This might be a bit obvious, but I believe it is worth stating “out loud.” Learn how to break your own games. Play testing is not only difficult to set up but it takes a long time. Save yourself a ton of time and learn how to break your game as many ways as your can before you put your game in front of play testers. Luckily for us, we have two of us designing our games and for some reason, we both have a talent for breaking our games even during the prototype building process. We both like to play extreme strategies when we first test our games and playing extreme strategies early in the process provides is with a really good guide for the range in which the game can perform the way we intended it to.
If you are in a situation where you have a game breaking strategy and you have a few different ways to fix it, you can leave it up to play testers as to what option they would prefer to fix it. If a tester is using a strategy that you know will break the game, all you have to do is wait until the breaking point arrives and present the different options to fix the issues. Use your testers for instant feedback as to what they think makes the most sense. Even if gamers don’t design games as a hobby, I think all gamers are designers waiting to happen, so use them by presenting the options you have thought up and let them discuss. This is a prime time to get broad feedback on the different options you have in mind and go from there.
At what point in the process do you start trying to break your games?
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 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.