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test playing

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julesA
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how do you play test a game properly? i am designing a game and am at the test playing stage and I'm really wondering how to do it.

mulletsquirrel
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Joined: 08/14/2014
Test Test Test!

You should be constantly testing the game as you make tweaks and changes. There was an interesting post here not too long ago about testing your game as soon as possible.

Just play through your game. Play by yourself! Play with some close friends. Keep tweaking things as you see fit and keep testing. Take notes of what works, and what doesn't.

julesA
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thanks

would you recommend testing by yourself because there is only one other board gamer up here.

laperen
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you might have to be more

you might have to be more specific with what you are asking for.

are you asking about how to get people to test your game? methods of recording data from tests? interpreting data from tests? how to create a prototype?

at the very least, can you tell us the status of your preparation for testing? like if you have a rudimentary paper prototype to play

as for your question:

julesA wrote:
would you recommend testing by yourself because there is only one other board gamer up here.

This wholely depends on the experience you want for your game. if you want a game that is best experienced solo, by all means. But do keep in mind that gaming remains predominantly a social activity, so i would suggest finding friends to test out play with multiple players.

mulletsquirrel
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I suggest first testing by

I suggest first testing by yourself, pretending to be all of the players. You will find many major problems very quickly with this method. This will prevent the embarrassment of missing major flaws when you do finally show the game off to friends/family/peers/strangers.

Keep iterating. Play a bit, noting any flaws or things to possibly change. Make the changes. Play again and note any flaws. Rinse and repeat.

Once you think you have all the major kinks worked out from playing by yourself, you should look for other people to help test.

Warmagon
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When testing, do you test the

When testing, do you test the current state and iterate off that, or is a it worthwhile idea to prepare multiple versions of a questionable rule in advance and then compare them in testing?

Ie, my initial brainstorming is generating a number sort of forking design possibilities. When I start drawing up an early prototype and testing, should I be taking an initial set of assumptions and trying to run with them, or preparing different versions and comparing them from an early stage?

questccg
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Let your mind figure it out!

Warmagon wrote:
my initial brainstorming is generating a number sort of forking design possibilities. When I start drawing up an early prototype and testing, should I be taking an initial set of assumptions and trying to run with them, or preparing different versions and comparing them from an early stage?

I think the key is to *explore* each design possibility YOURSELF (as the Designer) - I personally find that when I have multiple possibilities I simply like to just let my mind wander and work on other things...

Then when I come back to my design - usually because something triggered an idea - I tend to find that I like ONE or TWO design possibilities more than the others. From there you can playtest those two SOLO and figure out if either works or you need more thought.

I find also working on multiple games helps since you are focused on game design without being too attached to one design. I usually find that I have an IDEA about what I want the game to be like and then it comes out to details and mechanics (to make them work together).

It also helps to have a design buddy (another designer) or post up your variations up on BGDF to get feedback what people think works best. Obviously I recommend trying them out solo before bringing the ideas to a testing group. I find testing groups tend to wander off into other areas of the game - that you are not interested in. Remember it's YOUR game.

chriswhite
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Things learned about playtesting that I wish I had known earlier

1) Playtesting sounds fun in the abstract, but the majority of people cannot playtest well, for one reason or another. Just be prepared, and don't take it personally if even your close friends won't/don't/can't assist you here. There are exceptions, but I would expect no more than 30% of people who respond to a general call for playtesters to actually invest their time and produce meaningful data. Many established companies do no external testing, because the effort:results is just too high. (I do not recommend this to a first-time designer.)

2) The easier you make it for playtesters to play, the more likely they will be to actually follow through. This means that sending them the physical materials is a lot more likely to get results than emailing PDFs for them to print. Physically preparing the materials (e.g. cutting things out yourself) is even more likely to get results. But still–– don't get your hopes up.

3) Game development (including playtesting) is like being a rock musician or a film star–– lots of people like the idea of doing it, because they love the end product. But most people are just totally unprepared for the tedium and grit that it involves. Much of the time (particularly in very early testing), playtesting a game isn't remotely fun. It can involve a lot of stops and starts, or rule changes made on the spot. There is basically an inverse relationship between the amount of fun had in a test, and the volume of tangible information produced which informs changes–– the smoother a test goes, the less useful it tends to be for the designer. Make sure each group knows what it's getting into.

4) Make your prototype materials as nice as you can, because this will affect how much fun people have. That sounds silly, but it's true. Nice icons, good cardstock–– this can be the difference between a successful test and a cancelled test. There are a whole bunch of gamers who are theme-oriented and will be totally unable to get into your game unless it's thematically fleshed out. Here's a very realistic scenario: You approach Timmy for playtesting, he plays your homemade prototype, and says he totally hates it. Add some art, some nice graphic-design, a story, and a pretty box with a dragon on it, and suddenly he'll say it's his favorite game and he'll glady drop $100 on it. Generally speaking, most people do not understand why they like something, and are very poor at articulating their impressions. That's not to say that you should dismiss anything they say, but take everything with a grain of salt.

