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Subject: Seeking playtesters for abstract game (playable online) rss

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Dan Seidner

Pennsylvania
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Hi,

I'm looking for playtesters for an abstract game I'm developing. It's a tower building game with the object of building more towers than your opponent.

The game is a two-player game, playable online at www.titansoftokyo.com/towers6.html

The game can be played online either in real-time, or with turn notifications.

Here's a link to the game rules: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Pb75yYCEUxxRp9SFU0c1mPN-...

I would love to get your feedback.

Please let me know if I'm leaving out any info. This is my first time seeking playtesters for a game.

Thanks!
Dan
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Russ Williams
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FWIW I read the rules and they seemed clear to me. The only thing missing is that there was not a clear statement about physically playing: when a tower grows, place another disk onto its stack. (Right?) The illustrations suggest it's only a computer game with different graphics for 3 heights of tower. So at first I wondered if you intended players to mentally compute a tower's current height from seeing how many growers point at it (but in reality that wouldn't work, so I trust you intend pieces to be physically stacked.)

(I might be able to get someone to try it out with me physically.)

It looked like it might be too easy to simply destroy opponent's 3-tall towers by growing them again, but I don't know.
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Ken Shogren
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Hey Russ - I'd try the online implementation with you... Just need to start a game I guess?
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Russ Williams
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Audacon wrote:
Hey Russ - I'd try the online implementation with you... Just need to start a game I guess?

Hmm, I'm trying it now, but having some technical problems... (long story, I have an old browser...)

I can place a blocker as the first turn (click on blocker, then click on a hex), but I'm not sure what happens next. Nor how it knows who the other player is. The URL is just

http://www.titansoftokyo.com/towers6.html?game=75957611
(or whatever the game id happens to be)

...Ah, I can just click on piece icons then on a hex to place them there. Even two red towers in a row. Hmm. Also, placing a builder pointing at a tower does not change how the tower looks.

(I see a "submit move" button, but it's grayed out. I'm not sure if that's only for correspondence play.)

I placed many builders pointing at a tower, and it did not become rubble.
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Ken Shogren
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I played out (poorly) both sides. It was mostly to see how the UI worked. Didn't prevent the next player from taking the turn of the opponent - hence I played the full game out to my advantage (because, naturally... I was the player who won, right?)

Anyhow - seems to have some potential. Online interface needs some player controls, but could be made to work if it can ensure only 1 move by a player.

If you want to try a "real" game, let me know (via PM).
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Dan Seidner

Pennsylvania
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Thanks, Russ and Ken.

The towers should be physically stacked when playing a builder (online the tower increases in height automatically when a builder is played). Thanks for mentioning this, I'll look to update the rules.

It can be easy to destroy a tower, especially if a tower is already at the three-story level. In my test games so far, I've found that it is risky to raise towers to level 3 when they are vulnerable (although there may be some circumstances where it's beneficial).

It's likely that the online game doesn't work on old browsers. After a piece is placed, the submit button should be enabled. If your'e not seeing that button get enabled then it probably won't work on your browser. Also, it shouldn't allow multiple moves in a row without clicking the submit button. Unfortunately it sounds like it won't work on your browser. There is another version at titansoftokyo.com/towers5.html where you can make any moves you want, but it doesn't hook up with another player directly. In theory you can play on that version, by emailing your opponent your move, and having your opponent email you his move, although that way is a bit more cumbersome.

Regarding how the game knows who the other player is, after you create a game you should get a game code. If you email/text that game code to the other player, he can then click the Load Game button, and enter in the code. At that point both players can play real-time (entering email addresses will enable notifications).

If working correctly, the online game should prevent someone from playing both sides, unless the browser is refreshed. (Once you start moving, the submit button is only enabled once the other side moves again. When you refresh the browser, the submit button always starts out enabled).

I hope this info helps. Please let me know if you run into any more issues.

Thanks!
Dan
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wayne mathias
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javascript issues
Your Javascript is running into issues for Explorer and Edge browsers. Seems fine in Firefox. The issue is differences in how Explorer and Firefox do things.

For example:

from your imageOnClick function

} else if (image.style.visibility == "visible") {
image.style.visibility = "hidden";
}

But if you want to have it also work in Explorer and Edge, use something like I did for my game with try catch structures.

Part way through designing my game prototype, updated Explorer and Edge stopped giving the errors to trigger the catch - simply did nothing - and I had to rewrite my code into the dual try and if error do nothings you see below.

try{
document.getElementById('shiptype').style.display='none'
}catch(err){;}

try{
document.getElementById('shiptype').style='display:none;'
}catch(err){;}
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Dan Seidner

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Thanks, Wayne. I'll look to make that change to the javascript. I've been doing most of my testing in Chrome, so that browser should work too. Hopefully with your suggestion it will work in IE and Edge as well.

Thanks!
Dan
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Dan Seidner

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Audacon wrote:


Online interface needs some player controls, but could be made to work if it can ensure only 1 move by a player.



