Crumbs! Dev Blog #4 - Ch-ch-changes
In anticipation of the Kickstarter launch of Crumbs! The Sandwich Filler Game, its designer (Jon) and publisher (Scott) will be discussing the process of designing and developing a game from concept to creation!
This week, playtesting Crumbs! and the changes it brought:
Jon: Let’s be honest - running ideas through your head and getting a design to the table those first few times is exciting. Perhaps everything’s coming up Milhouse and you’ve got a game that seems like it could really be something. And then you have to playtest it. Don’t get me wrong, there can be some really exciting things that come out of playtesting. And watching people play, enjoy, and immediately want to play again is extremely encouraging. But on the whole it is not the most enjoyable part of the process for me.
With a game like Crumbs! and the amount of possible variables it would have been impossible(?) to replicate them all. But somehow, I happily kept going back to tick off some of the setup combos and continued to enjoy playing the game again and again... The system I had created seemed to work regardless of the variable setup or how I played the game. So nervously, I began to let other people see/play it.
Playtesting with strangers - whether it was lovely people across the world or in-person at the local board game cafe, went particularly well. People generally enjoyed the game, the difficulty level, and wanted to play it multiple times. However, there was one thing that consistently came up - the need for something to track your actions and completed sandwiches. As I had played the game so many times without any tokens, I had slightly lost sight of the fact that it is trickier than its cute exterior leads you to believe. This became a required change for the game that made it much more accessible.
Another small but significant change which took place; a few people highlighted the perfect information of the game and that you could spend some time working it all out before taking any turns. This raised a conversation about how a random factor could be introduced. This would have to fit with the theme but importantly continue in keeping with the existing system. After some thematically sound but slightly clunky ideas, Scott came up with the most elegant of solutions; reducing the number of customers per card with a 3rd and final card customer order card being unseen until towards the end of the game.
The shift from 3 customers per order card to 2 customers may not seem like a large change but for the already very tight game system, attempting to keep this whilst changing the amount of customers/sandwiches is quite a feat that Scott was in charge of undertaking… it was his idea after all 😅
Huge thanks to all those who supported our early playtesting to date but particularly those in the early stages and those that provided a lot of feedback: Sam Barton, Jon Moffat, Tom Sheen, Neil Proctor, John D. Wood, Ian Howard, Ted Heidersdorf, Jay Yeates, Will Templeton. Also thanks generally to all who hang out in the Button Shy discord design section and those who attend the Croydon Playtest Group.
Scott: Often one of the publisher's roles when signing a game is to develop it to a final publishable state, or to further match the publisher's vision for the game. When I took on Crumbs! it had already gone through a number of playtests as Jon mentioned above, and survived virtually intact, always a good sign. As the organiser of my local playtest group, I had another group of designers willing to take the game through it's paces.
This is where we nailed those final details - smoothing out anything that felt awkward. Stacking the ingredients vertically made it easier to see each filling used, looked far more impressive visually, and complimented Rory's artwork better (more on that later in the series). Toasting sandwiches involved flipping the whole sandwich upside down to reveal the toasted side of the bread, but it also hid the artwork of the ingredients. If a particular type of bread was required, it needed to be placed first so that after toasting it was on the top. These felt like they would break immersion or be easily forgotten, so our solution was to flip only the top slice of bread instead.
Even the introduction of action and order tokens wasn't an instant solution, as the questions arose; How do I know how many actions I have used/have left? Do I move the token before or after performing the action? After discussing a number of actions including tracker cards, using the inside of the box, a fantastic suggestion: place a token next to the action you wish to take (bread, restock), then perform that action. Not only can you see how many actions you've spent, but also what you did in case you need to walk back through your actions.
As Jon mentioned above, overhauling the order cards proved a bigger task than previously thought. We had a number of 'rules' that each order card had to follow to ensure that they proved entertaining but challenging, and making sure that the new cards remained balanced took a lot of calculations, my mathematical approach fine-tuning Jon's 'design-by-feel' method.
Thank you to those who gave great feedback during this first stage of playtesting; Matt Hoather, Lucy Bursford, Richard Lawton, Rich Jackson, Andrea & Cassandra, Davide, Alex Cannon, and Robert Elliot.
In our next entry, how we developed the cooperative mode!
Public playtesting is currently taking place for Crumbs!, to get involved join our newsletter: