The Perils of Playtesting (and podcasts?)

Fair warning, this is not about the D&D Next Playtest.

It’s about my own work. I’m getting to that point, that magical point of transfer when a game has to stop being “mine” and start becoming… “someone else’s.” It’s difficult to really encapsulate that feeling easily. I’ve been a playtester before. I’ve done it formally and informally, even doing it in public (conventions and such) but always with other people’s work. I’ve written two games myself and one was written entirely for myself with no concern if anyone outside my circle of gamers even played it. The other I playtested, checked, worked on, tinkered with, re-wrote, re-wrote again, tested some more and finally finished.

But this time it’s different. This time it feels like I really want to make something I can put in the public eye, something that I actually hope someone else will play and actually enjoy — if even only once. When it comes to creative projects, I’m terrible at pulling the trigger anyway, but I want to do this right.

And I’m at that point now where I can start to put the game in other hands and get feedback. But I’m struggling with the question of how. I’m struggling with the question of, how much to hand over, how much to explain, how much to make it look like a “product” vs. a few pages from my MS Word file. In other words, I find that I’m floundering with the proper way to present a set of playtest materials — especially for a game where the mechanics and the identity of the game are tied up in narrative and diceless play. Any thoughts or suggestions from those wiser than I are appreciated.

I’m also self-aware enough to realize that maybe my play-testing paralysis is a manifestation of my worries about putting the game in other hands. I suppose I’m not self-aware enough to actually answer the question though… which is a bummer.

I like what I’m doing. I know that a lot of folks don’t like diceless games but my best experiences as a gamer have always come when there were no dice involved — and I know plenty of others who feel the same. I like where the game is going, I like thinking about it, I feel like it’s something I would actually enjoy running. So now I need it to be better. Again, any thoughts on this process would be like gold to me at this point.

Let me wrap this up with a note referencing back to my last post. The DC Geeks podcast I participated in is up. Check it out. I haven’t listened to it myself yet… but Jonah Knight is a great guy and worth the extra attention.

Thanks for reading and I’d love to hear your thoughts on play-testing in the comments.


2 responses

  1. In terms of presentation I definitely think you should make it look like a product, it evokes a certain tone/feel in those that will read/playtest it, like giving your game the respect it deserves…. hmm maybe I am not articulating my thoughts well, I think you want to make it look professional and it will come across to others that this game is serious business and should be treated as such, despite your worries about putting it into other peoples hands.

  2. […] The Perils of Playtesting (and podcasts?) […]

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