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 Post subject: Birds of Prey Blind Test
PostPosted: Fri Apr 06, 2007 10:07 pm 
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Joined: Thu Sep 08, 2005 10:00 am
Posts: 5095
Location: Milwaukee, WI
Ad Astra Games has Birds of Prey under consideration for publication later this year. We've been following the development for several years, while putting out similar products. There are a lot of reasons why it makes sense for BoP to find its publishing home with Ad Astra - we already produce similar components, we have an understanding of Tony and Phil's vision, and an appreciation for it.

We've played the game at Origins, and liked it; it's got incredible innovation under the hood, and it's got a lot of replay value. However, we need to see feedback from people who have never played the any version of it before, who have no idea what a PHAD is, and have never heard of a nomogram.

In particular, Phil has been slaving away at the tutorial for the last two months, and we need to let some people try to learn the game solely from the tutorial with no input, or question and answer sessions with the developer (Phil) or the designer (Tony). We need people who will give a sharp criticism of the layout of the play aids, the process flow of the game, and overall playability - again, without back and forth with the developer or designer.

The ultimate goal is to make sure that Birds of Prey can be played without putting the designer in every box, to run it through the wringer of usability testing, and to get the feedback to Phil as quickly as possible.

This is going to be a frustrating experience for the playtesters and the developers. There is nothing quite so terrifying as seeing a project you've put years into go out into the hands of playtesters who havn't seen it grow up - there will be lots of "Why is it this way?" and "That isn't like the way I'm used to doing it..." and "Damn, I just don't understand it..."

In the end, the frustration will pay off in a better game.

If you're interested in strapping yourself into a high performance jet combat game as a test pilot, Ad Astra needs you.

1) Email Ken Burnside at design@adastragames.com and state your willingness to do so. Also include what other air games you've played, and whether or not you've played either Attack Vector: Tactical or Saganami Island Tactical Simulator. (Neither is required, but there are concepts that you'd be familiar with from either of them that carry over to BoP, and some "that's not the way the other game does it..." differences)

2) Create an account at www.adastragames.com/discus.html - we do require your real first and last name, not your call sign or internet handle. It makes it MUCH easier to track down names for playtester credits. We have a private forum where blind testers can post their comments. Phil and Tony will get the reports after the blind testing deadline happens, but they don't get to post in the forums to ask rules questions.

3) You'll need access to color printing and lamination. Table space for a miniatures-size game, and a shipping address so we can send you some tilt blocks, stacking tiles and maps. Some familarity with tape, scissors and arts and crafts is essential.

4) While a face-to-face opponent is encouraged, it's not essential. What IS essential is that you take the time to set the game up and play it, rather than read it. A lot of concepts in BoP need to be "run" not "read" to make sense, and there will be times when, reading the rule, you'll say "That can't possibly work..." only to find out that, yes, it does.

5) Deadlines for applications for this round of blind testing are the 13th of April (Lucky Friday the 13th). Deadlines for posting your reports, going THROUGH the tutorial without outside assistance are the 30th of April. After those reports come in, Phil will revise the tutorial/play aids/ADCs to suit, and we'll do the second round call for blind testers. We need rapid turnaround time, and we need people to be unsparing - if the game frustrates you, please take the time to explain WHY. Be verbose. Every frustration we can iron out now will make the game far better when it's published.

6) To cover costs of shipping materials, we ask for an honorarium of $20. We have found that charging honoraria for playtest materials means that we get fewer applications, but a higher percentage of them turn in reports - in particular, if someone really dislikes the game, having paid $20 for it usually means they'll be following the "be verbose" instructions for it. (Rough figures are that about 30% of people who pay the honorarium actually comment on the games, and 2% of people who get the material for free do.) We accept payment by PayPal at adastragames@gmail.com. please make sure the subject says "Birds of Prey Honorarium". We can also take credit card orders over the phone at 319 277 2630.

7) Foreign customers will get materials shipped out as quickly as possible, but we expect them to participate in the round 2 blind testing.

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Ken Burnside
President
Ad Astra Games


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 Post subject: Phase II Blind Testing Open
PostPosted: Thu Jun 14, 2007 11:21 am 
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Joined: Thu Sep 08, 2005 10:00 am
Posts: 5095
Location: Milwaukee, WI
Birds of Prey is a modern jet combination simulation/wargame, that uses accurate 3-D movement, tilt blocks, box miniatures, and all the other Ad Astra tricks to put a slick UI on a really complex set of flight performance dynamics.

We are going to be opening phase II blind testing this weekend. Phase II means we need fresh eyeballs to play the raw noob going through the tutorial, someone who hasn't played the game before (or hasn't tried it recently), and is willing to say "OK, I didn't understand this part..." This is a comprehension check, more so than a proofreading check, though we'll take proofreading if we can get it.

The goal is to effectively give two rulebooks in the box. One is a fly through tutorial - once you're through the tutorial, you've played 5 or 6 turns of combat, and should be able to pick up the rest of the rules as a variation on what you already learned and know. The other is the "crunchy rule book" - the rulebook for the people who'll never punch the countersheets, but want to be sure that the aerodynamics model is correct, or want to be able to compare a MiG 29 to an F-15 on the stats cards and nod knowingly.

This run is aimed mostly at the tutorial book.

Any new people coming in get a week's head start on people who did Phase I testing.

As before:

If you're interested, send me $20 USD by PayPal at adastragames@gmail.com. Make sure your shipping address is included so I can mail you the kit. If you give good commentary, the $20 USD counts against purchase price of the final product.

If you give excellent commentary, you get a freebie copy of the final product.

We find that giving the rules away for free means >2% response rate. Charging for the rules means 30% response rate, and generally more useful feedback.

You will also need to create an account on the Ad Astra web site at http://www.adastragames.com/discus.html. Your username needs to be your real first and last names; makes it easier to get the spelling right in playtest credits.

We use the Ad Astra forums to moderate and run the playtest.

_________________
Ken Burnside
President
Ad Astra Games


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