5) Generally speaking, I find myself returning to the following realization: There are two major types of playtesting.
• The first type tries to answer questions like Is this game fun? Should I continue to invest time into developing it? What major changes could improve it?
• The second type answers the questions of Does this game work? Is it balanced? Are there ways to play which trivialize the experience?
The first involves playing very much in 'spirit' of the game, and it's ok to paint a picture for your testers of how you imagine the game should be played. Casual gamers are generally well suited to this, because they are trying to pursue an enjoyable experience. The second type is as difficult as it is critical, because it requires people who already understand the game to go out of their way to not have fun.
Ironically, I have found that many of my colleagues in the industry are actually the worst playtesters I have ever used, because they try to do the second type when you're still trying to do the first.

That's all I have time for, now. Hope that helps.

laperen
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After reading through the

After reading through the entire thread again, I think all of us have misunderstood the original poster's predicament.

The original poster is not limited by knowledge or materials, but by situation. With very little people around already, and only a miniscule percentage of those people interested in boardgames, it is impossibly hard to find even just a few play-testers.

With that in mind, it depends on what you are designing boardgames for. If it is merely a hobby, then designing alone with an occasional friend playing it is fine.

The problem arises when you want to make a commercial release, since you will be dealing with the general public, which is accounting for everyone (ideally) to understand and enjoy your game.

jrc5639
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Joined: 11/19/2013
Play Testing

The first stage of play testing is always solitary. You need to make sure the mechanics make sense. Start there, then get anyone and everyone to play the game.

I recommend you make a list of things you want to achieve with the game. This will help results.

jonu5123
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Playtesting

So I have a little dilemma. I been playtesting my game quite a bit with family, friends, and student of mine, but will be needing to branch out to strangers. If i were to upload it to this site for people to try out my game consists of a lot of pieces and the Prototype would take a lot of printing, cutting and pasting, glueing, etc.
Any suggestions how I can maybe get people on this site to test out my game? I only have one copy as well.

Right now I had the rules read by a secretary at a law firm, and i have another one who edits online teaching modules who is going to be editing it as well. I also passed the rules off to one of my students to read and learn to playtest with his friends in front of me without asking me any questions, to see if he can take my information in the rules and make sense of it to playtest.

Maybe I can get someone on this Forum to even just read the rules and give me some input? That would be fantastic!

Thanks!!!

The Professor
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PlayTesters Needed!

jonu,

One of the easiest and least expensive way to have it "blind-playtested" (which is what you're asking, as you will not physically be present to answer questions), is to have the rules and components made into a .pdf format and sent out to a number of playtesters.

I conduct playtesting for Strategy & Tactics and Modern War magazines, so they're 'hex and counter' wargames. Additionally, I've been asked by Compass Games to develop several other games for them. If you have a semi-polished game, I would be more then happy to run it through its paces.

Cheers,
Joe

jonu5123
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thanks for responding. THe

thanks for responding. THe game is pretty well polished. I have all the pieces made and at decent quality too. ALthough most of the images and art in the game were taken off the internet and intertwined with some of my own art and design. All images will be replaced with my artwork and maybe others in the future. This is just for playtesting purposes. Im Trying to get someone from BLIZZARD entertainment to help with the art, but that remains to be seen.

So if i uploaded some PDFs, i must tell you that it may take hours to glue and put together, unless you are just going to playtest it as a paper game. The one i prototyped myself has been constructed with many cardboard pieces, all cut and pasted as best i could by hand (and with over 20 years of art experience I have a nice little system of cutting).
I may need some time though since I have some students of mine going to be playtesting in a few weeks first.
Thanks! So you were asked to develop games for COMPASS? What does that mean exactly. Do you playtest for them? Or create games for them?

The Professor
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play-testing vs. development

Great question...

Since 2010, I've returned to board games after many years as an RPGer, and more specifically, "hex & counter" wargames. I've play-tested, as part of a team close to three dozen games released in the magazines. As a play-tester, you report your findings to the Developer who is charged with finding the play-testers...sometimes you accompany the rules at a convention, and at other times you conduct "blind" playtesting where the rules must stand on their own.

Recently, I assisted Ernie Copley with a number of scenarios and rewrote an entire section on Diplomacy for an upcoming expansion to his critically-acclaimed "Monster" war-game, "The War: Europe, 1939-1940."

In addition, Compass Games has reached out to me, asking that I serve as the Developer for a WWI Zeppelin game, pitting German airships against the nascent British RAF. I've reviewed the rules, offered significant editing recommendations, and will begin the "play-test" phase in the months ahead.

Hope that helped and provided you a better understanding of at least two of the myriad roles engaged in board-game design.

Cheers,
Joe

The Professor
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Additional Offers

As a matter of fact, thanks to this thread, I've received yet another offer to play-test a game...it's a great way to receive neutral, constructive feedback.

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