Recap of the UnPub Mini at Bethany College

On Saturday, Rachael and I drove through the back roads of West Virginia to find the tiny college town of Bethany, WV. That afternoon was an UnPub Mini that I signed up for in order to show off and test out Astroventure. For me, it’s an attempt to not just get my game in front of new people, but to also get a chance to practice pitching my game and explaining the rules before UnPub 7 in March where I really need to be making great impressions and have my best self put together for the future of Astroventure.

Explaining Astroventure for our first test of the day.

I was one of four designers there to get feedback and show off our prototypes. I didn’t get the exact numbers, but there was around 30 people in and out throughout the day. This is my first event like this, so that number was perfect for me. There were enough people around to see it and learn the game even if they didn’t play it, and I began to get the word out about the game and the website. Being the heaviest game out of all the games there, I was a bit worried people may not be as interested to try my game out.

The day started a little bit slow. We got Astroventure set up and waited for some people to arrive to begin testing. At my table we had a total of four play testers over two games. Rachael and I played in both games as well. I didn’t get as many tests in because of how long the game took to play the first time around. (Major thanks to Steve and Carolyn for their dedication to playing over 3 hours and providing amazing feedback during the game.)

Because of how long the first game took to play, we attempted to create an impromptu quick play version that cuts out 10 of the 30 rounds, but gives players some resources, improvements, and upgrades to simulate having already played 10 rounds by the time the game actually starts. This changed things dramatically. The game went by at a decent clip and it didn’t feel like I didn’t get to do everything I wanted to. It still played the same it does, it just played much quicker. It makes me question the number of rounds that need to be in the game, which may solve my ongoing issue with how long the game takes.

Designers showing off their games. Rachael and I at the last table.

Because of the feedback I received there, this week is all hands on deck to design and test as much as I can. Another reason for going to this event was because I’m getting ready to order a printed copy from the Game Crafter. I need to send a copy to a publisher, and I want to have a copy nicely printed for UnPub 7, which means I need to get as much taken care of as I can this week. All the changes to the components were made last night, and tonight I’ll start testing a lot of the changes to see how they handle. Some were minor tweaks, while some are new ideas that could be good, but might end up not adding anything to the game. Either way, I’d like to get this sent into the printer by the end of the month to get that process started which means as much of the component changes that I need to make need to be done by the end of the week. I’ve already lined up some play testers to come over this week with a bribe of pizza. I’m hoping that this really was the final push I needed to get that last bit of something missing into the game, and the only thing left to do will be tweaks to numbers and rules. Only more testing will tell me for sure.

Overall, the event was a big success. I’d gladly do another UnPub Mini, and I’m really looking forward to the next chance I have to get this in front of other players who have never seen the game before.

By the way, all the pictures on the post were taken by Aaron Honsowetz of Dr. Wictz. You can find more pictures from the event here and here. Thanks to Aaron for the use of the pictures since I forgot to take any of my own. He was the organizer for the event and did a great job with the day. Thanks to Aaron for everything you did.