Friday, June 24, 2011

18- Origins

Origins was great again this year. It was a little different seeing it from the other side of the screen but it was still a good experience. It is often characterized as being "just the right size" convention, I don't have the benefit of convention experiences extending beyond Origins but I doubt anyone considering attending next year would be disappointed.

I was down for running five sessions of A Victorian Prometheus: two on Friday and three on Saturday. The sign-up was patchy which I understood; having limited time available at a con means you have to make some tough decisions. On that note, thanks to everyone who took the chance on Victoria. I hope you all enjoyed yourselves; I know I did.

Quite apart from having more than a few laughs it was interesting to see how people I'd not played with before responded to the game and the game mechanics. While it is good to have a group you're familiar with in the initial testing phase, the longer you've played with them the more homologous your styles become. Playing with a new group of gamers puts pressure on different elements of the system and shows up any cracks and deficiencies.

Overall things went quite well but there were a few areas I now know I still need to put a little more work into to make it play better. I also discovered that there are far more girl gamers out there than there used to be. I thought I was being clever making one girl character "just in case". It turned out that this wasn't enough. One of players mentioned that gaming was now almost reaching parity between the sexes and that was certainly true for the sessions of Victoria with the gender balance being about 60:40.

It was also good to put the scenario that will be the sample adventure through its paces. I think it improved every time so thanks on behalf of those that will play it in the future and thanks again too from me. A particular thanks on to those that add to my understanding of the victorian era as well as the colour of a "stereotypical Irishman".

Lastly, relating to the game, I was a little surprised at the number of things that people did similarly, and I'm not just referring to the path that the game took (which I freely admit was quite linear) but to the way that people did very specific things the same from game to game. I've kept track of them but in the interests of not spoiling anything for those playing at GenCon I'll save them for my post-Gencon post.

On a personal level it was great to see Fred Hicks from Evil Hat again this year. He looked a bit like he'd had enough of chatting affably so I didn't linger. I just left a proof copy with him and passed on a thanks for saying the right things at the right time to get me to actually write Victoria. So once again Fred, if you're reading this, thanks.

Well that's it for the Gencon wrap-up. You guys were awesome!

Daniel, Mr. and Mrs. X and Lindsay.

Vince, Steve, Karl, Edwin, Bevery and Joey.

Michelle, Matthew, Brian, Aisling and Suzanne.

Oh, and one last thing. If you're going to wear a utilikilt and you're determined to go without underpants, don't use the escalators.

EDIT: Matt from the third group to play through was nice enough to write a review of the session. So if your on the fence about playing it at GenCon check it out.

Matt's a game designer himself with credits across most systems and is currently writing a game himself. Inspired by a cover of John Lennon's Imagine, Curse the Darkness is currently in development and Matt's development blog can be found here.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

17- Art

Getting the artwork right has been one of the most challenging aspects of putting Victoria together. Fortunately as Victoria is set in Victorian times there is a lot of public domain art. It's not just clip art either its mostly period illustrations that fit perfectly with the contents of the book.

One area where I felt it was important to have original art was in the sample adventure. I'm no artist so I contacted a brilliant illustrator Vin Ganapathy, whose work I admired for a while, and managed to convince him to accept a commission to produce some character sketches.

Although I'm not very good at verbalizing the physical attributes of the characters that existed in my head, he got what I was talking about right away and produced images far better than I could have imagined.

The character sketches below will appear in the final product and also in the games running at Origins and Gencon.