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How do you find playtesters?

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Fury-Justice
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I'm curious how you find playtesters in general.

I cannot find many interested volunteers in my area. Is there a way to playtest by yourself successfully? Is there a way to do it over the internet? I don't know.

My game idea has a visibly rough prototype now and a new name Grim Tales which took me lots of thought to come up with.

Thanks in advance,
FJ

ilta
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Testing a game yourself is

Testing a game yourself is what you should be doing first anyway. But at some point you need to see what other people do with your game, just like a playwright needs to do a workshop of his new play with actors and a nurse can't practice shooting IVs into oranges forever. You're designing something to be enjoyed by people who aren't you or related to you (presumably) so you'll need to find a way to hustle some playtesters. Internet playtesting doesn't really capture what you're going to be looking for, except in a few corner cases. You need real, live people physically interacting with your game.

So here are some ideas if you're striking out with your friends. First of all, I don't know where you live, but you should be prepared to travel a bit if you need to; don't expect everyone to drop what they're doing and drive to Podunk to play your prototype, however hard you've worked on it and however cool its name is -- go to them.

To that end, most medium-to-large cities are going to have board game playing groups, even if they don't have board game design groups (presumably you've already looked into the latter). Even small towns have their LARP and RPG players -- find them. Get on those mailing lists and put out a request for playtesters. Show up at their meetings, play some games with them, get to know them, and then bring in your prototype one day. Many will rather play Dominion, but you'll find that in any group of gamers, at least two or three would love the opportunity to try something nobody else in the world has ever tried before.

Contact your nearest universities and colleges. They probably have a gaming group, or an interested professor who can wrangle some students for you. Failing that, post something on the college bulletin board.

Volunteer to run an board game club out of your town's high school or church or community center. Then follow the advice above. Don't bring your prototype on Day One. Get to know the people, establish a bond.

If all else fails, you can pay people. Put an ad on Craigslist or a local newspaper asking for a focus group. Pay them 20 bucks to play your game for an hour.

If you can't travel, and you can't get people to come to you, and you've tried all of these and the million other ways, and you can't get people to play your game for money, but you're still dead-set on devloping games instead of taking up horticulture or basket-weaving or something, contact an established game design group in a major game-design city like Chicago or New York and ask if you can mail them a prototype to test and report back to you. Some have been known to do this. It's a last-ditch effort but it's better than nothing.

One of these should work. If it doesn't, I'd reconsider the horticulture/basket-weaving thing.

Fury-Justice
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Great post ilta.

I actually got a group at a LAN place I go to regularly play d&d monthly. There's four of us there.

I tried to ask them last week but he worked overtime and had no time to even look at it. We played a few hours.
I said "I'll bring it just in case next month..." after asking dungeon master to see it. He said earlier "If we got the time.".

Usually we got a spare hour or two I'm hoping I can hook up with them I've been regularly playing with them for a year.

Other than that it is most likely a prototype being sent out my best guess. I'm kinda out in the country and I've tried to find people who like Fantasy / Sci-Fi or play games and they're -very- limited in this area (Michigan- Grand Rapids area).

People commonly play magic here. (I don't blame them I use to.) And the place is an old college near a college where I go (Gaming LAN).

I have been working at this idea for several years now. I've tossed away a lot of old prototypes and figure I should move on with it or no go.

Also, if I remember correctly it said "Permanence" for this month in games. My game idea is very similiar I think. Perma-Death, Percentile rolls, new form of hit point system, etc. Plus lots of other goals I aim for.

Not sure if that meets criteria or not? Perhaps I should open a post on prototyping?

Cogentesque
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Ah ok wait wait wait: So your

Ah ok wait wait wait: So your game is not a boardgame or cardgame - its an rpg system? Am I right in thinking that?

If this is the case, and it is a system game - then that will be a little harder - people (ideally) need to spend the normal amount of time that they would in an established ruleset campaign on your game - eg: 2 months at once a week? Or how ever long a normal system takes.

What you would probably need to do is ask to be playtested long in advance. as in - ask your dm and ask other groups if they wouldn't mind playing a new game (that no one else has played before) when they do there next campaign. Normally people book at least 1 more campaign in advance "Bill is DMing d&d 3 this time, next campaign James is doing a shadworun campaign - we should be able to try yours out then?"

So taking it along to the game session would not be perhaps the best option - emails and phone calls and speaking are probably better in that sense.

