Sunday, September 24, 2017

Recent testing: TMG submissions, Deities & Demigods, AlterEgo, and the revival of EmDice!

I haven't been posting too much lately - I managed 4 posts in August, but it's been almost a month of silence since!

Part of that is me being a bit busy, another part is me being lazy, and a third part is that much of what I've been doing on the game design front has been evaluating submissions I brought home from GenCon. I am usually very open and transparent in my blog, but until we officially sign a game, I don't feel it's right to talk about them in public.

That said, I brought home quite a few prototypes from GenCon, and I had a few previous submissions that I received updates for, and things like that. I've been pretty happy with all of them so far! Whether we sign them or not will have to do with manufacturing quotes (which I've requested), and I'd like to play them all with more different people to get a better idea of how well they'd be received.

Without giving anything away, here's some teaser information:

Submission from Speed Dating event:
I liked this dice drafting game game when we saw it at GenCon (obviously, since I brought it home with me). It reminded me a little of Pioneer Days, and I thought it could do with an old west re-theme anyway. There was one aspect that seemed more work than necessary, so I tried implementing it in a different way, and my playtesters all thought it played much more smoothly that way. If we do pick this one up, I am currently thinking of making it a "sequel" to Pioneer Days -- in PD you're heading out west, and this game deals with building up a town once you get there.

Submission from designer we know:
We've met with this particular designer a few times, and I've played a few of his submissions. Of those, we've only published one so far, but this new submission might just be the 2nd! The first time I played it with 2 of my testers, they both loved it and said I should publish it immediately. Then I played again with 5 players, and that went over well too (and I managed to win when I thought I would be nowhere close :) ). The theme on this one is awfully similar to one of the games we've already done, and it superficially resembles an existing, well known published game that just got a reprint. It's nothing like that game except in a superficial way, but it will likely draw the comparison. I'm not sure if I care though, and I can't really think of a great re-theme opportunity (the existing theme fits well). So if we pick it up, then we might just not worry about the comparisons.

Submission #1 from before where we'd asked for a change:
There's a game I have played a few iterations of so far. The core mechanism of the game is great, and works well, but the first time I played it the supporting stuff just wasn't there yet at all. I gave the designers some notes, and said that if they were to address the things I mentioned, I'd be happy to re-evaluate.

We met with them at Origins, and played an updated version of the game, but while they did start to address my concerns, they didn't address them as fully as I wanted to see, so I gave them some more notes, and suggested that if that was the direction they wanted to go, then I'd be happy to see what they had at GenCon. It's kind of convenient the timing of Origins and GenCon for this type of exchange :).

We met with them again at GenCon, and they're new version was MUCH closer to what I was looking for, so I took the prototype home with me to examine it further. I played a couple of times at GenCon, and another couple of times after I got home, and while the game is definitely a lot closer to what I had envisioned, and I do think we'll sign it eventually, I sent notes one last time. I expect to sign the game after taking the new version at BGGcon in November, assuming the designers latest changes work out as well as we all expect they will.

Submission #2 from before where we'd asked for a change:
We had a submission that is kind of a roll & write version of one of TMG's existing titles. The original version of the submission seemed too much to us like just the board game, but also with dice. It didn't take advantage of the roll & write format (namely: minimalism and portability).

I corresponded with the designer a bit as he updated the game, and at GenCon we played an updated version that seemed to be a much better use of that format, and still evoked the source game well. Andy brought the prototype home to Utah with him, but I got files from the designer and made my own copy, and after a handful of games (and some commentary from Andy), I made some tweaks to the record sheet, and I think it's probably in pretty good shape. We're waiting on some quote info before we decide whether to sign it or not.

Submission from before Origins and GenCon:
I have one submission that I had originally seen a GenCon several years ago, and was interested in, but another company had it for a while. More recently I heard that the designers got it back, and since I had been interested in it before, I had them submit the game to us. I liked the main mechanism, and I thought it could be fun to set the game in the Harbour universe and give players unique characters to use (like we did with Harbour and Harvest). Unfortunately, initial reaction from players wasn't as enthusiastic as I'd expected, but I'd still like to play some more before making any decisions on it. However, Essen is coming up, and I don't want to hold this game hostage so to speak, so I told the designers to go ahead and show the game around at Essen, and if they don't find another publisher interested, then I'd continue to evaluate the game.

Submission I've known about for a year, and finally got:
A couple of years ago at Essen, I was talking to a designer friend about Crusaders, and other mancala-rondel ideas. Some of that inspired an idea for him, and he emailed me asking if I minded his using that mechanism in a game (of course not, why would I mind?). Some time later (about a year ago) I learned that he had successfully created a game based on that mechanism, and I played a prototype of it and thought it worked pretty well. But they said they weren't done yet...

Finally, a few weeks ago, they sent me the files and I made a copy of the prototype! I have enjoyed it so far. It's very tight, and seems a little short with 2 players (though the right length, just seems so quick!). I look forward to trying it with a few more folks to test the reaction to the game.

That's about it for the TMG submissions. As I got through all of those with my playtesters, I haven't had a lot of time to work on my own games, but I DID get a few of them to the table recently:

Deities & Demigods:
A couple of weeks ago I decided to teach Deities & Demigods to my new group of regular playtesters, so that they could get acquainted with the game before trying to test player powers. I'll go into specifics of that in a separate blog post.

Alter Ego:
After bringing Alter Ego back to the table after 2 full years, I wanted to keep it in rotation, lest it find its way back to the shelf for another couple of years. So we played a 4 player game of it last Friday. I'll make a separate blog post with more details of the playtest.

Looking through my blog, it appears that it's been a full 4 years or more, I think, since I have played my Eminent Domain dice game (affectionately titled EmDice, though I could use a better before going to print).


I had considered the game "basically done," and figured it would eventually get the green light from TMG to go into production. I even got some manufacturing quotes, including one as recently as January of this year. Now that my big projects are finally done out of my hands (Pioneer Days and Harvest debuting at Essen, Crusaders and Oblivion in production), it's about time to prioritize what to work on, and revisit some of these older titles to see if they're up to par.

So for the first time in ages (it was not trivial to actually find the prototype!), I got EmDice to the table. I'll post separately about how that went, but one player surprised me by saying that he liked it better than the card game!


So that's what I've been up to lately. How about you?

1 comment:

Scurra said...

Hmmm. I think I've reached the end of a few designs; I really ought to consider submitting them to places. :-)

(One day I might even go back to All for One, and see if it can be redeemed...)