Friday, December 09, 2011

Should you tell the people playtesting your game what you're looking for (before you start playing)?

@drbunnyhops said (in my previous post) she was thinking about having some questions for people to consider while they play - but she wondered if that'd be too distracting.

I don't have enough experience with this to know for sure. The act of playtesting is almost always a sign that you're not sure how the game will play or if it works yet. It's pretty useful to admit that to everyone who's playing, right up front. Given that, it probably can't hurt to focus your playtesters' minds - perhaps by telling them about a couple of areas you’re interested in or that you think are weak

But there's another school of thought, which Ben Lehman articulated in his post: 'Playtesting: Stop

Decide what you need playtested. Think small. Start with the absolute bare minimum rules your game needs to achieve its goals. Identify the top 1-3 things you need tested. Ignore everything else. Create scenarios that will allow playtesters to focus and test these top priorities.  
Design your scenarios so what you’re testing isn’t obvious to the playtesters. Your scenario might be, “create a character” but what you’re specifically testing is “how long does it take”, “is stat allocation frustrating”, “does character creation give the GM enough information to design an adventure.” Don’t tell your playtesters what you are actually playtesting.  
Take caution that your scenario doesn’t influence your playtesters actions. Don’t ask leading questions or make leading statements. If you want to test “how long does this take”, in your scenario, don’t say “character creation is super fast”. Don’t influence!
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