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Eric Burden
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How does one become a playtester if they don't live anywhere near a boardgaming company? Also, what is recquired for those that do get to be playtesters? Just curious if anyone knew.

Thank you,
turks1966
 
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Ryszard Tokarczuk
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Re: Becoming a Playtest?
In our times, it is possible to contact the designer or developer through an email or private message (like on Boardgamegeek). Some companies make a decision to help in creating the Vassal module for playtesters. Some can send files for the testers, so playtesters can print them and have a self-made copy of the game. Another alternative is sending the playtest materials through regular postal services.

If you would like to become a playtester, please reach out to a designer, developer or other people involved in creation/ testing of the game (networking through other playtesters is possible, though a developer may be the best person to speak with).

What is the hardest part is to provide the regular reports from your own playtests Hey, no one is saying that working is easy

In any case, staying in contact with developer and providing feedback is a key, usually it happens through emails.

Hope that helps!
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Re: Becoming a Playtest?
RyTo wrote:

What is the hardest part is to provide the regular reports from your own playtests Hey, no one is saying that working is easy


This bit is really key: being able to provide regular feedback is not nearly as easy as it sounds. Not that being a playtester isn't fun, but you need to be willing to grind variations of a game down and write about it.
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Tom Russell
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Re: Becoming a Playtest?
At Hollandspiele we occasionally put out a call for playtesters both on BGG and on Facebook. We'll send PNP files to the playtesters.

I would say that about 20% of the folks who volunteer actually get the game on the table. When we get a couple dozen volunteers for a game, that's fine; when it's just a handful of folks, it's more of an issue. We get useful feedback either way, but we obviously want more folks who can get it on the table. (It helps to know your tastes and to know a little bit about the game you're volunteering to playtest, so you can make sure it's a game you're going to be able to get on the table.)

So I would say the ability to get the game on the table, and to communicate, are key.
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Judd Vance
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Re: Becoming a Playtest?
When I learned of Hands in the Sea in the works, I wrote the designer and asked if he needed playtesters. I did some on prototypes, but I couldn't learn a lot from playing solo. I learned a little, but not much.

It wasn't until I made the Vassal module and played the designer for years that things began to reveal themselves. The advantage was playing another player and getting another view. Also, since I was playing the man himself, it was easy to bounce ideas, and I knew we were playing the game correctly, as he could answer any rules questions on the spot. We communicated via e-mail a lot, also, but the instant back-and-forth was the most productive.

My favorite was when I was convinced his game had a strategy that could break the game. I was absolutely convinced of it, so he let me try it, and smacked me around. OK, lesson learned: I suck.

But we also did find a pair of game-breaking strategies. One we stumbled on to blindly and the other was one we had suspected, and developed over time. When I finally beat him, he knew it was time to fix that (it was the only time I beat him).

If you get into playtesting, be careful what you are getting into. I had an enormous passion for the game from the get go. Normally, I won't play test. I don't like undeveloped games. I want a polished product. It is a huge time commitment. You aren't going to play it once or twice and gleam all of your insights from it.

I don't mind making playtest Vassal modules for others to work with, but I don't like playtesting, myself. HitS was the exception (although I would work with Dan on another project -- he's just that cool).
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Rory McAllister
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Re: Becoming a Playtest?
Most companies will post either on their own websites or on CSW and ask for playtesters. Almost all playtesting now is done by Vassal because it is cheaper and quicker than sending out playtest kits to playtesters. As mentioned earlier, sometimes designers will send out a call for playtesters as well.
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Michael Rinella
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Re: Becoming a Playtest[er]?
For every four playtest kits I mail to playtesters I get no response from two, a single cursory (and essentially useless) response from one, and one decent set of multiple reports.

This is why I tend to work only with people I have found to be reliable in the past and why you see the same names in the credits of many of my designs.
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Playtesting is not as "fun" as it sounds. It's a lot of work being a good playtester so you need to be prepared to spend a lot of time doing it and provide regular communication and feedback with suggestions to the developer. When any changes are made to the rules or mechanics then the playtesting has to begin again to see how those changes affected gameplay. Usually even a small change can have a domino effect on other rules or mechanics and more adjustments need to be made.

Everyone that has said that only a small percentage of people that say they will playtest your games and actually do it is very true. But the value of good playtesters cannot be underestimated. I've only developed a couple games and I have found this to be true as well. At first people seem to be very excited about playtesting until they actually have to do it, then crickets. I truly appreciate all of the people that actually have helped out and donated their valuable time for free.
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Judd Vance
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Michael Rinella wrote:
For ever four playtest kits I mail to playtesters I get no response from two, a single cursory (and essentially useless) response from one, and one decent set of multiple reports.

This is why I tend to work only with people I have found to be reliable in the past and why you see the same names in the credits of many of my designs.


