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Tabletopia and Playtesting

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joebergmann
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JBG - City Park on Tabletopia
JBG - Mosaic on Tabletopia
JBG - Shiver me Timbers! on Tabletopia
JBG - Skydive! on Tabletopia

Hey everyone. I just thought I'd share a few of the games I have been building on Tabletopia. I am using it as a platform for playtesting and game design. I think it looks good, and it is fast to iterate and try new things!

So far, only City Park and Mosaic are public on Tabletopia, but I could still run playtesting trials with them all.

Just wanted to show people a possible playtesting venue if you have a hard time finding "real" people.

Joe

WinsmithGames
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Looks awesome Joe. Have you

Looks awesome Joe. Have you had any playtest games yet? I'm interested in hearing feedback from playtesters from virtual playtests.

joebergmann
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None yet...

Hey David,

I haven't had any playtesters yet. Honestly, I just got these games up on Tabletopia and don't really know how to recruit people.

I would love to get ideas about the best way to have people try this method. I have thought about Facebook events, posting here and on other sites... I'm just not sure what would work best.

What do others think would be a good way to use this format?

Any thoughts would be welcomed!

questccg
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This is just my opinion...

You could simplify the process in dealing with "Coalition Games". Seeing as you don't need to MAIL any prototypes, it's just a matter of determining how many playtests you want to conduct.

There website is: http://www.coalitiongames.com

For three (3) Blind Playtests (Impressionary) is pretty reasonable considering that they will play the game 3 separate times. My estimate is that it would cost you about $150 to have that playtest done.

This might be a good service IF you have ironed out your rulebook.

Yes, I am well aware that you need to PAY - but at the same time, that creates a professional distance and the reviews more "to the point" and able to help you see what other people think about your designs.

This is just ONE (1) avenue... I'd advocate it ... especially if it's limited to three (3) playtests.

Keep us posted about your progress.

joebergmann
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That's a good point

I have looked at these guys before. I really like this idea because it does create a "distance" between designer and playtester. More of a true blind test. Plus, these guys offer written feedback and data to back up their work. A pretty good deal, I think.

I hadn't thought about seeing if they would just play on Tabletopia or something similar. That's a really good idea. I'll check it out!

joebergmann
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Just Because Games quality not up to Tabletopia standards

Well, Tabletopia has informed me that my game presentations on their site were not up to their standards. I am not a professional graphic artist. I did the best I could to put forward what I thought was ok. It wasn't.

It's ok. I know I am lacking in art skills. I'll just have to wait until I get better or can afford an artist. No big deal. I don't think anyone played the games I had anyhow, next to games like Scythe, etc. I will have to find another way.

I still think Tabletopia is a good platform to use. But it's important to understand that you need to provide them with exactly what they want.

Please understand that a lot of this is just frustration on my part. I have put 4 games on Tabletopia and had complaints from Tabletopia on each of them about my art. It's my fault because I clearly didn't read all the rules and I don't have the skill to do what they ask. Hell, it's probably easy. Just not easy for me.

I'm not trying to be an ass, but I am disappointed that I was spending $10 a month to be criticized at every effort.

Joe

questccg
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Tell them it's all for prototyping!

joebergmann wrote:
Well, Tabletopia has informed me that my game presentations on their site were not up to their standards. I am not a professional graphic artist. I did the best I could to put forward what I thought was ok. It wasn't...

They should have no right to disallow you from uploading your own content. It is wrong to judge content - especially if you are a PAYING customer. This is the FIRST time I have heard of this - but this kind of "bias" should not be allowed...

What you do with TableTopia is YOUR business. If you use it for prototyping and use no artwork or template artwork - that is again YOUR business. TableTopia shouldn't say "boo" unless it's because you don't pay for the service.

@Joe: It's WRONG. I would FIGHT it and tell them, the content is NOT final and subject to change. But for prototyping content it is perfectly acceptable.

And leave it at that. If the a$$holes decide to bar you from using the service for prototyping ... well in polite terms, I would "tell them where they can go..." Imagine judging the content of a paying customer. What fools.

joebergmann
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It's ok

It's ok. They want things to look a certain way on their sight and my stuff wasn't up to their standards. I have removed my games from their site and have asked them to remove myself from the site. This hasn't been uncommon for me as of late. As I have said, I'm not a commercial artist. And, my art isn't up to the current standards I guess. It's truly ok.

I have an ace up my sleeve, I return to a 6 figure engineering job Monday. I may start my own "TableJopia", I have the programming skills to do so. Who knows.

It's really not a big deal. And, I'm sure I am overreacting as well. The board game business can be a tough one! :) I'm kind of a wimp...

