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Getting your game play-tested

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Kirkatronics
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Is there a specific forum where you can post your own game for play testing?
My game is ready to go for testing, but can only find discussions about testing rather than a place to actually post.

chris_mancini
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I've just sent a game to

I've just sent a game to Coalition Game Studios for testing; they offer a very in-depth and strategic service which I'm hoping will yield some great feedback; moreso than testing with friends and other gamers...which is great to start, but for that next level of testing I think they're worth paying for.

People often post pnp files, but I'm not sure how successful anyone had been at getting results from these boards.

RadarLockGames
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Hey Kirk! I am trying to

Hey Kirk!
I am trying to organize play-testing day/weekend in January here in So-Cal if you are interested. Let me know.
Daniel@radarlockgames.com
dano

Kirkatronics
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I currently have a PnP

I currently have a PnP version of my game ready for testing, but I'm not sure how to get people to give it a go. BGG link: https://goo.gl/vyXAaM

I am thinking about getting Coalition studios to take a look, but that will be in the future. What do they charge for that service?

RadarLockGames wrote:
Hey Kirk!
I am trying to organize play-testing day/weekend in January here in So-Cal if you are interested. Let me know.
Daniel@radarlockgames.com
dano

Hey Radar

I'm assuming So-cal is Southern California, so being in the UK means i can't travel that far.

Thanks for the offer, though.

Kirkatronics
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RadarLockGames wrote:Hey

[Double post]

RadarLockGames
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Sounds Like Roadtrip

Hey Kirk!
UK is only across the pond, then a road trip across the US to California. If you change your mind, I will save you a table. Just let me know. :)
dano

Squinshee
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chris_mancini wrote:I've just

chris_mancini wrote:
I've just sent a game to Coalition Studios for testing; they offer a very in-depth and strategic service which I'm hoping will yield some great feedback; moreso than testing with friends and other gamers...which is great to start, but for that next level of testing I think they're worth paying for.

People often post pnp files, but I'm not sure how successful anyone had been at getting results from these boards.

You're going to have to let us know how this goes. I've been seriously considering using the service. Which package did you select (I would do the 15+)?

ren
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I'll give it a go

it looks like there isn't a ton to print. I'd be happy to play it and let you know how it goes sometime this week.

chris_mancini
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I went with the "Exploratory"

I went with the "Exploratory" session of 6 play-throughs with a light party-style game just to test the service. I want to see what kind of feedback they give, how it's formatted, and what they offer by way of suggestions to improve.

Cost of this level of testing is about $150.00, I also had them quote a deeper game (Second Line, which has been discussed here at length in other topics) and the quote there was $300.0 for the same "Exploratory" level of testing. Not cheap by any means...but depending on the return, may be worth it just to get an intensive evaluation that would otherwise cost a ton of personal time and effort. They know that meaningful playtesting by professionals is extremely valuable...we'll see how valuable when the reports come in.

The process and communication so far had been very professional and pleasurable, and I have nothing but confidence in them at this point.

My game is being sent to Gil Hova of Formal Ferret Games, and he will be lead tester, with around 15 total testers giving feedback.

I'll let everyone know how it goes!

Squinshee
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I sometimes see Gil when I

I sometimes see Gil when I head into Brooklyn for a bi-weekly playtest group. He is a smart dude.

Kirkatronics
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chris_mancini wrote:I went

chris_mancini wrote:
I went with the "Exploratory" session of 6 play-throughs with a light party-style game just to test the service. I want to see what kind of feedback they give, how it's formatted, and what they offer by way of suggestions to improve.

Cost of this level of testing is about $150.00, I also had them quote a deeper game (Second Line, which has been discussed here at length in other topics) and the quote there was $300.0 for the same "Exploratory" level of testing. Not cheap by any means...but depending on the return, may be worth it just to get an intensive evaluation that would otherwise cost a ton of personal time and effort. They know that meaningful playtesting by professionals is extremely valuable...we'll see how valuable when the reports come in.

