Designing Games: A Couple's Perspective

This blog chronicles the game designing journey of husband and wife team Will and Sarah. Mostly written by Sarah, this blog is meant to be informative, interesting and fun. Oh, and a historical account so we can come back in the future and laugh at our naive selves. ;-D
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Designer Diary 8 for Project Dreamscape: Incorporating Play-Tester Feedback

Sarah Reed
United States
Rancho Cordova
California
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Written by Will Reed

Play-testers make games so much better. In this installment, I wanted to focus on the way I’ve incorporated feedback from the play-testers to make the game all nice and shiny. It’s their hours of play time that makes sure this game does not break. So a big thank you to all of you. Your names are in the credits.

Scoring

I am not ashamed to say, with all the thought and detail I put into the game, the scoring was just a mess. Frankly, it took the play-testers suggesting time and again how to streamline and make the process meaningful. Not sure why I had such a problem figuring this process out.

I believe my first version involved a number of mathematical equations followed by some comparisons and lord knows what else. Thankfully I no longer remember the entire process. So, one of the first things that happened was the play-testers said, “Just add up the dream score and subtract the Z score.”

This was a breath of fresh air. However, the play-testers were far from finished. In later games they mentioned that the longer chains needed better returns. So I tried applying about five different number sequences until I found something that felt right. After that was done, I still had some weird number issues with the 2, 3, and 4 long chains. Again, a play-tester came to the rescue and gave me a simple fix that worked perfectly.

Language

You know how you understand something in your head but when it comes time to explain it, you’re lucky if someone doesn’t accidently hurt themselves trying to follow your rules? Well, writing rules for games is a lot like that. Those little bits of information that are naturally meant need to be caught and it’s the play-testers that do that.

It’s the difference between “any” and “all” that make a world of difference at times. We can’t express how happy we are to have those brave souls willing to explain time and again why certain things MUST be in the rules.

Game Flow

This game has no business playing as smoothly as it does. And that is all possible because of play-testers. They clearly identified what felt clunky and where things needed to be sped up. Gaining currency at the beginning of your turn, that’s a play-tester suggestion.

By the end, we started getting comments that they game ended too soon. Problem is we are making a filler game that we want in the half hour mark and that’s exactly how long it took them to play. Of course, we still need to explore this suggestion and will be looking at putting two copies of the game together to see if it lengthens the game while remaining balanced. We just want to make sure this game doesn’t overstay its welcome.

Next Time

The hopes and dreams I have for the future of this game. And I’m still making puns.
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Subscribe sub options Wed Jan 14, 2015 6:05 am
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