Joe

ElKobold
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There are no restrictions to

There are no restrictions to publish a game there for personal use. What they were most likely referring to was publishing it publicly, so that it’s discoverable. And It’s completely normal that they don’t want prototypes there.

I mean, it would be extremely poor business decision for them not to. Imagine you are TT user who wants to play a game. Would you like it if you had to shuffle through hundreds of prototypes before you find your Scythe or whatnot?

You can have your prototype published, but unlisted. So that only people with a link/room number could join. They wont have any issues with that, no matter the artwork or if its a finished game or not.

I’m using TT for testing for two years now and it is invaluable in this capacity. You simply have to know how to use it.

joebergmann
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It is their company/website

Agreed. It is their company/website. They can do whatever they want.

I was paying $10 a month and they were changing my content. Period.

Plus, my games have NEVER been on the front page, except for City Park. With City Park THEY changed the layout and images of the game "for me". I'm glad you are happy with their service. I wish you luck using them.

I thought my artwork was finished, it was the best I could do. In essence, I was paying them to freely do what THEY wanted with MY work. I'm sorry, but this is what happened.

You are absolutely correct. You have to know how to use Tabletopia. It is NOT for getting your games in front of everyone. Only a select few that are ok with a game not being perfect.

And of course it's an extremely poor business decision to work with people who are willing to give you money for your service... sigh.

ElKobold
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I understand your

I understand your frustration, but I’m unsure if your sarcasm is warranted.

Nowhere do they promise that 10$ a month guarantees any of your games (regardless how they look and how ready they are) posted publicly. On the contrary, they do mention moderation to post your game publicly.

You had wrong expectations from the platform and when they haven’t been met, you were frustrated.

What you can do is:
1) ask them for a refund.
2) hire an artist to match the visual side of your game with their standards
3) continue using a platform according to their rules

Or you can keep being sarcastic when people are trying to help you. Your choice.

questccg
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Just plain WRONG!

joebergmann wrote:
...I was paying $10 a month and they were changing my content. Period...

IF I'm PAYING money... You better believe me that I can do WHATEVER I LIKE. The "customer" is ALWAYS RIGHT. If you want people to pay for the service so that they can HOST prototype or unfinished games - that's MY decision.

joebergmann wrote:
Plus, my games have NEVER been on the front page, except for City Park. With City Park THEY changed the layout and images of the game "for me". I'm glad you are happy with their service.

I actually think it's wrong to disallow designers to have your own games that are in different stages ... some might be prototypes. It's probably less expensive and EASIER to get people to playtest on TableTopia than have to MAIL (snail mail) prototypes to different groups.

joebergmann wrote:
And of course it's an extremely poor business decision to work with people who are willing to give you money for your service... sigh.

I've already stated that this service should be use and PAID by the Gamers (End Users) not Designers. Not only do we need to generate the content gamers are using to PLAY ... we MUST PAY to do so.

I am totally against TT business practices... I would instead deploy any and all games on TableTop Simulator. EACH Player PAYS ONCE for TTS and then you can buy the DLCs for different games. Designers MAKE some money.

And in TTS if you want to offer a prototype, you can design your DLC and distribute it via e-mail when it is still a PROTOTYPE.

I don't need TableTopia forcing us to A> Make games for THEIR platform. B> PAY to make games for them... @Joe you are right to be upset (aside from sarcasm) these guys are complete jerks.

Like I said from a DESIGNER's perspective, I would use TableTop Simulator since YOU (the designer/publisher) are in FULL control. You don't need some third-party website forcing everyone to PAY money and telling what kind of game can and cannot be used on their platform.

Bottom line: it's WRONG.

krone9
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Don't agree that "the

Don't agree that "the customer is always right" - thats like saying "well I bought a car and paid my roadtax, I'll drive on whatever side of the road I damn well like"

I do get the frustation though - and I'm not TT's biggest fan - but ultimately they do have terms for their service, which you subscribed to so if you don't like them, best thing to do is vote with your feet.

And if you have the ability to write your own version then maybe there's plenty of other people out there who share your opinion who could benefit!

(Not me - I believe that boardgames need to be physical, tangible, real and played with people in the same room or you don't get the experience as designed. That may be controversial :D)

questccg
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I was exacerbating the issue

Was I am specifically bothered by was @Joe's usage of the website: he had one game in a more or less finished state (City Park) and then he had three (3) prototypes. He was a PAYING customer who gladly paid $10/mth for his four (4) games to be on TableTopia (TT).

Those are the cold-hard-facts.

He was told that his games were not "nice enough". Who cares... They are mostly prototypes and I would pay to use them to encourage more playtesters get access to my prototypes rather than have to MAKE and SHIP physical copies that you know will change...

Must easier to maintain a prototype on TT and give out new links when a newer version is available for MORE playtests.

That was @Joe's plan from what I understood.