The process and communication so far had been very professional and pleasurable, and I have nothing but confidence in them at this point.

My game is being sent to Gil Hova of Formal Ferret Games, and he will be lead tester, with around 15 total testers giving feedback.

I'll let everyone know how it goes!

theft is a lot less than I expected.

ren wrote:
it looks like there isn't a ton to print. I'd be happy to play it and let you know how it goes sometime this week.

Yeah, the PnP version is very light on ink. Thank you, looking forward to your feedback.

RadarLockGames wrote:
Hey Kirk!
UK is only across the pond, then a road trip across the US to California. If you change your mind, I will save you a table. Just let me know. :)
dano

Still a bit far for me I'm afraid,but I'll let you know if I change my mind :-)

Havok12
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Hey Chris, Just wondering

Hey Chris,

Just wondering what your experience was with Coalition Studios? Was it worth the money you invested? Do you think your game got a lot better?

Just curious how you found that process.

Dan

chris_mancini
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I enjoyed my experience,

I enjoyed my experience, however brutal the evaluation was. I sent a cartoony party game called "Death By Dice" for their testing, and while the feedback was very critical, it was also succinct and helpful in identifying where the game fell short of expectations.

In my case, the art was a big hit, and kept the players engaged. The "deaths" which had unique and meaningfully tied player powers (the basic play is roll to survive the "death," then gain its power to use against other players) were also well-received; but those cards which had repetitive powers or were less naturally/cleverly tied to the "death" were seen as lacking.

Most importantly, only about 1/4 players who liked the game said they would buy it...which was a big negative and what is really what caused me to shelf the game. Overall it was reviewed as being good, but not good enough. SOme players were turned off immediately due to the game being a light party-style game. Their response was noted, but tests were conducted with players who were open to such a game; so CGS makes sure your testers aren't detrimentally biased before they play.

As for numbers, a total of 19 unique players tested the game over 6 sessions, for a cost of around $135.

I would use them again, but plenty of testing by the designer is still required beforehand...unless you've got a few hundred bucks to throw around.

questccg
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You got a GOOD DEAL!

chris_mancini wrote:
As for numbers, a total of 19 unique players tested the game over 6 sessions, for a cost of around $135...

You seem to have gotten a really GOOD PRICE for your testing. I visited the website and tried to estimate the cost of additional Blind Playtesting in the 6 sessions range and I came to OVER $300+ for it.

Perhaps it's because your game is much simpler than mine. But I must admit that turned me off a bit. Not that your game is simpler - the fact that it would cost over $300 to have it playtested by Coalition Game Studio... LOL

I've just recently invested in a NEW "Creative" Writer. With a smaller assignment, I can't wait to see what he pens down. Then we can tackle the larger and more difficult assignment of having "Factoids/Story-pieces" on the resource side of cards... Quite an assignment.

Anyways I just wanted to compare pricing... You were very fortunate - but I guess in part, it has to do with the game being playtested.

Cheers.

lewpuls
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Don't trust it

chris_mancini wrote:

Most importantly, only about 1/4 players who liked the game said they would buy it...which was a big negative and what is really what caused me to shelf the game.

Keep in mind, when you ask people what they would do in such-and-such circumstances, they're often wrong. No, the don't lie, it's just been shown that often they don't do what they say they will do.

I'm skeptical that ANY game could actually achieve one quarter sales among randomly-selected playtesters.

I wouldn't let this alone put you off.

Daggaz
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lewpuls wrote:Keep in mind,

lewpuls wrote:

Keep in mind, when you ask people what they would do in such-and-such circumstances, they're often wrong. No, the don't lie, it's just been shown that often they don't do what they say they will do.

I'm skeptical that ANY game could actually achieve one quarter sales among randomly-selected playtesters.

I wouldn't let this alone put you off.

