Playtest, tweak, rinse, repeat. I think I'm starting to tire of this cycle.
Actually, that's not entirely accurate. Playtests are always instructive. Watching the flow of each game and how the players react to the randomness always helps me find weaknesses in the game's balance.
The problem is, these playtests don't provide data quickly enough. After a couple of test plays at my local gaming store, I can usually get enough feedback to identify something that needs to be tweaked. Go home, make a change... and then wait a week until it's game night again. This pace is frustratingly slow. I'm eager for the testing to be done so I can start on the next phase. I can't skip any testing, though, because I know there are lingering balance issues.
I guess the next step is to move to "blind" playtesting, where I release copies of the game (or the files needed to build a copy) to anyone that wants it, so they can play it themselves without my supervision and give me feedback without taking up my time. This type of testing is also good because it highlights weaknesses in the rulebook and player aids, which are the sole source of rules info since I'm not physically there. I'm a little afraid of just releasing Manaforge's source files everywhere, though. While unlikely, it is possible that someone might try to copy the game. (I've heard it said that ideas are worthless, it's only when you put work into them that they gain value. Well, this idea has a lot of work behind it.) And I don't have the files ready for that sort of usage, anyway. It would take some putting together.
What I would really like to do is to get more people to playtest on the Tabletopia service. Less work for everyone involved. I could open up a game room to anyone that wants to join and play. Anyone can download the rulebook, jump onto the website, and play a full game, without any intervention from me. However, finding players doesn't seem to be that simple. The last call I put out for playtesters got a grand total of four responses. After some pulling in of friends, that worked out to two playtests. A good start, to be sure, but I need more.
At what point is it safe to let my creation out of my hands long enough for others to have fun with it? Perhaps, now?
So... does anyone want to play a game? I can open up the Tabletopia link and have people play without me. Drop me a message. Email, Facebook, or Twitter. Info is on my Contact page. Suggestions for new communication channels would be helpful as well. :)