Friday, April 30, 2010

Blind playtesting results

I mentioned earlier I've been trying to do some blind playtesting. I've gotten some good feedback from a playtester I found on BGG.  He and his wife had some very insightful comments and questions about the rules, catching small but important details and interpretations I had missed, even though he eventually interpreted nearly all the rules the right way.

He also had a rules change suggestion which would completely redesign how the game works in the two-player game.  I'm not sure how that will fit in, and I admit to being a little hesitant to make such a major change after all the other testing I've done, but I'll have to give it a try and see what I think.  I know I need to be open to feedback.  I had identified the problem he's trying to help me address (one player getting an advantage early on that's hard to overcome), but based on my playtesting experience, I thought it was relatively uncommon and tolerable when it happened; apparently it came up more for them, so it may be an issue I need to head off.

Another playtester has tried the game, coming up with a manufacturing suggestion (don't fold the rules so many times), a potential problem (not being able to make a legal play) that's actually already covered and resolved in the rules, and a general sense that the 6-point scoring card is too powerful.  I'm not sure how much they have played, and I'm hearing the feedback second-hand through a relative.  Hopefully I'll hear some more feedback if they play again.  Unlike the testers mentioned above, this feedback is looking less worth my effort (and a $12 copy of the game), but I guess that's the way it goes.

I didn't try to give any explanation of the game before handing out these copies (hence the idea of "blind" playtest), so ideally I'm getting a good idea of what it would be like for a customer who buys the game and has to figure out how to play from the rules sheet alone.  I've got another testing copy out now to still another tester I found through TGC - hopefully I'll get some more good feedback.

One thing I'm realizing through this process is that the rules have to be very, very clear.  Nearly every group who's played one of the eight or so copies I've sent out for testing has either had major questions on how the rules work or has misinterpreted the existing rules in some way.  There have only been one or two cases where my rules actually didn't cover the situation mentioned, and I remedied those a long time ago. In most cases, I thought the rules were clear enough to resolve any questions, but they apparently weren't; in some cases, the rules section covering the issue was present and reasonably clear, but was missed by the reader or misinterpreted.  This rules-writing business appears to be a real art form, and I'll need to hone my technical writing skills for the final version.  I'm thinking more pictures, less text, and a quick handy summary card is probably the way to go.


  1. Hey Dave,

    I'm very interested in playtesting your game. Rather than potentially waste money, could you send me a PDF copy of the rules so I can see if it's something I could get to the table?

  2. Check your e-mail - I sent a copy there. If anyone else is curious, you can see the Diggity game and download the rules here: