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Below you will find a list of recent blog entries and playtests that have been published.

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Blog entry
zimarm5
04/08/2016 - 4:19pm

If you are looking for an exciting way to showcase your game (in addition to the indiecade space) or for indiecade afterparties, here is the Ultimate Video Game Bus (indiecade West only) We have 20 PC's and the latest gaming consoles for your games, all on a self-powered, climate controlled converted bus. www.TheUltimateVideoGameBus.com contact me for more into

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Blog entry
Brian and Brain
04/04/2016 - 6:38pm

I made the next version of my game board over the weekend. The new version reflects 2 changes that have come up in past playtest. The first being changing the light source. The second is distributing 4 of the artifact spaces to be within equal reach to all 4 players from the start. The latter should help speed up the beginning of the game as well as provide artifacts quickly to the players. The remaining 4 artifact tokens will still be distributed randomly at the beginning of the game.

The light source was the hardest change for me to make to the game. I don't think I've mentioned this before but the idea for this game stemmed from me watching an example of a light source moving around a 3D object. I thought... It would be really cool to make a game that incorporates a light source. What about a vampire game, then the vampires could get fried if they're caught in the light. Since the whole idea behind the game came from the light source it was very difficult for me to let go of, but once I did I started to see the advantages of a different system.

I feel the solution of using a sundial on a hex space to represent where the light is coming from still embodies the original idea and has it's benefits. One is that for InGaDeMo prototype purposes I knew I was never going to get color change pieces and an actual light source into play. Using the sundial is easy to understand and easy to prototype. The other major advantage is that I no longer have to use dominoes to create walls for shade. I'm still using the concept of building walls but now I can use pieces that sit pretty flat on the board (currently using match sticks) which makes it much easier to move your piece around. This eliminated the problem of having walls getting knocked over and falling down like, well, dominoes! The sundial also simplifies the light mechanics in general. Now there is no question of whether or not you're in shadow. If the sundial is pointing to a certain side of the hex space, that's the side the light is coming from. If you are on a hex space and that doesn't have a wall built on that side you get fried.

The game is still evolving and I plan on continued testing and revisions.

Overall this has been a great experience! I feel that I met the challenge and developed a fully functional prototype in 6 weeks. Is there still more to be done? Of course. I have a pretty long list of things I'd like to test and try but the core is there.

Thank you IndieCade for presenting me with this challenge! I hope I get to see some of my fellow designers at IndieCade East!

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Blog entry
gameprof
04/03/2016 - 8:54pm
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On Thursday, I playtested the fourth version of my InGaDeMo game, StarQuest. I've been through a number of revisions on the game, and this is the first one that's starting to feel right.

StarQuest is a dice game where players work collaboratively to survive a series of challenges in space. Players start with 5 each of Life, Fuel, and Money tokens, and they must collect enough tokens as a group to make it through a series of four Checkpoints.

I tested this version twice: The first time, it was of middle difficulty with a lot of Challenges sticking around for multiple rounds, and the second time, the players had a number of very lucky rolls and were able to breeze through the game too easily.

The first image shows some of the cards involved, while the second one shows the game in the middle of a round.

Checkpoint Cards:
At the bottom of the image are the four Checkpoint cards. We decided in the playthrough to ignore both the draw text and the bottom text of each challenge and instead just use the middle line (e.g., 5 Life, 5 Fuel, & 5 Money). Each Checkpoint requires players to spend a certain number each resource to get through, and if the players cannot, then they lose the game. Before each Checkpoint, players encounter six sectors (see the second image). When the ship enters a sector, the sector card is revealed, and this causes the players to draw a number of Challenge and Opportunity cards (in the second image, the newly-revealed Frontier Sector has caused the players to draw 2 Challenges and 1 Opportunity in addition to the 1 Challenge they had remaining from the last round).