Mike is really great to work with. When I made his Last Battle module, the rules were polished, the counter art and map were sharp. I would guess 90% of the game was done and he and the play testers put the spit shine on it and then Charles Kiebler added a sheen of awesomeness to it.

I play tested a single card on Festung Europa and again, it was very polished. If you are looking to get into play testing, I would highly recommend him. But be warned, he will spoil you.
 
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Kurt Keckley
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turks1966 wrote:
How does one become a playtester if they don't live anywhere near a boardgaming company? Also, what is recquired for those that do get to be playtesters? Just curious if anyone knew.

Thank you,
turks1966


If you are willing to build a physical copy of the game AND have a regular FtF opponent you will be in high demand. thumbsup
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Osprey wrote:
Playtesting is not as "fun" as it sounds. It's a lot of work being a good playtester so you need to be prepared to spend a lot of time doing it and provide regular communication and feedback with suggestions to the developer. When any changes are made to the rules or mechanics then the playtesting has to begin again to see how those changes affected gameplay. Usually even a small change can have a domino effect on other rules or mechanics and more adjustments need to be made.

Everyone that has said that only a small percentage of people that say they will playtest your games and actually do it is very true. But the value of good playtesters cannot be underestimated. I've only developed a couple games and I have found this to be true as well. At first people seem to be very excited about playtesting until they actually have to do it, then crickets. I truly appreciate all of the people that actually have helped out and donated their valuable time for free.
I came to say this. Playtesting sounds like fun, but mostly when you do it, it's not. If you're successful, you just play a game full of problems and report what they are. Then you have to play it again with fixes that may or may not have worked. Then again, and again, and so on. By the time the game is actually good, you're pretty close to sick of it.

On top of that, there are game designers who take criticism well, but most don't. On the plus side, that means that if you report a lot of problems with a game, the designer will simply drop you for the next round! But some of them will get very defensive and that is really unpleasant.

The worst of it is that all the time you spend playtesting is, for most of us, time lost when we could have been playing excellent, polished games. And it's often a lot of time lost. The hardest part of playtesting for me is getting my game group to keep playing the game being tested. They're totally cool the first 2-3 times but after that they just want to get back to playing regular games.

Pete (usually volunteers to playtest when someone asks, even though it's far more "work" than "play")
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Pete
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p38_Lightning wrote:
turks1966 wrote:
How does one become a playtester if they don't live anywhere near a boardgaming company? Also, what is recquired for those that do get to be playtesters? Just curious if anyone knew.

Thank you,
turks1966


If you are willing to build a physical copy of the game AND have a regular FtF opponent you will be in high demand. thumbsup
That's usually how it goes. Sometimes they send you printed cardstock, but you're still expected to cut and assemble the game yourself. Usually I just get files and have to print-and-play myself.

Pete (likes print-and-play so that's not an issue)
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Michael Tan
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Michael Rinella wrote:
For ever four playtest kits I mail to playtesters I get no response from two, a single cursory (and essentially useless) response from one, and one decent set of multiple reports.

This is why I tend to work only with people I have found to be reliable in the past and why you see the same names in the credits of many of my designs.


That was my experience in the past. Then I started a new policy a couple years ago of making them pay for printing the playtest kit on VistaPrint then I reimburse them if they send me a usable AAR. It has been a win-win.
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Maurice Fitzgerald
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That's a great way to work it Michael!
 
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Eddy Sterckx
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p38_Lightning wrote:

If you are willing to build a physical copy of the game AND have a regular FtF opponent you will be in high demand. thumbsup


That's me, except for the being in high demand part

I like exploring new designs, but I also know about the pitfalls that others have stated and for every complaint directed at unresponsive play-testers, I can tell you a tale of designers not really wanting to see their precious baby crushed. So there's 3 conditions that have to be met before I volunteer

1) an interesting design I'd like to see published and would buy if it came out today
2) a designer who's not a donkey's rear end.
3) one game to playtest at a time.
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Tom Russell
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I should note that I generally only open it up to testers outside my internal group when I'm pretty sure the game is "done"-- that testing is less about trying to fix things that are broken then about refinement, catching any balance issues that slipped by, and ensuring concepts/rules are clearly communicated. The game has hit our table internally dozens of times before anyone ever gets the first PNP link. I'm cognizant of what it's like to be handed something unplayable, and have taken great pains never to do that to someone else if I can help it, and I'd imagine/hope most other designers/publishers would be the same way.
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Michael Rinella
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I had one significant experience as a playtester and that was GMT's Barbarossa to Berlin.

I did not "press" the game in an attempt to break it. I just played in a conventional and historical manner a couple of times. If it could produce the historical results, I thought, it was in good shape. The idea of playing every Axis card for OPS and ignoring events over the first 13 action rounds never occurred to me. And then the game was published and players found that strategy rather quickly. I did a very careful proof of the rules though and submitted five single spaced pages worth of comments. A lot of it got incorporated as I recall.

