Saturday, August 11, 2012

Playtest Journal #1: Options Overwhelming

Todays' playtest was designed to test the benefits and limits of the Infinite Earths character creation system.  And it worked like a charm, in that it pointed out to us that it kinda works and kinda doesn't.

One thing that came up straight away is that the Session Zero concept is fundamentally sound, with the chief complaint being that we didn't do more of the character development (I cut the character/party creation shorter than it normally would be, given that we weren't actually developing a campaign for these characters, but playtesting the character creation system).

The next thing that came up was. . .well, we've written the book backwards.  As we stepped through the character creation process, it became very quickly obvious that instead of being streamlined and efficient, character generation involved a lot of flipping forward, backward, sideways and frontways through the different chapters of the book.  As a result, "option fatigue" quickly set in among playtesters.

Additionally, our character sheet--which I was so proud of, when Sarah made it--was not as helpful as we'd hoped.  In fact, there were a couple of portions of it that were rather useless explicitly because of all the options.  The buffet, as it turns out, is so large (over 550 talents!) that it's impossible to remember what all the options are.

Add to that some ideas for character concepts that we just plain didn't have, and we had, overall, a playtest session that highlighted what we felt were some fairly serious holes in what we've been building.

Here's a picture of today's playtesters hard at work figuring out what they're looking at:

Now, normally it's considered rather poor business form to announce "hey, this thing we made?  It's got some flaws."  But in our case, we're happy to embrace that announcement because every flaw we uncover, we can excise.  Every hole that we fall into, we can fill.  And that will eventually make for a much more exciting and engaging game.

And make no mistake:  every playtesting session, we come away exhausted, invigorated, and enlightened.

So again, to Charlie, Bob and John:  thank you.  Your hard work in playing our game (or trying to!) will make it better.  And for our future playtesters:  praise these three, who braved these roads before, and helped to pave them.

Our first open-playtesting event is this coming Tuesday at Game Theory, in which we'll be playtesting a new method of character generation which should be more streamlined and less confusing.

See you soon!

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