Blind leading the blind-testing
Nothing is scarier than a co-workers opinion. They’re not exactly your friends (although some may be), they’re not always experts in the subject matter at hand (although, again, some may be), and they won’t always sugar coat any feedback (again… you get the drift). Perfect testing ground for BaRPG, worse place to test my nerves at presenting the game to people who may not even be gamers.
I’m fortunate with my colleagues though. Working for a European airline, I have the pleasure of unwinding after long days in hotels with professional and always friendly co-workers. Taking BaRPG along for a night in Hanover turned out to be a great idea!
After placing the stack of cards down in front of Kim, Karen, Nynke, and Carl, I sat back, sipped my Weisz beer, and watched the group attack the beast before them. 10 minutes later, Kim as the Drmunk declared the Reception on the other side of the lobby as the ‘blessed artifact’. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an aircrew move that fast through a hotel! My personal highlight was when Carl had tried charming PintCess Karen, Kim heckled his attempt with a lavish “You think that’s gonna get you laid?” comment (for all clarity, Kim and Carl are already a couple with kids, making this remark all the funnier).
Back home, Phil and I dove back into our various ODT documents that make up the character, item, rules, and level slider cards (see Phil’s last post, “BaRPG Prototype Beta Deck is Coming Soon!“) We’re realising programming a computer must be easier than writing rules that can, and will, be intepreted by different people in different ways. The joys and eloquences of the English vernacular!
Updated deck in hand, last Monday we hit the streets of Amsterdam again. We’ve gotten better at cruising the various bars and pubs for what looks like a receptive group to (blind-) play test for us. It actually feels a little creepy on our side at first! Fortunately in the Bier Fabriek we ran into Anne, Bassey, Chris and Job, who we’re super friendly and willing to give our game a go in exchange for a round of beers.
So once again, Phil and I sat back, notepad in hand, and let the four of them bend over the pack of strange excitement before them. It took about 5 minutes before they began rolling the dice. Interestingly, new errors in interpretation emerged from the rules card, but Phil and I could see immediately how to fix those; we’re getting good at this! What was interesting was this time the game flow wasn’t actually hampered at all anymore. It was like they had their own little variation on how to play the game and it wasn’t disrupting the flow (for those in the know, they we’re actually using the original two step roll that used to be part of the first version of the game! Fancy that!)
Before long, and after Bassey’s attempt at convincing her other three Dutch friends that she couldn’t be a witch because she was English, the game saw it’s first item card being played. Cue the usual mayhem; BrewId Chris made his initial ‘drunken ritual’ move drinking a beer, Bassey got away with mumbling ‘Dutch’ as part of the Ginstrel’s song, and Anne suggested random bar vandalism as a method to siege a castle.
From the outside looking in, Phil and I might as well have been wearing lab coats and standing behind a two-way mirror holding clipboards. The group really got stuck in, and it was a joy to see them really enjoy the game!
45 minutes into the game our good friend Thijs came to join us, and with the groups help, the three of us joined in to continue play at the maximum number of players (7). The game took it beautifully. Flow was still natural, character swaps we’re frequent enough, and the increased number of group activities since our last update with that many players kept everyone involved. It was another success!
Back to the drawing board, the rules card is getting a slight make-over. Nothing too dramatic, just something to make the flow between the stages and their integration clearer (read, Johno’s gonna delete a whole lotta boxes!)
One more play through should nail this one. I’m taking the game with me on a long night stop in Cardiff this week again with colleagues. With the new rules card, our trusty notepad, and an eagerness to finally see this game born into the world, we can’t wait to see how it plays!
Keep Questing you Fine Drunks,