Challenge and Opportunity (ChOp) Cards:
Both Challenge and Opportunity cards require a specific die roll to succeed (Roll Required), and both have a reward that players gain upon success (On Success). However Challenge cards also have an On Failure penalty that is applied at the end of the round for any Challenge that has not been defeated.

Sector Cards:
Sector cards randomize the number of Challenge and Opportunity cards that are revealed, and they also sometimes apply conditions to all Challenges and Opportunities attempted that round (e.g., Re-roll All 1s, Extra Re-roll, No Re-roll, etc.). The Core Sector cards are generally easier (with a total of 2-3 Challenge and Opportunity cards per round), whereas Frontier Sector cards have 3-4 ChOp cards drawn per round. For the final round of the second playtest, we drew both a Core and Frontier Sector card each round, but the players already had such a huge lead that it didn't challenge them much.

Order of Play for 1 Round:

  1. All players roll all of their dice (they usually have 5 or 6 dice). The values 1-5 are treated normally, while a 6 on a die is considered wild (i.e., it can be used in place of any other number).
  2. One player reveals the Sector Card for that round and draws the required number of ChOp cards.
  3. Each player chooses which ChOp card she wants to attempt this round and places her marker on that ChOp card. Multiple players can attempt the same single ChOp card. For Opportunities, if multiple players succeed, they each earn the On Success reward. For Challenges, only one reward is ever given, regardless of how many players succeeded.
  4. Each player chooses which of her dice she would like to re-roll (similar to Yahtzee) and does so. Players in a standard round can only re-roll dice once.
  5. If the player succeeds a Challenge, the ship gains the resources listed, and the Challenge is discarded.
  6. For each player who succeeds an Opportunity, the ship gains the resources listed, and the Opportunity is discarded.
  7. Any other Opportunities are discarded (Opportunities never last more than one round).
  8. If there are any Challenges remaining, the On Failure action on each one is taken (this is almost always the loss of a specific resource). If players do not have enough of the required resource, they can spend 3 of any other resource to take the place of the required one. Challenges stick around until they are completed, so a very difficult Challenge (like the First Contact: roll of 5 of a kind with a value of 4 or higher shown in the second image) can stick around for several rounds.
  9. If the next Sector card is a Checkpoint, the ship must spend the required Life, Fuel, and Money resources to continue, or the players collectively lose the game.

What I learned:

  • This version with the Yahtzee-style required rolls and re-rolls was more lively and seemed more enjoyable. However, most players thought that the current balance was too easy (which makes sense because I made the cards for this version VERY quickly).
  • I definitely need to come up with some iconography for each type of roll (e.g., 5 Same [4+] or [X][X][X][X][X] 4+ or something). The tiny text I have right now, is very hard to read.
  • Most players wanted to have roles (e.g., Captain, Doctor, etc.) and to have the roles matter. This is something that I had done in the previous versions, but it ended up being too complicated. However, I think there are a few ways that I could make it work here by both giving each role something specific that they can do (e.g., if there were an extra die, the Captain could assign it to a certain person each round, the Doctor could allow one person a second re-roll each round, etc.).
  • In both games, I started the players with 5 dice and then upgraded them to 6 after the first Checkpoint. In future games, I think that I'll either give the players six dice the whole time and make the challenges more difficult.
  • In both games, players wanted something more climactic at each Checkpoint or perhaps a boss battle of some sort at the end of the game. Having less specific needs for each Checkpoint might lead to more tension when approaching them.
  • I'd also like to add some more interesting Opportunity rewards. Examples include: One-use die sides (e.g., a card that could act as a [ 4 ] for one turn and then be discarded), the ability to discard any Challenge, a card that could be discarded for an additional re-roll. With opportunity rewards like these, I might be able to only give players 5 dice each and then expect them to use accrued opportunities to help them succeed.

Mostly, I think that I need to do some more playtesting. I'm going to try to have another version ready for this Thursday's game night. By that time, I'd like to have the iconography for Required Rolls worked out as well as some more interesting ChOp rewards and simple player roles.

