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Playtest Questions

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storyteller
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Thank you in advance for any guidance on this subject.

I have created a board game and within the next week I will have 8 full playtest models. Are there any boilerplate lists of questions to use on the day of playtesting. Also are there any good articles on the act of playtesting. I am new to this process and would like to avoid as many of the pitfalls of playtesting as possible.

thanks again,

Daniel E. Springen
Storyteller Game, LLC

GrimFinger
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Tape record or video record

Tape record or video record your playtest sessions.

Rick-Holzgrafe
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Playtesting

Make sure your rulebook is well-written and properly illustrated. Give it to your gamers on game day, and then seal your lips, sit back, and watch. You need to learn whether your rules are well-written and you won't learn that if you explain the game yourself or help the players with the rough spots.

During play, look for confused players and try to understand what is confusing them. You may learn about a badly-written part of your rulebook, or you may learn that some rule is simply too complex or obscure.

Time the games. Does the game take as long as you expect? After the game, ask the players how they felt about the length. A game that's fun at 90 minutes may be a dreadful bore after 3 hours. If your game goes on too long, look for ways to speed it up or cut it short.

For each game, write down the initial turn order at the start, and the scores or finishing order at the end. You want to find out whether there's a strong advantage for the first player (or second, last, whichever). If there is, you may need to rotate first player, adjust the starting conditions, or introduce an auction -- something to balance the advantages and disadvantages.

Observe what strategies and approaches each player uses. I'm speaking very generally here: an example is Puerto Rico where a player can build heavily, ship heavily, or mix the two. If there are multiple strategies available to the players, which ones won? Does the same strategy win every time? If so, you may need to re-balance the game so that there is no guaranteed winning strategy.

After the game, ask the players whether they felt the decisions were interesting. If they felt that there were few important decisions, or that the decisions were easy and obvious, you may want to re-design your game to offer more challenge. On the other hand, if the players constantly felt lost and had no idea how to choose intelligently, your game may be too chaotic or too complex, or may be presenting decisions that are not significant and don't really affect the outcome of the game.

Ask the players whether they had fun, and whether they'd like to play again (sometime, not necessarily immediately). Be aware that face to face, some people may not want to hurt your feelings. If they tell you the game is bad, it's probably bad. If they tell you it's good, that's nice but may be untrue, so you should place more weight on their behavior during play -- was there grumbling, did they look bored, were they sighing a lot; or were they laughing, excited, or engaged throughout.

Blind playtests are also a very good idea. Write up a questionnaire that asks these questions. Find a group willing to try your game, but who mostly don't know you. Send them the game, rules, and questionnaire, and ask them to try the game, fill out the questionnaires afterward, and return them to you. I know, it's hard to find this kind of playtest group, but it's great data if you can get it.

Katherine
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Joined: 07/24/2008
Hi Storyteller, I use the

Hi Storyteller,

I use the game criteria template posted by Mike Compton on the reflections across the board site, I cannot find the link ...sorry.

FunkyBlue
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Joined: 08/11/2008
I can second the rules being

I can second the rules being clear and concise before playtesting. Our group finally got our first two games tested and the biggest problem we had was either bad translation of the rules or they were put together in a confusing way.

I think the easiest way to know if you've got them clear enough is to set a new player down and have them just read through the rules and have a set of the game he/she can pick up and look at. At the end of reading the rules, ask him/her if they feel they have a good idea on how to play the game. if they say no, you can find out why and make some quick editing adjustments.

As for questions, here's the form someone sent us to use and while I really need to re-format it and try to condense it to one page, it seems to be a decent place to start.

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/file/info/33175

storyteller
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Video the playtest

GrimFinger,

Will do.

Storyteller

storyteller
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Very Helpful

Rick,

Thank you for taking the time to put this much info on this thread. It has helped greatly. I have all ready printed the info and have begun making my list of things to do on the day.

Storyteller

storyteller
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Great idea!

FB,

The idea of having someone who has not played the game evaluate the rules and pieces is great. I can do this with 4 or five people at different times prior to playtesting. They don't have to play the game... just understand the rules.

Storyteller

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