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To playtest or Not to playtest

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Kjev
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What I noticed is that there are quite a lot of requests for play testing in this forum. Most of these request-posts also have at least 200+ views. However, looking at these forumposts, I often see only a small amount of replies. Within these replies many are not spent on actual play testing feedback, sadly enough. So my question is:

In your experience, are people not play testing or is feedback simply not-publicly shared (e.g. via PM or Google Doc)? And if people are play testing, is this a significant (I know, it's subjective) amount of people?

I've tried to contact a couple of designers here (via PM), but without any success thusfar. So basically, I'm hoping you can help me out a little here in the more 'public sector' :)

@any Admin: looking at the descriptions of the fora (and the question itself), I got the feeling that this is the right location in the Game Creation section.

FYI: I already made a similar post on this topic on the BGG forum (click), but I figured some of you might not be regulars there.

let-off studios
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Challenges

It's sometimes difficult to successfully solicit playtesting for your games, no matter the environment. Here, however:
- most of the readers are designers themselves who have their own projects to discuss/work with, and this sucks up their free time
- of those who have legitimate spare time, lots of folks only have enough time to review rules, and not playtest
- print-and-play of someone else's game may be prohibitively expensive, take up too much time to figure out, or both
- some folks may know a designer or two, and I'd imagine that a game from someone they know will trump a game from someone they don't, so they play games from designers they know.

...So I would suggest that you don't become discouraged by a lack of responses right now. Try contributing to different discussions, be courteous and constructive with others' designs, and then slowly introduce your design to those forum members with whom things really seem to click.

Do you have a Friendly Local Game Store? Do you have local groups of designers? Do you have events at a local library? Do you have a "game night" at a local pub or other venue? Is there a local game design or game-playing Meetup where you are? All these things - and more - are possible venues to bring your game to potential playtesters.

Good luck. :)

radioactivemouse
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Well...

As much as people are encouraged to ask for play testing on this forum, I don't use this option. To me it's far better to find people to play my game...whether it is by going to game get togethers, going to game conventions, or just getting a stranger to play, it's far better than putting it up here and hoping someone would play it...all the while me not knowing or seeing their reactions while they learn it.

I'll be honest, as much as I really want to help play test games, I end up just downloading the prototype, but I never really get past that. A lot of time it's because I just don't have the time, but a lot of times it's because I don't really see anything innovative in a lot of the game designs here.

I don't want to sound negative, I'm just being honest here.

questccg
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Digital versions - such as Tabloro!

radioactivemouse wrote:
I don't want to sound negative, I'm just being honest here.

And most serious games are not PNP games. I get the concept, I just don't think it's practical. PNP games are usually the less played and people you need to promote your game like Reviewers are not interested in taking the time to DIY board or card games.

Not very many people have the time to cut cards, place them in sleeves with other cardbacks, and then cut out shards to be used with the games... It's very time consuming and most PNPs are not worth the effort.

I was being asked to consider a PNP of "Tradewars - Homeworld" and there is no way I will be doing that. Sorry. I have spent about $500.00 on TGC prototypes for Reviewers and have sent out unfinished but professional game sets. I even went out of my way to buy the right dice sets. And I luckily found Del, who set me up with a ton of plastic game markers (Ice cubes - as they call them).

PNPs might be good because they don't cost anything in terms of physical material and shipping, etc. But on the other hand they require so much effort. With a printed prototype all you do is open the box and setup...

Instead I would invest time in things like http://www.tabloro.com where you make a digital version of your game. You will get 10x more takers if all they need to do is log onto such a platform... Granted it take time, more time and effort than a PNP - but you will probably get more people willing to try your game!

Kjev
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let-off studios wrote:It's

let-off studios wrote:
It's sometimes difficult to successfully solicit playtesting for your games, no matter the environment. Here, however:
- most of the readers are designers themselves who have their own projects to discuss/work with, and this sucks up their free time
- of those who have legitimate spare time, lots of folks only have enough time to review rules, and not playtest
- print-and-play of someone else's game may be prohibitively expensive, take up too much time to figure out, or both
- some folks may know a designer or two, and I'd imagine that a game from someone they know will trump a game from someone they don't, so they play games from designers they know.

