The Saturday of TokenCon, as with all multi-day weekend events, is the busiest day. We girded our loins and partook of the free breakfast, and then the crowds hit and kept hitting all day.
I have never had such a consistent flow of people willing to stop and talk – I have done many, many craft markets, but there is either too much of a crowd to really stop at all, or so few people that it feels awkward for them to get too close in case a desperate stallholder snares them and reels them in. The Indie Zone didn’t feel like that at all.
TokenCon had just the right vibe that we never had empty seats – we even had people who sat down and joined in once a game had started, proving my hypothesis that Bubble Net works as a rolling game – people could and did join in when other players were a few rounds in, and they were able to continue playing, sharing the deck until the earlier players finished their games.
George took a 4-player group away to play Mycelia in the Open Gaming space as all the Indie tables were full, and I also did a demo of Bubble Net with 4 players once a table opened up in the Indie Zone.
Again, the feedback was overwhelmingly positive, and while some players wanted a lot of additional strategic elements, the vast majority really enjoyed it as it was intended to be – a palette-cleanser between strategic games, or a meditative solo like Patience/Solitaire, the kind of game you play when you feel like a puzzle or a crossword, or as a warm-up or cool down on game night. It’s also perfect for rotating groups to move in and out of the game as some games finish and they wait for others to start, so it’s a great one to have set up on a table near the main gaming areas if you tend to have groups over. We got a lot of this from our question: “what would you tell your friends about this game?” and it feels like we definitely have a game worth publishing here!
In the evening, we launched straight into a pitching demo, hosted and critiqued by Jay Cormier. We had planned to bring a few extra prototypes with us that had sell sheets already made, so we applied to pitch – but with very little time to set up beforehand, I didn’t feel like I did my best work. I did, however, get some excellent feedback – and watching myself pitch will also be very useful, even if we never actually pitch these particular games to publishers.
First up, I pitched Brambleton, and I forgot to talk about what ended up being one of the hooks of the game – the double-ended Rabbit deck cards that allow the active player to choose an action from one end, and all others to choose from the other, meaning every turn includes an action for everyone. Brambleton is a competitive game, but as is the case in real life, rabbits survive by working together.
Second was a pitch from one of the other designers, and while he was talking, I was setting up to record George, who went third with his prototype for what we call “the bagel game“. It’s full of humour and puns, and George did a great job of explaining it in a way that immediately got Jay interested and asking questions.
After George, another designer pitched a TCG, then it was my turn again, with Short Circuit, which is a much simpler game. Jay pointed out that there was an opportunity to improve it, and overnight, with the feedback from other designers incorporated as well, I found a way to make it cooler without losing or adding any components.
We need to test it, but the overall change is that, instead of drawing from a bag, like you do in Scrabble, you will choose both your components and your goals in a manner similar to Azul – the goal cards are face-down, but they have the same number of empty spaces as requirements on the other side. You draw tiles from the bag, like Azul, and place them on the cards to match the indicated tile count, but you also take the card – so you now have another possible goal to achieve. Thematically, what you are doing is recycling old electrical appliances to make new ones.
Once the Pitch Session was over, we rolled straight into how to write a good rulebook. We were all a bit silly and overtired by this point, so it got a bit raucous, but we still learnt good things from writing the rules for Snakes and Ladders – especially after watching this video about making PB&J sandwiches!
We finished the night at Denny’s, where Dave never got his toast, #toastgate, and then we crashed – after midnight again, but that’s pretty much par for the course at conventions.