Note 2018-06-05: Eldritch Realms has been renamed to Magonomia
The Alpha playtest for Eldritch Realms began in late February. We have five Alpha groups playing the game on a regular schedule, with members of the development team participating or observing.
What's an Alpha playtest? I've borrowed the terminology from software development, which is my day job. Alpha comes before Beta. In a Beta test of software, the product is almost finished and the developers give it to users to check for bugs. Our first Beta round of testing is coming this year. In Alpha testing, the product is less mature and may not even be complete. The point of Alpha testing is to make sure development is on the right track: that the product is basically working and users are happy with the approach.
The Alpha playtest is still in progress. It will run through the end of April. The major design decisions -- that we'll use the Fate Core System game engine and that magic will be based on authentic Renaissance beliefs -- are playing well. Alpha players are accepting them. That said, there will also be a few substantial course corrections: I've discovered that the format for writing spell descriptions like in my post about Sending the Library Angel is vague on some important points of playability, and I'm becoming convinced the initial version of the magical Sciences as posted last July is not quite right. These are exactly the sorts of findings the Alpha playtest is meant to uncover. The playtest is invaluable in helping to shape our rules as we begin the revision process.
Development is proceeding on schedule. I expected we would be making some course corrections as a result of the Alpha playtest and the development team is well prepared to take those in stride. Alpha playtesting will continue through the end of April, then we'll take three months for revisions and produce a complete, end-to-end first draft in time for Beta testing at Gen Con 2018 in August. I hope to see you there!