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Electronic Playtesting?

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DogBoy
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Joined: 12/15/2009

Hi all,

I've just finished putting together a basic playtest VASSAL module for one of my games (temporary name: Dice Quest), which allows the game to be played electronically. I plan to use this with my playtest group and my overseas collaborator.

In my opinion, from the player's perspective VASSAL is a workable but slightly clunky gaming platform. Module design takes a great deal of effort, so my current module is playable (if you know what you are doing) but not highly polished.

When I say "not highly polished" here, I am not talking about the game design itself. I'm referring to the user interface of the electronic version; it's usable, but not a smooth experience.

So I'm interested in the following questions. Other factors being equal, how willing would you be to playtest a game:

  • If you had to print out physical components?
  • If an electronic playtest version was available...
    • ...a polished electronic version?
    • ...a usable but slightly frustrating electronic version?
    • ...an electronic version which required an experienced player to show you how to use it?

Simon

heruca
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Joined: 05/15/2009
DogBoy wrote:I've just

DogBoy wrote:
I've just finished putting together a basic playtest VASSAL module for one of my games (temporary name: Dice Quest), which allows the game to be played electronically. I plan to use this with my playtest group and my overseas collaborator.

In my opinion, from the player's perspective VASSAL is a workable but slightly clunky gaming platform. Module design takes a great deal of effort, so my current module is playable (if you know what you are doing) but not highly polished.

When I say "not highly polished" here, I am *not* talking about the game design itself. I'm referring to the user interface of the electronic version; it's usable, but not a smooth experience.

Are you aware of Battlegrounds Gaming Engine (aka BGE)? It allows anyone to make a digital game conversion with no scripting, programming, or XML-editing whatsoever, and the program is very well documented. It's also designed to keep the user interface hidden while it's not needed, to keep the game itself front and center. You might want to give the free Demo a try.

DogBoy
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Joined: 12/15/2009
Hm. This looks like a virtual

Hm. This looks like a virtual tabletop.

I'll download it and give it a try, but suspect it's not suitable for my needs. One mechanic in particular would be really inconvenient to implement without programming (the deck needs to be shuffled and then sorted face-down according to information on the back of the cards). Also, the commercial licence means that any potential playtester would have to purchase a copy of the client software, which is a serious disincentive.

heruca
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Joined: 05/15/2009
DogBoy wrote:One mechanic in

DogBoy wrote:
One mechanic in particular would be really inconvenient to implement without programming (the deck needs to be shuffled and then sorted face-down according to information on the back of the cards).

Could you please elaborate? The terms "shuffled" and "sorted" sound contradictory. BGE does allow you to play with the cards in a deck face-up, if your game requires that.

DogBoy wrote:
Also, the commercial licence means that any potential playtester would have to purchase a copy of the client software, which is a serious disincentive.

BGE's licensing scheme allows for the game host to pay for the other users (who would only need to use the free Demo in order to play the game). Every license comes with at least 1, and as many as 15, free Player Slots.

curtis.lacy
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Joined: 11/14/2011
Comparison of various tools

I've actually done a survey of a variety of online tools, including VASSAL and BGE: http://www.globalgamespace.org/index.php/prior-art/ . There are a lot of decent packages out there, many are free, and some are a little more specialized to various types of game.

As a side note, I'm in the planning stages for a tool of my own, addressing some of the weaknesses (as I see them) with existing tools. That won't help you with your current game, but I'd love to hear input on game mechanics that you'd need to make it useful for you in the future! I've got a list of all the features I'm planning here: http://www.globalgamespace.org/index.php/blog/31-more-features/

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