Testing 1, 2, 3...

PenAxe

When I decided to create a game, I went about it like I do a lot of things: by myself. I've never been a stellar team player. I'm an introvert. Through the game development process, I'm learning that this hasn't been the best tactic, and doing things in a vacuum is an inefficient way of going about things. As of late, the more I get out and put my game in front of other people, the better it gets; having that feedback is really important. 

A couple of really important pieces of feedback I have gotten lately have made the game better.

1) Learning advanced mechanics

Initially I left the rule changing mechanic out so that I could focus and tune the base gameplay in order to reduce the learning curve for new people, and those who were playing this game cold. I have polished the core mechanics and rewritten the rules of the game for the umpteenth time, so now that those are solid it makes sense to integrate the namesake of the game into the main game.

I was worried that people would have trouble wrapping their head around the base game and also the fluctuating rules at the same time. Someone who tested my game pointed out, if people are going to learn the game they typically want to learn as much as possible in one period, rather than go through several stages. That resonates. The base rules aren't incredibly complex, so adding a little baseline spice will make the meal all that much tastier.

So far, people like the changing rules, and the ability to write their own. Still working about the integration of this one, but I think it's getting close. 

2) Replay. 

I ordered a few prototypes to play with, so I have a few copies of the game hanging around. I underestimated how much people would want to write on the game, and by doing so I am running out of blanks for people to write on. This seems weird, but all the times I have played Cards Against Humanity, very few times people have actually written on the blank cards. Maybe the inclusion of a marker encourages people to express themselves.

So, that is a good thing! I wanted to make the game inviting enough to write on and it seems like I have accomplished that! Here lies a problem. If people write on cards with the Sharpie marker I have included, the cards are spent after a single game unless I want to include a bottle of white out as well. Another tester that they really enjoyed the element of players adding to the game, and suggested I look into erasable markers. The next time I go into a testing session, I will be equipped:

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After an hour, some packing tape, and some scissors, I think I'm ready to try this out on the next round of testing.

3) Art

I'm not an artist. I mean, maybe I am? Games are art? Anyways...

The game art I have done myself is functional, but not super pretty. This is one area where the game needs work still. I've reached out to several artists, and haven't really gotten any response. I think I might try a couple more, but this might actually be a part of the game where I have to just go it alone and do my best. 

I've been spending a lot of time drawing out ideas and then trying to get them to work in a digital format. It's been a lot of fun goofing around and it really helps to just brainstorm and throw everything on a sheet of paper. Here are a few ideas that made it onto the computer:

The cutting room floor

I think once the game is nearly completed I'll try once again for an artist to just put a professional polish on the game. Maybe I will find one through the Kickstarter process, or make it a stretch goal or something. The game is not intended to be really art heavy due to the invitiation of the player to write all over it. It would be nice however to have something that doesn't look like some weirdo in the woods drew it =p

Card Back

Special Front       Card Front

I'm not really concerned about the game having shelf appeal, but I don't know if I should be or not. I'm really just seeing this project as a small batch, just like breweries and distilleries do small batches for fun, and to experiment with. It would be cool to have the game take off, which then it would need some professional help to get sexy. For now though, it has my folksy appeal.

-E