Now if this is wrong and it is a <1hour playtime boardgame: then I would probably do the same, ask the game group leader (internet address or whatever) if they wouldn't mind playing your game at one of their next events. Perhaps you could give thanks to the people who helped you and put their names on the game manual - or perhaps eventually include their gaming group logo in the final artwork somewhere. Best advice here is to sell your game well (hype it up, make it sound exciting and not just a load of proxy cards and scribbled paper) then perhpas give them a reason to play your game (thanks, payment, game choices), then ask as many different gaming groups as you can find to play your game.

If only 30% of people will even entertain playing your game and of that, only a third actually end up playing your game. You need to ask 500 people ... but you WILL get 50 players. More numbers = better playtesting :)

Hope we've helped furyjustice

Fury-Justice
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You sure did help.

Learnt more than I would've alone anyways. Thanks. Am I understood that I'm in the wrong place then? If so then that's becoming obvious to me now. It's a 'simplified' rpg system basically... it's been getting more complex over the years.

Cogentesque
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Ahh cool, well well you are

Ahh cool, well well you are most definately not in the wrong place . you are creating a game based in traditional materials - perhaps using a board or some cards or something. We will all help you out :)

Anything you want to know, slap it down here and we will try hard buddy!

What did you think of the plan to try and get people playing your game over a length of time? It would definately require a "proper" session test as opposed to a "I have brought this as well, fancy playing it?" because

1) If it is an RPG style gaming group: we would have already planned what to play and have characters eg all sorted

2) Each player and the DM need to know the rules - and of course if you have essentially rocked up with a rulebook, they would need to spend time learning the rules before even playing!

What I would probably say is a good idea buddy, is to commandeer your gaming group and say "Right you mother-bitches, in 3 months time we are GOING to play this game and I will DM ok?!" (the language may need to be scaled down or up depending on the reciprical opinions) and once you have tested it with you and your friends and they seem happy with it, then it will be good to try and contact other gamiung groups (again bgg.com will have loads) literally pm them: "Heya there, I have a game, would you like to play it in 2 months?" they'll go: "sure!" and then you have won the game. Or something like that.

Good to hear back from you fury - best of luck :)

ilta
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Yes, all my advice assumed a

Yes, all my advice assumed a hobby board game you could play in an hour or so. If it's an RPG then yeah, you can't really just walk up and do it, you have to schedule a block of time with your group months ahead of time. I'd recommend trying RPG.net instead of BGG then, when it comes to sending out copies.

I second the opinion that you should be excited about your game when you talk about it. Don't apologize for its made-by-hand quality or sell it short as "something I've been tinkering on" or whatever -- it's not a bug, it's a FEATURE that it's in a prototype form, because that means that the game itself will be able to respond directly to them. If they don't find combat satisfying, then you'll be back next week with more satisfying combat. If they want more character creation options -- or fewer -- you can deliver that to them.

Fury-Justice
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Okay so...

Should I comment here or prototyping forum on the materials? I'd assume I should make a new post, but not sure if that's neccessary? I'd like to explain what has changed in my rules since I last posted on BGDF. It really is basically an RPG now. It -can- take 1 hour or so but probably will need much more time and care, yes.

ilta
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I'd say a new thread is

I'd say a new thread is called for if the topic you want to discuss is different enough. It sounds like we maybe have helped you all we can with the finding playtesters issue?

My last comment is to say that sending out an RPG manual in the mail to a design group somewhere is probably a more accepted way of doing things than a board game prototype, so that initial idea of yours may not be as much of a last-ditch option as I made it sound (for board games, it still is).

But I don't really do RPGs myself so I don't know how helpful, or even true, that is -- there may be other concerns that I'm not thinking of.

Cogentesque
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Seconded what ilta said - the

Seconded what ilta said - the man knows a good deal.

I think try at RPG.net - we are pro board game designers, the pro rpg dudes might hang out over there, of course though we are more than happy to throw in our 2 cents and try and help you out but the RPG.net guys (I have never been there btw) might be more knowledgeable about the done thing as far as testing rpg's goes :)

Either way, if you become a millionaire selling the game Fury, remember your buddies at bgdf.com ;)

Fury-Justice
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One more thing...

One more thing I'd like to mention-- I do have another shop near me which might be useful. This one is a coffee / hobby shop. It just got built recently. In there, he lets you come and play with the games you want which are on display. If I am persuasive enough, or they're interested, I could get some people to play from there. I'm not sure about anything more than that but it seems like an opportunity I can't miss... (alpha and omega games)

JaffetC
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Need to know were your at, if you need players...

Where are you located? state is fine if you dont want to put state and city.

Fury-Justice
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Oh, saw this a bit late, but...

I'm in Michigan near Grand Rapids. North.

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