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On-the-fly rule changes in playtesting?

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metzgerism
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For those of you that have done serious playtesting of your games before, have you ever changed the rules mid-game or stopped a playtest because you didn't like the way the game was playing? Or do you always slog it out to the bitter end, even if it truly appears to be a playtesting waste-of-time?

Dralius
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metzgerism wrote:For those of

metzgerism wrote:
For those of you that have done serious playtesting of your games before, have you ever changed the rules mid-game or stopped a playtest because you didn't like the way the game was playing? Or do you always slog it out to the bitter end, even if it truly appears to be a playtesting waste-of-time?

If the game is obviously broken and needs a rethink or i have learned what i need from the test i'll stop it unless the testers prefer to continue. It’s best not to use up their good will.

InvisibleJon
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Fix broken play tests promptly.

metzgerism wrote:
Or do you always slog it out to the bitter end, even if it truly appears to be a playtesting waste-of-time?
Sometimes a thing's so broken that you don't have to go all the way through to learn what you need from it. If it's bad, and you know it's the rules that are breaking it, stop it as soon as you can and set it right.

Incidentally, whether you change the rule and keep playing or change the rule and re-start the game depends on the situation (how far along you are, how ticked off your players are, how it shifts the play balance of the game).

If it's bad, and it's because the players are making bad decisions, you may want to stop them and consider rewriting the rules. Alternately, let them play through and record what happens.

Traz
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precious time

metzgerism wrote:
Have you ever changed the rules mid-game or stopped a playtest because you didn't like the way the game was playing?

Change is a necessary evil and will just happen over and over as the design progresses. Good playtesters not only understand this - they count on it! The opportunity to convince the designer to make a change based on something they've found or suggested is something many of them need to have or else they feel they are just going through the motions. They need to feel heard - and often they are right. And isn't that why you are asking them to provide the service in the first place? To find things you've missed?

metzgerism wrote:
Or do you always slog it out to the bitter end, even if it truly appears to be a playtesting waste-of-time?

Time is much too precious to waste, and the time your playtesters invest is even more precious. You're not STOPPING a playtest, you're sending it in ANOTHER DIRECTION to get it right and being honest with those you hope are being honest with you.

jeffinberlin
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Yes, have mercy on your

Yes, have mercy on your playtesters, if the game's not working. In the end, they'll thank you for it.

If they're new at playtesting and want to "win" the game, explain to them that it's not the point of playtesting, and bring out another prototype or published game instead.

As for rule changes on the fly, it happens all the time, although it can be confusing if it happens too much. Usually, those kinds of things are discovered early in the game, anyway, when a playtester asks about something I overlooked. Playing a game with yourself before presenting it to playtesters can sometimes prevent this from happening.

FurbyFubar
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On-the-fly rule changes in playtesting?

Yes, it's been known to happen.

If a rule in the game is unfun during the first game that rule becomes relevant we usually rewrite it right away and keep playing. This takes playtesters that know this might happen and are ok with it.

If a specific card in a card game is over or under powerful we usually scribble on the card after the game is over (but I write down what needs to be changed on a note right away so it's not forgotten).

If the game just plain isn't fun and this is obvious during the first game and it's not just a quick fix that's needed, I will not torture my players to keep playing it out. I will however try to get them to analyse what went wrong to either learn or be able to fix it later. If say, the theme of the game is fun, but some core mechanic that sounded good in my head isn't working in reality I may try to salvage the theme for later. Keep in mind that when doing this, it may be quite hard to get your playtesters to try the game again the next time if they see it as the same game that sucked the last time...

genericm
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Ditto...

Yea I have often found that taking a layer best ability and nerfing it in the middle of a game doesn't go over well. But its a play TEST and if your players don't understand that you may need to find a new group/player. After explaining the reason for the change most players can accept it. Its just another reason I don't play during the tests so I can remain objective.

larienna
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I usually do this when

I usually do this when playing alone. With real player I just stop unless it is obvious and that everybody agrees that element X could work better this way.

genericm
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Except...

In games that includes lots of hidden information and randomness dependent on the unknown actions of other players it becomes near impossible to accurately test alone.

Gamingnutrpg
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I know I have had to change

I know I have had to change the rules midway. I usually speak to my playtesters and ask them the best way to fix the glaring holes in the system that I may have missed in the first place. If they are small problems play through tillt he end, in some cases a small problem way work out well in the end.

Yort
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Joined: 11/24/2009
Other stuff too

Sometimes a group just "Doesn't get it". Or has a hard time being fluid and open minded. I have had this experience and been ready to throw an idea away, but gave it another shot with a different group who did "get it", and were able to work with softer ideas. People and groups have different expectations and dynamics. Some people can't handle the grey areas, while others are okay with you saying "Ignore that, I haven'tworked that part out yet" making the game less abstract and representative of something can really help your testers grasp your concepts, and get down to really testing your ideas and not getting confused with what you mean.

salish99
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Joined: 02/22/2010
yes, we do

We ALWAYS play it once with the given rules, and, if something is too skewed, we try around some ideas, and report all of those back to the developer. That usually really improves gameplay.

salish99
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Joined: 02/22/2010
back and forth

Lots of our game playing involves writing down questions and suggestions to ask the designer and go back and forth with changes and improvements.

bkkgd
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Joined: 05/01/2010
Limited experience

I'm still working on my first game, but I've done a number of playtests and I made mid-game adjustments several times. I did NOT do what someone on this forum called "teddy bear tea parties" which I certainly will with future games out of respect for my play testers, so this was my first chance to see how the rules functioned in actual play.

In each instance, the rule changes worked out because (a) all the players wanted them, (b) they weren't the sort of changes that would have materially affected the players' positions if they had been made earlier, and (c) people were engaged enough with the game that they wanted to see it through to the end. If those conditions hadn't been met, I probably would have just stopped the game.

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