Fast & Fhtagn is a good example of how the creative process of game design is one of evolution and change. Even the name changed during the process; the original pitch document has "Fhtagn & Furious" at the top.
I talked in an earlier blog post about how Fast & Fhtagn was envisioned as a standalone sequel to Cthulhu 500. That's not exactly true. The very earliest concept called for it to be a more traditional expansion to it. *Cthulhu 500* would have been required to play, but the expansion would have given the game a completely new method of gameplay along the lines of what you see in Fast & Fhtagn as released.
Playtesting, iteration, and many incremental changes made the case, as time passed, for a standalone Fast & Fhtagn. But even once that decision was made, the results of playtesting led to substantial changes during the design process. For example, Fast & Fhtagn's oversized street mats were originally poker-sized cards, like all the other cards in the game. They were laid horizontally against the street grid, as street mats are, but provided just a thumnail of all six lanes that players needed to mentally expand. (Splitting each section of the city into two mats, for greater variability, was also a later change.) Although moving from cards to street mats had obvious implications for the game's retail price, the substantial improvement in gameplay more than justified the decision.
For a game that parodies the Fast & Furious franchise, the addition of style points was a shamefully late addition. They were not only a great solution to an endgame problem that playtesting revealed, but wound up being an important reflection of the cinematic source material.
Many other changes, great and small, worked their way into — and sometimes out of — the the game design since this project began. I want to give a special shout-out to the playtesters of Mole Departement here in St. Paul who played just about every single iteration of the game.
As with any creative endeavor, a million little iterations and improvements are the key ingredient to producing anything worthwhile. It's easy to become discouraged when it seems like the finish line — whether it's literal or figurative — will never come. I'm glad we kept working on Fast & Fhtagn!
If you've played Fast & Fhtagn, please don't hesitate to let us know what you think! You can reach me at jeff at atlas dash games dot com, find me on Twitter as @jefftidball (and find Atlas as @atlasgames), or leap into the fray on BoardGameGeek's Fast & Fhtagn forum. Reviews on BGG and Amazon are also great ways to let people know what you think, as well as get invovled in the greater gaming community.