Although I’ve been working on Hexteria on and off the past few months, I’d hit kind of a rut where I was feeling “stuck”. The game was at a point where I felt like it was solid: the rules were well-defined, the player interactions were interesting, and overall it didn’t totally suck. In fact, many people who’d played it said they enjoyed it. (Whether they were only saying that to protect my feelings, I’m not sure, but it still felt good to hear people tell me it wasn’t awful.)
However, I’d kind of “burned out” my local gaming friends, since all of them have played it multiple times with only incremental changes each time. Unless you really love a game, you don’t generally want to keep playing it over and over, every time you get together. Much of what I’ve read about game design stresses the importance of playtesting… over and over. So I felt stuck, because I couldn’t keep playtesting it locally, but needed to engage other friends and perhaps one day, complete strangers.
Enter Tabletop Simulator, a “virtual” table where you can create game pieces and invite others to join you at the table. A simple physics engine makes the pieces feel realistic as you move them around by picking them up and setting them down. Although it’s definitely not the same as sitting at a table in person, it’s surprisingly good. I’d been resistant to using Tabletop Simulator– despite a recommendation from Ben– because it just felt clunky, and my first experience playing around with it six months ago was pretty negative. But I rolled up my sleeves and went to work. One Saturday afternoon later, I had all the Hexteria pieces created and loaded into the simulator. It looks pretty sharp!
Ben was willing to be my first remote playtester, so we opened a Google Meet chat and sat down to play. It went well, and I was thrilled that I now have a new avenue of introducing the game to friends, and getting more feedback without burning out too many people. Thanks Ben! Now I’m lining up games with friends in Florida, Virginia, Colorado, Missouri, and Nebraska. Hopefully they’ll like it, they’ll have some good suggestions, and Hexteria will continue to edge closer to being a marketable game.
So I’m revitalized in my hobby, and excited to move forward. It reminds me of this quote:
In a few months, I hope to put on my marketing hat and create the Kickstarter campaign that’ll introduce it to the world and maybe get a hundred or so people to buy the game. Fingers crossed!