29 August 2012 | No Comments
We last left off in January of 2012, when Alan and I felt good enough about the game that we thought we’d print out prototype copies and send them to playtesters around the country. We were working with my very crude InDesign designs, but they were playable.
The game we had was solid. It played fairly well. In hindsight, we were really far from the finished product. At this point the game wasn’t even a worker-placement game. There was no board in the middle of the table. There were just cards and player mats.
It was simple, and there was no conflict between players. Rather I should say: BUT there was no conflict between players. Every player could do pretty much whatever they wanted without any interaction with the others. In my mind’s eye, I saw this as a good thing. But in truth, it removed the social aspect, and that’s what board games are all about.
But we didn’t know that at the time, so Alan and I sat down with our stacks of prototype materials and set about building 10 sets of the game. This included sorting and sleeving all of the different cards, adding stickers to the “dice” (1-inch wooden cubes), and carefully counting out each type of acrylic stone.
It was tedious, to say the least. But we had a good time. It was exciting to think that people were going to play the game without us there to help them.
We finally finished, shipped everything off, and waited. And here’s the thing–here’s the key takeaway for game creators: When you have people blind playtest your game, start with one person, not 10 people.
This is SO important.
Because what happened was that the first person got back to us with some great feedback. Some rule changes, but also a lot of rule clarifications. So as soon as we heard from him, we had to contact everyone else, hope that they hadn’t already played, and tell them the new/clarified rules.
By the time we got feedback from the next person, we suddenly had big changes to make that essentially negated every other playtest set. We had spent a lot of time and money that were completely wasted on the playtesters. At least they got free card sleeves out of it.
So in the future, one blind playtest at a time. A good lesson to learn the hard way.
Next up in this series: We give the game a board!