Game testing

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Game testing

Post  karl_b on Sun 29 Mar 2015, 14:13

Hello all

We've been approached by a local game designer, Andy, to see whether we would be interested in helping him play-test a prototype of a game he is hoping to eventually publish.

I have, of course, said that we are interested in helping and have suggested that he register on the forum to introduce himself to us all, tell us about his game, arrange some play-testing and then provide feedback.

Andy - please post more details here and we can start organising a session. Our regular Tuesday nights would provide an excellent opportunity but extra sessions are possible too.
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Re: Game testing

Post  Aneurin on Sun 29 Mar 2015, 18:22

10th is Imperial assault... But any Tuesday after that I'm in!
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Re: Game testing

Post  SamVS on Sun 29 Mar 2015, 20:18

I'm up for it, would be really interested to see a game in prototype stages and chat to a designer. Looking forward to hearing more about it.
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Re: Game testing

Post  steveygee on Mon 30 Mar 2015, 10:48

Yeah, i'd be really interested in being involved with that.
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Re: Game testing

Post  Andy S on Mon 30 Mar 2015, 21:30

Hello, Sheffield Board Games Club!

My name is Andy.  Thank you for welcoming me onto your forum with this thread and for your willingness to help me playtest my game, The Path to Panic.

I’ll give a brief bio of myself and a background of how I got to where I am at on the game, and then hopefully we can arrange some sort of trial run!

I’m an American ex-pat who has been living in Sheffield for about 15 years.  Growing up in the US, I played board games a lot with my family and friends, but it hadn’t occurred to me until recently to try to invent a game myself.

It’s very generous of you to call me a “game designer”; I am an amateur designer, if I am one at all.  The Path to Panic is the first game I have created (the campaigns I devised for Hero Quest as a kid don’t count!) and I have no experience of board game publication.  That said, I am taking this seriously and I hope to eventually have a game which I can publish in some way.

The original ideas for The Path to Panic were not mine alone.  For the last couple of years, I have been regularly involved with the video game user group First Play Sheffield.  In the summer of 2013, FPS held an event during which we split into small teams and concocted a series of original board games.  The event was much more about socialising and the joy of creativity than the formulation of publishable board game, but I saw real potential in the game I created with Katie Fenn and Liam Jolly.  For the next year and a half, I expanded upon and refined the game we initially conceived, as well as constructing a story to add depth to the game’s original theme.

The game has occasionally been playtested during this time, but considering most of the playtesters were my family, whom I forced to play during visits to the US, much of the feedback I received could not be considered entirely unbiased!  The Path to Panic is a mildly complex game, with various rules and mechanics which might only come up in one out of every ten games or so.  I am fully aware that it needs a lot more testing to help me identify what needs tweaking or excising.  Ideally such testing would be pretty frequent and regular to help me iterate and revise quickly and often.

That is where you come in.  The game is still in a prototype stage, much of the artwork still only serves as a placeholder, and even the shape of the board will need to change slightly at some point to distance it from a Cluedo board.  But the core mechanics are all present and solid, with only some revision and polish to apply.  I just need some volunteers to help me spot where that is needed.

The Path to Panic is a largely cooperative game for 4 to 6 players.  Similarly to Betrayal at House on the Hill, a short time into the game, one of the players turns against the others, although it otherwise doesn’t have a lot in common with Betrayal (for better or worse).  There are 6 characters to choose from, each with their own unique statistics and abilities.  The game is heavily thematic, with extensive story text which correlates to specific events.  Players can read the text if they want that additional level of immersion, but it is entirely optional.  There is a lot of room for tactical decision making, but a fair bit of randomness as well.

If anyone has any questions about the game, please don’t hesitate to ask.  I will be keeping an eye on this thread to address any comments or queries.  Hopefully we will be able to arrange an initial playthrough sometime soon.  As you, the players, are doing me a favour by offering to test, I will try my best to accommodate your schedules.

Thanks again.

