Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Testing, Testing, 1,2,3,

I have heard it said that playtester is worst job in the video games industry. I give you this comic as non-scientific, non-empirical, purely anecdotal evidence:

Fortunately, I am not in the video games business. Working with table-top RPGs makes playtesting a lot more fun and responsive. To test the game I run it, see how it works, note things that need to be fixed, and get player feedback. If there is a broken mechanic, then we fix it on the fly. If there a problem with the setting, then we hash it out then and there. It's a lot like making a home-brew game, but you keep better notes. 

We've been testing Warbirds quite a bit lately, and now we are getting down to the nitty-gritty details. The core mechanics are pretty much locked down. Hell, the Rapidfire core mechanic got locked down when Q and I hashed it out over a couple of weeks back in the fall of 2006. The dogfighting rules are actually older, and date back to some arguments with my buddy Kirk that we had back in the 90's. The Strafing rules are quite a bit younger, but the mechanics were figured out long before I began writing.

What the playtest does is test rules modifications, and all of the various tweaks and special options. I have always said that Rapidfire is not a "generic" system, but more of a framework that can be endlessly modified to fit different genres and play styles. For Warbirds the biggest modifiers to the basic system are the reduced lethality rules, and the addition of Fame. Scaling back lethality meant my players were able to get into a firefight with a bunch of gangsters (who were kidnapping people off an airship) without me worrying about a PC dying on the first shot. The use of Fame as wealth led to an interesting negotiation where a character wanted a lockpick kit, but couldn't get the money together. That kit would have come in very handy later.

I also like to think that we are constantly adding little improvements to the ruleset. For those of you that are familiar with our other games, we've been adding little mods here and there that can make a big difference. The skill list is much more explicit in terms of how the skills are used, and giving difficulty examples. The advantages and disadvantages are expanded, include more precise descriptions, more rules effects, and the GM section talks about awarding and removing them.

The best part about testing the game is getting together with family and friends and having a good game. If you look close you can see our prototype GM screen.

Alanna is showing how the planes are flying with her hands.

We have two weeks left in the Indiegogo campaign, and we are at $2432. We are just over $500 away from making the book with a colour interior.


  1. I thought we did just fine without the lock picking kit. You don't need to pick locks when you have a shotgun (and no firearms skills).

    Cute baby, by the way. ;)

  2. Nothing scarier then an obviously unskilled person with a double barrel shotgun.

    1. If I recall correctly, it had 3 shots. That means it was a pump.