Day 26 - Lens 103: The Lens of Playtesting
Playtesting is your chance to see your game in action. To ensure that your playtests are as good as they can be, ask yourself these questions:
Why are we doing a playtest?
For this project the answer has changed many times. In the beginning I used playtests to force myself to develop. Then I used them to force myself to make the changes to the game that needed to be made to make it playable. Then to make changes to make it fun. Then to make changes to make it balanced. Then to make changes to make it learnable.
I guess in short I have been using playtesting to drive development and as the measure of the success of that development.
Who should be there?
The answer has usually been me and the playtesters. I have had a person there to take video or notes before during important playtests. There have been a few special case playtests where there was a official observer from the Game Makers Guild there to assess the game. I have tried to playtest with diverse groups but have most often done it with other game developers.
Where should we hold it?
I have used many locations, interestingly my home has been a rarity. I usually took the game to a place that the playtesters liked to congregate, a party, convention, or game development event. I think that testing in the kinds of places the game will be played is important.
What will we look for?
This has again changed over the course of development. I have not been as specific in what I was looking for as I would like. If I had more playtesting resources I would run more special case tests, but I have usually just got people to play and observed them. The unexpected stunning insights I find from testing are never in the area that I think I will be developing.
How will we get the information we need?
I have tried to observ, film, and take notes in many tests. I also have created a google form survey asking a standard set of questions so that I can get consistent data points from as many playtesters as possible.