Posts Tagged ‘playtesting’

Making sure there is game

April 25, 2013

There’s an important early step when designing a game, and that’s the initial playtests.

It’s vital to get out into the open with a very early set of rules and prototypes, and actually run through the game a couple of times. You’ll always want to do this with a trusted few play testers, those who you know won’t pull their punches.

Sometimes a game will feel great in your head, but it won’t actually play well. Rules intended to create tension and interest just lead to misery. Something that you thought was cool is just unworkable.

It’s important to actually get playthroughs as these issues become obvious quickly.

In a card game I was working on, a mechanic that was supposed to allow a losing player to catch up was just letting the leading player get further ahead. It was a bad situation, and after a couple of plays it became clear that there was no way to salvage it.

It was much better to junk the game early, and start again, then to put lots of effort into development and polish for a wider set of playtesters.

Test early and often, and iterate on what you learn. This will lead to success (or at least more fun games).


Making use of your resources

October 7, 2008

In another thought on execution often being as important as your ideas, make sure that you are always in a position to make use of all of your resources, especially when playtesting a game.

When you are playtesting your game, make sure you either have spare copies, or can produce one quickly, so that any playtesters you get can have a chance to play the game. Also make sure to always have enough space for the playtesters you expect, plus some spare for the ones you didn’t think you’d see at that session.

Make sure you can take on their feedback quickly and easily, consider a technological way of doing it, either via a wiki, CMS, or even e-mail is better than a scribbled note (but notes are better than nothing).

If you find out your playtesters have a knack for rules writing, proofreading, art or whatever, then try to make use of this if they are willing, rather than just using them to play the game, get them involved earlier in the process, many hands making light work.

Plan to treat your playtesters well, get snacks and drinks in for the gaming session, and make sure it’s in a pleasant environment suited to games.

If you plan your playtesting sessions to cover the various scenarios and possibilities that may occur, then you are likely to have better sessions. Better sessions mean more playtesters are likely to return next time, meaning you get the most benefit, for a small additional outlay of work.