So it’s been awhile since a ‘monthly update’ was a thing. In my defense, I’ve been busy… and I also wasn’t sure how many people actually read them. If you’re here and you’re curious, however, read on.
Since my last update in April, it’s safe to say I’ve adapted to the world around me. I co-created the Virtual Playtesting Discord server, which started meeting in mid-May once a week, and has since grown to a twice a week group with over 1,100 members in the community. Along with the other hosts, I’m really proud of the community and meeting space we’ve created there.
I’m playtesting games in Virtual Playtesting (on Mondays and Thursdays), Remote Playtesting (usually on Saturdays, because of the time zones), Break My Game (usually on Tuesdays and/or Wednesdays), and some other groups depending on when I’m free. Come find me =)
Going to virtual cons has been some fun, but unfortunately more than a few have been frustrating because of unexpected friction or technical issues. Some just didn’t adapt to how differently people enjoy / use the virtual space, while others have tried too hard to replicate the real-world elements. As far as I know, the virtual con season is wrapping up for the year, and most people looking ahead at cons are now talking about virtual cons for at least the first several months of 2021…

Where is Chris now?

Still in Warsaw, Poland, with no plans to leave anytime soon (thanks, coronavirus!).

What games are you playtesting?

A lot of them! In roughly alphabetical order:

  • The Audition: what was ‘say one word to play’ will likely become ‘say one line to play’, and the scoring system has changed to give everyone the same incentives. It’s still a simple party game at its core: most players are Actors, trying to communicate a specific emotion and character to a player called the Director.
  • Bento: what was once ‘Unicorn Zoo’ and briefly ‘Settling Mars’ is now in its third theme, thanks to a great suggestion from a playtester. It’s changed significantly through each theme, and is now a fun puzzly, drafting, set collection game that involves placing food tiles and partitions.
  • Forty Elephants: still in very early stages, but it’s a kind of a Frankenstein sort of project: what happens when you combine elements from a Don Quixote design, another early idea about splitting the party, a real-world group of 20th century thieves, and a bit of press your luck? You’re a new member of the thieves gang – steal by day, party by night. Just try not to get caught. More coming soon.
  • How Much Money: the game where everyone has a price has received a fair bit of playtesting on some of Bez’s streams. Here’s one of them, if you’re curious to see how it’s played. The basic core loop is tweaked to fit the video call format (the betting part doesn’t work as well, but it turns out it’s a perfectly viable way to play, and even speedier that the usual way.
  • Mint Tin Monster Mashup: I’ve been reworking a game made for a publisher to fit a new form factor: a mint tin. While the stats of the cards were pretty easy to tweak, getting the actions to be both simplified and compatible with all other cards took some time. I’m really happy with it, and you’ll be hearing more about this game in early 2021.
  • Pirate Grannies: this is one of those games that’s been shelved, brought back out, shelved again, and brought back out. Once a gateway worker-placement game, I’m… not quite sure ‘worker placement’ still fits. There’s some engine building to it, some light strategy elements… Will be playtesting it more in coming months.
  • Secret Recipe: lots of playtesting! The core of the game remains a logic and deduction puzzle, and every version is a little better than the ones before it. The biggest issue right now is that the game either takes a long time or is over in a couple of turns. The current setup adds a couple of steps, but guarantees that there is exactly one of each color and taste in the secret recipe. This also means that figuring out one ingredient lets you eliminate everything else of the same color and taste. I tried a point system, but have removed it in favor of an older win condition…
  • Spin the Banana: the plastic banana is a little hard to randomly spin in Tabletop Simulator, but thanks to a playtester, I’ve added a workaround — a die that automatically colors and shapes itself based on the number of players. The core of the game is still about programming a pile of cards to deflect the banana, though playing randomly is also fine. The question here is whether a game meant for a 6 and up crowd can also be fun for strategic gamers, and whether it needs to be.
  • Squirrels vs. Grandpa: got pitched in a speed-dating event during Metatopia. Good times, but it didn’t sound like it was a great fit for any of them. I’ll be working more on an aspect I haven’t seen in a children’s game before, that of some unlockable boxes that add components or little twists to the game. The base game is simple enough for kids 8 and up, and the unlockable boxes can be opened on a kid’s birthday or whenever the parent thinks they’re ready…
  • Untitled bidding game: new, mysterious project, anyone? Nothing so mysterious, just an idea for a bidding mechanic that doesn’t have a theme attached to it. Got a couple of themes in mind, but this gets into the age-old battle of developing games that already exist vs. trying out new ideas…

What’s happening behind the scenes?

Usually around this time of year I’ve done all the pitching that real-world conventions have enabled. That November and December are traditionally busy times for publishers preparing for the next year…

I’ve updated my sell sheets for all the games I’ve been meaning to pitch (see them at https://www.entrogames.com/in-development), and have it on my to-do list to make some pitch videos for them.

This year is anything but traditional, of course, so I’ll be doing some pitching as I can. Things like The Pitch Project and virtual speed dating events have been great, but I see these as only a part of my pitching process going forward.

What’s the next big thing?

I just signed an offer on a couple of my games! As I’m now officially under NDA on them I’ll have to wait to share more about them… but naturally, I’ve got plenty of other designs to talk about…

I’ll be making pitch videos and getting a few other ideas ready for playtesting will take up some time… and then there’s plenty of playtesting to do along the way.