You’ll note that since the first entry titled “Perfectionism” wasn’t marked as “Part 1” that this entry was not originally intended. Gnosis Conflict is headed for Kickstarter days after this entry goes live. We’ve been busy running demos for the game and trying to learn the art of marketing through trial and error. As part of those demos I’ve seen some imbalances and bugs that weren’t caught during formal testing which ended quite some time ago.
On one hand, that’s caused me to reevaluate our playtesting practices in order to refine them. That’s something I’ll reiterate during the game’s post mortem. First is that is that the designer (right now, me) will need to be present for more playtests. That may sound obvious, but I’ve some strong social aversions and thought it was sufficient to let someone else come back with player feedback sheets and personal observation. This simply doesn’t do enough, the designer knows too well how the game is supposed to play and brings a level of insight and observation someone who doesn’t understand the design can match. Second is to ensure we have more structure to the playtests. The ones run were a bit too haphazard in their approach sacrificing thoroughness for efficiency. Time is another part of this. Gnosis Conflict is a longer game and can’t be gauged by playtests that don’t get to finish due to time constraints.
But the theme of the first post on perfectionism is being willing to stop work on a game and let it finish, knowing when to stop. Apparently that’s a big pitfall for designers, to always tinker with but never finish their first game. I believe I took the stance that as long as the game isn’t too noticeably broken, let things slide.
During the recent demos, I couldn’t watch as players picked up on problems that should’ve been caught a year earlier. The Synthtech Genetics faction was underpowered and I couldn’t stand to watch players get frustrated and be robbed of fun playing them. The next day after a store demo, I reopened the spreadsheets I originally worked from and revisited the game’s overarching equations for balance and spent the afternoon revising them. Because of what I’ve learned in the past few years, I tightened some of the math. I finally caved and addressed some people’s complaints about the high level of RNG, bringing success rates to more fair and fun levels, which should also speed up the game a bit. Accuracy turned out to be a more powerful stat then I originally envisioned, so that was weighted a bit more heavily whereas before it was weighted very evenly. I also came to realize that just because the math said something was balanced, that didn’t mean the pacing was right. The average of 46 and 54 is 50, but so is the average of 1 and 100, but the experience is totally different.
Should I stop trying to rework things? The Kickstarter ends in late-August, that’ll be the work deadline. Until then, I feel I have an obligation to keep fixing anything I think isn’t perfect.