...So I would suggest that you don't become discouraged by a lack of responses right now. Try contributing to different discussions, be courteous and constructive with others' designs, and then slowly introduce your design to those forum members with whom things really seem to click.

Do you have a Friendly Local Game Store? Do you have local groups of designers? Do you have events at a local library? Do you have a "game night" at a local pub or other venue? Is there a local game design or game-playing Meetup where you are? All these things - and more - are possible venues to bring your game to potential playtesters.

Good luck. :)

So you are saying that those four points (in your opinion) are the reasons that most requests for playtests are not leading to actual playtests? 'Time' then seems to be the common denominator for the first three points and priority seems to be the fourth (b's before h's), if I'm getting you right.

I don't have any WIP projects for which I am looking for playtesters, but I do appreciate your advice. Thanks for your feedback :)

Kjev
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honesty appreciated

radioactivemouse wrote:
As much as people are encouraged to ask for play testing on this forum, I don't use this option. To me it's far better to find people to play my game...whether it is by going to game get togethers, going to game conventions, or just getting a stranger to play, it's far better than putting it up here and hoping someone would play it...all the while me not knowing or seeing their reactions while they learn it.

I'll be honest, as much as I really want to help play test games, I end up just downloading the prototype, but I never really get past that. A lot of time it's because I just don't have the time, but a lot of times it's because I don't really see anything innovative in a lot of the game designs here.

I don't want to sound negative, I'm just being honest here.

So for you it's more about the fact that you miss part of the face-to-face experience: getting to see people's reactions and so on?

Then your reasons not to play are more in the line of 'assembly time'(?) and 'innovation'. So how do you determine whether or not the game is 'innovating' without actually playing? Can you tell that without playing?

Your honesty (for me) is very much appreciated. I'm trying to get a better feel for the online requesting of playtesters and whether that is currently leading to anything.

Kjev
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questccg

questccg wrote:
radioactivemouse wrote:
I don't want to sound negative, I'm just being honest here.

And most serious games are not PNP games. I get the concept, I just don't think it's practical. PNP games are usually the less played and people you need to promote your game like Reviewers are not interested in taking the time to DIY board or card games.

Not very many people have the time to cut cards, place them in sleeves with other cardbacks, and then cut out shards to be used with the games... It's very time consuming and most PNPs are not worth the effort.

I was being asked to consider a PNP of "Tradewars - Homeworld" and there is no way I will be doing that. Sorry. I have spent about $500.00 on TGC prototypes for Reviewers and have sent out unfinished but professional game sets. I even went out of my way to buy the right dice sets. And I luckily found Del, who set me up with a ton of plastic game markers (Ice cubes - as they call them).

PNPs might be good because they don't cost anything in terms of physical material and shipping, etc. But on the other hand they require so much effort. With a printed prototype all you do is open the box and setup...

Instead I would invest time in things like http://www.tabloro.com where you make a digital version of your game. You will get 10x more takers if all they need to do is log onto such a platform... Granted it take time, more time and effort than a PNP - but you will probably get more people willing to try your game!

So you think mainly 'assembly time' and 'assembly ability' are in the way? With those I mean:

  • Time: it takes me one hour to print-cut-tape-paste it and then I don't know if it will be fun?
  • Ability: paper often just doesn't cut it. The quality of the materials is relevant for getting the full game experience?

I'm not sure I get what you mean with Reviewers (I did notice a capital 'R' though)...

I think your point with tabloro is very interesting, since this seems to take an extra effort for the designer, but less effort for the playtesters - thus resulting (potentially) in more playtesting.

questccg
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Reviewers and Tabloro

Kjev wrote:
I'm not sure I get what you mean with Reviewers (I did notice a capital 'R' though)...

If you want a successful game, you need to get it in the hands of industry experts which will evaluate, explain and give feedback about your game. There are very few of these experts who will entertain PNP product. Less than five in a list of 100 or so...

