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Playtesting Without Playtesters

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Anonymous

Someone on this forum once asked what the hardest part of game creation was. I think, from my own recent experience, that playtesting by yourself is *very* difficult. I

Krakit
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Joined: 11/26/2011
Playtesting Without Playtesters

I think that if I didn

Anonymous
Playtesting Without Playtesters

Just IMHO, there isn

FastLearner
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Playtesting Without Playtesters

I

Krakit
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Playtesting Without Playtesters

I

Scurra
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Playtesting Without Playtesters

Yes, I

zaiga
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Playtesting Without Playtesters

I hate playtesting against myself. I always lose!

Seriously, playtesting solo is very necessary. I also think that writing down the rules is another prerequisite to solo-testing. Often, I will find illogical things or ambiguous rules in my games simply by being forced to think about them when I write them down.

There

Anonymous
Playtesting Without Playtesters

playtesting yourself is real important, you can usually identify flaws, and dud games quite quickly. But what is important is that you have to learn to be honest with yourself; when you playtest with others often you find yourself defending aspects of your game against criticism, which is okay as long as you listen, but when you are by yourself if you ignore your own criticism you blind yourself to your games flaws.

to playtest others it helps to change your style, such as with one imaginary player you can be particulalry aggressive, with another particularly defensive.

now you just need to flirt with schizophrenia to get it right.

Anonymous
Playtesting Without Playtesters

Solo playtesting, is necessary in initial development. You get the major weak points ironed out before presenting your game to a group of "live" testers.
I have learned to play against myself, trying to beat myself. I suppose I am closer to the funny farm than most people though. The best way to solo is to be totally objective and try to find any flaw or breaking point and try to break the game. I've found some big problems in doing this, though you'll never catch all the points on your own.
Live testers are ideal for the second phase of playtesting, the second phase should be yourself and a few others to lead them through it, mainly with a group of friends. This will work out most of the other points you missed. Once you've done this a few times, your ready for phase three. Give the game and rules to people who you don't know and let them tear your game apart. If it holds up, your ready to go! Most likely it won't hold up and you'll be back at the drawing board, but that is what makes a lousy game, good and a good game great! Happy developing!

IngredientX
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Playtesting Without Playtesters

I think I've mentioned previously that I'm a big fan of solo playtesting. I don't get to playtest with others very often; when I do, I want to be sure I get as much out of it as possible. I think I find a lot of weaknesses and holes when solo testing; I put myself in each "player's" mindset, and I try to make the best possible move based on available information.

One reason I've been able to solo test my games is that many of my games are tactical, with a relatively small strategic element. There's less planning to remember from player to player, so the testing isn't difficult. Of course, I want to push myself to start making deeper games, so I don't know how successful solo testing will be in the future.

As mentioned previously, solo testing can never replace real playtesting; but it is a very helpful tool to find glaring problems with initial game rules.

Anonymous
Playtesting Without Playtesters

I'm working on a Trivial Pursuit-type of game, writing all of the questions myself, so there's no way I can test the game by myself. since I know all the answers.

Also, since I wrote all the questions myself, I can't even play the game in a group, for the same reason.

I am condemned to design a game that I can never play myself.

I guess I can pretend to be dumb while self-testing, but that really couldn't tell me if my trivia questions are too hard or too easy.

Writing the questions is fun, but I have no way of knowing whether answering them would be fun.

Anonymous
Playtesting Without Playtesters

Hello all, this is my first post on the board. Been trolling here for about a week but having just started my first game's design I figured I had plently to listen too and not that much to add. But in this case I do have some unique experience that relates.

I actually started as a playtester for a major video game company. Spent 3 years testing all facets of games, so when I started designing my own game (a CCG) I figured playtesting would be my strong suit.

Maybe it is, but not to the degree I thought. I know I'm an excellent playtester and have great instincts when testing a game but when it comes to one I'm designing I really lose a lot of the perspective I had as someone outside of the design team.

I know from experience one of the biggest obstacles in a game is when players don't do things the way the designer intended. In video games that might be taking a wrong turn or clicking the menu in the wrong order; in more traditional games that might be rules comprehension or a strategy choice. And there's nothing I can do as a game designer to fix a problem I can't see without feedback from someone else.

