Playtesting Is Hard

A Playtested Game

I have a few game designs I’ve been “hobbying” around with. Recently, I thought that two of the designs have reached the internal playtest phase – where I send them out to some of my more critical friends – and see what type of feedback they have.

In both cases, I was wrong. Neither design was ready.

Playtesting is hard. More accurately, developing and designing a game to the point where it’s ready to be playtested by a different set of eyes, is hard.

I am fortunate to have a small group of friends who enjoy spending their time checking out my unfinished games. I think though, that I need to be careful. I need to avoid abusing or wasting their time. The two designs I sent out just weren’t ready. There were major gameplay issues, and in one case, I completely forgot to include rules for how to start!

Setting Myself, and My Playtesters, Up For Success

To help with this problem, I need to remember to take a step back. My motivation often comes in streaks. It is at the height of these streaks that I get a lot of game design done. I’m proud of my designs and I and want others to see it, but I need to relax and reflect. Let the game ruminate and simmer. Then later, I can come back and see what it looks like.

Additionally, I think I need to start smaller. I, like many game designers, have a master plan in my mind. I need to be careful not to incorporate too much into my initial designs. Instead, I should focus more on the core idea, and making sure it is fun and works how I imagine it will. Then I can start adding the extras.

My Next Steps

I am taking a short break from the two designs I mentioned above. The amount of work both needed was quite substantial, and a little intimidating! Instead, I have a different design that I am going to dust off and take a look at. This design is a solo game, which I am hoping makes it easier to playtest. At some point soon, it will be sent out for internal playtesting.

Hopefully this time, its ready.

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