Protospiel post-mortem

The title of this post might be a little misleading, but since I usually conduct a post-mortem after playtesting one of my games (what did you like? what did you dislike?  what could be improved?  what needs work?  &c.), I figured it was appropriate.

So how did Protospiel go?  Very well.

Protospiel is an amazing experience.  As a game designer, it is hands-down my favorite gaming experience of the year.  It is, in a word, awesome.

There’s something about being in a room full of other designers that really can’t be described.  The feedback is intense, sometimes brutal, specific, honest, pertinent, and very, very helpful.

Let me give an example:  Puppet Masters.  I went to Protospiel thinking that the game was working well — I figured it might need a few tweaks here and there, but I thought it was working.  My two big questions were relatively small:  first, is it too long, and second, is there enough information in the game to figure out what’s going on?  I thought it might be a little too long, but that the time was reasonable; I thought there was enough information in the game, but I wanted to make sure.

Turns out I was wrong.  The game was a disaster.  Not only was there not enough information in the game, there wasn’t even close to enough information in the game.  Everyone, including me, was basically at sea.

Fellow designers offered a number of suggestions for ways to fix the game, ranging from little tweaks to gutting the project and starting over.

I was, to say the least, a little disappointed.

More than that, though, I was confused:  how could the game work so well at home, and then work so poorly at Protospiel?

And then it hit me:  at Protospiel, I was playing with relative strangers, with people I didn’t know very well.  At home, I was playing with friends.  I was playing the people, in other words, and I wasn’t playing the game.

Playing the players is all very well and good if you’re playing poker, but it’s a little out of place when you’re playing a deduction game.  There needs to be enough information in the game itself to try to sort it all out.

So it’s back to the drawing board with Puppet Masters.  I have a few ideas as to where I want to take it, but nothing definite so far.

===

I took seven games to Protospiel (never again will I take so many):  one flopped, two received mixed feedback, two never hit the table, and two went over very well.

I now have several games being considered by publishers, and that’s a good thing.  :-)

===

I plan to update the rules for Euronimoes shortly, and I also plan to upload a couple new games to the site:  Water Balloon Wars for sure, and possibly also Tatoules (short for Table Top Boules).  I know, it’s not a great name.  It is, however, a fun game.

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