This weekend I did something that I was dreading: I played a game that I wrote.
I'd done a playtest of my game "The Instrument" before, but I didn't finish it because frankly it wasn't enjoyable. I wasn't sure if it was my current headspace around the project or something else, so I agreed that I needed to do another playtest. I put it on my next-actions list.
Months went by. Still no playtest.
I'm pretty sure I knew that the game in its current state wasn't good, but I wasn't sure how not-good it was. I know it was too long and too dull (things that are fun-ruiners in most games, let alone most media) but I didn't know how "too long" and "too dull" it was. I fell into that sweet-spot of knowing and not-knowing, much like Schrodinger's cat and it's in-between state of aliveness and not-aliveness. I didn't want to find out how much of a disaster it was. But I knew that eventually I would need to know because people would eventually try to play this game and I would be responsible for their fun or lack thereof. So this weekend I girded my loins, set up a text document in vim, and played my game.
Ever played a game where you've wanted to blow up a 1920s ukulele for no other reason than it's mere existence? Ugh.
But that's what game design is. It's checking your assumptions to see if they pan out and reviewing the game to find out where the sweet spots are and where things fall apart. What I thought was a game was just a set of semi-interesting writing prompts from the hip-and-cool English teacher. So this morning I sat down and reworked the game to tweak and refine it.
I've not updated the game on itch.io quite yet. There's still one more thing I wanted to add to it (a random list of instruments in case you don't have "1920s ukulele" waiting as an instrument prompt).
(If you're impatient and want to play along at home you're free to do so at The Instrument's Framagit Repository. But be warned that I haven't quite playtested this revision yet).
Hopefully it'll take less than a few months for me to playtest this iteration. Will post updates as they occur.