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Does playtesting your game by yourself count?

14 replies [Last post]
jedite1000's picture
Joined: 02/18/2017

I have no friends and family that are interested in these type of things, and no local gaming hangout so does it actually count if you plays test your own game by yourself?

Joined: 04/08/2012
I think it does

I always solo playtest my games, then let my platesters / team play the games. I playtest so I can right the rules down. If you design the game, then your the composer / writer / producer / director etc of the game.

You are the only one that knows how the game should act on stage. The more you design the more you learn how to direct new game designs. Its the feeling of , "Yeah, thats it. Cards max or minimum count should be this or that. The game mechanic should flow like a river. The meeples should dance / move this way or that way on stage / the board or play mat. Its a rythym.

Write the rules and playtest those rules every two days. Take a break from them. Clear your mind. Come back to read them. Does the rules still read smooth or can it be short worded? What about the meeples? Do they flow or stumble against the rules?

Those are some example steps I take while designing but its way different from those examples its more of a guideline to follow.

So in my opinion. Solo playtesting does count if you have no one to playtest your game.


questccg's picture
Joined: 04/16/2011
You should...

Go to a PROTOSPIEL... Or a LOCAL MEETUP for games. Search online for meetup clubs that play board and card games (tabletop). People are usually interested in a NEW game -- especially one that has not been played by anyone else before.

You can be honest and say you don't have anyone to playtest the game ... but that you have playtested it at least two dozen times or so.

So while I think it does COUNT solo playtesting, getting a feel for the mechanics (do they work or not), is the core mechanic FUN (or at least somewhat entertaining), etc.

But there will come a time when your rules are written that you need to submit your idea for BLIND playtesting... That might be harder to find. But for now, just try to continue playtesting yourself OR maybe find a local MEETUP.

How I found one was by visiting a MAGIC store/shop. They told me Tuesday night the share one table with the board gaming crowd. So that's how I met up with that group...

You just got to not be shy and ask questions from stores, managers, other gamers, etc.


tikey's picture
Joined: 03/31/2017
I'm no professional but I see

I'm no professional but I see self-testing as a fundamental part of the game design process. It's not the same as playing with other people, obviously, but it's a lot of help in finding obvious issues before getting the game in front of other people.

polyobsessive's picture
Joined: 12/11/2015
It counts but it's not enough

Yeah, testing on your own definitely count, and is a valuable way of learning about your game.

But it's not sufficient. Even before you get close to a "blind testing" stage, input from a variety of other people is essential. You may have methodically tested out every section of the game, but you'll find that other people will quickly find things that you haven't thought about.

As others have said, getting to conventions and other meetups is a great way to get testing done, but if you are struggling to find players locally, you might consider learning about one of the systems that can be used to simulate a game online (e.g. Tabletopia or Tabletop Simulator) and test that way.

Good luck!

jedite1000's picture
Joined: 02/18/2017
tabletop seems to be the only

tabletop seems to be the only option to test with other people

let-off studios
let-off studios's picture
Joined: 02/07/2011

I playtest for three separate reasons:
- uncover problems
- test solutions
- implement new features

All of these things you can do just by yourself. However, the tricky part of this is that as a designer for the game, you have tunnel-vision and may not see something - good or bad - that would be obvious or noticeable to someone else. Or someone else could ask you questions to spark a new idea that you want to implement on your next revision.

If Tabletop Simulator/Tabletopia is all you have, then it's to your benefit (and the benefit of your design) to use it as much as possible.

Dralius's picture
Joined: 07/26/2008
I almost always do a solo

I almost always do a solo test before putting it in front of players just as a proof of concept test. If it passes muster then i take it to a local game day or Protospiel depending on the timing.

Adam Leamey
Joined: 02/23/2017
I will echo what others have

I will echo what others have said self playtesting is important to gauge if there are any fundamental issues with the game. I didn't do enougth self playtesting when I first started and I regret that because my game suffered for it now I self test my new iterations to ensure the game isn't broken in some way.

winged_box's picture
Joined: 07/04/2017
Definitely count. However, it

Definitely count.

However, it is still better to play test with others as they might be able to spot the flaws that you couldn't see.

Joined: 01/28/2017
I playtested the current game

I playtested the current game I'm working on around 30-40 times with solo testing - with defined personas and strategies deliberately geared up to test certain aspects.

Solo testing is a critical aspect of the game design process to me. Its just only one stage though - also critical is group testing with friendly testers, with "unfriendly" testers and with blind testing. You should be planning to test with all combinations of players (ie if you game is for 2-4 players, then you need to target groups of 2, 3 and 4 players)

I don't accept that "I can't find people to test around here" is a valid answer. The alternative is submitting/launching a game without playtesting and that just sounds crazy. Need to be more creative if thats the case - though I'm sure certain locations have it easier than others. If no hangout exists, then start one!

The Professor
The Professor's picture
Joined: 10/25/2014
It absolutely counts!

Now, having said that, my first published game was a cooperative game, which by its very nature is thus solo-playable. While I did get it to the table for more than two dozen playtests with others, I had an equal number of games played solo. For my second to-be-published game next year along with Kristopher Kycia (aka QuestCCG), I play-tested the solo variant more than five dozen times so far with plans for additional testing in the months ahead.

joebergmann's picture
Joined: 12/29/2016
I say absolutely!

I think playtesting a game yourself is not just a good idea, but necessary. I think a quick solo playtest will let you know if there are glaring problems with the game. And, only you will know about them. ;)

I have always solo playtested my games first. If they seem to have a chance, then I show them to my playtest meetup group. I think this works pretty well.

Joined: 11/05/2015
Beating the same drum as

Beating the same drum as everyone here but...

Yes- solo playtesting counts, and is invaluable even. I think there is an inverse relationship to how helpful it is to how long you've been working on the game.

So in the early stages, exclusively solo-testing is very helpful. You can figure out problems very quickly, make changes, and test again in a way that would be more difficult with other people involved.

However the longer your game is in development the more you will need other people to playtest.

A small anecdote:

I had a mechanic in my game that I was having a lot of trouble fitting in with some of the other design goals I was working toward.

I playtested with a couple people and asked them at the end if they thought the game would be better without this mechanic. Since I was having such trouble I thought cutting it all-together would have been the best option.

To my surprise, the response I unanimously received was, "No! Don't cut it, that's the best part of the game!" So I did a pivot in my design goals and instead cut/changed some other things.

If I were playtesting on my own, I likely wouldn't have found that "X factor" that people like about the game. I would have cut it out thinking it was dead weight to the design.

Just to say getting other people experiencing your game is important too.

Jerry's picture
Joined: 11/01/2010
I'd agree with the majority

I'd agree with the majority here... Play testing solo counts for a lot.

My most recent game I built a prototype for (couple days ago) I invited a friend over to playtest it with me. I solo played it before he arrived, and uncovered a few major holes in the gameplay. When he arrived and we play tested it, it actually went fairly smoothly and was fun!

Play testing solo is important for that reason. If you don't do it before presenting it to others, I could guarantee they'll find flaws in your gameplay that are potentially game breaking. Often times they will be obvious as well once others point them out, and you'll feel foolish that you let these slip by for the first playtest.

At least that's what I've found for myself.

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