Kjev wrote:
I think your point with tabloro is very interesting, since this seems to take an extra effort for the designer, but less effort for the playtesters - thus resulting (potentially) in more playtesting.

Exactly. More effort than PNP but then you can virtually have anyone playtest the game from anywhere... This is very powerful. I guess with anything the first time takes more time, but then you have revisions and it probably gets easier if you have more experience with the platform...

Hook
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interesting

Most have a lot of other games to test, and I'm mostly interested in investing time if I believe its is a stable project and it sounds good. I did once in here say yes to test a card game and he shipped the game from the game crafter (on his own expense) So I felt he invested in it and I got a working game, so I did test it. At that time I made the feedback in PM.

let-off studios
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Kjev wrote:So you are saying

Kjev wrote:
So you are saying that those four points (in your opinion) are the reasons that most requests for playtests are not leading to actual playtests? 'Time' then seems to be the common denominator for the first three points and priority seems to be the fourth (b's before h's), if I'm getting you right.

I don't have any WIP projects for which I am looking for playtesters, but I do appreciate your advice. Thanks for your feedback :)


Yeah, I think people aren't excited about playtesting other designers' works, generally-speaking. Having a personal connection and/or being face-to-face with someone, THEN asking them to playtest is a more effective use of your time. It's not so easy to say "no" to someone who is in your face, and/or who is a friend of yours, and is asking for help on a project.

I also think it's fairly useless to be asking someone, "so what do you think of my idea?" What are they going to say? It's usually one of three things:
- "Yeah, that idea sounds good. Go for it!"
- "Nah, I don't like that kind of game. I say skip it."
- "It sounds like a decent idea, but until I have a chance to play it, I really can't say for sure."

Does any of that help bring your game to a finished state? I think not. Ideas "are a dime a dozen." They all sound good (or at least reasonable and approachable) at first glance, but their worth is never truly considered until they're legitimately tested and critically examined.

I really wish people would stop asking for approval/permission to pursue a game idea, and instead they just did it. I hope you don't take this personally, because it's not meant as a criticism against you. It's something I've observed time and time again.

Until you have a workable prototype in some sort of condition to be functional for a playtester, asking for playtest sessions won't be helpful. So set aside time and energy to come up with a workable prototype - DON'T spend too much money on it at first because it will likely change - and then only after you've done that start looking around for willing guinea pigs and feedback.

mulletsquirrel
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Invest in others first!

I've been down this road and I think the largest barrier to entry is that people on BGDF are not "close enough" to each other to want to invest that time.

Ever since I've started regularly being on TGC chat, I've noticed that it has a much closer feel of community than BGDF. I've made some close friends on there, and have playtested a few of their games. It is much easier to get someone to look over your rules if you are talking to them in a chatroom and just ask if they can give you some immediate feedback. This also helps because they can give iterative feedback as well!

Another powerful tool for playtesting is Tabletop Simulator. Although it is not free, it is powerful enough to allow you to create most games and play with people online.

The most important thing though is to first playtest other people's games to understand what type of effort goes into printing/cutting/playing someone else's print and play.

Playtest someone else's game and they will be much more likely to playtest yours...

Hope this helps!

Darrek

pelle
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I print'n'play certain types

I print'n'play certain types of games. If there are lots of cards I tend to avoid them. Games with just one board of moderate size and some components, possibly just a few cards, work very well, especially for solo play (or if you are lucky enough to know players that do not run away screaming when you show them your home-printed game). Tile-placement games with a limited number of tiles and maybe a few wooden cubes etc are fine as well because you just put self-adhesive sheets on cardboard and cut out, which is much faster and gets better than making cards, and also you do not need to have the exact right size card sleeves at home to do it

I have printed many games, especially free ones from bgg design contests . Printing a bunch of games from the bgg childrens game contest tonight so I can play them with my kids this weekend. But I have a few games I paid for as well. Most that I play are solitaire games though, but I know people I can actually play printed games with if I want to (and others I know there is not much point even suggesting it to).

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