-on-Demand Version of Roadtrip!