Game Design

Insights From My First Playtest With Other People

My game is finally at a place where I can put it under people’s noses and have them play. I still have a lot of work to do in terms of player experience, balance, and sharpening of the theme.

The feedback that I’ve garnered from my first couple of playtests with people who aren’t me and my partner is paramount to my next steps. My goal is to have this game ready to be playtested by strangers at conventions as soon as possible. I need design, artwork, a lot of balance changes, and to expand my now two-player only game to a game that can accommodate up to six players.

I guess that means you’re still going to introduce this thing to the world

You’re golly-gosh-god-fucking-damn right I am. Do you know what the most compelling feedback that I got from these playtests?

I thought the paper you wasted this mess on looked nice

I only playtested it three times, once with one group and twice with another, but during both experiences, people told me that they really enjoyed playing. The banter between players was fun, the mechanics—especially having to vote to help or harm a crisis and switch guilds to fulfill your own personal oath (your win condition)—were compelling and unique, the game was just enjoyable. It was enjoyable for me to watch as well. I was so nervous about the game being too complicated or not complicated enough.

Good deal, sounds like you should quit while you’re ahead

My next immediate steps:

  • Mechanics balance: I need to realign and downscale abilities, remove mechanics that aren’t needed, and make the gameplay slightly less “open”
  • Add better placeholder art while we work on our own artwork
  • Friendlier player experience UI
  • Better rulebook (I need play examples and images)
  • My theme has got to be refined—I want to make you really feel it when you’re in a certain guild
  • I’ve got to make the voting mechanics more divisive and force players to draw tokens at random (right now that’s a rare occurrence)

If you’ve got all that to do, why are you still writing?

Back to work!

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