First, the promotional wheels have begun to spin as the Warden (OK, me) spoke about the game and exposed his true feelings about Michael Fassbender on the Dr. Tom the Frog show.
As for the release itself, there are a couple of areas to explore and we’ll take a look at each of them individually.
The Playtest Itself
ScreenPlay‘s editor, Vincent Harper, has completed his edits for the current draft (version 1.1) and submitted revisions based on his suggestions and in response to some additional alpha testing conducted over the weekend. (To that end, big thanks to Matthew, Jake, Darina, Matlock, and Fraser for writing a great story of Ironbound: The Curse of the Scarab Witch at Capital Gaming Expo on Saturday. Your input and outcomes definitely helped create a sharper version for everyone to enjoy on the 20th.) There are a couple of mechanical aspects under review for different reasons and I’m debating leaving them in as optional rules or leaving them inserted with everything else to see how they hold up in beta playtesting. Decisions, decisions.
There’s also the matter of expanding the third act of the Rehearsal Edition, which is the advice chapter for Directors (or Gamemasters). Reading some comments, posts, and shares about this game has given me some concerns about whether the game will meet certain expectations and I want to make sure those expectations will be met. For example, quite a few people have compared the concept of the game to Primetime Adventures, a story game in which players develop a TV series and play out the story arcs of characters across an entire season. It’s a flattering comparison and while it may be personal last minute jitters, I want to make sure anyone who expects to find similar themes from that game will be happy. The mechanics of ScreenPlay focus on the storytelling and gameplay, but it’s the actions of the Director that make it cinematic. Once I know those tools are clearly delivered, I can breathe a sigh of relief.
The ScreenPlayers Guild
Discovering how Writers, Directors, and casual readers feel about the game is the key to a successful playtest and there will be two means of accessing that input. First, each draft of the Rehearsal Edition will include three surveys, one for the three levels of participation (reading the game or playing as a Writer or Director). Second, there will be an G+ community for everyone to get together and share their comments publicly, ask questions for myself and other players, hang out, maybe start up a play-by-post game. Either way, the ScreenPlayers Guild is a way to connect with other playtesters and I encourage anyone who’s thinking about giving this a whirl to sign up now and receive 1 bonus playtest point if you join before October 20th.
What’s a playtest point? I’m glad you asked.
Simply asking nicely doesn’t always do the trick, not when there are so many different games to play and so many released on a weekly basis. What we needed was to offer an incentive and that’s where playtest points come in. Anyone who provides feedback on any of the various drafts or shares a link to a draft during these 16 weeks will earn playtest points. The more points you earn, the greater your reward will be at the end. Get your name listed as a playtester in the finished product, earn PDF copies, even unlock additional adventures to playtest. And the top five people will unlock free print copies of ScreenPlay: The Director’s Cut. While I had hoped to share the current point structure with everyone, there are still come adjustments underway and it’s probably best to wait until the Rehearsal Edition launch to see for yourself.
Maximizing the number of playtesters means spreading the word and that’s where we could use YOUR help. Hence the #ScreenPlayRPG hashtag. Anyone who shares a link, posts on their blog or Facebook page, tweets, or whatever will earn 1 playtest point. That’s enough to get you credit in the finished product alone. And we’d love to see your comments, video reviews, and podcasts about it. It’s all about passing it on to the next player.
The response to date has already been rewarding and has given us cause to tighten up a few screws to ensure this first playtest draft is as ready as possible, while still leaving room for flexibility and varied feedback. The clock is counting down and the suspense is building. Soon, it will be out in the world and I will have a stash of paper bags to hyperventilate in or jumping up and down for joy on the wing of a plane 10,000 feet in the air.