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"How does a playtest go?" Topic


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468 hits since 5 Jul 2016
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Personal logo Frank Wang Sponsoring Member of TMP05 Jul 2016 6:35 p.m. PST

after 1 year, my rule is nearly complete. I would like to know how to test it? How do you guys usually do with a new rule? Just play it or have some procedures to test part by part?

vtsaogames05 Jul 2016 6:51 p.m. PST

A play test should be done by other people. If you can't find two then you and another. Play and see if something doesn't work, or works differently than intended. Adjust rules. Repeat.

Then it's time to have people blind test the game. That means they test with the rules as written, no verbal input.

DesertScrb05 Jul 2016 7:28 p.m. PST

First playtest it solo, and make changes based on these solo games. Repeat until you think it's ready.

Then, playtest it against an opponent. Make changes based on these games, and repeat until you think it's ready.

Next, referee your game with others playing. Make changes based on these games, and repeat until you think it's ready.

Finally, send your game out for blind playtesting by gamers who have never seen the rules. Make changes based on their input, and repeat until you think it's ready.

Then, after it's been officially released, consider all the input from players to make changes for an updated edition.

Stryderg05 Jul 2016 7:45 p.m. PST

Don't forget to try 'stupid' tactics. You know, the stuff that no one will try…because someone will try it. ie. WWII skirmish game where everyone is armed with only grenades and bayonets, no rifles. See what happens.

Terrement Supporting Member of TMP05 Jul 2016 7:51 p.m. PST

DELETED

GypsyComet05 Jul 2016 8:09 p.m. PST

Based on some of the rule sets that have hit the market over the years, the one word answer is frequently "Badly".

There are a couple different phases to good playtesting, in no particular order:

-Flow/Fun testing. A rule set can be well written and tight, and still not be any fun.

-Breaktesting. Hand the rules to your local "That Guy" and see how he breaks them with your full participation.

-Blind Testing. Hand the rules to someone that you have NOT explained them to, and see what sort of result they play. Very informative regarding what you know vs what you wrote down.

These are not mutually exclusive steps.

Meiczyslaw Inactive Member05 Jul 2016 11:56 p.m. PST

Missing from the advice so far:

Be willing to update your rules after a year in the wild. No matter how hard you try, something new will show up.

(This is the advantage of PDF games. You can theoretically offer free updates, depending on where you sell them.)

Personal logo Murphy Sponsoring Member of TMP06 Jul 2016 4:21 a.m. PST

Something else. Playtest your rules with gamers OTHER than your normal group.
I learned a long while ago, that a long running group has a certain group think about how rules are done, and how they play and interact with each other. Letting some new and different gamers try them out, would not only give you fresh insight on how they are read/interpreted/and played, but also raises any situations that you will have overlooked, (trust me, you will).
An example of this was the "Love and Bullets" play-test for Gutshot.
In our standard group both teams went straight for each other guns a blazing. But with a totally different group, one of them decided to keep the other side from achieving their victory conditions (Leaving the town), by sending 1-2 of their members down to the stables and shooting all of the horses!
We hadn't thought of that….

surdu2005 Sponsoring Member of TMP06 Jul 2016 6:11 a.m. PST

after 1 year, my rule is nearly complete. I would like to know how to test it? How do you guys usually do with a new rule? Just play it or have some procedures to test part by part?

Two points:

1) If you haven't been play testing it, you aren't "nearly complete."

2) I do my play testing in three phases.

Phase I: For about two or three years, as I am experimenting, changing, and updating, I subject my normal gaming group to my hair-brained schemes.

Phase II: Start running the game at local conventions. This will gain perspectives and create situations on the table that you didn't expect. Be prepared for people to tell you that your baby is ugly. Take lots of notes to incorporate into the next draft.

Phase III: I find it is best to send a copy to people who have not been involved in development. They must read the book and play it based on what you wrote, not on what you meant, or based on unstated common house consensus. Be prepared to make more changes.

Be willing to update your rules after a year in the wild. No matter how hard you try, something new will show up.

This is good advice. I keep a folder of questions that people have sent on YahooGroups or Email. This will eventually become a FAQ. In those instances where there has been interest in a second edition, I incorporate these notes into the revision.

Buck

martin goddard Sponsoring Member of TMP06 Jul 2016 1:40 p.m. PST

Good luck with your new rules. Do decide whom your target audience is in terms of complexity and focus. Ask players what they really liked when they played. Don't be dispirited by very negative players, they are probably not your target audience.

martin

Wolfhag Supporting Member of TMP07 Jul 2016 9:59 a.m. PST

I'd suggest making a list of the different rules you want to test and make sure the variations and modifiers are used too. You need to give people helping you direction on what and how to test.

Eventually you can get to the point to test it out playing a full blown scenario but do not start out like that.

I also observe people playing and testing the game. Normally it is natural for people will try to perform an action that is logical and intuitive. If your rules and sequences clash with what they feel would be the right way to do something you may need to re-examine that rule mechanic. I've gotten some of the best suggestions from people that played for the first time because it is a different perspective.

Wolfhag

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