The Return of the Broadcast: State of the Mutant and a note on Development and Testing.
Broadcasts are Back Up
After a month of trooping you get to your Mission Objective, a proud summit on Mount Kickstarter, then the Mighty Fortress goes silent. You wait for news but nothing comes. The area is well stocked and free from mutants, but you start to wonder what is happening at the Fortress…
Well, wait no more! The broadcasts are back baby, and we have a series of them lined up for you. So why the radio silence? Several reasons. The first and most pertinent being we’ve been working at break-neck pace on all aspects of game development: new art, graphic design improvements, finalizing initial arrangements with the factory and most of all: development and testing of every aspect of the game. Gordon was in the US giving game design talks, testing the game in different cities and attending Dice Tower Con. On the road he met and tested the game with several groups of lovely backers.
Another major reason why we didn’t update sooner is that all this testing and development has resulted in tweaks and refinements of the game that we’re super excited about, but cannot announce until we are sure they will make it to the final version of the game. These need to be tested, sometimes in several waves before we can be sure that they are step forward instead of a sideways move that solves some issues and creates others. We will be featuring these tweaks and changes in future updates. State of the Mutant Here’s a break-down of the status of the Posthuman Saga base game, it’s variants and the Resistance Expansion.
The mechanics for the base game are now pretty much wrapped up and finished off with a nice bow. These have been tested by our existing groups, locally and abroad, over the last 8 months. We are keeping 3 of these groups that are undeterred by fatigue along with our internal groups. Fresh groups have been recruited along with a few new test-leads joining the Fortress. 7 new test leads have just been shipped shiny (and rather pricey) hand-made prototypes just today. The 10 groups we have for the new waves will run tests throughout the rest of August, September and part of October; at which point we’ll be starting blind tests with fresh testers (but the same test-leads).
Blind tests are basically sessions where a test-lead will give the box to a group of players that have never tried it and observe their processing of the rulebook, understanding of the rules and graphic design as well as the overall feedback for a first time group with the game. In the meantime test groups that are familiar with the game continue giving feedback on more detailed elements of the game as well as the Resistance expansion, Team Versus Variant, and add-ons/mini-expansions.
For Posthuman Saga we also decided to employ an external rulebook editor who specializes in just that. We have our own rule-book writer and editor, but wanted to get an external eye on it to make sure it is as solid as can be.
The emphasis for the internal team and developers going forward is now primarily balancing encounters, stories and especially characters. Overall we could not be happier with where the game is. Every aspect of the game system fits tightly together and every game is both varied and challenging.
The Solo Game
The mechanics for the solo game are now settled. They have been tested internally so far and will be rolled out to the test-leads for extensive external testing. There are various multiple levels of difficulty that need to be tested with each and every character in the game, but this is the least of our worries as getting people who love the system to play the game on their own without needing to convene a group is not exactly challenging. The next update will feature the rules of the solo along with the new assets we have made for it. Why did it need so much time to be ready? Well, while the solo game uses the same base rules of the game (with some changes) the overall structure and goal is different. More on that next update, which will come out next week.
The Resistance Expansion
We love this one. It’s probably because we’ve played the base game so many times, but the added challenge the Resistance expansion offers in terms of complexity of decisions made on a turn by turn basis makes it just our cup of tea, given our penchant for head-crunchy games with strong theme and story. It is definitely not something you want to play until you know the base game fairly well, but it happily adds that extra level of complexity and challenge that we feel good expansions should offer.
There were some minor tweaks we needed to do to this variant, but to be honest this mode just worked well from the first test. It’s not altogether surprising since it only modifies a few aspects of the base game, and is dependent on the latter being solid. We will be testing this more extensively with our international test groups from late September.
A Note on Testing and Development
Why are we emphasizing testing and development so much in this update? Mighty Boards has a strong emphasis on testing and development. We feel that there is an increasing negative commentary from a number of press sites, podcasts and certain publishers about the quality of Kickstarter games, mainly centering around the lack of development and testing. While this is fair in some cases, this sort of ham-fisted critique is not exactly fair to Kickstarter studios that DO a ton of testing and solid development of their games.
Every game of ours employs a developer to work with the designer from inception to the Kickstarter. For more complex and sprawling games we then bring on a new developer to get fresh eyes on the game. At times we even bring on a third developer towards the end to focus on a narrow aspect of the game. In terms of testing, we similarly take this process very seriously. Different games require different ways of testing them and different processes thereof, but ALL games need a fair bit of testing and we firmly believe that testing needs to be done both internally (within the team and friends of the team) and externally locally (with players the team doesn’t know directly but observes) as well as externally in other countries and cities around the world. As we progress from project to project we are obviously adjusting and refining our testing process.
It is also worth noting that the majority of us have both academic and professional backgrounds in various aspects of game research and testing, meaning that while we are only on our fifth project within board games we have been working in related areas (mostly video games) specifically in user research, player experience research and design.
That’s it for now! We will be releasing more frequent updates from here on out. A number of tweaks to the game have been made that are confirmed. We’ll be updating you about these as we go along. Other tweaks will have to wait till they get stress-tested enough.
Next Update: The Solo Game in detail!