The Journey Continues: The Second Playtest.

Friday, 04-04-2014

Yes, indeed again: by now we have done our second playtest of OneiroPhobia!
After making sure that everything was ready – having finalized and printed out the updated Combat Cards, the newly implemented Item Cards, the re-balanced Class Cards, as well as a having fully prepared our fancy looking table with the Initiative Coin, paper, pens, and an elaborate map of the invironment that will be used during roleplay; so that both Game Master and players can see the world around them. The one thing that we did not use this time, was the dice; for I have updated the combat system to rely even less on chance and more on the tactical use of abilities.

After Sybren and Sem had arrived and we had all settled around the table, Rudolf did a short recap of our previous playtest and the events that happened there to refresh everyone’s memory, followed by me explaining the new implementations and changes I had made to the game-mechanics on account of the feedback from the previous session. Both Sybren and Sem seemed immediately interested in the contents of the world-map that we had layed out before them, but Rudolf urged them to save any feedback for until after the playtest was finished.

And so, our journey continued…

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For this playtest, the main focus was to put more emphasis on the social aspect, and Rudolf – once again taking on the role of Game Master – made sure that the story progressed a bit more slowly this time around, instead focusing more on exploration and interaction with the invironment in an attempt to provoke more extensive social interaction between the players.
During this second adventure in the world of OneiroPhobia, we ventured deeper into the woords that we had only just entered during the previous session, where we were followed – or, as later became apparent, lured – by an illusive figure as we traveled across several mysterious, ancient sites, which all had their own part to play in the overlapping story, but would only truly reveal their secrets at the end of this second part of our campaign.

Unfortunately, we never quite managed to get to the end…

Since this was, in fact, a regular weekly work-day for most people, Sybren felt that he was losing focus after a couple of hours as the exhaustion of his busy week started to catch up with him, and he had to regretfully cut his losses and retire from the playtest early. He did however, thankfully, take the time to provide some feedback before he left. When Sybren was gone, Sem declared that he too was starting to become tired, so after a brief discussion, Rudolf and I decided to call it quits after Sem provided us with his own feedback before also retiring to bed.

To be quite honest, this left Rudolf and me a bit disillusioned. Although we did not in any way blame either Sybren or Sem for leaving early, we did not really get to chance to fully test out the changes that we had made to the game, as we had not engaged in any meaningful battle in which we could properly test the updated combat system, and the intended focus on social interaction between players didn’t really seem to take root either.
Rudolf and I spent quite some time talking about what did and didn’t work during this second playtest, in order to figure out the reason behind this mixed bag of success and failure.

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In the end, these are the conclusions that we have drawn from the feedback an our analysis, following the second playest:

  • The items and loot worked well: Sybren and Sem enjoyed getting new items to play and interact with, and felt that it broadened the scope of possibilities within the game – both in and out of combat.
  • The map that Rudolf and I introduced as a visual representation of the invironment was more or less a double-edged blade. On the one hand it worked really well in guiding the players through the world; providing them with points of interest and preventing them from getting lost, but on the other hand it cursed the players with tunnel vision; making them focus solely on getting from one point of interest to another, causing them to practically ignore most of the events that would make them stray from their path, however interesting these may have turned out to be.
  • The pacing and progression of the story felt too slow. Although we deliberately took more time to get from one event to another in order to provide more time and possibilities for social interaction between the players themselves, this did not have the intended result. This was partially because of the map and the resulting tunnel vision I described earlier, and partially because we where not given a sufficient amount of input or impulses to react to during the session.
  • The updated Initiative system now works as intended, providing players with a clear order of actions and turns.
  • The complete removal of dice-rolls that where previously attached to certain abilities did not bother anyone during this session, but it was pointed out that it might cause combat to become a bit monotonous in the long run, so I should probably reconsider completely removing chance or randomness from the game.
  • The adjustments I had made to certain classes and abilities seemed to work, but we didn’t get enough oppertunities to test them properly. More info would be needed to draw an actual conclusion in that regard.
  • According to Sybren, the map that was presented during the playtest, along with some invironmental descriptions made by Rudolf as the Game Master, made him feel that our fictional world came across as fairly generic and predictable. This came as a bit of a surprise to Rudolf and me, but we will certainly take this into consideration during our future story and world building.

While this second playtest didn’t go exactly as planned, we did get some very valuable new insight into the current state of OneiroPhobia, which we will discuss in more depth tomorrow, when Rudolf and I will determine our next steps to improve our beloved roleplaying game.

What will happen next? Find out soon – same Phobia-time, same Phobia-channel!

Road Winding Through Tetons