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Subject: Blindtesting? rss

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Charles Vasey wrote:
calandale wrote:
airjudden wrote:

I didn't know it was called that. I thought all games were done this way. I have seen a few that look like they are not and I can tell because I ask, "How the heck did they not catch that in playtesting?"
What always shocked me was the degree to which it was not
adequately done by some companies in the past. Especially AH.
I look at things like Republic of Rome and Geronimo, and have
absolutely no idea why the blindtesting feedback didn't tell
them they had really terrible rules.

Then again, with things like The Struggle of Nations, it seems
pretty clear they had it at the printer before they bothered
looking at any playtest feedback (there are errata in the
game's Q&A section); and it never got enough rounds of playtesting
to really hammer it into a reasonable game - much less to pass it
through a blindtest routine. It made more sense (and never was so
extreme) with SPI's often maligned process (though in the 3W days,
S&T managed some doozies).
The problem with blind testers is they have a short life before they begin to be able to "correct" errors automatically. You need new blood.
In computer games development we call these Kleenex* testers. Use them once then grab a new one. It is the only way to insure fresh eyes every time.

*a brand of Tissue for wiping noses etc.

It is hard and expensive though, plus the learning curve on most computer and video games is usually designed to be significantly smaller than a wargame.

I doubt I could do it, particularly for any set of rules longer than half a dozen pages. In my dotage I find it hard enough to wade through new rules at the best of times, let along do it knowing I am certain to find problems.

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airjudden wrote:
One of my buddies did that for Dawn of the Zeds (Second edition). I think Victory Point Games will let people blind test them.

I didn't know it was called that. I thought all games were done this way. I have seen a few that look like they are not and I can tell because I ask, "How the heck did they not catch that in playtesting?"

I did it for the first time this year. When I learned about Hands in the Sea, a deck builder on the First Punic War, I jumped at the chance and wrote the designer about playtesting it. Not having a chance to get a lot of face-to-face time in town, I created a Vassal module for it and he and I played it a LOT. I posted sessions and screenshots on the "Wargames on Your Forum", provided quite a bit of feedback and suggestions. Some of those cards are directly from my suggestion (puffs out chest).

When the game gets published, I'll probably have a credit somewhere in the back of the book and a copy of the game, but if it gets Kickstarted, I'll fund it anyways, because I really believe it, and not because I came up with a couple of ideas. I really enjoy it and moved it #2 on my Top 10.

Yeah, the "reward" vs. time spent isn't there financially. That's why I have a career. If I were paid to do it, I don't think I would do as well. If you do it because you love it, you put your heart into it. Plus, I got other rewards: 1) The game was by far the hardest Vassal module I ever built, but it's a doozy. At first, I borrowed a lot of the ideas from A Few Acres of Snow. Now, there is hardly anything in common, because this one is so much better. The only module I have seen that is more automated is the one for Twilight Struggle (the king of all modules, in my book). By creating this, I made myself a much better module creator for future modules. 2) I have a copy of the game and don't have to wait!

It's also been fun to see how a game is created. How much chrome do you add? Who is your audience? Design for effect. Stuff like that.

I had a lot of fun doing it. I won't do it much, but if the topic is of great interest and I personally like the designer, I'd do it again.
Pay no attention. I couldn't differentiate between blind test and playtest. shake
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calandale wrote:

Are there wargamers out there - willing to cast a significant amount
of effort into learning and providing detailed comments on a game
in exchange for a (early) free copy and a name in the credits? Or
are the only people willing to do this all tied up in a few projects?
Are you recruiting for a specific project?

Or are you trying to set up a ready pool of prospective souls who might serve as a resource for the good of the community at large?

I'd be interested in the latter if such a thing existed, both to contribute to and to eventually take advantage of.
 
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adorablerocket wrote:


Or are you trying to set up a ready pool of prospective souls who might serve as a resource for the good of the community at large?

I'd be interested in the latter if such a thing existed, both to contribute to and to eventually take advantage of.
I'm not really that motivated. I was sounding the idea out to
try and see how it's done now, and was kinda hoping people from
both sides of the equation might post, organically generating such
a situation. A means of people just posting that they're looking for
gamers/willing to test certain games.

I can see a reluctance to put a 'call' to gamers out though. But, I
suspect very motivated and potentially good blindtesters are simply
not aware that they have to reach out when they hear a game they're
interested in (or are unwilling to make unsolicited requests). There's
likely reluctance to reach out on either side.

