Friday, September 18, 2015

Gen Con: "What is This? A Playtest for Ants?"

When they say that GenCon is "the best 4 days in gaming," they aren't joking. It was simply amazing. All of the play test slots went fantastic. Seriously, it was better than we could've ever hoped and thank you so much to everyone who participated or showed interest in Daikaiju Director. I want to especially thank Double Exposure Inc for running the First Exposure Playtest Hall so smoothly. We learned a lot and had a blast. Over 50 games were played over two days by 32 people, and we got a huge amount of feedback.

So what exactly did we learn?

Where's the Ants?

Due to a quirk with the typography of the play test slips, some people thought the were signing up for an strategy board game based on "Ant Monster Movies." With Ant Man in theaters this undoubtedly helped to a attract a few more playtesters and it inspired me to create another monster to be included in the game's release. But more on that later...

Players were very excited to play the 4 different monsters, but they wanted more. Whether they were taken straight from the Godzilla franchise or unique new monsters 1/4th of the playtesters explicitly asked for more Daikaiju in the questionnaires I handed out at the end of the play test slots. This is great because Space Hunter X, Eelian, Fenrir, and Vulcanus are just the tip of the iceberg. I really want Daikaiju Director to grow, and I've got 8 more monsters to playtest.

A Lot of People are Interested in a Kickstarter

A lot of people were interested in investing in a Kickstarter, which is fantastic. It was great to see so much support from complete strangers. Originally I was planning on starting a Kickstarter around tax return season 2016, but I don't think that's feasible anymore. I'm getting married next summer and I frankly don't think I'll have the time to get Daikaiju Director into investors' hands and on store shelves is a reasonable time-frame. I've got to push any Kickstarter or crowdfunding effort back to 2017, but don't be alarmed. This just means I'll have a bigger, more refined game when the time comes to actually produce it.

The Look

Comments on the look of Daikaiju Director varied greatly. It is going to change substantially as we get closer to the finished product. It's going to look sharper and a lot more professional. Specialized art for every twist card as well as monster art for every daikaiju is going to be commissioned. The prototype we had at GenCon was just a taste of what the finished product will be.

Game Length and Complexity

From all of the data we gathered, I believe the game length is pretty much perfect. People who had a lot of fun thought the length of games was either too short or great. People who didn't have as much fun playing thought it was a tad too long. Time flies when you're having fun. I'll include rule for modifying game length in the final release, but I think 10 scenes is pretty close to perfect. The complexity appears to be at a happy medium of not too simple and not too difficult. Those that had more fun with the game found it more simple than those that had less fun.

Randomization of the Set

More than a few people asked if the board could be rearranged or randomized. With the prototype this wasn't possible, and honestly I'm not sure randomization will be possible with the final version. I do want multiple map configurations, both to accommodate various numbers of players and to provide a multitude of scenarios. Balanced gameplay is paramount in any game, and set configuration is one area of Daikaiju Director that needs to be carefully redone. I'm working on it, and the base game is shaping up to have around 6 or so configurations, possibly more.

Wording Clarifications and Balance Tweaks

Of course, the main purpose of this play test was to uncover any wording or balance issues, and there were about as many as I expected.  Eelian's attack needs to be raised and Fenrir's defense needs to go up as well. Earthquake's range needs to be reduced one space and the wording on Vulcanus' water weakness needs to be completely redone.

Overall, most people thought Eelian was weak and under-powered compared to the other monsters, despite winning the most games. Fenrir was also viewed as under-powered in games where he died early, but overpowered in games where he stuck around until the end. This is probably caused by playtester playstyles conflicting with the Daikaiju's playstyle, but I am making some adjustments to try and make them more consistently balanced. Vulcanus was the second most frequently suggested weakest monster, which surprised me since in previous playtests he was consistently singled out as the most powerful by a large margin. I must have overcompensated in the most recent revision.

That's all for this update. I'm going to continue to tweak and test Daikaiju Director as well as implement a lot of the feedback I got at GenCon. Thanks again to everybody who came out and played!

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