Playtesting – Alpha Stage

May 18, 2009

I’ve been writing up a new board game concept that I had recently, so progress on the RPG books has been slow overall. This weekend I finally got to show off the new boardgame to a few friends in a semi-playable state, or as I call it Alpha Playtest version.

Coming from an IT background the ideas around Alpha and Beta testing are quite natural to me, but for those of you who have no idea what these are or what the differences are, here’s a little primer on the stages of testing.

Alpha Playtest is something that occurs when the initial ideas are defined, the concepts are refined and pretty much all of the pieces are in their final stages. I like to think that Alpha is when things are around 70% complete. There are lots of things right and still quite a few rough edges, but the game should be playable at the very least and should show where the goals and initial concepts are employed. However Alpha is something that is still rough, it may require the designer to explain things to the players or to make decisions regarding situations that arise.

Beta Playtest is when things have progressed much further. Beta testing should be able to be run independant of the designer(s). This way several Beta tests can be run in paralell and feedback can be reported back to the designers, rather than them be there for the testing. Beta should only occur when 95% of the game is complete, i.e. the way things work is locked down and only a few bugs remain.

With this in mind, the testing of my boardgame this weekend was an Alpha test. The first time out of the box, so to speak. How did it do? Well I took lots of notes on how the game needs one of the major systems refining and making less complex. Most of the Alpha was spent discussing this system and using a calculator to work out how things should be… not a good start really. I was nicely surprised in that the rules covered most of the situations that arose. I only had to clarify 2 points I think while showing off the game to the group. Other than that I bounced a few ideas off of the players in a post game chat and it seems like they enjoy the core concepts and the ideas but it just needs to be refined and simplified. Not bad for a Alpha game I think.

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Art for arts sake?

May 1, 2009

What is it with artwork in RPG’s? Surely the whole point of an RPG is that it is designed to allow peoples imagination to fill a whole world with flights of fancy. How you image the world is how it should be seen and not some other person interpretation of it.

Artwork in any RPG book is the most expensive part of the endevour both in cold, hard cash and page real estate. Cost for artwork for a game can range from $25 for a small line drawing to over $1000 for a cover piece. The cover piece I can understand as I dicussed before, this is one of the things that helps to sell the book off the shelf. But with the price of books being a big issue for some, surely the cost savings of using less or no art is rather tempting.

Think about the latest Jackie Collins or Dan Brown… no artwork there apart from the cover, and last I knew good old Dan was busy basking in the glow of his mega fortunes. Compare this to RPG’s and every book released awash with art and is tight on profit margins. So what is the answer? Cheaper art? Less art? No art?…. might be worth an experimental PDF or two here just to test the waters.


The Traveller Fauna Concordance

April 25, 2009

So what do you think…???

Traveller Fauna Concordance

Traveller Fauna Concordance


Naming games – Traveller Edition

April 24, 2009

Following from yesterdays post, im currently designing a supplement for Mongoose Traveller  (http://www.mongoosepublishing.com/) thanks mainly to their SRD and open licence for the game. That inspiration and encouragement got me started when the game first came out last year. However despite the early posts on this blog I never progressed far enough that I even considered actually getting to the point of publishing it. Well the time has come to throw off that uncertainty. The license application has been posted and the development continues apace. So now what to call the thing.

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The names the thing

April 23, 2009

One of the most important things that RPG developers have their arsenal when trying to get people interested in their games is the title of the book. Be it a core rule book or a supplement, the title is often the first thing that a customer picks up on, not the cover art, not the setting and certainly not the system. So why is it that we have so many bad examples of titles for games?

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Defcon – An RPG Idea

April 11, 2009

Heres an idea that came to me while reading Maid the RPG. Essentially Maid is about gaining influence over the other maids and the master via seduction or any other means possible.

Switch this to a political scenario. Imagine that the PC’s are the generals and staff of a war office, fighting to gain the Presidents ear and have their voices heard above the others. Now imagine that this is in the wake of some national or international disaster. Each PC wants the President to further their own agenda, from the General who wants to counter-strike (war is good for business) to the aide who whats to be noticed and gain influence to the opposition leader who just wants everything to go as badly as possible (thus making him stronger for the next election).

Think I might have to work on this a bit more, it could be fun.


Fleets – Card Game Idea

April 10, 2009

A while ago I played around with a couple of ideas for some card games. At the time I was thinking of CCG’s but these could just as easily be non-collectable games as well. Both games were pretty simular, though with different settings. Fleets was based around capitol ships in space, fighting each other by deploying fighters, drafting other ships and capturing planets. Here are a few notes I made at the time.

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