Friday, May 4, 2018

Alpha Feedback, And A Shift In Focus

Just wanted to give a quick update on what's been going on with the project, while I work on filling out some of our fluff for presentation in the next Pre-Alpha release.

Alpha Feedback

A little more than a month ago, I sent out links to our first Pre-Alpha PDF to half a dozen interested 40K players at my local store. As well as a dozen other local and on-the-net people for comments. I also handed out a few printed books to people I met.

Most of those people have read at least part of the book, and a couple of guys have even played some games, but I'm now getting requests for demos, which I'll be doing both Saturday and Sunday (May 5th & 6th) over at Family Time Games in Indianapolis.

Now... I'd deliberately pulled out all the fluff from this first Pre-Alpha, so that I would just get feedback on the rules themselves (instead of fluff arguments). For those who have fully read and/or played the rules, that feedback has been pretty positive. Some are concerned that the rules are 105 pages (really 50 or less pages if they were formatted for a normal printed book, maybe 30 without the pictures), so I have to assure them that the game plays quickly. About an hour and a half if you're new, and an hour or less if you're practiced at it.

But the majority of my responses have been that they didn't get too far into the book, and the #1 reason for that, by far, was that there was no fluff to read. Without a story to hook them, the rules didn't mean a whole lot. Some are even put off by the non-futuristic imagery.

All of which we sort of knew already. But I personally wasn't expecting it to be this big a barrier to recruiting initial alpha-testers.


I'm Re-Focusing To Fluff-Writing

I've made a few simplification edits to the rules for the next Pre-Alpha release. Spotting Gone To Ground units is no longer a thing, and being able to target one enemy unit behind another is based on relative base sizes (larger bases can't hide behind smaller ones).

But at this point the rules, as a whole, are pretty workable from a testing standpoint. Special rules are needed here and there, and the missions section needs filling out. But at this point in the wider testing stage, we need more people reading the rules and playing games. So that means polishing our fluff and getting a large chunk of storytelling out and into our next Pre-Alpha.

It will also mean getting some real artwork commissioned to replace all those pasty-faced Russian stock images (because the Republic is mostly shades of brown), but that will have to come later. If anyone knows of a place where I can get stock images of South American or Indian military soldiers and equipment, please do let me know.

Other Goings-On

I heard about it too late to get a ticket, but there's a decent-sized tabletop game development convention here in town this weekend, called "Protospiel". Where game developers play each others' games and give feedback. This is it's first year, and based on their tickets having sold out, I expect that they'll do another in 2019.

I also met a fellow named John Graham this past Wednesday, who's looking to start a similar sort of event. With the goal of getting designers, artists, and other game-related experts talking to each other more. Indy is a city that's heavily into tabletop gaming of all sorts, and there's lots of talent here, but we don't all tend to network as well as we should.

So that's something else I'm going to focus on. I used to know a lot of people through my teaching at a local art college, and my work at IUPUI. But that was several years ago, and I need to re-connect with local gaming/interactive professionals.


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