I'd love to hear any comments you have. And, if you're interested in how I made my cards, check out nanDECK ( http://www.nand.it/nandeck/ ).

Thanks,
– Jeremy "GameProf" Bond

Comments: 0
Blog entry
cow and duck studios
04/02/2016 - 10:11pm
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Our second playtest was slightly more organized than the first: after trying out a different game (also in progress), we had four playtesters to try out Pitch Fight! Here are our notes of questions and comments from the playtesters:

- If you don't think you can win a pitch, can you vote for the other person and get a point for voting?
We thought this was an interesting question. We decided against it for the time. We didn't want to have anyone feel like they have no chance of winning.

- (Observation) After a pitch, even the first pitch of the two, the playtesters added comments about the pitch, unintentionally solidifying the pitch. For instance, one time the topic was "TV show", and the first pitch was "Sitcom. Laugh track. No actors.", and all the playtesters instantly began talking about it and how it would play out, which made the initial pitch much funnier than it would have been if the pitcher had just pitched and no one said anything. It was almost like the voters were making up the defense round for the pitch before the defense round even happened.
This is something that did not bother our playtesters. However, it did seem that the more that a pitch was talked about, the more likely it would get the vote. This may be something that would require further testing, with more careful observations (currently we have only final score counts, we did not write down who got what vote.

- What if you flub your pitch?
We had one playtester who decided, mid-pitch, that he messed up his wording. We gave him a second shot, but he brought up the valid question. We may leave this up to the discretion of the players, instead of a hard and fast rule. Second chances are up to you!

- (Alternative Game Mode) Pitch Elimination! Players all pitch in a round robin style and one player is eliminated every round until one pitch remains!
We haven't tested this, but we want to! Which leads to another idea...

- (Alternative Game Mode) Pitch King! Two players pitch against each other. The winning pitcher moves on to pitching against the next player. The goal of the game mode is to win five pitches in a row and become the Pitch King!

- What if. You had ties. Instead of colored index cards.
We got stuck on this idea, and now we really want to include it. Thanks to our playtesters for pitching this to us!
One of the problems with our index card prototype was that the pitchers often forgot what color they were, and everyone had to check who they were voting for before each vote. We want to include, in the future, clip-on ties of different colors/patterns so that people can instantly see what color/pattern to vote for!

Also for the future, we want to test out the idea of having fake bills instead of points. One of our initial brainstorming ideas for Pitch Fight included investing money and each player having capital. However, it would have created an entirely different economy and we did not include it. But we think adding fake bills would add the feeling of investing in a pitch and getting returns from it, so we are working on including what we call Pitch Bucks!

We also want to test out Pitch Elimination and Pitch King and see how they play out!

Several of our playtesters in the second playtest expressed interest in creating a Pitch Fight app. We thought this would be a nice complement to a physical version of the game! As there are still things we would like to test, we are putting the app idea on the back burner, but it definitely has some merit - this could be potential to reach those who enjoy smartphone party games but not necessarily games with physical components.

We've made a rule book Google Doc for the meantime! Feel free to leave comments here (EDIT: now with actual rules!): https://docs.google.com/document/d/1QTB9lauixk8jPUpJKAeUBIuRWQpT7yknLxam...

We hope we can participate in InGaDeMo again next year, whenever it takes place! It took place at a tumultuous period for both of us, so we didn't get as much playtesting in as we'd like. However, we're grateful for the opportunity to work on a game this year, and good luck to everyone on working on your games!

If you want to reach out to us, please leave a comment in the rulebook!

Comments: 2
Blog entry
Brian and Brain
04/02/2016 - 12:45pm

This is a big weekend for us all! I'm working to make some final changes to my prototype before the end of the challenge. The 2 big things I'm working on are changing the game board to reflect the new light source mechanics and getting a final version of the rules done.

Good luck to everyone! We can do it!

