Tuesday, September 18, 2018

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Gimme 5: Developers group offers place to design and test games

  • Harris-Kevin-070918-6

Editor’s note: Gimme 5 is a five-question interview about a topic of local interest.

Who: Kevin Harris, organizer of Eau Claire Game Developers.

Details: The group is open to anyone interested in testing games or having their game tested. It meets from 7:30 to 9 p.m. Mondays at D20 Gaming, 2158 East Ridge Center.

Information: ecgamedevs.tumblr.com

What is the Eau Claire Game Developers group?

The Eau Claire-area Game Developers group started in 2015 to help local game developers improve games they’re working on, just like a writing group exists to help authors. We do this primarily through playing in-development games and providing feedback, but we discuss games and game development, too.

What is the most useful thing people are getting from the play tests?

What’s useful really depends on what people are trying to accomplish. Developers see if they’re conveying rules successfully and whether or not the resulting play experience matches their goals. People who only come to play gain insight into how games transform from an idea to a finished product — and sometimes decide to start making their own, which is always great.

What is the range of experience people who attend have with digital and analog games?

We’re open to people of all experience levels. Some attendees have been happy to only play other people’s games. We’ve had people bring ideas for their first game but not have anything playable, and we try to provide support in making something that can be played. And we’ve had people who are comfortable making games professionally or as a hobby attend too.

In your opinion, what has been the most interesting game that has made the rounds in a play test and why?

I can’t choose one game as the most interesting, but I’ll share one that interested me as a gamer and by watching its developer grow. 

One developer had worked on a series of games that were enjoyable but complex, which made learning the games difficult for new players. He then created a game called Bite-Sized Battles that was enjoyable, complex and sufficiently streamlined to make the game easy to learn and fast to play. 

Each iteration saw the game getting better, and players seemed to enjoy the game. It was particularly popular among people that played tabletop roleplaying games who were looking for something faster and more self-contained to play.

What are the names of some of the more developed games that people can playtest and can you briefly describe the games?

I’m currently testing a solitaire card game tentatively called Sushi Spearfishing. Players search through a deck of cards for in-demand sushi fish limited by their breath exhalation and ability to distinguish Japanese kanji. It’s meant for players looking for a relaxing way to practice language skills — or who just enjoy sushi.


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