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My Father's Work: Player Interview!

My Father's Work: Player Interview!

Posted by Renegade Game Studios on May 5th 2022

In My Father’s Work, players compete as mad scientists who were entrusted with a page from their father’s journal, along with a large estate in which to perform their devious experiments. Players earn points by completing experiments, aiding the Town in its endeavors, upgrading their estates, and hopefully completing their Father’s Work in this app-driven branching-narrative game.

Today, thanks to our very own Dan Bojanowski, the Senior Producer on My Father’s Work, we are able to grant an inside look into two full playthroughs of this highly anticipated game! Each playthrough featured a different set of players. For the first game, Dan sat down and played through the “A Time of War” Scenario with two of his kids (ages 15 and 17). For the second game, Dan played through with his fellow gamer friend. This granted a unique perspective into how the game plays depending on the current table demographic!

For the first game, the total play time was about six hours for a full three generation playthrough. This included a teach of the game, and two 15-minute breaks. Despite the length, the players explain how it flew by incredibly fast, and didn’t feel like six hours at all! They expand on how it felt “epic, leaving many stories to tell afterwards” of “shocking moments, memorable betrayals, and unexpected collaborations”.

The second game closely mirrored these circumstances, taking a total of four hours to complete a full three generation playthrough, but again being reported as an event that flew by! The synopsis of the second game was expressed in two words: “absolutely epic”.

Another common theme for both games, was the inclination to immediately plan the next play session, as the players couldn’t help but think “about how differently the game could have gone (based on different choices) within the same scenario”. Replay value is a component that My Father’s Work prides itself on. In fact, we actually sat down and did the math – there is approximately a 1 in 13,808,372,000,000 chance of playing through the same story twice! The scenarios are crafted to feature a vast branching narrative that can change drastically based not only on player choices, but also on other randomized elements.

To gather even more insight into the player experience, we sat down and interviewed Dan about both games. We asked a handful of questions, aimed to paint a picture of what it’s like to play through My Father’s Work. Without further ado, please feel free to dive into the contents of the interview, which can be found below! 

Q: How did the app function? What platform did you use it on?

A: We used the app on iOS on an iPad. The app functioned well throughout the entire game, and got us through both playthroughs fine. We're still ironing out some bugs and issues, but overall it worked well. The app is done and playable. At this point, we're just polishing and making sure there aren't any lingering bugs that could disrupt optimal player experience!

Q: How many players completed their Masterworks?

A: In the first game, all three of us completed our Masterworks, but it was close. In every game of MFW I’ve ever played, players start off confident in their ability to pull it off. Then in Generation 2, they believe that there is NO WAY they’ll finish it. Then by the end of Generation 3, about 50-75% complete it! In this playthrough, two of the players completed their Masterwork as their VERY LAST action of the entire game, so it was close!

In the second game, we also both completed our Masterworks! I completed my Giant Spider Chariot pretty easily in Generation 3, Round 2, with significant help from a Formaldehyde Estate Upgrade in Generation 1 (allowed me to store an extra completed experiment between Generations). My friend swore that he was not going to be able to complete his Nyctalope, but he did with several actions to spare!

Q: How close were the final scores?

A: In the first game, scores were fairly close by the end. My daughter invested the least into her Journal (knowledge that you can carry over between generations), which hindered her overall score.
In the second game, scores were very close throughout the entire game, with the leader flipping back and forth many times. In Generation 3, I got a few big breaks and that allowed me to pull ahead in the end.

Q: Did anyone reach the end of the Insanity track?

A: Not in the first game. We were all very wary about getting too crazy. We kind of wanted some compulsion cards for quick & easy VPs, but the threat of longer-term Maladjustments and negative consequences, like a spouse leaving, kept us from going too deep into Insanity.

In game two, my friend came VERY close - within 1 space. His spouse and two servants left him, and he ended up with a Maladjustment hindering him a bit for the next generation, but in the end, he felt like it was pretty manageable.

Q: Did anyone get overtaken by the Angry Mob? How did they react?

A: Yes! I was overtaken several times during the first game. It was late in the game, and I just needed to take some creepy actions in order to complete my Masterwork! This led me to a couple sub-optimal turns of staying in my estate, and attending Church to make my reputation less creepy, but it was worth it!