Comments: 1
Blog entry
resident7
04/01/2016 - 5:23pm

In the future, I plan on doing all of the artwork for the gameboard, box art, and every one of the cards. There will be about 200+ cards in total meaning 200+ different artworks for each card.

I'm excited to do that and hope I will be able to in the future.

Comments: 0
Blog entry
resident7
04/01/2016 - 5:21pm

Sorry I've been working hard by myself to make the game. So far I was able to playtest twice and get a lot of feedback.
I made the rules a while ago and was able to change certain rules and make it people friendly.

I also changed the rules to make it simpler for people to follow (So, they shouldn't have to worry about memorizing everything)
I also made a prototype board which is still going through development.

I've included the Google doc's link where people should be able to view the game (not comment)

Hopefully after a lot of playtests I will be able to focus on the game's appearance

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1glrKgTfdW8agBnTcDfFYLeI5YhFA0ex-MKyL...

Comments: 1
Blog entry
TinkerMill
03/30/2016 - 6:23pm

It's been quite some time since we've updated our progress on 2349: Space Prospectors. We haven't been standing still on the game, however. We have made great strides in terms of solidifying mechanics and making sure that the player turn time is just about prefect. Our rule book is coming along nicely and it's almost comprehensive enough for general use. The main thing left on our list is to make a decent print and play option and create the more polished artwork for the various asteroid tokens and finalizing the wormhole cards.

To that end, we've play-tested a few variants of the wormhole cards. Wormhole cards in our game are the way we control the length of the game. In the first version of the game, we had an issue with the game dragging on too long. We added wormhole cards to the game in order to control the length of the end game. After a few play-tests, we found that introducing the wormhole cards when the last asteroid is revealed still had issues with controlling the length of the game. If no player revealed the last asteroid, the end game would not be triggered, opening the opportunity for a game-in-perpetuity. Needless to say, this was not ideal.

With this knowledge in hand, we introduced the wormhole cards at the beginning of the game. Our first attempt at introducing wormhole cards at the beginning ended up being too short for a satisfying game. We were onto something, though. We added a few more turns per player and ran through a few more tests. It felt as though the game dragged on again. We discussed options for solutions: Simply removing a few cards was not an ideal solution. Some play-throughs were just heating up while others felt like they were done before the end. We had a new lever to play with, so we tried working with the wormhole cards, adding wackiness to them. After a few play-tests, the game felt more in line with what we wanted it to be. We did have some debate on whether to increase the wackiness or leave it be. We will further explore this possibility in our last meeting before the end of this jam.

As one last piece of detail, here's a picture of our player pawns. It's called the cheapo shuttle. Enjoy!

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Blog entry
Brian and Brain
03/25/2016 - 7:48am

I had a playtest last night with 3 players who had never played before and knew nothing of the game. This was a particularly productive playtest as they were all other game designers as well as researchers and professors of Psychology who study games. It was the most my game has been picked apart yest and it was awesome!

Before the game even started their were questions and suggestions about the rules and board set-up. I had thought I had done a fairly good job revising the rules for this playtest. I was only partially right, I had done a good job filling the holes in the rules from last weeks playtests but they discovered a whole new set of holes! There was also some conflicts and issues in game mechanics I that hadn't come up in past playtests. The most encouraging part is that I got a nod of approval from other designers with comments like "I think you're really onto something here" and "Overall I really like it, you just need to tweak a few things". The most difficult part is that there were parts of the game that I really liked and was holding onto that I realized I just have to let go of. I doesn't matter how much I like a certain aspect of the game, or how hard I worked on it. If the majority of people playing don't like it I've got to let it go and move on!

So here is a summary of what came up and how I'm going to fix it. (at least the things I think I can fix right now)

Fist, the board set-up: I have been placing 8 artifact tokens on the board in completely random positions based on die rolls. While this is great for replay because the board is always different it can also greatly un-balance the game by giving certain players access to more artifacts quicker than others. There are 2 fixes I'm going to try. One is to have 4 fixed artifact tokens within equal reach of each player. The remaining 4 will be completely random. The other fix I will try is breaking the board into quadrants and distributing randomly between the quadrants.

