One of the biggest challenges with play testing is getting enough people together to have a play test. Knowing this, designers should look to ways to make regular gaming session as useful as possible. This doesn’t mean you being your game and hope to play. What I am after is the idea to watch other players play published games and use their reactions as a benchmark for the times you are testing your game. Listen to the way players react to parts of the game, listen to what they really like about the game and what they don’t like about the game. Especially when the games being played have similar mechanics to the game you are designing. Use this time to observe what really works for that set of mechanics. What is about those mechanics that you can improve? What about those mechanics of what players really enjoy the most? The useful information is there, you just have to see it, hear it, and use it to your advantage.
Are there any games that you have played recently that is similar to a game you are working on? Do you think you could use this technique to help “test” your our games?
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If you have made it this far, would you like to go a little farther? We have a regular Google hangout with other designers. We talk about the games we are working on and share helpful tips and ideas on how to make designing our game easier. We meetup every other Saturday. Either comment here or tweet me or email me and I will add you to the list and send you a link to the Google hangout.