Dream of the Red Binder

Games go through many phases when they’re being developed. Most people know of beta releases – this is when many games are brought to public attention. Before that, however, is the even more rough alpha stage. This is where Aes is currently.

In a beta, you basically have what you know you want the game to look like. Your goal is to get it polished and ready for release. This can take many years. An alpha, in contrast, is a “throw things at a wall, see what sticks” stage. This is when crazy ideas are the best ideas. You never know what concept might spark an entirely new mechanic. This stage offers a lot of freedom, since anything can be modified based on the feedback garnered.

For the alpha of Aes, we’ve chosen to start with a “minimal viable product.” This is a concept we encountered via Extra Credits. While aimed at video games, the concept applies broadly to all kinds of games as a way to test the basic mechanics. The very first go at Aes was a mess, with overly complex rules and unnecessary details. It wasn’t until we boiled down the main mechanics, picked out the main features that stood at the foundation of the play, that the game began to gel. (More on that process later.)

This is the alpha. It’s missing, on purpose, a lot of features that we plan to add later. Materials, kindred, status effects – all are planned, but none of them are here. At least at first. We’re starting with as basic as we can make it, because if it’s fun in this form, then adding more depth will only amplify that fun. If there’s a problem, then it’ll be both easy to spot and easy to correct, since there won’t be a ton of content set in stone.

There are, currently, 10 alpha booklets, coil bound to make reading easier. Enhancing these will be packets of info as they’re made. When those packets pile up, a new alpha book comes out with revisions that emerge from testing.

For the developers, though, we need a more steadily compiled version. Solution?

The Red Binder.

Our content is single sided and hole punched, inserted and replaced as it’s made so we always have the most up to date version. The binder is held onto by the developer running product demonstrations. It shall be our good luck charm in the months to come!

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