My mistake, Ken. You're right, one player can make both moves. I think I coded it that way in case two people were playing on the same computer. I can look to remove that functionality if it creates more problems than it solves.
 
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Dan Seidner

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I updated the code, the game should work on IE now.

Russ, I'm not sure which browser you're using, but it may work now on your browser as well.
 
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Ken Shogren
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danseidner wrote:
Audacon wrote:


Online interface needs some player controls, but could be made to work if it can ensure only 1 move by a player.



My mistake, Ken. You're right, one player can make both moves. I think I coded it that way in case two people were playing on the same computer. I can look to remove that functionality if it creates more problems than it solves.



This issue can be solved with some effort, but none should be too hard. Consider adding info on the New Game function - such as played on same PC or via 2 (a check box that used before the new game button). If 2 PCs, require both emails. Then, when you send the email, include a link back with the current turn "key" that let's that player make a move, but once submitted locks the game until the next player goes. (that's where the key is used. Submit passes the key to the next player). There are other (likely more elegant) solutions, but this would allow 2 players to play remotely and not make double moves in error. If you get fancier, you could see if 2 players are both online and pass the key "live".


BTW - my solo play through was interesting and I think the game shows some promise. I took an approach of building out as many 1 story buildings as I could and only added builders when I was sure that the move would benefit me more than the opponent. Thus, my first reaction is that you may want to reduce the number of pieces a player has. This means they have to save some pieces for upper floors, or might even demolish a tower to get pieces back for other use. It may also encourage builders to get played sooner and blocks to be used more often. That said - I have only 1 solo game in, so my "strategy" might be insanely off.
 
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wayne mathias
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My self-vs-self playtests all resulted in my using a ton of builders early on - few towers existed for long with most growing and becoming rubble very quickly and I had more builders on the board than all towers and rubble combined (and more blocks than towers).

I liked the game.

An alternate method splitting turns among browsers or tabs could include color along with game in header info with each player using a different browser tab for pass and play. Compare player color with who's turn it is to decide whether active or waiting on opponent. Password could be included if desired.

A method of deleting a game also needs to be added.

Since this game is suited for non-digital implementation as well as digital, are you planning on making the digital version generally available?


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Russ Williams
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PS: A couple rule things which occurred to me:

1. The rulebook says that a builder is not blocked by towers and is blocked by blockers, but seems to be is silent about whether it is blocked by builders.

2. You specify the number of each type of piece, but I don't see any place that says what happens if they run out (which admittedly seems unlikely with normal play). (I assume the intent is that they are unlimited, and players improvise more if needed.)
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Ken Shogren
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gxnpt wrote:
My self-vs-self playtests all resulted in my using a ton of builders early on - few towers existed for long with most growing and becoming rubble very quickly and I had more builders on the board than all towers and rubble combined (and more blocks than towers).


Interesting that you and I took opposite approaches. That's a positive sign - unless 1 method proves dominate. But I concur that the game shows promise and I also enjoyed my "play".
 
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wayne mathias
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Current piece counts:

One set of 50 green towers.
One set of 50 red towers.
One set of 50 builder pieces.
One set of 40 blocker pieces.
One set of 30 rubble pieces.

220 pieces total but no provision for tower levels unless stack identical tower pieces.

The board has 61 hexes.

Suggestion -

Blockers and builder arrows - labels on both sides with builder arrow on 1 side and blocker on the other - 60 count - 2 faced poker chips?

Tower bases - with rubble label on flip side - 30 count red and 30 count green - 2 faced checkers?

Tower mid-sections - green label one side and red label other side - 50 count (not as wide as base) - smaller checkers with a neutral base color or 2-toned cubes?

Tower flags or caps - neutral color - 50 count (not as wide as mid-section)

Still a 220 piece total but should be more than enough of each piece.
 
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Dan Seidner

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Ken and Wayne, thanks for your suggestions regarding how to button-up the site. I'll look to implement your guys' ideas as best I can.

Ken, I appreciate the feedback on the game! I also have gravitated towards playing tower pieces early (although not necessarily exclusively), with builder and blocker pieces coming more towards the mid-game. I am not sure yet if this is a defect, even if it turns out to be the dominant strategy. I appreciate your mentioning it though, and will definitely keep it in focus to see if it needs fixing. Thanks also for your suggestion on how to fix it, by limiting pieces. I will keep that in mind as well as a possible solution.

Wayne, thanks for sharing your experience with your self vs. self play. Regarding your question about the digital version, I am definitely looking to make it available generally, although my primary focus currently is the non-digital version.

Russ, thanks for your comments regarding the rules. There actually is a note in the rules saying that blockers are the only pieces that interrupt the action of builders (it's in a note underneath rule 1 in the Blocker section). I may however need to express this rule more clearly. For your second comment, your point is well taken. I will look to include in the rules that the intention is for all pieces to be unlimited.