Something else that came up is to note in the rules that the players starting spot is always in shadow.

We found that depending on players style if everyone is playing defensively it can take 45 minutes before any real action starts between players. Everyone just does their own thing building up their bloodlines. The way I'll try to fix this is by changing the movement mechanics. Right now each action you take (placing a bloodline, moving your vampire, or building a wall) = one action point or 1 point off the roll. I can speed up movement by having placing a bloodline token and moving your vampire to it is only 1 action point. This should cut down the time it takes to meet other players and speed up the beginning of the game.

The big thing that I have to let go of is the light source. Sometime down the road I may be able to implement it closer to my original idea but for now a simpler mechanic has to be used. What I'll try next is having each side of the hex squares coincide with positions of a sundial. Instead of a physical light source moving something that represents a sundial will be moved into different positions on a hex block. This will represent the side of every hex block on the board that the light is coming from. If you don't have walls built on that side of the hex space you're on you will get burnt.

There's much more that came up that I'll have to decide what to do with but these are changes I know I'll put into play for the next go around.

Comments: 0
Blog entry
cow and duck studios
03/24/2016 - 8:36pm
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Hello InGaDeMo! Our names are Katie Khau and Jessica Chu! We've made a game called Pitch Fight! Pitch Fight is a party game for 5 or more players, where you pitch the next big thing relating to topic cards. Players take turns pitching ideas against each other, two at a time, and the other players vote on which idea comes out on top! But you only get three points to make your case! After the initial pitch, there is a defense round, where you get three more points to explain why your idea is the best. The pitcher that wins the vote gets two tally marks, and every other player that votes for the winning pitcher gets one tally mark. Everyone pitches twice, and the person with the most tally marks at the end wins!

Pitching is done in a specific way - you must first put your hands together, then hold your fingers to your face. Then, with each point, you tilt your fingers forward. (See picture examples!) This is a proven* way to pitch successful business ideas - now all you need to do is make your case!

While pitching, no point may be repeated. For example, if the topic is "Food", and Player 1's pitch is "Artisanal. 100% gluten. Avocados.", Player 2 cannot use "artisanal" or "avocados" in their pitch. In the defense round, neither Player 1 nor Player 2 may use those points.

---

During the wind down after a convention trip, in an airport, our friend suggested a board game design challenge: design a game that could be played in lines at conventions, with minimal components. While brainstorming in a different session, we brought this challenge up, which lead to a side tangent about pitching the next big thing, and we made some rules up and called it a game!

---

Our first playtest was done on the fly! We wrote out some topic cards (see picture of cards!) and tested with our friends and their roommates who happened to be there. We used the above rules. To vote, we gave everyone red and blue index cards, and the pitcher on the left would be red, and the pitcher on the right would be blue, and everyone would hold up the appropriate index cards to vote. We kept score using a pen and notebook.

All of our players seemed to enjoy the game! We went for a second round. Here's some questions that came up:

- What happens if there are an even number of players and there is a tie in votes?
We decided in the middle of the playtest that no tally marks would be awarded in the case of a tie, and additional defense rounds would be added until the tie was broken. We only went to a second defense round, but we will still consider further testing on this edge case.

- What happens if someone takes too long to think of a point?
At the present time, we have no time limit. We considered having a small hourglass, which someone would turn over should a pitcher take too long, but we think it would go against the (self-imposed) challenge of having minimal components. This is definitely something we want to address in later playtests, as the playtest was held rather late at night, and while everyone was having fun, it was clear that not everyone was at peak creative potential. We want to make sure that no player becomes too impatient and frustrated with another.

- What if you laugh in the middle of your pitch?
It happens a lot! Our players suggested that, should you laugh during your pitch, you get no further points. We thought this would be funny, but maybe a tad harsh, so we may just allow laughter.

---

*by Real Science**

**not real science

Comments: 2