How to Build a Game #39 Play Tester Feedback

We went to an UnPub Mini event in November and played our games with a bunch of people. Part of when UnPub does is to have a pre-made feedback form. This is great because it is one less thing for the designers to worry about. We also have our own feedback form and when we got back home we compared our two forms and I thought it would be a good idea to share what we have discovered.

The UnPub form has a ratings section with seven different questions with numbers from 1 to 5 and one question of did you win or not. What I really like about this section is that at the end of the event you can flip through the stack of forms and gets a quick and general idea of how your game(s) were received. You can also pull out the reviews that were outliers compared to the rest of the crowd and dissect what it was about that one review that performed poorly.

Next is the comments section where players are asked in the end was predictable, would they play again/buy the game, what changes they would make and what was their favorite part. The predictability question is a great one. To me, this is a giant red flag for a game. If people answer this question with the yes, designers should really focus on the why potion of the comments section. Predictable ends can take players out of a game early and kill their interest. If the mechanics of the game produce players that know they can’t win, that is fine, but designers need to include ways to keep those players engaged with the game so that while the players might be out of the game, they can still feel like they have something to accomplish and they stay engaged. The two questions about playing again and buying are good questions but I wonder how much of that is influenced by the fact that people are sitting at the table with the designer as they fill out the form. What would you change and what was your favorite part are wonderful general questions that I think all designers should ask, but I think designers should be able to figure that out from watching their testers play the game. Players will make comments or ask questions during the game play itself and there is a lot of unfiltered information that can be attained just by watching and listening for comments.

Our form starts off with the what did you like and what would you change questions. We have four more questions and they are all yes or no questions.

Would you bring or play this game at your game night?

Would you intro this game to your non-gamer friends/family?

Do you think you could teach this game?

Would you like to be contacted when this game is launched on Kickstarter?

If I am honest, none of these questions are really the information we are looking for. For example, if you would bring this game to your game night, we have a good feeling that means that you would be willing to purchase the introduce it to your gamer friends. If you are willing to introduce this game to your non-gamer friends/family that means that you think this game has a low barrier to entry and that you feel like you could teach the game to your friends and family. If you don’t want to intro the game, we need to figure out why and make the adjustments if we want to sell this game to a larger market, if we are looking to do that with a particular game. If you feel like you can teach this game after one play, we are doing something right. Hopefully we have done our job and the testers like the game and they want to be contacted when the Kickstarter is live. Both the Unpub and our form ask for contact information if testers would like to provide it.

In conclusion, I think both forms have their strengths and weaknesses. I think the UnPub form is a great general form with the drawback being that testers are asked to answer questions “in front of” the designer that, in our experience, testers are sometimes reluctant to give honest feedback.  Our form goes about asking the same questions just in a different way. I think the weakness of our form is that we leave answers open to interpretation on our part. We don’t really ask the why on the form. However, as we play our games, we are asking testers questions as we go along and watching their reaction to different parts of the game so we have a good idea of the why before we even get to the form.

If you have made it this far, thank you for sticking around. If you have feedback regarding our feedback from…meta….please let us know as we would love to hear from you.

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If you have any comments or questions, leave a comment here or email Chris at c.renshall.tgik.games@gmail.com

If you have made it this far, would you like to go a little farther? We are thinking about starting a regular Google hangout with other designers. We can try to design a game together, we can talk about designers we are working on, you can ask us questions. We can make it whatever we want. What we really want to do is get to know the people that are willing to read all the way to the bottom of our posts. Please contact Chris on Twitter or send him an email and if we are able to get a minimal amount of interest, we can work on putting something together.

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