Battle of the boards

3 12 2007

I’ve been plugging away at Retrospective, and the introduction and game prep sections are now on a page! Just click the “Retrospective” tab at the top of my blog. Now I just need to tackle the “How to Play” section..

So, I’ve been getting poked a lot about It’s Complicated lately, which has really been forcing my hand with the editing and the revising and stuff. I still haven’t finished altering the rules, but the changes are simple enough; the main reason I have not updated the page or PDF is because I can’t do that until I have a new character sheet for the diagrams!

Here are the two contestants:

sheet_small.jpgSo this was the original thought I had. Yes, you can move between all four lines, but you can only hit a line adjacent to yours; that means that the middle two lines have more play options than the outlying lines. This creates a ton more space, but also could make things more difficult for purposes of connection. It would definitely slow down the “mess” factor which tends to happen toward the end of a round, where you can’t make a move without having to declare a relationship with everyone else playing.

sheet2_small.jpgThis second sheet was based on a bunch of “OMG” feedback I got from the first one. JR Dowda spent a not-insignificant amount of time scribbling out alternate layouts, since his reaction to new sheet #1 was so strong. (It’s nice to have people that invested in this project, even if it’s demonstrated by HATRED OF SIGNIFICANT GAME CHANGES!) This one offers less choices, but is still a freer experience than the original board. I’m not certain it solves the “mess” problem, though, so much as it delays the mess until later. Which might be just the thing I’m looking for, actually.

I’ve got some people who want to run one game with both boards and see how it goes; hopefully we’ll be able to get some extra players and try that this week. In the meantime, hypotheticals and thoughts on both are more than welcome. 🙂

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It’s Complicated: first playtest

11 11 2007

Huge thanks to Shreyas, Tom, Dave, Charlotte, and Liam for helping me take this game out for a spin. It was.. totally indescribable to have people actually following rules I wrote! And frustrating when the rules’ failings became obvious. And amazing when things worked well! Here is what I learned:

  • The R-Map Twister chart was called “genius” three separate times. Everyone loves it. I’m psyched.
  • I thought the first scene might be boring due to exposition? Try almost every scene other than the last few. The first round of Oddity and Dysfunction placement needs to happen before the first scene is ever framed; probably without any lines touching or crossing.
  • I need to emphasise the flow of “Due to [Oddity], I [Dysfunction.]” The Dysfunction is a direct, external expression of an internalized Oddity.
  • Since the game creates  the framework for character development, the main thing the players really have to bring is the action in any given scene– coming up with a strong sense of what the backdrop is for the scene points is vital, otherwise it’s people standing around expositing.
  • Apparently people like the fact that you mold a scene around the different notes you have to hit.
  • Instead of declaring the nature of every Oddity/Dysfunction/Relationship being revealed in a scene before it happens, the player should be free to reveal as much or as little as they want, for surprise reveals if desired.
  • The key to a tight scene is not having more PCs in it than you need.
  • Some of the coolest scenes are when a PC declares their side of a relationship with another PC.. And the second PC is not in the scene.
  • Giving the first player a second turn at the end creates a neat little hook that makes you look forward to the next session.

I’m sure I’m forgetting a ton– the guys gave me amazing feedback. I hope we can do it again at some point, so I can see if a non-establishing session really cooks!