In a previous post, I wrote about the value of body language. In this post, I would like you to try and focus on something more specific, your play testers eyes.
When you are in the early stages of prototyping and testing, where are players looking in terms of percentage? Are they looking at the cards, the board, other players…? What makes this information useful is the guide provided to you for what to focus on when it comes to your next prototype. When you get to a point where you are going to put some serious time and money into a prototype, knowing where to devote the majority of your effort and resources is useful information to have. That is not to say that the areas of your game are not important, but there are parts of your game that can be focused on at a later date if you can focus on more “visited” parts of your game.
Example: If your players are spending most of their time trying to work out what to do with their hand of cards while other players are taking their turn, spend the time and money to make your prototype cards as user-friendly as possible. Make hand management as smooth as you can with the feedback you have received. If you have an artist you work with, work out a deal to make some preliminary art work to make the cards look more attractive.
In our experience, play testers are really forgiving when it comes to the “look” of your game. So if you are thinking that you don’t want to leave the components behind for the sake of doing some card development, I think you will be ok.
When you are further along on the development process and you have some art work samples with you prototypes, take some notes about what players look at the most. What pieces of art do your players like the most and why do they like them. You can ask the players direct or you can try to figure out on your own what about certain pieces do the players like the most. We find that the combination of where players are looking and what they say is enough information to know what players like the most about your game boards, cards and components.
I will be the first to say, this is not always easy to do and I don’t think you really need to do this to have effective test sessions. However, it can be really useful information to have and it is the type of information that is unfiltered. Since it is unfiltered information and I make a hobby of people watching, I find that watching testers eyes to be worth the time.
If you have any comments or questions, leave a comment here or email Chris at firstname.lastname@example.org
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.