My daughter, Sloane, is now about three months old. She somehow sleeps through the whole night (naps are another story), smiles when I try to work her name into everyday songs (“Sloane sets the city on fire” has been a hit of late), and now rolls onto her back with ease.
But… I’m not ready for her to roll. Rolling means I cannot look away for a second when she is on the changing table. Rolling means she could easily pin herself against something in her crib ever-so-perfectly and begin to suffocate. I liked her better when I was the only one who could roll her over!
But… she’s going to roll. Soon she’ll crawl. And then she’ll walk. Before I know it, we’ll be finding a nice-but-not-too-nice car for her to drive after getting her license.
I feel the same way about Gamestormers. I like my little prototype. It’s good. I can control it. I can control who plays it.
But… it needs to keep rolling along. I need to send it off to playtesters. They need to tell me what sucks about my game. They need to tell me what doesn’t make sense. They need to tell me what takes too long. They need to let me know what doesn’t work.
And that’s good. I’ll roll with the punches and use their ideas to take the game to the next level.
Just like Sloane, my game needs to keep growing up, even if I’ve gotten comfortable with the stage it is in.
So, I’m entering the prototype phase with a sense of excitement and anticipation. If you are wondering what goes into playtesting, here’s what I’ve got for you:
- It’s a minimum viable product that still represents the end vision of the game – for me, this means stickers pasted on blank dice, a small print run of cards from DriveThruCards.com, some plastic counters as currency, and other “fake it ’til you make it” solutions to the game’s assets. It will, however, be enough for playtesters to get a feel for the game
- Data, data, data – I’m asking playtesters to share a variety of qualitative and quantitative data. For numbers, I’m collecting data on how long games take, how old/young players are, and 1-5 scale questions about balance, flow, etc. For qualitative data, I’m giving players a space to reflect on what worked and what didn’t after each playthrough. I’ll hopefully interview players as well to ask more specific questions.
- Target market AND a variety of gamers – I not only want to know if my target market likes the game (right now that is teachers and those interested in game design), but I also want to see if my audience is wide or narrow too. So, with that in mind, I’m reaching out primarily to those in teaching and in the gaming space, and hoping that they’ll play with a variety of casual and serious gamers, young and old gamers, and everyone in between. I will hopefully get some good understanding of who I can market the game towards after playtesting.
If you haven’t already, feel free to sign up to become a playtester! You can sign up at gamestormedu.com/gamestormers AND sign up for our newsletter and/or Facebook group.