Play + Testing (November 15, 2019)
Last Saturday, my long-time RPG gamer group spent the day play testing a new, PvP scenario for JUST RUN. Turns out the scenario wasn't fully baked. (One might even say the oven wasn't turned on.) However, the day was still both fun and constructive. How?
Running a successful play test is one of the most challenging parts of any game design effort. Unless you're lucky enough to have paid testers on hand, you are relying on volunteers who may or may not have the patience for a game that's not finished. In fact, most players probably just want to spend a normal hour or two with a new game.
Instead, the game designer will throw them into a combination focus group, usability test, and brainstorming session that—to be perfectly honest—might not be any fun at all. I take that back. It can be a fun *creative* experience. But in the early stages, it certainly won't be a normal game playing session.
I have been extraordinarily lucky with the JUST RUN play testers. They have been diverse, invested, brilliant, and frank--in other words, perfect. In all my years doing creative marketing, I've never stumbled onto a set of people quite like this. They brought the energy. I helped by following a few simple rules:
Manage everyone's expectations
Have the tests mapped out ahead of time
Limit your variables in each test
Watch and listen very carefully
Ask a lot of questions
Don't make any promises
And don't take it personally
Thanks to my play testers, there's still life in the JUST RUN PvP scenario. I just need to tweak the recipe a bit.