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How to run a demo of your game in public ? // I need some tips !

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le_renard
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Joined: 10/08/2010

Hi everyone,
tomorrow is the day !
I have been asked to take part of a prototype night in France with my first "really playable" design, City of the Wolves.
I have received messages from players telling me they wanted to give the game a try, etc...
So I know that there will be, at least, a couple of players willing to play.

The prototype is shining bright ( I have put much effort into making it as nice-looking as possible.. I know that it doesn't make the game any better, but I guess I'm not confident enough in my game-designing skills to go with a bad-looking prototype ^^ )
The cards are in french (and so am I) to make it easier for the players...

What would you suggest me to do, think about, plan, etc.. to get the most of this meeting ?

How are you running your demos ? A typical game is around 45mns long... I suppose some players will not be willing to play a full game, etc...

What should I bring with me there, etc ?

All advices, tips and suggestions are more than welcome !

Dralius
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Joined: 07/26/2008
1. Have a PlanEven though

1. Have a Plan

Even though you know the game inside and out you may not have taught it many times or at all. Think over how you’re going to cover the rules and stick to that plan. People will have rules questions but if they ask questions about something you haven’t covered yet tell them you will get to that and keep with the plan. If you allow the players to side track the rules explanation it will take much longer to do and may be confusing since it’s not in proper order. Ever try understanding a rule book by jumping randomly from one paragraph to another? Plus the longer it takes the higher chance they will forget an important detail.

2. Get it Ready

If at all possible have the game set up before the players arrive. This saves the player’s time which they probably have a limited amount of.

3. Be thick skinned

You’re looking for feedback to fix/refine your game so instead of praise expect nit picking, which is ok as long as the feedback is useful. You never know when your game is going to put a bad taste in someone’s mouth so be ready for the guy that doesn’t like it at all and isn’t afraid to say so.

4. Listen and Watch

Many designers are big advocates of blind testing but I prefer to be present at the testing for two reasons.

A. I can observe the groups emotional state before, during and after the game. This allows me to put context to the feed back. Example: At GenCon I ran a test of my game Tahiti which runs 45-60 min and the game came in at about 65 min this time. The group agreed that the game was a bit too long, a comment I have not had in two years of development. The test was run Sunday night and the group was exhausted from a long weekend. Knowing that I can understand how they might have wanted a quicker game. I am still doing time tracking for tests but I think you can see what I mean.

B. Although written feedback can be good for fine details most people do give you much and you can ask questions if they are vague.

5. Don’t overuse the testers

If there is something broken or the game is dragging on give them the option of calling it quits. Testers will appreciate not being put in the position of playing a bad game and a happy testers is a tester you can go back to.

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