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Too few playtesters?

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Nimbulos
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Joined: 12/31/1969

Hello.

This is my first post here, but I must say I have found this site very helpful. It is very interesting to read other game designers' thoughts and opinions on the various topics on these forums.

I am a budding game designer and have developed a few games, all of which are designed to be downloaded over the internet. I enjoy the process of designing new games, and think that, slowly, I am getting better at it.

*Waves hello*

Anyway, I do have one problem that I require advice on. Due to circumstances, I don't have access to any playtesters besides my family members. I playtest my games numerous times by myself and with family members, but I can't help thinking I may be missing important problems in the rules I create.

So... Do you think that 2-4 people (myself included) are too few people playtesting to get a true reflection of the rules? If so, any suggestions on how I could acquire more playtesters, without much travel involved (which is a problem right now)?

Thanks for any replies.

zaiga
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Re: Too few playtesters?

Nimbulos wrote:
So... Do you think that 2-4 people (myself included) are too few people playtesting to get a true reflection of the rules? If so, any suggestions on how I could acquire more playtesters, without much travel involved (which is a problem right now)?

Hello, and welcome to the forum!

Whether a dedicated group of 2-4 people is too few depends on the quality they deliver (as playtesters). I usually test my games with a small group of playtesters too, but I know they are very good at finding bugs and loopholes in the rules. I also know what they like and don't like in a game, and what kind of strategies they prefer. This is important to put their opinions and suggestions into perspective.

In the end, though, you have to widen your group of playtesters, because at a certain point it is not so much the quality of feedback that matters, but quantity. My prefered way of dealing with this is entering the game into competitions. Another viable route is attending game conventions and playtesting there. I've also sent the game to blind playtest groups, but I dont have good experiences with this: too much time and money involved and too little useful feedback. However, since you are going to let people download your games from the internet anyway, why not set up playtesting this way as well. I'm sure there are various people here on this board willing to give it a try.

Good luck!

Triktrak
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Too few playtesters?

2-4 family members is probably fine if you are making a family game. The only problem is that since you are all realated they may a) think like you do and not find the bugs. b) not want to hurt your feelings and just say "Great game". It might be a good idea to check yahoo, accessdenied.net, and boardgame geek for people in your area that like games too. Also, put your city and state down on your profile here. So many people don't and it's a shame.

Nimbulos
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Re: Too few playtesters?

Thanks to everybody for their advice.

zaiga wrote:

However, since you are going to let people download your games from the internet anyway, why not set up playtesting this way as well. I'm sure there are various people here on this board willing to give it a try.

That's a really good idea. I still have some finishing details to add to my current game (mostly visual), but when it's ready for download, I would be very interested in the thoughts of the members of this board.

Sorry if this is a daft question, but what would the best way to go about asking for volunteers to playtest my game?

Thanks again, I appreciate all this help.

VeritasGames
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Joined: 08/01/2008
Too few playtesters?

At Veritas Games we have a special way we do playtesting. First we playtest internally. Then, everytime we go outside the core playtest group, we give the playtester in question just the rulebook with absolutely no components. We get feedback. Then we give them components. We get feedback. Then they play and we get feedback. This is the only way, in my opinion, that complex games can guarantee that they have a sufficiently clear rulebook.

It effectively sets up a limited blind test for every single person who plays the game, because they have to comment on the rules before seeing the game and playing. We've found tons of mistakes this way. As soon as players see the rules in context with components, then they can gloss over unclear sections of the rulebook. But when the rulebook is viewed by itself, all its faults are really glaring to people other than the designer and the core development group.

One other thing to learn from this is that you can "playtest" and "readtest". Some people don't have dedicated playtest groups to playtest for you, but are willing to review your rules and game components for a free copy of the game. Don't overlook "readtesters", as they are, in many ways, as useful as playtesters. They tend to find very different things. Playtesters more readily find exploitable areas of the game by trial and error, while read testers are better editors, in my opinion.

Nimbulos
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Too few playtesters?

I really never would have thought of that myself, but it is an excellent idea. Having people who "readtest" the manual first seems like it could save me a HEAP of trouble. Thanks.

Getting people's opinion on the components before play also is a good idea. I will keep all of this in mind when my game reaches that stage.

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