Editor’s Note: We’ve all heard of “beta testing” for software, the process in which willing participants help the programmer by using the almost-but-not-quite-complete software and giving feedback. But did you realize that board game designers and role playing game masters crave such feedback as well?
Over the last month, we’ve launched a new series of events that we’ve dubbed Test Run Tuesdays. These sessions are designed to give you an opportunity to play a game that’s not available elsewhere, all while helping out the designer! So join us every Tuesday as local game designers test out their board game prototypes, and volunteer Game Masters polish up an adventure!
We have also partnered with Ultimate Team-Up, whose mission is to promote nerdy culture and playtest as many games as humanly possible. Each month, in conjunction with Ultimate Team-Up, we will be featuring a specific local designer’s creation. Here’s Gerald from Ultimate Team-Up to discuss the importance of play testing and introduce September’s featured game: Cloud Dungeon from AndHeGames.
Hey there this is Gerald from Ultimate Team-Up. I don’t know if you guys were aware, but there are some amazing creative minds floating around Northeast Ohio, and luckily some of those minds have set themselves to creating games. For a game designer there are few things more important than to get their game out in front of people to get feedback. Game designers are scientists trying to create new ways to produce the rare and elusive element known as “Fun”.
They cannot do it alone though. To perfect their own Fun creation process they must go through rigorous testing with multiple subjects to find the perfect formula for the kind of fun they are trying to create, and that’s where you guys come in. Just like the old posters from WWII, “We need you!” Playtesters are a crucial part of a game designer’s team. They are able to step outside the designer’s vision for the game and see it for what it is and then (hopefully) communicate that back to the designer so that the designer can realign or adjust their vision accordingly.
One of my favorite games that we’ve been testing is Andrew Miller’s Cloud Dungeon. It is not just a game but an interactive story, a strange child born of the influences of the old “Choose Your Own Adventure” books and the modern board games we have grown to love.
The Cloud Dungeon sparks your creativity and may surprise you with how different it is at times, while still being familiar, like a game you used to make up with your coloring books as a child. To help us get a better idea of how playtesting has influenced The Cloud Dungeon I asked Andrew a few questions.
Ultimate Team-Up – When you begin designing your game do you know the audience its intended for? Do you change the intended audience or do you adjust the game to the audience it plays best for?
Andrew Miller – I think at the very beginning of game design I’m always making a game just for myself: doing what I think is funny, and what I enjoy. With The Cloud Dungeon, it didn’t take too long to see how awesome the experience could be for parents and their kids, so I focused on making the game perfect for that.
UT – What are the aspects of your games that you want the most feedback from playtesters about?
AM – Talking about my game with play testers can be a blast, but perhaps the most valuable feedback isn’t from talking to the play testers, but from watching them. I need to see when the fun breaks down, or when confusion/frustration sets in, so I can adjust the game.
UT – How has playtesting affected your game the most? What were the most drastic changes that were made due to playtesters’ feedback?
AM – Well, my game was a little too much like a novel, at first. I ended cutting something like 7000 words from the first draft of the game. Since then, play testing has helped me figure out when my gameplay has been broken, and helped me come up with ideas how to fix it.
Editor’s Note: For a complete list of all the scheduled Test Run Tuesday activities this month, check out our Calendar of Events and sign up for our Meetup Group. And be sure to join us Tuesday September 22nd for the next testing of September’s featured game prototype: The Cloud Dungeon!
Are you a Game Designer looking for play testers, or a Game Master preparing a scenario? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know! We’d love to schedule you to run your own Test Run Tuesday!