In this part of the presentation I focus on some vital tips that I learned about the playtest process. This is certainly the most important and possibly the most enjoyable part of making a game. I playtested most of my best games with students over the years and the fun of those sessions and the lasting friendships that developed outweigh any success I have achieved as a game designer. That might be the best lesson to share with students if you are creating games for or with your classes.
After years of working with some talented and successful game designers, I have pulled out just a few practical bits of advice that can be very insightful for testing any game.
I love the Educreations app, which was used to record this presentation. However, I have found it's not ideal when I like 85% of what I said, then I mess up or can't remember a detail! Consequently, here are some clarifications:
Blind playtesting - I made it sound like the playtesters at this stage have to find the game components! I was picturing them finding them in the box like one would after purchasing a game, but it could be misleading. Basically, this is your late stage testing and you want to provide the testers with a close copy of what they will have if they purchased a published version of your game.
That golden question about what keeps players playing comes from work I did with Kes Sampanthar when we edited the Protospiel playtest sheet. I am in his debt for that insight.
And it slipped my mind at the moment, but it was an interview with Andrew Parks where I pulled out the idea of changing just one thing at a time in later stages of playtesting. Take that for what it's worth. I usually can't so limit myself!
And to elaborate on Protospiel:
The Protospiel website is here. Check out that site, but also do some searches for it to see how the group has grown and how many published games have been created by attendees over the years. The original idea came from Stephen Glenn and his friend Dominic Crapuchettes organized the first gathering. It would be a shame to talk about Protospiel without giving them credit for their early efforts.
The old Protospiel site has some useful resources that didn't get moved over to the new one yet. You might want to browse those here as well.
And last of all, I have to point out that playtesting at school has one important drawback. Almost any game seems more fun to students when they are at school! This is especially true if you try a game during class. I usually did playtesting at lunch or after school, but even then games seem more fun than the usual business of that environment. Keep that in mind when you think about dropping several thousand dollars on publishing your creation. Games need to attract attention when in the vast array of competing products, not just when compared to your lecture on supply and demand.
More on that in the third part, if I get to it.