-Andy
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Re: Game testing

Post  paulyg on Mon 30 Mar 2015, 21:33

Sounds very interesting, Andy! I'd definitely be up for some playtesting.
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Re: Game testing

Post  Lizzy on Mon 30 Mar 2015, 21:51

Hi Andy! I know you from Fps, though I've not been for ages now. Anyway, I'm happy to help playtest!
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Re: Game testing

Post  Alex on Mon 30 Mar 2015, 23:23

Hi Andy!
Sounds interesting, definitely up for a bit of play testing. Count me in!
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Re: Game testing

Post  Kes on Tue 31 Mar 2015, 10:11

I'll play it
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Re: Game testing

Post  Andy S on Tue 31 Mar 2015, 10:51

Lizzy wrote:Hi Andy! I know you from Fps, though I've not been for ages now. Anyway, I'm happy to help playtest!

Hey, Lizzy!  Of course I remember you from FPS and the game of Tales of the Arabian Nights which we played about a year and a half ago!  Smile  I did wonder if there might be some membership crossover between the Sheffield Board Games Club and FPS; certainly I think there is no small overlap on the Venn diagram of board gamers and video gamers.

Thank you to everyone who has expressed an interest in my game.  Would people like me to initially bring it to one of your regular Tuesdays, or would you rather arrange a separate gathering?  If most of you prefer the former, just let me know which Tuesday best suits.

Thanks,
Andy
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Re: Game testing

Post  Kes on Tue 31 Mar 2015, 11:09

Not next Tuesday but the one after?
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Re: Game testing

Post  SamVS on Tue 31 Mar 2015, 12:24

How long do you think the game takes?

I might not make next Tuesday anyway, so Tuesday 14th would be good for me too. Or a separate meet-up. Just means more board gaming time Smile

PS: And what is FPS?
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Re: Game testing

Post  Lizzy on Tue 31 Mar 2015, 13:01

I can do either the 7th or 14th. Also happy to try and organise something outside Tuesdays.

FPS is First Play Sheffield. They're a group that meet to talk about video games on the third Thursday of the month. Myself, Gary, Laura, Caolan, Tom (Kitchin), Chad and Katie (they've only come to club once or twice so you might not remember them) are all involved with it.

Anyway, anyone interested in video games should go along! They meet upstairs at the Rutland Arms.
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Re: Game testing

Post  PaulC on Tue 31 Mar 2015, 13:12

Sounds like you've got a lot of offers, but if you need more I'd be more than happy to play test.
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Re: Game testing

Post  Andy S on Tue 31 Mar 2015, 13:37

The 14th sounds good to me.

Lizzy, thanks for the summary of First Play Sheffield - saves me having to do it!  The only thing I would add is that FPS does have a (quite outdated) website with an "about" section if anyone would like to know more.
firstplaysheffield.co.uk

That shameless plug out of the way, I'll address Sam's question about the length of the game:

Like most relatively complex thematic games, if no participant in a session has played the game before, The Path to Panic can take awhile, what with reading the rulebook in its entirety.  Other factors influencing play time include:
1. How many people are playing (fewer players = quicker game)
2. Whether players are interested in reading all the story text which accompanies events in the game
3. Players' playstyle (cautious, aggressive, etc)

The mechanics of the game itself will also play a part in how long it carries on for.  Without going into too much detail, there are 3 ways the game can end: 1. If the win condition is met; 2. If all players become Panicked; 3. If the round counter reaches 0.  The round counter is affected by die rolls, so it is (intentionally) difficult to predict how many rounds there will be.

For a first playthrough, when none of the players has played before, assuming there are six players and most of the story text is skipped, I would guess the game would probably last an hour and a half or so, including time taken to read the rulebook.  If players wish to read all of the story text, this will likely add half an hour to the play time.  If that sounds too long for one of the regular Tuesday sessions, I completely understand.

