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Prior to starting the second round of playtesting for Divinity: Original Sin - The Board Game, the game’s developers bring us this Kickstarter update where we can find some stats from the first round and learn how the game is going to be adjusted for round two. As usual, there’s also some fresh sample art.
Here are the text parts:
Hello everyone, and welcome to Kickstarter update number 22!
Today we delve deep into the furnace of playtesting. Very much like blacksmithing, the ore of initial ideas needs to be smelted, shaped into ingots of better design, and forged into something spectacular!
Each successive round of the playtesting process will involve the addition of new and innovative materials. These additions will arise from suggestions made by the previous round of playtests. Playtest Round Two is kicking off soon, and there’s an abundance of gameplay changes for those groups to sink their teeth into!
We want to be reactive with what we learn from each playtest, so these past few weeks have been a flurry of design meetings. The feedback from players was gathered, presented, discussed, and refined into changes and new content that has been directly applied into the game.
We gleaned a huge amount of useful data from Playtest Round One. Based on location and session questionnaires, we were able to track the path each adventuring party took. Furthermore, with questionnaires for leveling up, we observed how player characters went from fledgling magicians to glorious Sourcerors, from back-alley brawlers to martial champions, all based on the choices players made as the game progressed.
At the end of their adventure, playtesters filled out a campaign complete survey, which was wonderful for getting a detailed, granular sense of how players felt about the complexity of the rules, about the abilities on offer, the story being told, and the texture of play.
Thanks to our playtesters’ insights, we compiled a master list with over 60 dynamic changes that are now featured in the Playtest Round Two version of the game.
Expanding Player Options
Just like Divinity: Original Sin II, your character in the Divinity board game has a vast array of options when it comes to skills. Combinations like diving into the fray with a Phoenix Dive and then slapping your opponent silly with your polymorphed tentacle arm are precisely what we want our players to attempt and have fun with. The board game’s skill system was built to emulate that incredible diversity of choices.
One of the main things we discovered over the course of the playtest was that, instead of players believing they had more options as they leveled, they increasingly felt as if there were optimal routes of progression that demanded to be taken. The perception was that they had fewer options. They felt locked in and obliged to become archetypes like a Knight or a Necromancer exclusively.
Naturally, our designers tackled this challenge headlong.
Whether you enjoy specialising in a specific skill school or blending those schools together in a tapestry of power you should be rewarded for that.
In addition, playtesters expressed favoritism in their choices: some skills like Haste, Battering Ram, and Decaying Touch were chosen ubiquitously by adventuring parties; others like Nether Swap, Reactive Shot and Heart of Steel were rarely used. The goal with such a wide selection of skills is to give you a wealth of options, but they should be attractive options too!
Here’s exactly how we’ve addressed those things for Playtest Round Two:
Twelve new Skills have been added into the game. Not only that, they are skills of deliciously deadly capability, each of them occupying a spot at the summit of each skill school. Playtestesters in Round Two will have a hugely bolstered roster they can pick and choose from.
20% of skills have undergone changes and nearly 50% of the talents have been reworked. While some skills and talents needed just a tweak here or there, others have been changed from the ground up to make them more appealing for the player and to give a greater wealth of options during the Level Up process.
A fabulous haul of new Unique Items have been designed and sprinkled throughout the adventure. We had quite a few already in the game, but is there really ever such a thing as ‘enough’ great loot?
These alterations are all about increasing the amount of interesting choices available to players as you explore, engage, and Level Up. The mission is to improve your options, and make the decisions concerning Skills, Talents and Abilities a satisfying and exciting mental tug-of-war.
We’ve added stealing to the game! This was one of the most requested inclusions from Playtest Round One, those wily vagabonds. Consequently, there’s now a brand new Talent that allows you to pilfer from those poor, oblivious merchants you encounter along your journey. We’ll be experimenting with this mechanic in Playtest Round Two to ensure this skullduggery is well balanced, tense, and suitably hilarious. (Look over there! Sucker…)
It was important for us to gauge the game’s overall complexity: what baffled players and what did they grasp easily? The results were hugely encouraging! In the beginning players had an understandable learning curve to ride out, but as they progressed through their adventure, they grew more confident with the rules. By the end, most players were very comfortable with the game’s systems.
Perhaps the trickiest part of the game for our playtesters to grasp has been the Elemental Interactions. The complexities of some of the interactions was evidently a little daunting to those unfamiliar with the Divinity series. In response, we’re adapting a few of the interactions, while also developing a new, streamlined Elemental Flowchart that cleanly illustrates all those wonderful permutations as elements react to one another on the game board. This will be something we’ll continue to refine so it's easy to grasp and fun to use.
Our aim with Playtests Round Two, Three, and Four will be to make the process of mastering the game’s interface as gentle a curve as possible. To accomplish this we’ve updated our Rulebook to better address the common questions we received during playtesting, we’ve added a detailed Player Reference Sheet, the new Table of Elemental Interactions and a ton of clear diagrams to the Rulebook.
Encounters & Difficulty Balance
Tracking the adventuring party’s chartered course means that we know precisely what enemies they fought and how taxing the skirmish was - or if they avoided a potential skirmish altogether! Some fights, for story purposes, are meant to be trivial while others are meant to be as close to the bone as possible.
In Round One of playtesting, the playtesters experiences told us that certain encounters needed small tweaks to make them tougher. They also drew our attention to a fight near the end of the game that they felt was a little too easy.
It’s way harder now.
We wish Round Two playtesters luck.
Content Complete Tests
Playtest Round One was, in majority, mechanically focused. We wanted really focused, in-depth feedback about the nuts and bolts of gameplay. Now, for our upcoming Rounds, we’re adding in all layers of the game, including the fully realised Story Books and the richly immersive Character Origin Books.
Players will be able to appraise new artwork, and even the Nemesis and Haunted Keep expansions. These expansions are ghoulish and fascinating side quests that the adventuring party can embark upon, if they are courageous enough to walk the corridors of silken shadow, and nightmare itself...
Playtest One gave us an amazing amount of feedback, and the game has changed to reflect those insights and suggestions. The end of Playtest Round One brings us a step closer to completion, the process so far has been invaluable and will only serve to enhance the finished experience. With improved skills, twelve all-new ones, augmented Talents, an improved Rulebook, a new Elemental Interactions flowchart, and improved encounter balance we’re excited to see how these changes improve Playtest Two’s experience!
In the next update we’ll tell you how Playtest Two is proceeding, along with another developer deep dive on another feature within the game. To end, we'll leave you with some more updated art cards - roll on Playtest Round Two!