Design Journal 11: Playtesting

I’m still getting closer and closer to the first playtests of Parsec. As I work with that in mind I find that the problems that I realize I need to deal with increase exponentially. Its like whack-a-mole. However, I’m looking forward to some playtesting because I like improvising, and as I improvise fixes for rules that don’t work, I’ll probably come up with some good ideas.

I’m listening to the Sons of Kryos Episode 51 which deals with playtesting, and trying to absorb as much advice as I can in general from all kinds of sources.

To be really candid, I’m actually really nervous about this whole processes. Its one thing to write a game in your living room for months and think its ok, and quite another to subject yourself to comments from lots of other people, some of whom know you and some of whom don’t. Its nerve-wracking. I’m not a lover of criticism, though I like to think I take it…relatively well.

I’m partly insulated by the fact that I’m writing a game for someone else. I’m still writing a game that I would definitely play and enjoy, but it is ultimately a game that I am writing as a freelancer for someone else. So I can just claim the cool stuff and pass the weaker stuff off 🙂

I’m looking at the various things I want to accomplish through running playtests and, hopefully, having helpful friends run playtests with other friends in various parts of the country. I’ll also be having other friends just read through the text as it stands now and give me their feedback – both from gamers and non-gamers, since I want a wide variety of responses.

Here’s what I want to accomplish:
1. Get some cheap copy-and-content-editing by having friends read through the thing. A significant number of them are at least as good writers as I am, and many of them are also avid gamers.
2. Work through the character creation system and make sure that it isn’t broken – that what I’m thinking of is what comes across, and that the end result is a playable character that makes sense, has a story she’s embedded in, and so on.
3. Iron out the various conflict systems, especially physical conflict (read: Combat!) because in true RPG tradition it is the most complicated system of rules in the game, and will also be one that will have a lot of mileage put on it.
4. Get more ideas and suggestions in the area of setting and concrete details. “About a hundred years in the future” could include a hell of a lot of themes, technologies, societies and so on. I have my own ideas, and I’ve been reading a lot more in futurism (the tech kind, not the art kind), but I want other peoples’ ideas as well. (I’m also leaving a lot of setting material off to work out in more detail in supplements.)
5. Be provided with some examples to use throughout the text – currently they are lacking, and are definitely necessary. But I think that if I come up with all of the examples, then there might not be enough variety to help people better understand the system.

In conclusion: If you have any wisdom to share on playtesting, or want to read through the game and give feedback, or anything of the kind, please feel free to let me know. That would be awesome. Even if you can link me to a forum thread that’s really helpful (I’m trolling forums for this kind of thing already) that would be great.

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