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A Playtesting Pool

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This topic contains 9 replies, has 10 voices, and was last updated by  ranzarok 7 months, 4 weeks ago.

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    Cult of Games Member

    Since the topic has come up a few times I thought it would be a good idea for there to be a place Game Designers can go to get playtesters for games.

    Rather than just posting on Facebook or relying on Word of Mouth it would be cool if we could have a place here at OTT where people could add their name to a list as a volunteer playtester.

    So we could have categories like Sci-Fi Mass Battle, Sci-Fi Skirmish and Sci-Fi Warband or Fantasy Rank and File, Fantasy Skirmish that sort of thing. People could put their names on a list and if a company wanted people to test a game they could just contact the people who have volunteered for that type of game.

    Just an idea.


    Sounds like a good idea to me


    Cult of Games Member

    This would be great and interesting to see if it can be set up. Most people I imagine would go into this with great intentions but would soon realize how time-intensive it is to give feedback. Having done this on a couple of projects it really is time-consuming as you not just play but then write up extensive notes to pass on. I have spent a good six hours on Skype going through notes after weeks of playtesting games with the designers as we broke down each part of their games. Also applying an acid test to a game requires a negative mental attitude in many ways as you look for wording and such that can be exploited by gamers.

    I remember spending a day and a half going through all the available cards for the Fabled Realms weekend and then sitting down and discussing them with the guys. I think they found it useful as I tend not to speculate or put ideas forward but just compare their game to itself in other areas. More often than not I ask a question of them in relation to a rule and let then mull over if how it came across to me is how they wanted it to be read.


    Cult of Games Member

    Well also in this day and age you’ll also need proof readers. Although these are a one shot thing, as you want to go through the rules as a new customer (so it’s best not to have been part of any playtest group) so that you don’t make assumptions as you are familiar with the game. You’ll need to find a willing volunteer each time you do a new version of the rules for the best effect.

    Another thing just before going to print is take the proofs down to a local club with a large notepad (or preferably an audio recording device) and make careful notes of what questions the players ask of the designer and any discussions they have between each other on interpreting the rules (alas I’ve a gut feeling many KS rules designers don’t go outside of their Beta test group to do this these days). If you can find a group of diehard RAW tourney players all the better (as they usually try the “break” the game with RAW to gain just about any advantage (so good for a balance review)).

    I used to be a technical author for software packages, we’d usually send the manual out about a week before to the testers and then invite them into the office to see/use the software for the first time (we’d also videotape the whole thing for review later). And we’d also put testers in front of the machine with a manual in one go (as most users actually don’t go through a manual unless they hit a problem). I always remember when you joined the company, the boss would give you a keyboard key cap with “any” embossed on it. As he had a support call with a user who admittedly wasn’t using English as their first language but had spent 15 minutes looking for the “any” key as the manual said “Now hit any key” (lesson here was pay attention to all the details no matter how minor, we also changed all the manuals to say “Now hit the space bar” :D).


    • This reply was modified 9 months, 1 week ago by  phaidknott.


    We have been sitting on some functionality for a while now

    This is where we hope to give folks out there more credit for what they do and more opportunities to do things they would like to do – including play testing.

    My hope is to grow it into a bit of a linked in type thing for our community – but we need a bit more time and resource to get it there…



    Our playtesters have to sign a non-disclosure form, but nothing out of the norm, fairly standard really. So some companies may ask you to do so.

    If you do playtest, make sure that they give you clearly defined parameters or scenarios, forces and outcomes to report on. Make notes… but most of all… make the effort to playtest. We have found in the past that alot of people ask to playtest… but very few follow up on it. Few of those provide feedback that can be of use, but that’s where the design team need to provide guidance to the playtest team so they know what and how to feedback. We developed a simple single page feedback form to be used after each game.

    Good playtesters are a gold mine. A resource to cherish. Especially those that can understand your ethos but also report critically. A ganes designer should also listen to them and not be too precious over their ideas… but also, sometimes, playtesters may just be wrong. The designer has the final call.

    We now run two ‘in-house’ playtest teams and then two ‘blind’ beta test teams. It does take up alot of time. We spent 18 months playtesting Battlegroup and that was on top of three years work on its previous incarnation. NorthAG is now coming up on two years on playtesting before it goes out to beta testing.

    A resource of willing and able playtesters would be a boon, but also people and companys have to realise that playtesting a game takes time…



    @piers I think you have summed it up in your last sentence mate. I have signed a non disclosure act while testing for a company and understand fully what it does take.

    I also agree with you that as a playtester you have to put any personal feelings aside and be honest with your findings, that said the company or developer has to listen without getting the needle if they are told something they do not like about their product.

    One of the techniques I have found to help is to get non gamers to give the game a try, this is to make sure that the mechanics are straight forward. I feel that if they can understand the concepts of the mechanics then the game should be accessible to anyone. I have been lucky with the people I have got to test games are very open minded gamers / non gamers and are great at constructive feedback.


    Cult of Games Member

    Finding people who actually want to test and not use it as a cheap excuse to gain access to an early beta/free game is definitely tricky.

    And yes … testing anything (be it software or games) requires more effort than most people realise.

    It still is a good idea to have something that allows developers to find such people and give both the tools they need to make the most out of it.
    Maybe even teach people how to write useful test scenarios and provide feedback ?


    Cult of Games Member

    nice read and thanks…. myself i have projects around me, and hoping to have a kickstarter next year if i can bring it all together, health, family, time the end of the world etc. Failed to go out over summer to seek playtesters in the Norfolk, UK area because of bloody carpul tunnel in my arms..!!!

    So like to see where this can go in time…..


    Sorry.. wrong video..!!!


    • This reply was modified 9 months ago by  soulman.
    • This reply was modified 9 months ago by  soulman.


    This would be a very useful tool.  I have been playtesting my scifi skirmish game locally, but folks willing to put in the time to play and give constructive feedback on rules and such are few and far between.
    Looking forward to if this idea moves forward.

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