Werewolf Beta Slice: A serving of Rage-filled pie

We released the Beta Slice for Mind’s Eye Theatre: Werewolf the Apocalypse recently, and now we’d like to take a moment to personally thank all our customers, players, and fans who took the time and effort to send us their feedback (positive and negative). You guys love Werewolf, and your passion is very clear and strong in your input.

While reviewing your feedback, it became clear that our new open-development approach hasn’t been clearly explained to those unfamiliar with By Night Studios, so let’s briefly walk through it together.

Imagine that you are cutting a slice out of a pie. (Mmmm, pie….) You might get 10% of the whole pie, but that single slice will give you a solid idea of what the whole thing tastes like. You get some crust and some filling—not everything, but enough to know whether or not the rest of the pie is likely to be delicious or needs to go back in the oven to finish baking. That’s what we intend whenever we release a slice from a game that’s still in development: you get a small preview—a taste—of the greater whole.

Our previous development approach was simpler: we developed and tested privately and then, when we were confident, we released our various slices. If you tracked the development of Mind’s Eye Theatre: Vampire The Masquerade, you noticed that details changed in each slice as we fine-tuned our process and changed things based on observable data.

Then something amazing happened over the last two years.

Our customers and patrons have proven themselves to be amazing, respectful, and willing to experiment with us. We made a lot of friends and learned more about how people play our games all over the world. New organizations and troupes in many different countries have emerged to run Mind’s Eye Theatre: Vampire The Masquerade games in their communities.

This community has earned our trust as partners in making our games better, so we decided to run with a more open testing environment for Mind’s Eye Theatre: Werewolf the Apocalypse, and hope that you would be willing to experiment with us.

An Alpha Slice is a proof-of-concept document that covers the most basic foundations of the rules. Ours, released at Nashville by Night, featured two tribes, a limited selection of Gifts, and a number of core features. We wanted to test these rules in the wild (no pun intended) to see how they worked and how players responded. You sent us a metric ton of feedback that we reviewed, discussed, and debated, and then got to work building out and up from the Alpha foundation. That brought us to the Beta Slice we just released.

We have some difficult choices ahead of us while working on MET Werewolf. We want to honor the history and fans of this ground-breaking game. We also want to expand its audience, giving new players a chance to experience and fall in love with the Garou and their heroic, tragic story. The cultural zeitgeist of today hungers for werewolf stories more than any other time. You only have to visit a bookstore to see the howling from the public for more stories about werewolves of all types. We want to see LARPs with a hundred people raging against the Wyrm. Our difficult task is to figure out the best way to navigate between honoring the game’s rich legacy and helping it find even more players.

The word “Beta” is often confused with a release candidate in video games. Our Beta Slice represents a snaphot of the game’s current development state: it’s not a release candidate, and it includes ideas that are still in brainstorming phase, early development of stories, and experimenting with details. We tossed out a number of rules that the Alpha slice proved didn’t work right, and revised others to reflect feedback and changes in design direction: we did the same thing for MET: VTM and that will likely continue with Werewolf.

Our goal is to produce the very best LARP experience that simulates the glory, drama, and power of Werewolf. This means that we’re going to have to experiment with ways of capturing a very different heroic narratives that were designed for a small tabletop RPG activity and transforming them into an experience that can be shared by 20, 50, or hopefully 100s of players at once. What works great for tabletop doesn’t always work as well for LARP: they are two very different game environments, each with their own strengths, weaknesses, and needs. At the same time, we’re striving to ensure that every rule complies with the Economy of Cool, so that everyone has an equal chance to have fun.

This creative process isn’t going to be easy as we look at the fundamentals of what this game is and what it means to us as players and Storytellers.

How can you help us? We’re glad you asked!

Reading the Beta Slice is a good start, but what we need most is for you to test these rules in actual live situations (playtesting), and then to describe your experience to us. The math of the BNS core rules has a different axis than previous editions. At a glance, the numbers can seem strange if you haven’t experienced MET: VTM. We want feedback that describes not just your opinions, but your experience in trying out the rules. How did it feel to fight as a Get of Fenris, or as a Silver Fang? Did the rules help capture what it should be like to rage? We need to know this, so that we can continue to develop this game into something beyond epic.