 
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I suppose one way to do it is to start a new thread where anybody interested in being a "Blind Tester" could subscribe to. Then game designers looking for blind testers could post to the thread (limit one per game), and interested testers could Personal Mail them their details.


I was originally thinking a group or guild or whatever they are, but a thread will have the advantage of being more easily discovered by new BGG members.
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adorablerocket wrote:
I suppose one way to do it is to start a new thread where anybody interested in being a "Blind Tester" could subscribe to. Then game designers looking for blind testers could post to the thread (limit one per game), and interested testers could Personal Mail them their details.


I was originally thinking a group or guild or whatever they are, but a thread will have the advantage of being more easily discovered by new BGG members.

I would participate in that. What a great idea!
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I've playtested for quite a few Sierra Madre Games, so I don't count as a blindtester for those (although I was asked to play a game or two of a complete pre-production version of Pax Porfiriana, which I had no hand in), but I've also playtested for a few other companies.

I can only agree with many of the things already said - the same playtesters tend to test games by the same publisher/creator, simply because they like those games and volunteer first. And, yes, it can be a lot of work - I played virtually nothing else but High Frontier Colonization for a couple of months... wow And I didn't even always get a copy of the game (I will Colonization, I hope...)

So I can understand the problem of finding people willing to take a chance on testing a game they don't know, from a writer whose style they probably don't know, and for a publisher whose playtest reporting methods they may not know (they do differ...) But I also agree strongly that it's a good idea to have blindtesters - over familiarity can lead to unfathomable rules and great holes in games where the playtesters have made assumptions that newcomers can't.

For myself, I'll put my name up for small, short wargames. I can't guarantee getting the time for a full-blooded game on a regular basis...
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Another thing...

For anyone who has never playtested, it should be noted that most of the time isn't actually spent playing the game. Starting to play, yes. I'll typically play a game or two just to see how it goes, then start trying alternative strategies. Often stupid ones. More often than not, I'll only get a few turns into a game before abandoning it & starting again - that strategy didn't work, or produced weird results, or just wasn't catered for in the rules. All that has to be reported...

Playtesting the end of a game is often the time consuming bit. You have to get there with a realistic situation on the table (or, better,a variety of realistic situations...), and still try out those odd & unlikely strategies. In addition, of course, to the preferred strategies, actually trying to win!

That's what takes up the time & effort - not playing, but actively trying to break the game.
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I know there are professional companies that do play testing for video games. I used to work for one (Absolute Quality in Hunt Valley, MD).

I wonder if there is enough of a demand to form an independent company specializing in board game testing and development?
 
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Springheeledjack wrote:

I wonder if there is enough of a demand to form an independent company specializing in board game testing and development?
Not unless the market changes significantly.
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Springheeledjack wrote:
I know there are professional companies that do play testing for video games. I used to work for one (Absolute Quality in Hunt Valley, MD).

I wonder if there is enough of a demand to form an independent company specializing in board game testing and development?
If there is, I'm in! But as has already been said, it's highly unlikely. That does not mean, however, that there isn't a need for some sort of playtest group for abstracts. It would, however, be a mutual support group; ie: no one gets paid except in kind. I am definitely up for that. I need playtesters, and I have been a playtester. I'm a member of Spielbany and the NYC Game Designers Playtest Group, which, since I live in Westchester, is harder for me to get to than Albany. What are the chances that a group could be put together, probably mostly online but with the possibility of face-to-face get-togethers, voluntarily?
 
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Jason Andersen
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Im very interested what do you need from me to start?
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raul_duke wrote:
Im very interested what do you need from me to start?
First, tell us to whom you are replying! I'm absolutely sure most of the people here could offer you a playtest/blindtest "position". I know I could. I'm currently working on a diceless wargame construction kit, and playtesting various scenarios. I'd send you a PnP - Print and Play - file of the board and pieces, and rules. The artwork is good quality, and the rules are pretty solid generally.

I'd expect you to print out the files, glue the board and pieces to suitable backing, then cut them out, and play the game, either solo or with friends, and let me know what you think by answering a fairly short questionnaire on the rules pieces art, gameplay... The questionnaire may be fairly short, but your answers could be a bit longer. You get a free game, mention in the credits, and payment in kind from me. I will put together, playtest and critique a game of your choice of commensurate complexity and length, or provide some equivalent service we both agree upon.

If you show at my house, I offer the standard food bribe... Others' offers may vary. I'm sure you can pick and choose from a number of offers. See which ones you like and check them out. Enjoy!
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