First off, I wish to offer congratulations to Dave, New World Alchemy, and VectoriaDesigns for a very successful Kickstarter. Addictive Alchemy is a fine game, one that I was happy to help playtest and promote. I look forward to receiving my own copy of the game.
So what’s been going on with my game design in since February? For the most part, playtesting has been the thing. Rather than just dive into playtest feedback here, I thought I’d touch on the process for this playtest.
Playtest Background and Perspectives
This time around, I felt that the core game was complete enough to put it through its paces on a grander scale. To that end, I wrote a four-adventure mini-campaign titled, “Deep in the Red.” The different adventures hit on a variety of aspects of the game. There was research, breaking and entering, espionage, murder, tailing baddies, being tailed by baddies, more murder, and even a foray into horror with a board member who wasn’t quite what he seemed. The players created their own characters and advanced them through the run of the campaign.
I sent this mini-campaign out to three different playtest groups. The GMs ran their groups through all four adventures and compiled feedback, both from themselves and their players, to send to me.
Additionally, I ran my own group through the mini-campaign.
Finally, I sent the game (sans adventures) to a handful of people to do a read & critique. Some of these people are players, some are GM-types, and a couple are freelance game designers.
I approached this round of playtest in this way in order to garner feedback from a variety of types of people – players, GMs, and designers. As the feedback came in, I saw the differences in each playtester’s “role” in their comments. In fact, I’m fairly confident that even if I hadn’t known what feedback was coming from what person, I’d have been able to determine whether a feedback list was from a player, GM, or designer.
The players tended to focus on the fun factor of the game, specific character creation bits, and a handful of their favorite (or least favorite) rules. They rarely disassembled the game system; instead, they pointed out a few notes on what they liked most and least.
The GMs tended to get more into the rules and the overall stories that were told in more specific terms. They offered more examples than the players generally did.
The designers were the easiest to identify in their feedback. They broke down the mechanics, talked about “passing the eyeball test,” and pointed out flavor/world items that are missing from the current version of the game (mostly rules) but that “absolutely need to be in the final book.” In short, they looked at the game as a product.
All of this is useful. In fact, I feel that getting feedback from people coming at the game from different perspectives is a must. As a designer who GMs the game (and hasn’t had the chance to play it yet), these differing perspectives are incredibly valuable.