First Exposure Playtest Hall (FEPH)
Goblin Toboggan play-testing was rather enlightening. A few playtesters and fans from last year came back to play again, and interestingly their preference was for the old version. Over the course of a year. which included some collaboration with a publisher, the game evolved a lot. Players found the new version more cumbersome and the feedback was clear. Even new players seemed less engaged this year than last. Some changes were tested out between sessions in FEPH and I think what we have learned is that the game needs to step back a bit. We also realize that Green Couch Games is currently kickstarting their new game "Avalanche on Yeti Mountain" and the similarity in themes has caused us to take a pause and start rethinking how we can retheme and redesign Goblin Toboggan so that it is a unique addition to the market place.
Lastly, Flipyard Shipyard made its debut at GenCon and overall it went well. The design was still very new at the time and we were pleased that the feedback was overall positive. Though most playtesters agreed with our assessment that the game is not finished, the general response was enthusiastic encouragement for us to keep pursuing the idea.
Publisher/Designer 'speed dating'
This year we pitched Faberge Chickens (Jim) and Flipyard Shipyard (Pat) at the speed dating event. As with last year we made some great, though brief, connections with publishers and received some excellent feedback. We focused on shorter pitches (about a minute) to leave the remaining 5 or so minutes for publisher questions and thoughts. This proved to be great approach and we learned a lot. Faberge Chickens was clearly the hit of the two games and we walked away with some interest. Publishers also gave some great insight about Flipyard and some of the challenges of manufacturing all the components required for the game. Despite these challenges several of the publishers felt the concept had promise.
other publisher meetings
Another highlight was playtesting Flipyard Shipyard with Seth Jaffee and Andy VanZandt from TMG. Seth and Andy are exceptional game developers and it was a huge opportunity to get their input on the game. A key piece of feedback they gave was to eliminate the worker placement element of the game, as it was not actually contributing to the experience in the ways Pat had hoped. This insight led Pat to make some changes while at GenCon and he begin testing a modified set of mechanics for the game in the FEPH. Those modifications were extremely well received by playtesters and ultimately led to the current version of the game. Although the game is not currently connected to any publishers the improvements that came from that meeting have it much closer than it was when GenCon started.
Based on GenCon feedback and upcoming publication of a different game with a similar theme Pat is exploring theme changes and mechanics revisions that will simplify the game to be more in line with the configuration used at last years GenCon. Pat has a theme in mind, and will need to reconsider the thematic elements to make the transition. For the time being this project is taking a back seat to the other two.
Jim and Pat are communicating with interested publishers and are hoping to progress soon towards a contract for publication. We will share updates when we are able.
Testing continues along with rule book edits and refinement. The most recent playtesting is very encouraging and we expect to pitch the latest version of the game very soon to publishers who expressed some initial interest at GenCon.