Playtesting: National Game Development Month 2012

roach coach
There’s a game in there somewhere.

This is the third of a series of four posts covering my participation in this year’s National Game Development Month. Each post dealing with one of the four rules for NaGaDeMon: Creation, Completion, Playtesting, and Discussion.

I had such a great start to this project. It’s very disappointing that I haven’t been able to continue working on my silly dice game, but we’ve had a family emergency and things are extremely difficult right now. I didn’t want to drop this entirely, though. I feel like I at least completed the project in the spirit of the month long event. I might as well finish my series.

I did have the opportunity to do some playtesting of Roach Coach. The game was received well and we had a fun time playing it. I met with a group of other creative folks that were interested in completing a project in November. I’m not sure how they are doing because of the aforementioned family emergency.

I learned three important lessons from that session:

  • Giving roaches to other players is fun. In fact, it is the essential element of fun in this game. Sure it’s great to earn income toward victory, but it’s even better to toss roach markers at an opponent that is closer to victory. It’s also better to be able to spread out your insect love between a few players.
  • Most people do not like doing math. I had to revise a number of the cards so that income was no longer actual dollars. Income in now determined by tacos. It is a taco economy. You roll well with your customers, then you earn tacos and move forward on the taco track. You get caught with illegal ingredients or a bunch of roaches when the health inspector comes, then you move back on the taco track. The idea of a food based economy is not new to me. My friends and I use to gamble at Table Mountain Casino in order to earn enough money for their early bird ham and eggs breakfast. The ham was something like three dollars back then and we used to describe our wins or losses in terms of ham. “I’m four hams up!” “I’m down two hams.” Ah youth.
  • I don’t want too much feedback. This was a strange revelation. I want a playtester to tell me what doesn’t work well, but I do not want them to try and come up with a solution. This moves the process into a kind of collaboration that flicks dirt onto my creative windshield. Will I consider the ideas? Absolutely! Are some of them awesome? Absolutely! Did I take the taco tracker idea and run with it? You betcha! I hope this makes sense to someone other than myself. I want to know what needs to be fixed, but I don’t want you to tell me how to fix it.

Playtesting continues on Roach Coach and if I promised you a .pdf, you will get it eventually. Sorry about the delay. Things are rough here, and games are a big part of my life, but family comes first. I will try and get the final post in the series up before the end of the week.

1 thought on “Playtesting: National Game Development Month 2012”

  1. I totally understand your point about not wanting feedback for fear of it becoming like a collaboration. But at the same time, you have to acknowledge that playtesters are creative people with a lot of game experience, so of course they’re going to have ideas on how to fix it.

    I think you’ll be fine as long as you hold onto the idea that it is *your* game, no matter what other suggestions you decide to reject or accept.

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