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Playtesting Theory

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Joined: 12/01/2010

Hi everyone,

For my latest game I'm testing - I have designed a document I'd like to have the play testers fill out - part while they are playing, and part after they finish - and I'd like some input on it.

I've been doing a ton of playtesting lately - and have been trying to find ways to not only ask the right questions, and hear the right answers, but find trends across different play groups.

I'd like input in questions, scales, formatting, design - whatever - I'm trying to make a really good document - and of course what I'm posting anyone is free to use.

I figure that certain parts of this would be good for most games - and others would only be good for specific games. I'm trying to make this about a competitive strategy game with a large amount of player interaction - if that helps anyone critique.

I also intend to make a sheet that I as a designer can use to better record and track feed back - both direct and indirect - I will make that a separate post when I have a first draft of the form.

Dralius's picture
Joined: 07/26/2008

There are two things I noticed right off.

1. The term 'griefing' may be unfamiliar to your players. I am certainly not familiar with it.

2. You didn't ask about downtime: The time in between a players turn. This is always an important consideration. If the game has too much downtime it will be boring or frustrating.

Joined: 12/01/2010
"Griefing" is the act of

"Griefing" is the act of doing something to another player specifically to hinder that player

A "Griefer" is someone who plays a game not to win - but to get enjoyment at the displeasure of other players having had these things done to them.

Good point though and I should reword it.

Downtime is an excellent point and I need to get some questions about that into the form!

Made some of the changes - and opened up the google doc so I don't have to attach too many files :-)

Joined: 01/31/2011
without reading your pdf

I can tell you one thing for sure. You may already be doing this but...

Do this especially if your playtest group is brand new to the game. You don't want them stopping during play to think about questions. You want to capture their raw experience.

Buy a cheap MP3 player that can record. I have a SansaClip.

Run that baby while your game is played. Then after the playtest session, listen to it. You'll be able to gather much better info that way, especially if your group is new, than from any questionaire.

Listening for the dead spots in the chatter will help you find the weak points of your game and conversely help you find the strong points where there is a lot of excited talk or laughter.

I would put the burden of note taking on yourself and only lightly bother with questionaires after the game is complete.

With a group that has played your game several times, you may want to change this approach but again, rather than writing YOUR questions down...ask the players to write THEIR questions down as the game is played or write their thoughts. Don't build too much of a box around your testers' creative thinking.

In any case, if you are not getting the results you desire, change your approach.

larienna's picture
Joined: 07/28/2008
Quote:"Griefing" is the act

"Griefing" is the act of doing something to another player specifically to hinder that player

My first thought for a non-english native would be to attach something to something else.

Anyways, Questions while playing is bad. You could always ask question before and after teaching the rules. This give you an idea of what was their first impression of the game before playing it. But do not ask question while playing. They can take notes if they want (I usually do that when playtesting game) but not evaluate when playing.

Joined: 12/01/2010
Yeah the section I have for

Yeah the section I have for while playing the game is just occurrences - like if you feel frustrated, mark a line in the box, if you do again mark another line - this might not work - but when I try to gauge reactions like that it tends to not match what the players feel. I wouldn't burden anyone with analytical questions while playing.

I changed the griefing statement to "People can do too many things to derail my plans in this game." Does that work better?

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