A couple of suggestions I'm planning on using (I've modified them from screenwritting courses) involve getting people together that aren't involved in the game and have them play it without me while I observe--QUITELY. Only done this a few times with friends but once they become to familiar with it I'll have to get feedback through other sources. I have some other friends who are not as willing to "beta" test a game but wouldn't mind playing a game some night. Once the game is up for it, I'll schedule a day for us to play a new game--my own.

Once I've exhausted my freinds I plan to head down to a local game shop or two and offer to buy some of the people there a pack of Magic or whatever if theyll play my game for a while.

The key is to be invisible during the testing, if you end up explaining things you'll end up "contaminating" the input from the testers. If things are going way off base simply stop it, make one or two adjustments and have them start all over again. If it still doesn't work or it will take more adjustments thank everyone for their time, give them their "payment" and go home...you already found out enough about what's wrong with the game to keep you busy for a while.

IngredientX
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Playtesting Without Playtesters

SpookyDragon wrote:
Hello all, this is my first post on the board.

Welcome, glad to have you aboard!

Quote:
Maybe it is, but not to the degree I thought. I know I'm an excellent playtester and have great instincts when testing a game but when it comes to one I'm designing I really lose a lot of the perspective I had as someone outside of the design team.

I think this happens in any form; a creator is often too close to his/her work to make truly objective decisions about it. Authors have editors, film directors have focus groups, rock/pop musicians have producers, and so on. The funny thing is, in most other forms, the creator of the work only needs to audition his material in front of a relatively small circle of people for input. Even then, he/she may only use a small part of the advice received.

As I wrote above, filmmakers have focus groups sometimes. While in post-production, they'll screen their movie for a small audience, and then ask their advice. This might seem to be a perfect fit, and indeed many movie studios run their films through quite a few focus groups. However, a director who takes too much advice from the public will wind up releasing a watered-down, directionless piece of trash.

My point here is that game design isn't like other forms, where the creator of the work can "trust his gut." We need much more input from the outside while we're finishing up our designs. Movies, books, and albums don't go through a creation process as public as games. None of them are "playtested" as they're being made, to the extent that a game is.

I think this is an important point for me because in writing school, I was taught to welcome outside advice, but to trust my own instincts in the end. Instincts are still important in game design, but not nearly as much.

Quote:
A couple of suggestions I'm planning on using (I've modified them from screenwritting courses) involve getting people together that aren't involved in the game and have them play it without me while I observe--QUITELY.

I don't think it's too much of a problem to be actively involved in the early playtests of your game. You'll get a decent feel to a person's interaction with the rules, and where they find the "fun factor" of your game. As your design gets more polished, though, you may not want to be as involved, for the reasons you gave.

In fact, at that point, you may not even want to be in the room observing the session; players may water down their criticisms in your presence, no matter how invisible you'd like to be. You don't want players to hold anything back in their criticisms (though it helps when they're tactful :) ), because you need to hear any potential negatives about your game as early as possible.

So: blind test. Send a copy of the game and its rules to a game group. Let them play it, and send you back a report of how they thought it went. Note that this will test the whole package; not just your gameplay, but your rules and your components will go under the microscope as well. Even if you're not planning to self-publish, you'll need those elements of your game to be as strong as possible, so your testers will only be concerned about your game's play.

Best of luck!

Anonymous
Playtesting Without Playtesters

A lot of great input! I am also a big fan of solo playtesting. I find that I can fine-tune the mechanics (or come up with cool new ones) when I solo playtest and weed out game possibilities that are too weak/too powerful or just plain don't work.

I then use a group of friends of family members to playtest the more polished version. They always help me see the rules or component text that doesn't quite make sense (everything makes perfect sense to the person that wrote it). They provide invaluable feedback on the "fun" factor.

Another rule that I live by is to always credit all playtesters in the rules. last week I playtested an updated version of a card game with some friends that helped me with earlier playtesting. They were thrilled when they opened the rules and saw their names in the credits! Playtesters are your lifeblood, keep them happy!

boardgamegeezer
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Professional playtesters

You can hire professional playtesters often professional board game design companies have this in their line of work.
Also if the game has simple rules like Taboo for instance should not be too much of a problem to sort the rules out after a few weeks playtesting
Regards

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