Monday, March 5

A Busy Week

It's been a very busy week this week. I've shipped the first two blind playtesting copies of FlickFleet, made my first batch of Zombology in ages (I've been focussing on FlickFleet for the last couple of months), had a UK Games Expo seminar accepted and then spent the weekend with Paul (my FlickFleet co-designer) doing some gaming, some playtesting and attending Beyond Monopoly, the club in York, for the first time in probably nine years. Finally, I found out that FlickFleet is not a finalist in the Cardboard Edison Award - despite really positive feedback from the judges.

The blind playtesting is a crucial step in the development of a game. You're sending a copy of the game, complete with rulebook to strangers for their feedback. They will have to learn the game from the rulebook, as if they'd bought it in a shop and then play it - rightly or wrongly based on their reading of your rulebook. You will then get feedback on the quality of the rulebook, what wasn't clear or was missing and their opinions of the game. From strangers. Who unlike the people you will have mostly been testing with, are not your friends and are less inclined to go easy on you to protect your feelings. It's an invaluable opportunity to find the weak spots in your rulebook (writing rules well is very hard, and invariably you will have missing things or made statements that can be interpreted in different ways), and to get a better idea how a random punter would experience and feel about your game - it's also a great opportunity to get a better idea of what the market reception of your game might be.
A blind playtest copy ready to go in the post

Zombology has suffered a bit over the last couple of months. I'd built up a decent stock in December, and while I intended to keep cranking out copies in January and February, sales were not fast enough to demand it (though on track!) and I spent what little time I had (The Baby has been sleeping terribly since Christmas, so I've been going to bed early and Eurydice time is between kids' bedtime and mine, a time period that has been heavily squeezed!) on FlickFleet instead. In January I was trying to get a Cardboard Edison Award submission done (more on that later) and then this month it's been upgrading my copy, getting a copy to Paul and then working on the blind playtesting copies. With a trip to Beyond Monopoly last weekend though I needed to boost my slowly diminishing stock a bit - I'd rather take far more than I need than have fewer than I could have sold. I got six boxes and three games made during the week, which meant I had 15 copies to take with me to Beyond Monopoly.

On Monday I also heard that the seminar idea I had pitched to the UK Games Expo in Birmingham in June (me hand-crafting a copy of Zombology live in front of an audience while talking about my experiences running Reiver and Eurydice Games and the many tips and tricks I've picked up over 16 years of hand-crafting games). It's going to be 1-2pm on Sunday 3rd June and spaces are limited to 50 people, so if you're interested I'd get there early!

Friday evening we braved the snow and drove down to York to see Paul and his family again. I was too tired in the evenings for our usual playtesting and gaming (baby-related sleep deprivation again!), but Paul and I made it along to Beyond Monopoly on Saturday afternoon - the big games club in York I used to attend when I lived there. While there I spent the afternoon demoing Zombology and playtesting FlickFleet and I sold two copies of Zombology :-) It was also great to catch up with some old gaming buddies. There was a lot of interest in FlickFleet too - several people signed up to my mailing list to be kept in the loop.

The week ended with the news that FlickFleet had not made the cut for the Cardboard Edison Awards finalists. From a field of 192 the judges had to pick approximately fifteen based on a video introduction, a rulebook and a brief overview. My video (done the night before submission) was spectacularly uninspiring - I sounded terribly dull and not at all excited about my game, and the rulebook was pretty poor too - it was also last minute, and had no examples and not enough diagrams. I could really have done with getting the new rulebook (finished last week) done in time for the submission at the end of January.

This week I'm hoping to make it to Newcastle Playtest on Tuesday to show off the latest FlickFleet changes and get peoples' opinions on them.


Mark said...

Hi Jackson, it was good to see you at BM on Saturday, even if I didn't get to play Zombology (but at least some of the members now have copies). Just wanted to say thanks for the blog, very interesting reading, and I hope to catch your seminar at the UKGames Expo! Cheers, Mark

Jackson Pope said...

Hiya Mark,

Yes it was good to meet you - sorry we didn't get to play together. Hopefully we'll catch up at a NewcastlePlaytest or the Expo!