My current main playtester is a devil who finds the slightest weakness in my rules and ruthlessly exploits them. You want playtesting devils. You will curse them in your sleep but they make the game pretty much wrinkle free. devil
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Tom Russell
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Michael Rinella wrote:
I had one significant experience as a playtester and that was GMT's Barbarossa to Berlin.

I did not "press" the game in an attempt to break it. I just played in a conventional and historical manner a couple of times. If it could produce the historical results, I thought, it was in good shape. The idea of playing every Axis card for OPS and ignoring events over the first 13 action rounds never occurred to me. And then the game was published and players found that strategy rather quickly. I did a very careful proof of the rules though and submitted five single spaced pages worth of comments. A lot of it got incorporated as I recall.

My current main playtester is a devil who finds the slightest weakness in my rules and ruthlessly exploits them. You want playtesting devils. You will curse them in your sleep but they make the game pretty much wrinkle free. devil


Yeah, one of the things that never occurred to our internal playtesters for Agricola was passing or Peacekeeping on practically every turn-- why would you do that when there were tribes to subjugate and the armies to build up? But folks who did it once the game came out found a loophole which, due to the feedback loop nature of the game, made it harder to do much of anything later in the game. We ended up tweaking a couple of things a couple months after the game was released, which fixed it, but you can bet your bottom dollar the first thing we do now is test "spam this, spam that, spam this other thing".
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Eddy Sterckx
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Michael Rinella wrote:
The idea of playing every Axis card for OPS and ignoring events over the first 13 action rounds never occurred to me.


In a recent playtest of a game I did exactly that - it didn't work - I blame the designer whistle

I'm a computer engineer, so boundary testing comes natural to me. It's not really playing the game, it's test-driving the engine and looking for its limits.
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eddy_sterckx wrote:
I'm a computer engineer, so boundary testing comes natural to me. It's not really playing the game, it's test-driving the engine and looking for its limits.

Similar to you, I'm an electrical and systems engineer and I have to force that part of my brain to turn off when I am playing a game (for enjoyment). Even then, I still can't read rules without thinking about dependencies and holes. I don't like getting bitten by something lurking in the gears once I'm well invested in playing.
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We're in the middle of the beta playtesting for Waning Crescent, Shattered Cross at the moment. I'm attending Consimworld Expo in Tempe at the end of the month where I'll be running playtesting session in the open gaming. Anyone attending that would like to join in is most welcome. You can decide whilst you're there or drop me a line in advance so that I can get you scheduled.

The game is just 11 short of its pre-order target so, if you're really interested, you could help out with that too by heading here: http://www.legionwargames.com/legion_WCR.html



Here's a happy playtester (Claudio) in Belgium.
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tomrussell wrote:
At Hollandspiele we occasionally put out a call for playtesters both on BGG and on Facebook. We'll send PNP files to the playtesters.

I would say that about 20% of the folks who volunteer actually get the game on the table. When we get a couple dozen volunteers for a game, that's fine; when it's just a handful of folks, it's more of an issue. We get useful feedback either way, but we obviously want more folks who can get it on the table. (It helps to know your tastes and to know a little bit about the game you're volunteering to playtest, so you can make sure it's a game you're going to be able to get on the table.)

So I would say the ability to get the game on the table, and to communicate, are key.


The only time I've ever signed up to be a playtester was for the Mein Truppen expansion to Mein Panzer. After some back and forth where ODGW tried to ascertain if I was serious or just wanted early access to the rules, they sent me the files. My two regular opponents promptly got deployed to Afghanistan and I had nobody left to play against. So I was one of the ones who didn't contribute anything worthwhile (a few proofreading corrections was about it). Felt kinda crappy about it.
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Eric Walters
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My first time ever playtesting was back in 1984 with Capt Don Chappell, USMC, running the Advanced Squad Leader rules playtest at the Camp Pendleton Conflict Simulations Club using selected Beyond Valor: ASL Module 1 playtest scenarios. Talk about being thrown in the deep end of the pool before learning how to swim. Stuck with it through, even with the xeroxed copies of the rulebook and having scores of individual line changes to work in...B&W copies of the maps and no counters (we used the old Squad Leader through G.I. Anvil of Victory ones and had reference sheets with what the values were SUPPOSED to be in the new version!).

When the finished rulebook came out, I had to learn how to play the dang game all over again!

Sure made all the other playtests I got involved with comparatively MUCH easier relative to THAT one!

These days, the only "playtesting" I get involved with is at conventions as sort of a "drive by" experience. Otherwise it can be life consuming!
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Dean Zadiraka
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Follow the forums, especially Consim. Threads for companies or game series.

The designers and developers will ask for playtesters.
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Why would anyone accept an unpaid job like being a playtester?

You're going to spend hours and hours of your precious lifetime, playing some ill-considered game that the designer couldn't even be bothered to run through a spellcheck.
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