Thursday, June 20, 2013

HeroCraft 1.5 Playtest Breakdown

Last night we played a full six-player game of HeroCraft version 1.5. Five of us had played at least once, and there was one new player, Odom. I made a lot of playability and UI design changes for this version including editing all of the text with new symbols and a completely redesigned board. Even our little prototype dice received a visual upgrade (some nice looking icons were haphazardly taped to properly colored dice). Needless to say I did a lot of work for this update, and was really nervous about the changes. Making big shifts in the rules this late in the project is risky as I don't want to continue to prolong the development by adding features. To say the changes worked well is a happy understatement.

The most palpable change was the redesigned board. After my previous playtest session we discussed the lack of strategy intrinsic to the movement phase of the game; players more or less targeted an end destination and completely disregarded the journey there, and rightfully. This time, however, nearly every round had a moment where a player furrowed their brow momentarily as they considered which path to take and how it affected them. The forest and mountain spaces worked exactly as I hoped. I also really enjoyed the small strategic shift from allowing Cities to sell a couple Attributes, as I was able to make an informed choice midway through the game and swap one out for something more useful (I started the game with Iron Wall, an Armor-centric Attribute, and played most of it without finding a suit of Armor).

As always, there were some issues/bugs found during the playtest. Incidentally the most enjoyable aspect of the game is also the most headache-inducing when it comes to rules: the Party system. Players really like being able to band together; last night my friend Ian and I joined a group against the opposing "guild" of all four other players. Unfortunately when I created the framework for the game it incorporated players as single entities. Adding the Party system later has complicated thing immensely, and instead of applying fixes to the issues that crop up I'm going to revisit the entire system and try to find an elegant solution. I also took issue with the experience distribution, the attribute "roles" and strength of each color, and the overall lack of interesting mechanics in the monsters department. A few players disagreed with my new Boon Own rules and so I may need to revisit that as well.

I'm going to slow down on HeroCraft development for a bit as I have other short-term projects to take care of, but I should be posting more art soon!

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