This. You have a bunch of guys in a laboratory setting, getting paid to play (fun or not, it's work), and even if they like each other, it is simply not the same situation as if they had come across your game at a private party with close friends and possibly some strangers (and alcohol) tossed in.

These guys are saturated with games. If you hit 25% approval in a group like that, its probably a good sign. Its probably doubtful that equates to actual sales in real life, but still, you did pretty good in the group. On the other hand, if they had said 90% would buy the game.. you might wonder about positive response bias. Maybe it is too easy to say, great game, 10/10, would buy, NEXT! The company would do well to actually include some kind of physical buying mechanism instead of handing players a form to fill out afterwards. You have X and X amount of points, where do you actually spend them for real returns? Maybe they actually do that, you should ask. EDIT: from their FAQ, it seems like they don't, though they claim to try to remove bias through careful phrasing survey questions, which is what you are supposed to do.

That's the big problem with any statistics, where do they come from and how are they influenced? At the end of the day I would look at it like this: If 1 in 4 people who played your game in real life actually bought it afterwards, you would be sitting on a major hit. If 90% of those people dont actually buy it, but talk about it in other gaming circumstances? You are still sitting on a good start.

If anything, you should ask the company for statistics comparing results for games they have tested, and marketing statistics for the set of those games which went on to be published. If I was the CEO of that company, I would make damn sure I collected that kind of data..

chris_mancini
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Player feedback report

I've posted the player feedback for "Death By Dice" for anyone who would like to read it here:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/f4qux0dxm2srwu7/CG-B-061%20-%20Critical%20Eval...

Willem Verheij
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Not being able to find

Not being able to find playtesters is what made me pretty much give up on trying to design a boardgame. I have plenty of ideas for it, but its all useless if it can't be tested.

Heck its hard enough to find someone to play a boardgame with.

Gabe
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Willem Verheij wrote:Not

Willem Verheij wrote:
Not being able to find playtesters is what made me pretty much give up on trying to design a boardgame. I have plenty of ideas for it, but its all useless if it can't be tested.

Heck its hard enough to find someone to play a boardgame with.

Where do you live? Are there no meetups, conventions, or etc in the area?

I live in Honduras, and my wife is my only playtester. So, right now I'm only designing games that work really well with 2 players and aren't overly complex.

Perhaps you should try to design solitaire games that you can test on your own.

X3M
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Willem Verheij wrote:Not

Willem Verheij wrote:
Not being able to find playtesters is what made me pretty much give up on trying to design a boardgame. I have plenty of ideas for it, but its all useless if it can't be tested.

Heck its hard enough to find someone to play a boardgame with.


Typical. Must be the country that we live in.
My test group has dropped to ... 0
Could be season related though.
Meanwhile, I use the time to upgrade the game in several aspects.
Like single player missions.

Mihealsick
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The Best Use

Thanks for the kind words, Chris! Glad you were able to get something good out of the service.

lewpuls wrote:
Keep in mind, when you ask people what they would do in such-and-such circumstances, they're often wrong. No, the don't lie, it's just been shown that often they don't do what they say they will do.

I'm skeptical that ANY game could actually achieve one quarter sales among randomly-selected playtesters.

I wouldn't let this alone put you off.

This is absolutely spot on. Engagement bias is real. Not only that, but our sample sizes are much too small to be relied on as definitive market research. I know that Gil took steps to make sure Chris's focus groups were diverse in their tastes, but this shouldn't be used as any kind of method to predict sales or your game's worth.

Daggaz wrote:
You have a bunch of guys in a laboratory setting, getting paid to play (fun or not, it's work), and even if they like each other, it is simply not the same situation as if they had come across your game at a private party with close friends and possibly some strangers (and alcohol) tossed in.

These guys are saturated with games.

We actually find volunteer playtesters out in the real world. These are often friends, family, and total strangers. Our developers are all game designers themselves, and often use their own circles of testers when taking on a project for Coalition. We space tests out to avoid the kind of saturation you're talking about.

