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About a week ago I had a videographer, Jeremiah, record a playtesting session for the game Dungeon Break. We did this at the home of the Head GM, Corey Stillwell. Despite some technical difficulties, it should be good on the video side. Regardless, it was a good experience for the playtest itself. I’m hopeful it will be an available video to put on the Branum Games channel of YouTube. It’s been brought to our attention several times that recording the experiences and process would be beneficial for us and others. Jeremiah also took some time before and after the playtesting to talk to team members individually about their experiences with the group. I’m glad about that; it’s a super tight nit group. Though honestly, this company experience has brought everyone closer. We mostly all friends before, and now we’re much closer than generic friend status and have begun to spend the holidays together. It’s been a good two years.
So, the focus of the video was the playtest. My playtest team got to check out the game and provide feedback about what worked or didn’t. They seemed to have a lot of fun figuring out the game and discussing how to make it better. I enjoy getting feedback from my team members. They have a lot of good input. It’s an initial playtest, of course. Once the more obvious things get cleaned up regarding the game, the easy things to spot, then we clear up the minor discrepancies. And when it isn’t obvious to us, we bring it to the public and they will have a chance to find something our team missed.
I know also that they like to be heard. Their feedback can be found in any of the games. Suggestions they’ve made, and issues they’ve noted that I wound up ironing out based on their findings. They are invaluable as my first line of defense for the games to be smooth. I try to encourage any thoughts that come up. Tim Aldridge is one of my GMs, and I enjoy how often he has a thought or suggestion. I appreciate that about him. That day, several folks were on point for providing feedback. It was a fun day of figuring out the game, and eating Corey’s food. He makes amazing food for us when we go there often.
Anyhow, for each of the games, of course extensive playtesting is necessary. I usually have these guys test it out multiple times, and in multiple revisions, then I bring it to new audiences to find new things that can be made better. These folks really are my “first line of defense.” If it doesn’t get through them smoothly, it doesn’t get to a larger playtest audience. The first six months of doing all this I was mostly working alone. It was when I started seeing who would be interested in running games about a year and a half ago that a team started to form. In preparing for the convention, they also became a critical part of the game construction process. Even though I was determined to be independent and pursue Branum Games as effectively as possible solo if necessary, being part of a team has been more rewarding and fun than I anticipated. I’ve loved having a group to rely on and enjoy things with.