Good Day Internet!
Today we’re going to discuss how to know when your game is ready for blind playtesting. We’ll go over the changes your game goes through to indicate it has completed external playtesting. Before we can do that though, we need to discuss what blind playtesting is.
Blind playtesting is the process of playtesting your game without designers’ direction or input. Playtesters will be given the game with a set of rules and must figure out how to play the game on their own. One of the main goals of blind playtesting is to determine how strong and comprehensive your rulebook is. Therefore, you’re going to need a solid and unquestionable rulebook before you start blind playtesting (we’ll discuss how to do that next week). Your game is also going to need to be otherwise complete, but what does that mean? How do you know your game is complete?
#1. External feedback is narrowed in on the superficial.
You should notice that feedback has changed from mechanics and theme overhauls to working on slight art changes and/or wording of text. If your bigger, game breaking comments haven’t been around for awhile that’s a good sign your game is running smoothly and nearing its completion.
#2. Feedback is generally positive and playtesters are having fun.
A game that isn’t fun, or that playtesters can’t find a lot of positive things to say about means you have a problem. Either you; a) haven’t found your target audience, or; b) your theme and mechanics aren’t working very well together. If you plan to publish your game, these issues are going to be barriers to selling your game and will most likely prevent you from publishing/funding at all. On the other hand, having both positive feedback and fun playtests are good indications that you’ve found the market for your game.
Unfortunately, we know the pain of having a game that works smoothly, but didn’t get glowing feedback. “Rariora” was the first game I worked on. It was a themeless card game until Allysha came aboard to help me out. After close to a year of development, the game was running smoothly, but we didn’t have anyone saying they wanted to buy it/back it. Despite our best efforts the theme and mechanics were not working together. Feedback indicated the theme was grander than the mechanics and players were confused how the winner actually won the game (definitely not good). As individual pieces they worked fine, but when together something just didn’t click.
At that point, we put that project aside until we decide we can rehaul the game entirely to make theme and mechanics work seamlessly. It really sucked that it looked like we were making good progress over the year, but ended up with a game that was inherently flawed and had no market. However, if you find yourself in the same spot, you’ve got to make the effort to rehaul the game. A game that isn’t fun and won’t sell is no good to anyone. Step back and rethink the game so theme and mechanics work well together and players have fun playing. Don’t worry though, it happens, but it’s an experience to learn and grow from!
#3. You’re satisfied with your game.
When it comes down to it, the designer(s) gets the final say on whether or not their game is complete. So you need to ask yourself: Are you happy with your game? Does it fit the vision you had? And are all the parts there? If something feels off, try to narrow down what the game might be lacking, figure out what aspect of the game that relates to, and try something new. Worse comes to worse, you revert back to what you had (you may find out in the end that it was exactly what you wanted). However you come about it, you need to be confident and satisfied with your game. Without it, you’ll struggle in putting in the extra work to get your game published.
That’s it for this week. Next week we’ll take a look at writing clear and concise rulebooks (as long as Allysha isn’t too busy!). We hope you had a great Taco de Mayo! Don’t know what we’re talking about? Check it out.
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Board game designer and developer discussing the ins and outs of game design.