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Subject: Playtesting Methods rss

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Jay Mason-Grant
Canada
Hamilton
Ontario
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So I have done a little bit of playtesting on the first prototype of my game, mostly playing solo games, but also a couple with close friends etc. At this point I thought it might be beneficial to ask those of you with some experience about your methods, and the sequence of methods you use you use.

For example, I am thinking it will go like this:

-make a basic prototype
-start playing solo games
-make a decent prototype
-play some games with friends & solo
-make a better prototype
-play more games with friends & solo
-repeat until you've worked out the kinks
-make several copies of the prototype to distribute to more playtesters
-get feedback
-work out the kinks & repeat if necessary
-make a very nice prototype
-take to publisher
-make millions of dollars ( Joking!)

Any tips you have on how to test prototypes well would be greatly apreciated, along with tips on how to prototype online (I have seen people refering to it on these boards) with other boardgamegeekers.

Cheers!
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Canada
Abby
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I believe that most any board-game can be created in a print-and-playtest form for free distribution and gathering of feedback. I do this to gather feedback for the game, creating 2 or 3 iterations and then a final boxed product after all info is collected.
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Steven Metzger
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I think your bullet-point plan is actually pretty well spot-on.

Solo playtesting, Group playtesting, Blind Playtesting, rinse, repeat, submit.

EDIT: You should replace "basic prototype" with "crappy prototype."
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Ben Friedberg
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I am somewhere between steps 3 and 4 right now on my 'The Incredible Machine' game. One thing that really helped me was to think through the rules and try to get them on paper (as with the prototype, don't spend TOO long, since they'll all be changed anyways). I got some very good feedback on the game from gamers who were used to digesting rulesets for games as an indicator of whether or not they would want to play them and what sort of things stood out as clunky...

Also, in retrospect, I think that I should have included more space in my prototype for notes. It may sound odd, but I think that annotating your actual prototype might be helpful for visualization and capturing your playtest feedback in a streamlined manner. Along those lines, get printed rules, but leave big margins and double space them. Maybe even include a full blank half-sheet just so that you can have enough space to capture stuff. Capturing feedback meaningfully is the most important part of playtesting imho. It's hard enough getting 2 or 3 friends patient enough to sit down and play your crap let alone remembering all of their various points.
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David Gregg
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Made this chart a while back:

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Jay Mason-Grant
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Nice chart s3rvant!

So it seems that we're on a similar page when it comes to the overall sequence of playtesting. However, does anyone have an insight into good ways of pulling it off?

For example, I was planning on making a questionaire/survey type thing to give along with playest copies for players to fill out after the fact. Including questions like: "Did you feel that the game was balanced? What seemed to be the most imbalanced part? What aspect made you most likely to play it again? What aspect would make you think twice before playing this game again?" etc.

It seems that much of the problem with playtesting (especially with those who know you) is finding that honest feedback, so I was thinking that a questionaire where they are forced to think about the problems would be a good idea. Any thoughts? Any other ideas or tips?

(edited for spelling)
 
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Philip Migas
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You may want to check out Mike Compton’s evaluation from at http://bgdg.awardspace.com/main/Game_Evaluation_Criteria.pdf & http://mike-compton.blogspot.com/2007/06/game-evaluation-cri... . It is meant to focus a playtest discussion.

I used something similar Mikes form for my playtest group. I also asked several game companies if they use any type of form. Most said no because playtesters do not like to fill out forms. Most said that free flow comments seemed to work better than a form.
 
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Jay Mason-Grant
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pmigas wrote:
I also asked several game companies if they use any type of form. Most said no because playtesters do not like to fill out forms. Most said that free flow comments seemed to work better than a form.


That's interesting. I guess that makes sense.
 
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David Gregg
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Each time I make changes I always take the game to my local gaming group to make sure I haven't done something they hate (which has happened more then once).

JayROK wrote:
Nice chart s3rvant!


Glad you like it!
 
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