On Sunday we met at the Old Star pub and quickly got down
to playtesting.There were only three for this first session,
but the ideas flowed as easily as the beer and several games
took further steps into their adolescence. Often small, gawky
and broken-voiced steps, but forward movement all the same.
Games playtested were: Ladders, Dig, Island, and Riposte.
Rob Harris' Design Notes
This meeting of Playtest was the perfect opportunity to try out two family
card games that I have been prototyping for the last couple of months.
The first one, Ladders (working title) is the most recent and unrefined.
It had only been tested once before. The following points came up during
* The difficulty in picking up the cards, which is necessary for gameplay.
Hopefully some of this will be solved with rounded corners.
*Whether to add a top and a bottom border to the playing area.
This would mean more cards, but would it make the game surface easier
to see and understand?
*Mark suggested perhaps players could have an extra piece, which would
allow them to block other players' moves.
*The gameplay could easily be extended to 5 players. There would be
minimal need for extra components, but perhaps it would be less fun with
more downtime and more randomness.
*Even though I had actively avoided it during development, because I
thought it would create more of a memory game dynamic, Mark suggested
having several types of cards. This would add variety and a much-needed
reveal and suspense to the gameplay.
*We discussed possible names for the game and established a favourite.
Overall the gameplay is fairly solid, but quite bland at the moment.
I have got plenty of new ideas to put together a new prototype and see if it
creates the fun that I am aiming for.
My second prototype was for a family card game called Dig (working title).
This game has been playtested several times by many different groups.
I have established that the gameplay works. This playtest was very useful
in identifying how to present the graphical approach so that it was colourful,
full of character and clear. I want the game to be language-independent and
it is the little graphical touches that can often point the players in the
correct direction. The gameplay still stands up well and the card art and
iconography seemed to work well with all of the playtesters. There was
enough positive feedback to follow this artistic direction and create a more
Mark Hypolite's Design Notes
At this first session we did a 3 player test of my family game Island (working
title) and I ran through a discussion session with Rob on Riposte (working title),
a 2 player duelling game.
As time has passed I have realised the value of discussion sessions on game
ideas. My initial tendency was, once I had the idea, to leap straight into the
prototype and playtesting. However, it is amazing how much a simple 1 hour
discussion, with an experienced gamer, can aid you to head off problems and
challenge your idea of the game before you invest time and make unnecessary
errors. It makes you ask questions like:
* Can you clearly articulate and explain the rules of the game?
* Is the person attracted by the theme of the game?
* Is he or she excited by the prospect of playing the game?
I think that it is a good idea to write and draw an outline of the game idea,
then discuss it with somebody before investing too many hours in making the
prototype. Among the many positive points that I got from my discussion with
Rob, he helped me to identify potential problems with the system that I had
devised for each players’ actions, leading me to revise it. So playtesting has
begun even before a single card has been printed!