I shared part one of this post recapping UnPub 7 yesterday. It covered Designer Day and what we did then. Feel free to go back and take a look at that post. This one will cover the rest of UnPub 7.
Saturday – UnPub Day 1
Saturday morning began by deciding what changes we could make based on the feedback we got Friday night. Some of it we knew wouldn’t happen until we got back home but some of the smaller stuff we could do that morning. I didn’t have to be at the table until 3 so I had time to get to work. So I tweaked some action cards while Rachael mocked up a resource tracker to replace the resource chips. The business center in the hotel was out of toner, so we went off to FedEx Office a couple of blocks away and printed out some of those. As a friend told me later, “That’s doing UnPub the right way.”
From there we went over to the convention and walked around a bit. We checked out the vendor hall and got to see a sealed copy of Yokohama Deluxe. I can’t wait to get my copy in a couple months.and then tried a game, The Library is Burning by James Meyers. I did pretty well but didn’t win. Rachael did because her cards lined up better than anyone else. It was an interesting game
about saving books from the burning Library of Alexandria. As a librarian, kind of up my alley. I’d like to try again sometime and try a different approach. We then walked around a little bit more before grabbing lunch and heading over to get set up at the table.
While we were getting set up, we had someone come along who was interested. By the time we were set up, no one else had arrived, so he played against Rachael to test 2 players since Rachael and I were the only two to ever do that before. It went longer than expected and I made some tweaks to the rule book to hopefully speed it up the second time. While they were playing I had a guy come up and take a long look at the game without saying much. I couldn’t quite get a read on him as to whether he was interested in it or not. But then he came back with two more and we had a fourth show up right at the same time so we got to run our second 4 player game of the event. This one was lots of fun as they intimidated each other and picked on each other during the game. There were a lot of laughs and it made testing really enjoyable. They had a lot of good things to say, and one of them wanted to buy it right now. We then had one final game with a couple of players who walked by early on and a vendor from Print and Play Games. They had some more really quality feedback to give some significant actionable steps for revisions.
At this point it was getting to the point it hurt to talk and I was really hungry, so we walked down to grab dinner. We settled for the Hard Rock Cafe which was maybe not the best idea when you need to shout just to talk across the table, but I got a milkshake for my throat which made it better. We then wrapped up the evening by playing The Last Garden which I won on a good sneaky last round. It’s a neat game that’s on Kickstarter right now. Here’s the link to check it out. I had wanted to try it and I think it’s a really good game. We had to be on the table again the next morning at 10, so we decided to call it a night there and go back to get some sleep.
Sunday – UnPub Day 2
After a terrible amount of sleep, we got up Sunday morning and got down to the convention center. We got set up for a meeting a bit early compared to when the convention began, and then the meeting got postponed, but we were still set up. Attendees were a bit slow at the start of the day, so our first hour had no one at the table. In the meantime I played Constellations which was at the table next to ours. It’s Kickstarter is launching today, and here’s the link to it. I enjoyed it. I don’t think I’d play it enough to own it, but I liked the game enough that I would play it again. While I was playing Constellations, Rachael got two players started playing Astroventure.
Since that was going well, I decided to take the opportunity to walk around a bit. I sat down to take a look at Holiday Horror from Matt Wolfe, Fire in the Library by Tony Miller, and played Pencil Park by Daniel Solis. Pencil Park was one I came to UnPub wanting to try so I was happy to get the chance. It’s a neat roll and write game that I want to play more of. Luckily he released the print and play version so I can do just that. You can find the link here.
After I finished leaving feedback for Pencil Park they had finished their game and I got a little bit of feedback from them. As we were resetting everything, four more players came to sit down. Rachael got them started, and I jumped in with the teaching towards the end and answering any questions they had once the game began. One player looked over their things and was pretty sure he could win by trying to directly break the game from the start. I had wanted to try the approach he was thinking of but hadn’t got around to trying it. I encouraged him to do so, even going over to the Game Crafter’s table to take some extra bits so that he could explore more planets than I originally planned for. I’m glad he did, because it did definitely break the game in the way I expected it would. The best part was, because of this, they correctly identified that one of the main problems with Astroventure is that it’s kind of two games on one table. That perspective was kind of eye-opening, but not surprising. A lot of the game has gone through revision after revision over time, but the planets haven’t really been touched too much and they’ve fallen behind design wise. After the game they gave an almost solid 45 minutes of feedback and discussion that was very helpful and I look forward to putting it all into use.
We then wrapped up the day by talking to a publisher about the changes that have been made since they last looked at it. No word yet on moving forward with them or not, but it’s still promising for now. We packed up, said goodbye to most of our friends, and got out-of-town to get some pizza for lunch before heading home.
UnPub 7 was a fantastic weekend that I’m so happy I went to. I got lots of valuable feedback on Astroventure, and played some new games that are still in the early stages. I also think I got some fans this weekend, which is kind of bit weird to me, but I’m very glad they enjoyed the game. Below is a breakdown of the feedback forms. 3 is noted as good and 4 is great, so I’m happy with the overall scores. I got a few 5s, but also a couple of 1s and 2s in the feedback forms I got, so there’s still work to do for sure. I look forward to diving into the responses of the feedback forms once I get a bit more time to process it all, and will have a post about the changes I make to the game once I get through all of that.
Because I was on the table as much as I was, I didn’t get to play as many games as I would have liked. Some of the games I wish I could have played but didn’t get the chance to were: Step Right Up by Daniel Newman, Access by Drew Hicks, My Father’s Work by T.C. Petty III, and Holiday Horror by Matt Wolfe. Hopefully will get the chance to play them later this year sometime, maybe at Origins or UnPub Midwest.
Wow, this post is long. If you got all the way down here, thanks for reading. It was a big event and I still haven’t quite processed everything that happened. I’m looking forward to getting some time over the next week or two to really sit down and line out my thoughts on it and begin working on some changes to hopefully make Astroventure stronger than before. If you’re an aspiring designer, or even a veteran, I would encourage you to go to UnPub if you get the chance. It’s a great convention dedicated to making games better. I’ll be making UnPub a part of my annual convention rotation from here on out.