Tuesday night, my friends helped me out with an enlightening playtest of my game-in-development, Bad Family (previously known as the Lucky Joneses). “Enlightening”, because this playtest helped me realise how I can tackle the process of rewriting games, much like I’ve spent the last few years figuring out how to rewrite scripts.
Coming back to it after a break of maybe a year allowed me to see where it was working and where it wasn’t. Now I’ve realised that I can use playtests to isolate areas that aren’t working. Working on just those areas gives me an achievable problem to fix, and encourages me to try out different iterations of the game. Rather than try and make it perfect all at once, I can just hone in on creating the type of fun I want.
Ralph Mazza calls the process of realising that the cherished parts of your game aren’t actually working and that you’ll have to change them, “Shooting the Sacred Cows”. I now know what he means. Bad Family is definitely working in the way it creates an unstable and funny situation - the places where it isn’t working are due to me designing the game so that it doesn’t encourage the behaviours I want.