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How much playtesting is enough?

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gabrielcohn
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Joined: 11/25/2010

One of my games, Leaving Earth, is coming along quite nicely. I solved some of the problems that I was worried about in the summer/fall. My last half-dozen playtests have been met with the general responses like:
"That was a solid game."
"I'd play that again." (and several random strangers have now played 3, 4, 5 times...)
"I like how there's a variety of strategies that all have winning potential."
...and such

After most recent playtests I usually think of something I COULD tinker with, but usually nothing I feel like NEEDS to be changed. So, at the point where I'm at, where the game tends to run smoothly, how much more playtesting should I do? Any advice? (I know I need some blind-playtesting of the rules and such soon, so, you could answer how much of that as a subset...)

Thanks all...

-gabe

JaffetC
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Joined: 09/19/2011
well, the best way is to

well, the best way is to create "unfair" situations. Once you create these unfair situations, you have to play with all viable answers to the situation.

once you've got all of the cleared up, i think it would be pretty legit for play.

Orangebeard
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Joined: 10/13/2011
Extreme testing

I think the next step would be to test it with some "extreme" play styles. For example, are there choices the players would normally make in the game that make sense for someone that is trying to win? What happens if someone isn't playing to win or chooses to create their own fringe strategy?

Is there anything that would be gained by testing with variations? Even if there is nothing that needs to be changed, is there anything that might improve the game if it were different?

It sounds like you are very close to a polished prototype - good luck with your testing!

gabrielcohn
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Joined: 11/25/2010
Testing the extremes...

Thanks for the thoughts folks. I've played in most of my recent playtest games, and keep trying for the strategy I see as the most likely to win. I've won a fair amount, but usually it's been pretty tight (and I'm playing against people with little to no experience with the game...)

But...here's the problem with this idea of testing the extremes--the game is so highly interactive that it's hard for one person to really throw the game off that much. To explain briefly: players take turns selecting actions. When player X selects an action, everyone places a (secret) bid on how much they want to do said action. The highest bidder gets the best version of the action, followed by the others, often with some players excluded. So, if I take a crazy "I'm going to blow all my money on mining" strategy or something, while I'll dominate in resources, I'll have nothing left to bid on other actions.

But, I will keep working on ideas of strategies to "break" the game and see what I can do to curb them...

Thanks!

-g

larienna
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Joined: 07/28/2008
As a guide line, some people

As a guide line, some people said that a game must be tested at least 50 times, and I agree with that.

When you are near the end of the design, you are reaching a point where the changes will be small. The best thing to do is to solo test intensively. If your game can be divided in subparts (ex: a combat system) try testing these system intensively alone.

You will be trying to find patterns or common behaviours. This is where you will find if there is a dominant strategy, if it's too repetitive or sometimes if the game is really fun.

Even if it might not be as easy to do, try to make sure each play test focus on something. It could be player strategy, it could abusing a rule, ignoring the use of certain actions, etc. This way, you will know what are all the things that can happen into your game.

I managed to find some issues 1 year after my game was self published, so you can never be absolutely sure that no changes will have to be made. It might not be obvious for you right now. But 1 year later, you might find something wrong that you did not understand how you could not see it before. The best option here is to stay flexible and don't be scared to revise your game later.

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