Thanks,
Andy
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Re: Game testing

Post  PaulC on Tue 31 Mar 2015, 14:04

Curlew and Crane wrote:

For a first playthrough, when none of the players has played before, assuming there are six players and most of the story text is skipped, I would guess the game would probably last an hour and a half or so, including time taken to read the rulebook.  If players wish to read all of the story text, this will likely add half an hour to the play time.  If that sounds too long for one of the regular Tuesday sessions, I completely understand.

Thanks,
Andy

After that build up I though you were going to tell us the game would last several hours. Smile
90 minutes isn't particularly long compared to some of the games we play.
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Re: Game testing

Post  Kes on Tue 31 Mar 2015, 14:10

Surely we wouldn't need to read the rule book because you'll be teaching us, right?
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Re: Game testing

Post  SamVS on Tue 31 Mar 2015, 14:14

I was going to suggest you post the rules on the forum, if they're ready, in this thread, or in a member's only area if you'd prefer (which at the moment is only the Affiliated Shops forums, but maybe the admins can sort something), or PM them to the interested members, so we know what's going on when we start. Plus we can all read the story text beforehand and get the full flavor.
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Re: Game testing

Post  paulyg on Tue 31 Mar 2015, 14:16

Kes wrote:Surely we wouldn't need to read the rule book because you'll be teaching us, right?
I guess it depends on whether the rulebook is part of the play testing (i.e. checking it's understandable without having to be taught by the game's designer)...
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Re: Game testing

Post  Kes on Tue 31 Mar 2015, 14:18

I would think that step comes later, rules might have to change. No point getting that to work if the rules themself need fixing
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Re: Game testing

Post  paulyg on Tue 31 Mar 2015, 15:18

Kes wrote:I would think that step comes later, rules might have to change. No point getting that to work if the rules themself need fixing
Yeah, I think you're probably right.
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Re: Game testing

Post  steveygee on Tue 31 Mar 2015, 15:22

Sounds about a perfect length for a Tuesday. In terms of the similarities between this and Betrayal, does the game have a series of different scenarios like that game, or is the difference in possible rules/mechanics in different games a product of the game mechanics themselves?
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Re: Game testing

Post  Lizzy on Tue 31 Mar 2015, 23:05

So are we doing this next Tuesday?
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Re: Game testing

Post  Aneurin on Wed 01 Apr 2015, 10:20

Lizzy wrote:So are we doing this next Tuesday?

by next do you mean the 14th? We were Imperial assaulting then weren't we? To make up for missing March we were playing 10th and 14th I recall?
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Re: Game testing

Post  Andy S on Wed 01 Apr 2015, 10:56

PaulG wrote:
Kes wrote:Surely we wouldn't need to read the rule book because you'll be teaching us, right?
I guess it depends on whether the rulebook is part of the play testing (i.e. checking it's understandable without having to be taught by the game's designer)...

I apologize if this is a duplicate post.  I thought I had already replied to this yesterday, but my post does not seem to be showing up in the thread now.

I did intend to test the rulebook itself as part of the playtest.  The rulebook for this iteration of the game (version 2.2) is fully written, formatted, and printed.  Part of what I wanted to test was whether the rulebook itself was clear, complete, not overly wordy, appealingly formatted, logically ordered, etc.

To be honest, I wasn't even expecting to play when I turned up with the game.  My plan was to stand back and watch, taking notes and only getting involved if players were confused about a rule or had any questions.  However, if people would prefer that I participate and teach the game, I can do that.  At some point, the game will need some objective playtesting during which I remain completely hands-off, but that could happen later.

I can also get a Google docs link set up so people can read the rulebook ahead of time if that's what they want to do.  I am happy to let people read the basic backstory text as well, although most of the story text is meant to be discovered during play.

I am perfectly happy to follow the general consensus regarding these matters.  Please could people let me know if they would prefer that I play the game alongside them and teach it to them, or if they would rather fend for themselves with only minimal guidance from myself.  And also, let me know if you think it would be useful to be able to read the rulebook ahead of time and I will set something up.

Thanks.

-Andy
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