Whoa Nelly

I’m not going to continue my posts about Airport Rush for the time being. I had a fantastic playtest session with some very talented designers at Eric Zimmerman‘s playtest group yesterday and I think I am going to make some major changes. While this is dangerous to do a month before I take the game to GenCon, I think it is absolutely necessary.

It highlights what I’ve known to be a problem with my process for some time now and that is the unfortunate necessity of having the same people playtest your games. Since you can’t take them out back and format their brains to see everything as a blank slate, they are forced to compare a new version with an old version. If the new version fixes problems with the old version, then the fixes must be good, right? Well, no, not exactly, because those fixes might make no sense to someone coming into the game raw.

There are problems in Airport Rush with the alignment of theme and mechanics. While I am no slave to theme – Why are there n identical San Juans in Puerto Rico? Why can only one type of good fit on a ship? Why in Ticket to Ride do you need special colors of track? What do the tickets represent? And so on – there is much to be said about congruency insofar as it helps people understand the rules and mechanics. If people are distracted by incongruent rules, then I should work to fix it. Some incongruencies will remain (to the chagrin of nitpicky designers), but I was looking for feedback, not orders.

It’s actually been a long time since I’ve received feedback that was in the form of: “Why did you do things this way?” “Because such and such.” “Oh, I see. I think that’s too slow. Wouldn’t such and other such be better?” It’s refreshing.

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