I Have A Board Game Idea, Now What? Part 18: Learning When to Let Go and Other Lessons Learned at Protospiel-MN

The Hackers Guild is now Protospiel Tested

Welcome back everyone! It has been a long time since my last update, and I wanted to give you a quick update on what has been going on. Afterwards we will get into this weeks topic of learning to let go and other lessons learned from my time at Protospiel-MN.

So the Kickstarter campaign ended in the beginning of November and unfortunately, it didn’t fund. I am planning on doing a post about lessons learned from the Kickstarter at a later date, so I won’t do into it much further now. Since then, I have been focusing on a fairly significant redesign of the game that has brought about some very exciting changes including:

  • A redesign of the game board to now include a world map with cities that have servers to be hacked
  • Game has become completely cooperative again – more on this later
  • I have reworked the dice rolling so that now all player participate in all hack attempts, and are all rolling their dice at the same time to help keep all players engaged and keep the playtime down to between 60 and 90 minutes where I wanted it
  • Simplification of the hacking process which helped reduce playtime as well
  • Introduction of custom D6 dice
  • and much more
Closeup of the new board for The Hackers Guild

Closeup of the new board for The Hackers Guild

Along with the redesign efforts, I have taken The Hackers Guild to two conventions: JimCon in November of 2016 and Protospiel-MN at the end of January 2017. I also have been trying to hold two digital playtests a week to really refine the game mechanics and make it the best game it can be. Please let me know if you are interested in helping with the playtests as I am always looking for more people to try it out. Now that I have pretty much brought you up to speed on what’s been happening the last few months, I wanted to get to today’s topic: learning when to let go and other lessons learned from my time at Protospiel-MN.

Playing The Hackers Guild at Protospiel-MN using the newly printed components.

Playing The Hackers Guild at Protospiel-MN using the newly printed components.

I want to start by briefly describing what Protospiel is for anyone who isn’t familiar with the concept. The idea behind any Protospiel event is that it is a gaming convention specifically geared towards playteseting unpublished board games. The really great part is the quality of feedback you get as the majority of the playtesters at the event are game designers, publishers, or manufacturers themselves.

Lesson 1 – Learning when to let go

The first lesson learned I want to talk about is learning to let go. What I mean about this is often there are aspects of your game that are near and dear to your heart but they simply don’t work. For me it was the fifth player taking on the role of the Network Administrator. A number of different people had brought up their concerns with making The Hackers Guild a one versus many instead of purely cooperative and I would acknowledge their concern but would insist that I would be able to fix it and wanted to keep it. Time after time it would continue to come up, but I was certain it was necessary to making the game the experience I wanted. Long story short, The Hackers Guild is now fully cooperative again and as I have developed the game further it has become a much better game.

Closeup of some of the cards and new player mats that were used at Protospiel-MN.

Closeup of some of the cards and new player mats that were used at Protospiel-MN.

Lesson 2 – Take advantage of the networking opportunities

It really was something to see all of the people that were in attendance over the weekend, and how they were all there to play board games, my board game even, and to help others make their game the best it can be. It was a lot of fun to get to know some of the other attendees as I played games with them. Two people I want to mention in particular are Sam Bailey and Patrick Leder. Both Sam and Patrick are published designers and they are currently working together on a new project that I got a chance to play and feel in love with. It quickly became obvious that I needed to have them try my game and the feedback they gave me was invaluable. In fact, the game I played with them was the type of experience that I was looking for by attending the event. They were also the ones who help me realize that I needed to let go of the one versus many version of The Hackers Guild and focus more on the cooperative version. I feel like I’ve made a lifelong connection with them and look forward to them playing the game again. What’s a little scary is the fact that I could have easily missed out on this opportunity. In fact, the only reason I even sat down to play Sam and Patrick’s game was because my brother was excited about playing and it sounded interesting when he told me about it.

Lesson 3 – Enjoy and learn from other’s designs

Playing Pints and Loggers, a game about managing a team of lumberjacks, at Protospiel-MN

Playing Pints and Loggers, a game about managing a team of lumberjacks, at Protospiel-MN

One of the unwritten rules of a Protospiel event is that you spend as much time player other designers games as you do your own. This is an excellent opportunity to learn more about game design and to have fun playing, and possibly changing, future game releases.

In case you couldn’t tell I had an awesome time at Protospiel-MN, met some great people, and had fun playing board games. Regardless of whether or not you are designing your own game, I highly recommend attending a Protospiel event. I am already trying to figure out how to attend my next one and taking the next step to getting The Hackers Guild to be the best game possible.

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