Thanks!
Dan
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Dan Seidner

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Sorry, Wayne, after I posted my second-to-last post yesterday, I saw that you had posted a new message. I was running out the door, and I wanted to respond to you before I left, but I read your message too quickly and misunderstood your suggestions. (I deleted my response from the thread since I was completely off base).

Your ideas are good ones, and ones that I will keep in mind. My vision right now is that the tower pieces will be a 3D tower piece that can build in to an actual tower. I was also thinking that the builder piece would be close to the shape that it is in the online version. However, per your suggestion, I could also see the builder piece on a checker (and on the flip side of the blocker). I had not thought of that. It would I imagine keep the game pieces more manageable, and save money in production costs I assume. I will definitely keep your ideas in mind.

Thanks, Wayne!
 
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wayne mathias
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I was thinking you would need 3 physical pieces to complete a tower, with the base section pieces color coded (and can flip over for rubble) but the middle and top section pieces able to be used by either player. For rubble would remove the upper sections from the base and flip base over.


topper piece
middle section
BASE shows color
 
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Nick McCollum
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danseidner wrote:
I was also thinking that the builder piece would be close to the shape that it is in the online version. However, per your suggestion, I could also see the builder piece on a checker (and on the flip side of the blocker).


I really like the way that you tie in the theme with this. I'm assuming you intentionally chose the kanji for "person" as the builder piece, letting it double as an arrow?
 
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Dan Seidner

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Thanks, Nick! Nice you noticed that. I was looking for an arrow that fit into the theme, and I came across the kanji. When I discovered that it meant "person" I thought that made it the perfect choice. However someone recently suggested that the builder should be reworked into some architectural feature. I'll have to think more on the best shape to use. I appreciate your thoughts on it!
 
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Nick McCollum
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I've had a chance to play quite a few times now—some by myself and some with others. Is there anything in particular you're looking for from tests? Would you like turn logs?

So far I like it, but I'm curious to see what happens if players favor certain actions to see if that teases out any kind of preferable moves (i.e., playing predominantly blockers, predominantly builders, or predominantly towers; focusing more on destroying towers than building your own; ignoring the other player and just building whatever is possible). I played one contrived game where I let green get a very early 2-0 lead (towers that were closed off from getting destroyed) and then tried to just destroy everything red did; that was harder than I expected, and green actually ended up losing:


I do find that the territory control is differently challenging with the hex board than it is with orthogonal boards like in Chess, Go, Arimaa, and the like, but that might just be something about how my brain works. I have a heck of a time with that when playing Dvonn as well.

Nearly every game I've played has come down to a 1-point victory or a tiebreaker. This is unsurprising for solo games since anything I didn't think of as red I also didn't think of as green, but I'm surprised not to have seen a lopsided two-player result yet. Granted, I've played considerably fewer two-player games, and I could hardly call myself or my opponents "good" at this game yet. Not that close games are a problem, obviously—I like that securing a random 2-height tower here and there can make a difference in the end, but I'm curious to see if a skilled player could find a way to absolutely crush a beginner.

I appreciate the simplicity of the rules as well. I have a hard time finding willing opponents for abstract games, so something a potential opponent can grok in about five minutes is definitely a plus.
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Dan Seidner

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Nick, thanks so much for playing the game and sharing your thoughts about it!

I'm not looking for anything in particular regarding feedback, any thoughts that you can share are most appreciative.

That's cool that you're trying out different approaches to see if one approach seems more favorable than another. Have you found any approach to be more favorable than another? That's interesting that you played the contrived game with giving green a lead, and seeing if he could hold on by destroying red, yet red came back to win. Did you feel that surprise outcome was a good thing?

Regarding the challenge of the hex board, do you think this game would be worth experimenting on an orthogonal board? Or the challenge of the hex is not a bad thing necessarily?

Your point is well taken about the close games. I can understand wanting to see if a skilled player could crush a beginner. If that game ended up close as well, that could be problematic.

I'm glad you find the rules simple and that it makes finding opponents a little easier. Did you get a sense of what your opponents thought of the game?

Thanks again, Nick, for playing the game and sharing your thoughts!
 
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Dan Seidner

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Hi Nick, I have a few more questions about your initial reactions to the game. What was your overall enjoyment level of the game (1-10)? Was it a game you would want to play again (outside of playtesting)? Is it a game you would want to tell about to a friend? Thanks!
 
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wayne mathias
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I will chime in here - I liked the game and would enjoy playing it again (outside of playtesting).

I am fond of the current board including the dual axis coordinates -- but when you look at my gameboard you will see why since I used the same shape and coordinate system.

I would like a copy myself (online PHP/MySQL version is perfect for me, especially since I can also run it as localhost and LAN).

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Dan Seidner

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Wayne, thanks for your response. I'm glad you enjoyed the game.

Thanks also for your comments about the board. I checked out your board and thought it looked really cool. I haven't tried the game yet, but the board made it enticing.

Regarding a copy, were you looking for a copy of the code files and database? I am planning to move my site to a new server, so hopefully that might be sufficient to get the game more playable online.
 
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