Did a big playtest today, with 9 players.
I wanted to test the core mechanic of managing resources and time, as well as seeing how and if conflict would happen between the Eilanders and Vastelanders. I also wanted to test if a present game master would work. The test started with a short Act 1, and was mostly focused on Act 2.
Here’s the footage of the test with some of the feedback session:
Will be uploaded soon, a lot of footage and other priorities aren’t handy.
-Once the Vastelanders arrived, they immediately started to co-operate fully with the Eilanders and continued to do so throughout the playtest. There was very little conflict.
This is, of course, the opposite of what I wanted to reach, and is pretty shit to see. However, thanks to the feedback session I hope I can pinpoint some reasons as to why:
How and where the Vastelanders came into the room made sure that they mixed in physically with the Eilanders. They should have their own space, their own area. Maybe with a “fence” in between the two groups, some form of physical or implied barrier. The Eilanders should then have a chance to discuss further.
The Vastelanders had something to offer: a boat and plenty of helping hands. This isn’t bad, but they should be more dependent on the Eilanders.
A moment to introduce each other to the other group was missing.
Perhaps the rules, characters and mechanics were too unclear.
-There wasn’t much pressure to make decisions and take action. Perhaps a clock would work, or dimming light.
-Some problems with language in the texts which were difficult to understand.
-Characters should have deeper relations with each other, so they have context as to how to interact with each other.
-The players wanted a way to recognise each other, to know who the Fisherman was and who’s an Eilander or Vastelander. Perhaps with labels and pieces of clothing.
-It should be clearer that the wind turbine can generate enough electricity to be able to use everything.
-There should be much less diesel availible.
-There should be more focus that food is running out.
-It should be clear that this isn’t the Netherlands.
-A way to solve certain problems such as Who stole the food, otherwise there’s no reason to blame anyone. Even if one player knows that they themselves did it.
-All the players really wanted characters which were very clearly defined.
Suggestions were a list with bullet points: Things the character could and couldn’t do, what they knew, exactly what their relations are, and exactly what their opinions were. I tried to insinuate characters by simply showing what their experiences were, but apparently this didn’t work well at all. It worked well in my other two playtests, however, so I’m not sure why this was, and I’m not sure whether and how I want to change this. It’ll be very important to figure this out. Perhaps a playtest with very clearly defined aspects as suggested?
-Actually doing things such as fixing the turbine or going fishing were very boring. The lighthouse keeper did enjoy sitting in his lighthouse with the radio, but there’s two solutions I have that could make it more fun, or irrelevant. I could have physical objects with which to play, like building blocks, nets and a radio. i could also make the focus of actually doing things during the day irrelevant by focusing the gameplay on the discussion and planning before and after.
-The audience’s favourite moments:
Trying to provoke conflict, being able to use their imagination to fill in what wasn’t explicitly said, acting as their character, splitting up their tasks for the day, and the fact that there were different locations, even if they were portrayed with sofas and pieces of paper.
-The audience had quite a bit of critique on the ending, which is a cliffhanger where the second storm hits. Some players really wanted a result of the story, otherwise their actions would feel meaningless. I’ll have to try out an epilogue of sorts, with the consequences of the audience’s actions. Like this example of Fallout New Vegas: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RsIlM1N3r_g
-The pressure of the oncoming second storm worked well.
-The little snippets of information, such as the lighthouse keeper hearing over the radio that the storm was coming, worked well.
-The Vastelanders didn’t have a clear place for themselves, while the Eilanders had their Café.
-A great suggestion was to have some pieces of wood, some sandbags, any objects with which the audience could play around with and build something with!