The payment goes to the developer, but we don't actually pay the testers themselves for a couple of reasons. First, even if we paid them minimum wage, the service would be absurdly expensive. Secondly, paying a tester is a bit counterproductive--not because it will make them lie, but because we're looking to pass on the value of blind playtesting. If someone accepts money to play a game (especially in American culture), they're likely to apply a work ethic to the situation, and this will change their natural reaction to the game. The only incentives we offer are usually just food/drink/hospitality, which is more common courtesy than tangible payment.

Daggaz wrote:
If anything, you should ask the company for statistics comparing results for games they have tested, and marketing statistics for the set of those games which went on to be published.

Unfortunately, our data isn't on this kind of scale. The kind of marketing statistics you're looking for just aren't affordable or practical for independent designers.

I can say that, on a purely subjective comparison, 25% willing to buy has been on the low end of average for the games we've evaluated so far. Take that with a grain of salt though! Willingness to purchase is very difficult to evaluate because it's such a difficult question to answer accurately on a survey. Many factors play into a purchase.

questccg wrote:
You seem to have gotten a really GOOD PRICE for your testing. I visited the website and tried to estimate the cost of additional Blind Playtesting in the 6 sessions range and I came to OVER $300+ for it.

I'm sorry your quote felt unreasonable! Pricing is something I've definitely struggled with. I want to make our services as cheap and accessible as possible, but I also want to make sure my guys are compensated fairly and that we can pay the bills.

Our rates scale to the length (in minutes), rules weight (a factor determined by manual word count), player count (some upcharges apply beyond 5 players, just because it's more difficult to arrange the sessions), and the number of sessions you request. Our services are also modular, so you can build the package that best fits your needs--blind testing with an evaluation report is less expensive than iterative testing with development and design collaboration.

You can find all the math behind our services in our rate reference at http://coalitiongames.com

Willem Verheij wrote:
Not being able to find playtesters is what made me pretty much give up on trying to design a boardgame. I have plenty of ideas for it, but its all useless if it can't be tested.

Heck its hard enough to find someone to play a boardgame with.

Gabe wrote:
I live in Honduras, and my wife is my only playtester. So, right now I'm only designing games that work really well with 2 players and aren't overly complex.

Send 'em our way! We have six developers in North America and Europe, each with a network of dozens of regular testers.

questccg
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Game length was erronous

Mihealsick wrote:
questccg wrote:
You seem to have gotten a really GOOD PRICE for your testing. I visited the website and tried to estimate the cost of additional Blind Playtesting in the 6 sessions range and I came to OVER $300+ for it.

I'm sorry your quote felt unreasonable! Pricing is something I've definitely struggled with. I want to make our services as cheap and accessible as possible, but I also want to make sure my guys are compensated fairly and that we can pay the bills.

Our rates scale to the length (in minutes), rules weight (a factor determined by manual word count), player count (some upcharges apply beyond 5 players, just because it's more difficult to arrange the sessions), and the number of sessions you request. Our services are also modular, so you can build the package that best fits your needs--blind testing with an evaluation report is less expensive than iterative testing with development and design collaboration.

I have reviewed the price given that it says "Average Game Length". Two players can play within 60 minutes. Four (4) Player games can also be setup that way too. But sometimes in the Spacewars scenario, it can take up to 2 hours. So I would say "on average" it takes 60 minutes.

This gives me a more reasonable price of $216.20 USD.

Anyways the price error was my fault - because I didn't clearly read the explanation for each parameter correctly. Now that I read "average", well then the average game last 60 minutes long.

Note: I would definitely be interested in this service - pending the availability of my Developer and his testing groups. What I like is written reports - and I've already had a group in the Boston area playtest the earlier edition of the game (That group gave me 12 comments about the game - their impression)!

Note #2: The fact that the Spacewars Scenario can take 2 hours is NOT a pacing problem. It simply because it requires the elimination of the other three (3) players (in the Four Player scenario). And depending on the game, it could take some time to do this. Call it a corner case where it's the exception to the normal playtime of an hour (60 minutes).

