Monday, December 05, 2011

Recording my latest Left Coast playtest could be the best game-writing decision I ever made

Mike, Simon and I played Left Coast last Sunday, and I decided to record it all on my cellphone. I'd taken a crack at simplifying the rules after the Scottish playtest (conducted by Gregor, Malcolm and Per) identified that the game had a lot of over-complicated and potentially unfun or game-breaking procedures in it.

Last Sunday's game was fun, and we all pointed out even more places where simplification was needed. In Simon's words, it's got an inspired setting and a functional core, but its overly-fussy mechanics are working against the laid-back vibe I want the game to help create. So: edits! However, reviewing the audio file has revealed a whole bunch of stuff that we didn't articulate and that I'm working on now. I think this next draft of the game is going to be far cleaner and simpler, with two radical changes that I'm looking forward to testing out.

Anyway, for my own future reference, here's what I'm doing with the audio recording:


  • listen to the whole thing, logging the conversation by recording the timecode where interesting comments occur 
  • identify moments that (in hindsight) are unacknowledged examples of procedural clunkiness and clunky procedures
  • review this log and create a mind-map of the comments that seem to obviously group together (into categories like 'Simple Edits', 'Playtester Questions', 'Radical Ideas')
  • listen to the logged points that don't seem obvious, and put them on the mind-map too
  • use the recording to adjust the rules to reflect how I explain them in person
  • identify examples of play
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