My games design efforts tend to occur in waves. The game pootles on for a while and then I make some sweeping changes and then we're back to pootling again. It's usually (though not always!) the case that the sweeping changes improve things, but at the same time if they are sweeping, then they tend to break a few things at the same time as improving the overall game. So I tend to go through a cycle where I make a sweeping change and then have to spend a few weeks fixing up the various things I've broken as a result of the changes. Then the game settles down, the broken things are fixed one after another and it pootles along until it's time to make the next set of sweeping changes - and then the fixing of brokeness.
Over the last couple of months Zombology has been through this cycle a few times. I made some huge changes back in February and then spent the next couple of weeks fixing it up. The March version simplified things a bit and then needed fixing up again and finally last week I came up with the April version.
I got a chance to play the April version at Games Night on Thursday (we couldn't get a quorum together for lunchtime playtesting as loads of people were off work last week) and it kinda worked. Which was unexpected. I was expecting the usual "well that's better, but also hideously broken", but instead it seemed to go ok. Admittedly that's from a sample size of one, so I'll need to play it a few more times to get a better handle on how it really plays, but it was encouraging. One of my concerns about the March version was that the game was too easy. It's supposed to be semi co-op, either one player wins, or everyone is eaten by zombies and loses. But there are six ways of winning and in most games two to four of them happened, so it looked like everyone losing was going to be incredibly unlikely. In my head I want the everyone loses outcome to happen about 30% of the time, not 0%!
Thursday's game had only one of the six win conditions come out and it felt a lot more close to the bone, so I liked that about it.
As I mentioned a minute ago, I'll need to test it a bunch more times, but at the moment I'm getting a good feeling about this version. The next stage, once I've confirmed that it's not broken and is working as I intend, is to get some blind playtesters on board to try it out and give me some feedback on:
- The clarity and completeness of the rules
- Whether or not the game is fun
- Whether or not the game is worth pursuing
- Critical feedback on what works and what doesn't
- Plus a boat load more data on the outcomes of the game from a much bigger sample
I reckon I'm a couple of weeks from sending out blind playtesting copies, so what I need now are some blind playtesters lined up and ready to go. I'm looking for people who can commit to playing the game a bunch of times and providing me with written feedback on the rules and the game and the results of their plays (e.g. score cards and win/loss ratios). For those of you that have come here from Google+ and BGG, the game is a 15 minute filler about fighting the zombie apocalypse using science not shotguns. It's for 3-8 players. If you're interested in taking part, please comment on this post stating:
- Where you heard about Zombology (if you've only just heard about it, that's preferable)
- Any playtesting experience you've got
- What groups you can try it out with (numbers, make-up)
- Whether you're happy to print and play (preferable) or you'd like a physical copy sent out to you
People who provide high quality feedback/comments/data will be listed in the rules as playtesters in the event that the game ever gets published.