This is part 3 of a series. To start at the beginning follow the white rabbit.
The last thing I needed before my big playtest was more prototypes, a lot more.
Big Mistake #6: Spending hundreds of dollars on prototypes that were obsolete 2 days after they were printed
I would advise not wasting gallons of toner printing out cards like these:
Make your prototypes cheap. Don’t print in color when you can print in black and white. Don’t reprint something when you can cross it out and write over it. Save your money for more important things like: food, rent, and the medication that prevents you from seizing up like the tin woodsman in a rain storm.
Working prototypes should: be functional, clearly convey all necessary information, and facilitate players enjoyment of your game. But if a game needs art and graphic design to make it enjoyable, it’s probably not a very good game to begin with.
Big Mistake #7: Not knowing why I was playtesting
That’s not entirely true. I knew why I was playtesting. It was to show off what I had created.
Big Mistake #8: Not being able to view my project objectively
I was too close. At this point every …
Big Mistake #9: Interrupting myself mid-sentence
At this point …
Big Mistake #10: Being overly critical of myself and my work
AT THIS POINT everyone should have a good understanding of how clueless I was. I made big mistakes and took unnecessary risks, but I learned from those mistakes and the experience was invaluable. It’s time to start pointing out some things I got right.
Big Win #1: We have come here to chew bubble gum and playtest games. And we’re all out of bubblegum.
Most importantly, this is where I becomes we.. Since I started designing games my partner has been willing to play with whatever I put in front of her (phrasing). Now, she was taking an active role in the company.
We scheduled our playtest event with our FLGS 30 days ahead. We set up table tents, posted and distributed flyers, and had a sign-up sheet near the register. Comic Quest gave us 6 tables on a Friday night. We worked together, the stars aligned, and more than 30 people showed up to playtest our game.
There were 12 prototypes and we kept them running for 4 hours. We spent the entire time answering questions. How does flying work? What does this mean? Where do I put this? Is this supposed to be like this? Who ate all the pepperoni? Why’s my seat wet?
We received 22 surveys back. The feedback was mostly quite positive. People rated the game highly. But watching them play I knew what they were writing down didn’t align with what they were actually thinking.
Some things were clunky and some were just broken. Parts of the game would need to be redesigned or removed. It would require another round of prototypes, playtesting, and pizza. I would again spend months spinning my wheels. So again I found myself having to let go because I lacked the experience to do more.
But what a send off. We rocked that event. Together my partner and I put together a playtesting party. We received more feedback then we could have at a year’s worth of game nights. My partner was the voice our company needed. She could speak about our games without fear of criticism.
The Post Game Wrap Up
This weeks recommendation is a bit of light reading. The Kobold Guid to Board Game Design, by Mike Selinker, is a series of essays written by influential game designers. It is well structured and offers keen insights into game design and the board game industry.
That’s it for Code Mage, at least for now. While working on it I learned a great deal about: business, working with artists, teamwork, graphic design, business, prototyping, and playtesting. Money well spent? Yeah, I suppose so. Unfortunately, I still had one more costly lesson to learn.
October 2013-March 2014
Next week, giant monsters devour the city and my savings.