This past weekend I made the impromptu decision to travel with my fiancé from the Chicagoland area to Indianapolis for my first Protospiel! I was originally introduced to these conventions by Adam Skelding at Panda Manufacturing. I had gone to a few Unpubs but I was excited to see what a Protospiel was like. So, we hopped in the car and drove down Saturday. My first impression was the size. It was just a large room in the Kappa Delta Pi. I asked around and since this was only the second year at this location it was a smaller Con then the other Protospiels. This made it perfect for my fiancé. It was her first gaming event and the reason she had never gone to GenCon was the size. She didn’t like the sound of large rooms that were packed with people. But this intimate gathering was perfect.
I personally got a lot out of the event. For every time someone played my game Curbside I made sure to play another person’s game. A few things I did notice were some people didn’t move around much to play other people’s games. It was an honor system which worked for me but not everyone. There also seemed to be a divide. Established designers crowded each other’s projects and newbies somehow found each other. I was surprised by how many designers didn’t have a business card. I think of designing games as a business, so I have a website, e-mail and business cards. I even have t-shirts for my upcoming Kickstarter for Nut Stash. We had a lot of fun making Nut puns.
My favorite game I had a chance to play test by an established designer was a robot themed game by Adam West tentatively called Transmissions. He was great at explaining his game, assisting while watching us play and had great banter. At the end he asked us to fill out a small play test form. I wish he had asked us a few verbal questions as well. But he did seem to take notes while we played. Other games I played ranged from fun to okay. I found that a few people did not work enough on their rules before going there. As I received feedback I did adapt a few rules but everything major was still listed on the reference cards.
Everyone had a different approach to play testing and gathering notes. Some asked questions and wrote in a notebook or phone. Others had printed forms that they gave us at the end. A few didn’t do either. I personally went with a notebook and open dialogue. With every new group of players, I got new feedback. Quickly I found that I had a great game, but it could use some tweaks. The first question I asked was if they’d play it again. The second was if they’d play it again if there was an advanced rule set. With those two questions I found that everyone had enjoyed it enough to play it again. Something I noticed is most people that come to these conventions seem to like heavier games. Which made it hard to play test my target audience. But everyone who played had kids, friends or a spouse they could see playing the regular rules which would help get them into gaming. That was the best compliment I could ask for!
Through playing games I made friends with Adam (not West) and Robin who ended up inviting me to breakfast Sunday. One thing I love about gaming is how inclusive some people can be. I enjoyed their company and conveniently Adam had driven a taxi before so his notes on Curbside were very helpful! When I got home I created new tiles, adjusted certain rules and started working on the advanced rules. I had already envisioned an advanced version and expansions so it was good to see what people wanted from these expansions. I look forward to pitching Curbside at Origins next month!
If I could do the Con again I would go earlier Saturday and maybe Friday if I had the time off work. I’d Insert myself into the clicky groups and take more photos. I’d also introduce myself the sponsors. Unfortunately, the Protospiel closest to me in Chicago will be at the same time as my trip to New Zealand and Australia. But I will make my way to more of them in the future along with UnPub and the First Exposure Hall at GenCon. If you’re a new or established designer check these Cons out and take a friend! We need more play testers of different varieties.