How do you get others to play your game? (Part 1)

Hi everyone, welcome back! As promised in my last post, in this post i will be talking about the next 2 types of how playtest your game to make it ready for publishing.

2) Playtesting with other players:

People say playtesting is an art. They are so very right. It requires you to use so many  of your different skills. This type of playtesting is where you call your friend or game group over and ask them to play your game with you.

This is the time where you realize some substantial things about your game. This is the first time your introducing it to someone and it is the first time your game will get played the way that it is truly meant to be. I can tell some of the things i observe and derive while doing this for Cadence or any of my games:

  • I first introduce them to the game and tell them what it is all about. So if know their first reactions are good, i know if the way i pitch the game is good.
  • I tell them how it’s played. In this, i first myself realize fully the true complexity of the game. What they understand, what they don’t understand. Sometimes we have used a mechanic or a rule that, for us, seems very simple because we have thought about it so much before. A person new to the game might have trouble figuring it out as easily. (Remember not to judge your rulebook when you do this as there can be a lot of difference between when players read the rules and when you tell it to them.)

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  • I watch them as they play, what strategies they use, how they are playing it. This is very crucial to understand the players mindset when playing the game. You have played the game so many times that have already know the optimal strategies and their outcomes. So you sometimes you tend to focus the game on those strategies. When a new player approaches it with a different kind of thinking, it might just break your game or you will find a loophole. To give an example, when i was testing cadence solo, i was always using high gears from the start and then losing stamina very fast. That lead me to think that there is too much stamina loss and it is too difficult to gain stamina. When i tried it out with a friend he stayed on low gears from the start and didn’t have stamina problem at all. He won that race. But people who have played my games with me know that i suck at winning in my own games! 😛

Okay, enough talk about what to do in such tests. The real question is how do you get people to play your game with you? I completely understand. Your gaming group likes to play pretty looking and finished games and it is hard to convince them to play your game. After all, we are also not Vlaada Chvatil, Eric Lang or Reiner Knizia to get people very exited when we say “who wants to play my new game?”.

“It’s actually pretty exiting, a highly thematic deep strategy game.” And then we put something like this on the table…

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^^’

How to do it then? Well, from what i’ve learnt if you stick to some of these guidelines you shouldn’t have a problem getting them to play with you.

  1.  Convince but don’t persuade. Not everyone is the right audience for your game. If you get someone who is not that interested in your game to play your game your going to have bad experience testing it. He’ll give you some input but don’t count on it to be true. Imagine if Christian Peterson(designer of TI3) got his best friend who is a non-gamer to play Twilight Imperium with him as his first gateway game. His friend is going to freak out and say “this is too complex and there are too many rules”. This obviously won’t be feedback Christian should consider based who he’s making the game for. 😛
  2. Never lie about your game. If your game plays in 1 hour don’t say its a 30 minute game. When you start to play it they will get disappointed and think it is too long when it is supposed to be. Tell your friends about the game the way it is. They will be ore interested in it. If you give them a false image of the game, they won’t be impressed. Don’t say that it is like King Of Tokyo but with more cool monsters. Tell them that it is a game that uses mechanics like that in King Of Tokyo but has different levels of monsters each having its own abilities.
  3. Show them that YOU are exited. If you answer their questions about the game in short. Or leave out parts while explaining things they will instantly get the vibe that you yourself don’t like to play it. Talk about your game. Tell people what you are making and how you think it is unique from other games. Don’t consider anyone as someone who will never be interested in playing your game. People can get interested if you try to tell them about it.

Do your bit. When your friends are spending their time to help you in your game development process you have to make sure they consider it to be worth it. Make proper Print n Play components. It doesn’t require much. If you are not an artist, no problem. Just make an effort to make it look as good you can make it and print it out on cards and cut them. If you have the rules, print them out so players can use it as a reference. Show them that you are putting in as much effort.

Just some things that worked for me. There can also been the other times when you can be like this.

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So use your social skills in this phase, get people to help you and help them have a good time! You can read the next post about the last type of playtesting and probably the hardest one to do as a new designer in the industry – blind playtesting. I’ll share some tips that i learnt along the way as i designed cadence. Hope you enjoyed and see you soon!

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