Gabe
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questccg wrote:I have

questccg wrote:
I have reviewed the price given that it says "Average Game Length". Two players can play within 60 minutes. Four (4) Player games can also be setup that way too. But sometimes in the Spacewars scenario, it can take up to 2 hours. So I would say "on average" it takes 60 minutes.

Another thing to keep in mind is that you can have Coalition only test certain parts of your game instead of the whole thing. If you had them playtest everything but the Spacewars scenario, you wouldn't have to worry about it increasing your average game length.

Willem Verheij
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I live in the Netherlands,

I live in the Netherlands, edge of Noord-Brabant near Gorinchem and don't have a car, just a scooter so traveling is limited.

Gorinchem is a rather small city, has a good board game store for less than a year now so that's a start.

The kind of games I like to design are not solitaire or card games. I like to work on games with boards and a strong theme.
Could work to perhaps team up with someone who does have acces to playtesters and really brainstorm some ideas and develop a game. Being credited as co-creator and being able to get a game produced that really fits my style would be rewarding enough for me.

ElKobold
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Digital prototyping is king.

I live in Latvia. The population of entire country is less than 2 million. Boardgamers are rare to come by.

I use Tabletopia to playtest. I`m only building actual physical prototypes if I go to an expo or something.

Everybody has internet and anybody can use Skype.

Mihealsick
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Space Wars

questccg wrote:
I have reviewed the price given that it says "Average Game Length". Two players can play within 60 minutes. Four (4) Player games can also be setup that way too. But sometimes in the Spacewars scenario, it can take up to 2 hours. So I would say "on average" it takes 60 minutes.

This gives me a more reasonable price of $216.20 USD.

That makes a lot of sense--I should likely make a note of that in our pricing guide. For games with multiple modes that are significantly different in function, we usually prefer to quarantine the feedback and survey results for those items. In the end, we clock the length of each session, and the amount we use for the final invoice is the logged average. You're always welcome to request we play a certain number of your sessions with one variant or another.

questccg wrote:
__Note:__ I would definitely be interested in this service - pending the availability of my Developer and his testing groups. What I like is written reports - and I've already had a group in the Boston area playtest the earlier edition of the game (That group gave me 12 comments about the game - their impression)!

Sounds good, we have a couple of developers available now! I definitely agree on the written reports, I get super annoyingly picky with my guys to make sure their documents are well-written and comprehensive. You can check out a sample of one of our Critical Evaluation Reports in our service summary, http://coalitiongames.com/services.html

WinsmithGames
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I like to think playtesting

I like to think playtesting should be done in 3-phases:

1. Solo Playtesting and with close friends (who are patient enough to deal with a rougher game). This should be done as soon as you have a workable game concept and rough prototype. This phase will point out the MAJOR issues with the game.

2. Playtesting with broader friends and family. You should have a moderately functional game. Hopefully you've done a lot of Phase #1 playtesting previous to this (rough estimate, at least 5-15 playtests). This phase will point out the MAJOR and MINOR issues with the game. This phase will take awhile, so don't skimp on it.

3. Blind Playtesting and Sending to Reviewers. Expect many many many playtests before getting to this point (I'd say at least 25-50, depending on the depth of the game and your experience). But this step is important, because it will validate (or not) that you have an enjoyable game that may do well in the market. Additionally, blind playtesters and reviewers don't care about your feelings (which is good). They will be blunt and give you the most constructive feedback. Do not underestimate how important this phase is.

I haven't used Coalition Game Studios, but I want to for our first game. If you truly plan to publish your game, $150-300 is a great investment. If they give you extremely positive feedback, you can feel that much better about your game. If they give you negative feedback, you can make improve your game before wasting a lot of time and money trying to publish it. It's a win/win.

Looking through the feedback, they seem to be insightful and thorough. I'd take their feedback to heart.

Best of luck!

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