Now TT is telling him his games are "not sufficiently attractive" based solely on what fact? That they are mostly prototypes?? Or some other factor that TT is not allowing designers to use their platform for prototyping...???

I don't get it. You offer a service and force people to PAY. Then when people who PAY use your service for a purpose and then they say "Wait a minute you can't use our website for prototype or playtesting..."

So what the F*** am I paying you for the use of your website AS A DESIGNER??? To play other people's games... As if. No we want to reduce the effort of playtesting and prototyping various incomplete versions of our games. That's the purpose of TT. TableTop Simulator (TTS) is another story ... since they allow you to PAY for "Downloadable Content" (DLCs) and I guess you can design your prototype DLCs (or module) and send it to whomever you want FREE. Again only prototypes. IDK enough about TTS...

Anyway it seem wrong to mistreat poor @Joe who just wanted to use the platform for PLAYTESTING purposes... Sheesh!

ElKobold
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Kris, you are

Kris, you are overreacting. Plus, you are confused with how TT actually operates.

TT allows you to post and use prototypes. Even completely unfinished ones and without art. Moreover, you can do it for free (if you have just one). Subscription gives you more space to use and allows to post multiple games setups, that’s it.

And you can share the link with your playtesters, or even post it on your KS page or wherever and they can use that link to play it. What you can’t do is post a poorly looking game to be available through normal browsing of TT. Which makes tons of sense.

questccg
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Clarification please...

ElKobold wrote:
...What you can’t do is post a poorly looking game to be available through normal browsing of TT. Which makes tons of sense.

Well them I am totally CONFUSED!?!?! I've seen @Joe's pictures of his games, there is nothing that seems like "poorly looking". And if you're saying that you can have "hidden" games or prototypes - well that's fine by me... But @Joe said his games weren't even available through browsing...

Maybe "City Park" was... and he said they made modifications to the game before allowing it to be "browsable".

I'm confused because Arty you are saying ONE THING. And @Joe is SAYING ANOTHER. So either I misunderstood what @Joe said or why else would they tell @Joe his artwork is "not polished" enough or his games are not good enough...

@Joe: Can you clarify??? What was the exact context for them critiquing your games.

Was this after you request to make them ALL "browsable"? Or was it just because you had prototyped games available to play and they felt the artwork or the game was not up to specs?!?!

Please clarify.

X3M
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Go with your ace Joe.

I do too. :)
Congrats on having it 6 figures.

What I find odd is:
Have they contacted you, before they pulled your content of the site? Like "warnings"?
Have they made suggestions for doing it right?

Or was it really just a "you are wrong, bye now". Kind of deal?

joebergmann
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Holy cow. I am very sorry.

I am very sorry to have started this whole thing. Yikes.

Look. If you look at my posts, what I said was this:

I was disappointed that I was paying someone who was changing my content without my knowledge.

While I was disappointed, it was ok. It's their website. They can do what they want. I don't have to play with them. So I'm not.

ElKobold, I apologize for the sarcasm. I should have simply said: Is it "an extremely poor business decision to put prototypes up publicly"? ABSOLUTELY NOT. I disagree completely with your statement. As far as I know Scythe has never been anywhere BUT on the front page. City Park was there for a while before being relegated to the back. None of my other games were on the front page for more than a day. And, they didn't need to be. They aren't Scythe. They aren't popular. But, I paid to have them on the site, just like Stonemaier games. To suggest that my games shouldn't be allowed on the site because they might "get in the way" of the popular games is offensive to me.

So, Kris, I'm sorry if I gave the wrong impression. My games were available through browsing. But ONLY after TT changed them without telling me. I'm really sorry to get you all riled up. Know that it wasn't my intent.

krone9, I'm afraid I do subscribe to "the customer is always right" theory. But, that's me. I also agree with your thoughts about boardgames needing to be real. The bummer is the cost to make, print, and ship all those games to people to test. :) I really thought Tabletopia was going to be a great alternative.

ElKobold, you are exactly correct. You can put your content on Tabletopia without it being public. But, I want people to play my games. I did my best and thought I was meeting Tabletopia's standards. I wasn't. I was ok with that. Again, what I wasn't ok with was that they changed my content without telling me.

Kris, I didn't think my stuff looked too bad either. But it did. My "in game shots" weren't exciting enough, or high enough resolution, or had the little hand Icon in them, I guess. Actually, they didn't tell me what the problem was, just pointed me to the recommendations screen. And this was after they had altered and published City Park and I tried to publish a second game.

X3M, I must confess, I have been wanting to talk programming with you. I have done work with Unity (which is what Tabletopia uses if I'm not mistaken), Visual Studio Everything (C, C++, C#, VB, blah, blah, blah) and, yes I'm old, Borland... :) They did not pull my content from the site. I was simply angry that they modified it without telling me.

