Until recently, all the games of Codename: Vacuum that have ever been played were either at my house or at work. The game has never been played without me, and never outside Newcastle.
At some point, if I'm serious about getting it to market, it will have to spread its wings and fly the nest - it'll need to be played by other people, in other countries, by playtesters who have never met me and won't be biased by friendship with me when they come to give feedback.
It's been a quiet week or so, I went to Denmark with work last week (and missed Games Night) and we had our office Christmas party this week (on Games Night) so I've not played games much at home. In addition, we've a visit from my parents and I've had a couple of hospital trips this week and my main Vacuum playtester has gone to Australia for three weeks and so there hasn't been much time or opportunity for games at work either.
But despite all this, Vacuum reached an interesting milestone of sorts last week. It was played in a different country! The Denmark trip was with Mal, a friend of old who was my main Border Reivers playtester, so I took Vacuum (along with several smaller games and a few on my iPad) to while away the time we were spending travelling. Vacuum takes up a fair amount of space, so we couldn't play it on a plane, a train or in an airport waiting lounge, but we did find ourselves last Friday in a bar in Schiphol airport in Amsterdam with five hours to kill. So out came Vacuum (which Mal had only played once several months ago) and I proceeded to teach it to him again. We ended up playing a couple of games, while drinking very pleasant Belgian beers. The first game took a good hour and a half if not slightly more, the second was definitely less than half an hour!
Obviously, this isn't getting the game playtested in other countries by people unknown to me, but it felt like a milestone none the less. I've got a list of a few playtesters set up for when Vacuum is a bit more stable - but I don't want to send it out while it's still changing rapidly, because that shows that the game isn't yet good enough in my mind, so there's not much point in investing a lot of time and energy in sending out copies to other people who are also unlikely to think it's good enough.
Things are getting back on track now though, Games Night should be back on for the next couple of weeks in the run up to Christmas, and I've a three-player game of Vacuum lined up one lunchtime next week. I also need to find some time at home to concentrate on getting the layout done for the new version of Vacuum so that I've got something to test in the New Year.
I'd really like to get Vacuum stable enough by the end of March to send out playtest copies - so I've got my work cut out!