In the second game, we both were overtaken multiple times! I sent my spouse to Church several times to make me seem less creepy to the townsfolk. My friend had a Hounds estate upgrade, which allowed him to hold back the Angry Mob quite a few times. In our final generation, there was a major story twist related to the Angry Mob – but I won’t spoil that. Very surprising and very fun!

Q: How much was Occult knowledge used?

A: Very little in game one, and typically ONLY when an experiment specifically called for it. My children were scared of the penalties associated with the Insanity track. Wild knowledge cubes are very attractive, though!

In game two, it was used a few times when needed, but not sought out as a Journal track upgrade for permanent use.

Q: How experienced were the players with this game prior to this playthrough?

A: Regarding players in the first game, I’ve played My Father’s Work 4-5 times before this one, and as the Producer of the game, I’ve become very familiar with all of the components, the storylines, and strategies. My children had played one time previously, but it was at least a year prior to this playthrough, and in prototype form.

Regarding the second game, it was my friend’s first time playing. Though he managed to stay competitive with me throughout the game, as the basic mechanics are not difficult to grasp.The depth comes through the layering of narrative elements, compounding new challenges, and options available to explore. So the gameplay starts off with some basic experimentation, quite literally. As the game progresses, it gets increasingly challenging with the generational resets and storyline side-tracks.

Q: Why did you choose this Scenario? What was everyone’s favorite part of the story and why?

A: I chose the scenario for the first game because I hadn’t played it before, but I knew that it had some very unique narrative elements and player choices (no spoilers!). There are two main narrative branches in this one, and they are very different. I don’t want to go into details, but I will say that we only used 3-4 pages in the Village Chronicle when this scenario has 22 unique pages/maps. Across the 3 scenarios in the box, there are over 60 map pages! It’s amazing to think how many different ways our game could’ve gone.

For the second game, I wanted to do something different than my previous playthrough. I knew I’d played this before at least twice in prototype form, but this playthrough was wildly different! I’ve seen all of the components before, seen all the maps before, but I didn’t expect the storyline to go in this direction!

Q: Were there any rules that new players found particularly difficult to remember?

A: Nothing from the first game! There is a VERY handy player aid card included that outlines the steps to go through for Start of Round, End of Round, Start of Generation, End of Generation. Each step is pretty simple, but the player aid is very helpful for making sure that each step is completed.

In the second game, my friend was a bit confused by the extra caretaker figure that starts in the Lost pile. There is not typically a way to get access to this figure right away, so it’s not apparent WHY it’s there. But as the game unfolds, several ways are revealed, and it makes sense.

Q: What were everyone’s favorite components and why?

A: For me personally, it’s the GameTrayz. I especially love the component tray that holds all of the coins and resources. The other really neat tray is the card tray. A lot of time was spent making sure that this was functional, both as a card holder and as an in-game card dispenser. The cards are angled at just the right angle to be able to pull cards easily, there’s a lip that makes it so you’re not pulling more than one card, and there is room for sleeved cards if that’s your preference.

My daughter liked the minis. The paint wash on them looks great and there is diversity among the characters that you can personalize your “family” during the game. My son really liked the metal coins and the metal gears for their tactile feel.

My friend, who played in the second game, without a doubt loved the chemical bottles the most. They are super fun to grab, tinker with, open & close, earn, spend, and generally interact with in-game.

Q: How engaging was the gameplay? Did engagement feel consistent, or were there lulls?

A: For game one, I gave my kids a head’s up the day before that I wanted to play this game with them, and that it would be a long game. I gave them an estimate of 2-3 hours. Despite the game taking 6 hours total, they had a great time and say they were engaged the entire time. This was especially exciting for me, as my 15-year-old daughter usually gets antsy if a game takes longer than 45 minutes. It didn’t FEEL like 6 hours at all!

Game two took four hours, and it too flew by! We didn’t take any breaks, as we were engaged the whole time. My 15 y/o daughter was passing by and ended up sitting down and watching and listening to the last 1.5 hours of the game, as she was so interested in the storyline that was unfolding and had to see how it ended. As soon as the game ended, my friend exclaimed how much he was looking forward to playing again, and how epic the game was!

Q: Is there anything anyone was left feeling inspired to try during your next playthrough?

A: Yes - I’ve avoided using Occult knowledge, being scared to go too far down the Insanity track. But having wild knowledge is just so good! I think I want to try using that more in my next game.

After the second game concluded, we both felt inspired to play through more scenarios to try to go down different pathways. There are just so many different outcomes available to players that it leaves you wanting to see what adventures can come next!