To wrap up. This was my original post:

Well, Tabletopia has informed me that my game presentations on their site were not up to their standards. I am not a professional graphic artist. I did the best I could to put forward what I thought was ok. It wasn't.

It's ok. I know I am lacking in art skills. I'll just have to wait until I get better or can afford an artist. No big deal. I don't think anyone played the games I had anyhow, next to games like Scythe, etc. I will have to find another way.

I still think Tabletopia is a good platform to use. But it's important to understand that you need to provide them with exactly what they want.

Please understand that a lot of this is just frustration on my part. I have put 4 games on Tabletopia and had complaints from Tabletopia on each of them about my art. It's my fault because I clearly didn't read all the rules and I don't have the skill to do what they ask. Hell, it's probably easy. Just not easy for me.

I'm not trying to be an ass, but I am disappointed that I was spending $10 a month to be criticized at every effort.

And:

It's ok. They want things to look a certain way on their sight and my stuff wasn't up to their standards. I have removed my games from their site and have asked them to remove myself from the site. This hasn't been uncommon for me as of late. As I have said, I'm not a commercial artist. And, my art isn't up to the current standards I guess. It's truly ok.

So, I'm sorry that everything went crazy. I shouldn't have complained in the first place. But, I had started the thread about using Tabletopia, and then I had a bad experience and I wanted to share it.

I do still stand by this statement: If you put content on Tabletopia they may change it without telling you first. And I think that's wrong.

Joe

questccg
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I knew I read your message correctly

@Joe: Why don't you make a SUGGESTION to the "good" people at TableTopia. The suggestion is this:

Allow Prototypes to be FEATURED in the browsing but ADD A LABEL: "Prototype".

This will clear ANY and ALL problems regarding FEATURED games. So some games like some of yours (and believe me I've seen FAR WORST ART) could have that label put on just so people know the game is in a state of flux and not 100% completed artwork.

To be honest, my prototypes are probably LESS "pretty" than yours because mine are all Black & White with NO ARTWORK (just a blank section). That's surely not a game that would be FEATURED. Then again maybe @Joe is RIGHT:

Why NOT allow "prototypes" to be FEATURED TOO. To get some playthroughs and feedback from people who try the games out. I'm sure you could add something like: "Send Feedback to jbg[at]hotmail[dot]com" for example.

So it's not that I am jumping to conclusions, they removed his featured games and edited City Park without his knowledge. Sounds fair to complain or at least be very unsatisfied about how @Joe's games were handled.

And again I saw the prototypes, they looked acceptable for GAMING to me.

But that's just my opinion...

ElKobold
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But that's just my opinion

questccg wrote:
But that's just my opinion...

Well, their website - their rules. To which a user agrees when subscribing.

Being a client doesn’t mean you get to set the rules a business operates.
Your decision is to use a service or not. Noone is forcing you.

So I’m sorry, but I find it difficult to agree here.

X3M
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joebergmann wrote: X3M, I

joebergmann wrote:

X3M, I must confess, I have been wanting to talk programming with you. I have done work with Unity (which is what Tabletopia uses if I'm not mistaken), Visual Studio Everything (C, C++, C#, VB, blah, blah, blah) and, yes I'm old, Borland... :) They did not pull my content from the site. I was simply angry that they modified it without telling me.

It helps to have a listening ear.
And everyone in this topic here, is right.
So to me, it all sounds so, regrettable.

Seeing as how you made your decisions:
Is it correct to say that no more help is needed?

You asked them to remove it all, including your membership.
Did they do so already?

Seeing as how things progressed here.
And I make assumptions on how things progress at Table Topia.
Again, to me, it all sounds so, regrettable.

But things have come to an end, right?

***

PS.
To set things right: I am not a programmer. I ask others if they are willing. Mostly my cousin (who is still in school).

Curious, where did you get that idea? (what did I show to lead you to that conclusion?)
Because, perhaps I need to fix past posts to remove the confusion.

questccg
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Missed my entire point.

ElKobold wrote:
Well, their website - their rules. To which a user agrees when subscribing.

Being a client doesn’t mean you get to set the rules a business operates.
Your decision is to use a service or not. No one is forcing you.

So I’m sorry, but I find it difficult to agree here.

@Arty I get they have their own "terms of service" but I have seen @Joe's "prototypes" and they don't look "crude"/"unfinished". So instead of 3D models, he has standies (in his Pirate Game). Still the game looks pretty "nice" graphically.

It seems like you "focused" on my ending of the message - when the whole point of the message was to SUGGEST a way of allowing prototypes to exist on TableTopia and be FLAGGED as "prototype".

I was NOT suggesting to change their "terms of service" but to be more "INCLUSIVE".

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