Lessons from the first open playtest

I’ve just concluded the first open playtest of Hall of Teknor. The one where I rewarded playtesters with a free drawing request if they made it past a certain level and filled a feedback form. Ten useful forms came in and that’s a new record for me. Who knew more people will do something for you if you also promise to do something in return? This meant I had to make a whopping ten drawings. Now that all those are drawn let’s look at the feedback and what steps to take next. I’ll try to keep it as accessible as I can while still getting into the game’s mechanics. Because I ran out of Teknor art I’ll just fancy up the text with the art I made for playtesters.

Problem 1: Forgetting enemy powerups

The good thing is that there was a consensus on what was troublesome about the game: Players tended to forget that enemies get stronger when you went before them in the turn order. It was just not visual  enough. The hope was that I could get away with not using tokens to indicate their increased strength. Just throwing it in front of the players in its ‘least compenents’ form and hope for positive surprise. If I was honest with myself I could have seen the forgetting coming. What I did not see coming was that there was not a strong enough “incentive to streak the clearing of halls”. Don’t worry, I will explain

Problem 2: No incentive to delve deeper

From the beginning Halls of Teknor has been a push-your-luck game. Higher risks, Higher possible rewards. In Teknor you can clear a room and then get some reward in the form of treasure. After that you choose to either go back to camp and restore life points or skip that and do another room.  Why do another room? Because then you can find MORE more treasure. A treasure finding multiplier. This lure poses choice to the player.  I was giddy with glee when I devised it but almost every player just went back to camp after beating a room. The incentive was not strong enough. Also: some player would have loved to see a bit more story or variety in the campaign and I agree.

The solutions:

Personally I do not like flip cards. There’s always some info on the other side that you have to flip it over for in order to see. It’s cumbersome. With that said: We are gonna do flip cards! Enemy character cards will have two sides. One to indicate they are normal and one to indicate that they are mad and stronger. The good thing is that all the necessary info is already on the normal side. The mad side is brightly bordered to indicate their state. Hopefully this will help players remember that the enemies became stronger. 

Here’s the thing about incentive to clear multiple rooms in succession: Players were fine getting getting one treasure at a time and then heal. It takes a bit longer but it’s safe and treasure is treasure all the same. What if, by you doing rooms in succession players can get _different_ types of treasure? I’m going to divide the Treasure cards into three decks called common, uncommon, and rare treasure. Players can only get the uncommon treasure when clearing two rooms and only get rare treasure after clearing three rooms. As for variety: That treasure used to be mostly new gear. Things players can equip to improve the chances of their heroes. I’m gonna put more other stuff in the mix. Like keys that open doors that lead to puzzles. If a player sees a locked door they are going to want to find out what is behind it. It may not be exactly the “story” that players seek but it could add some variety from all the fighting.

What comes next

These changes were easy to come up with. A few shower pondering sessions is all it took. The hard part will be making all of this into a new prototype and getting people to test it. By far the most time consuming part is writing a new rulebook and making a new tutorial. I may just skip all that and ask some friends and familiars to give it a go with me watching. Whatever I’ll do: If I do art requests again it will definitely be black and white rather than full colour next time!

See you in the halls of Teknor.