Game Design Hour: How to Incorporate Play Test Feedback

Posted by on June 20, 2017
Untitled by Magdalena Roeseler

Untitled by Magdalena Roeseler

Once you’ve completed play test, you’ll have all sorts of suggestions and advice gathered from play testers. Some of it wil be helpful; some of it won’t.

However, how much of your play test feedback will actually improve your game?

In other words, play testers sometimes give the wrong advice. So how do you sort that out?

I recommend you do three main things with your feedback:

  1. Read through all the feedback for quick changes that make immediate sense. This will include typos, rule rewrites that improve clarity, numeric scores that were way out of whack in play, and other things that both a) can be fixed in 60 seconds or less, and b) leap out as obvious improvements. Importantly, you’re not just changing everything that’s quick to change; these are changes that feel right just by looking at them.
  2. However, often, a play tester will give you the wrong fix for the right problem. They’ll see something that confuses them and will give you a change that would make sense to them, not to the rest of the world. So next, read through all the feedback and look for trends. Where are people confused? What didn’t work the way you wanted it to? Ignore the specific solutions for now and instead think about the fundamental problems indicated by those solutions. Note those problems separately, and then think about the best way to solve them. One of the play testers may have recommended the best solution, but more often, you’ll need to build something different.
  3. Finally, read through all the feedback one more time to ensure you’ve addressed everything. Play tests often generate many individual pieces of feedback, and it’s easy to miss one or two. Importantly, you can address a piece of feedback by ignoring it. Sometimes, a play tester will give you a straight up bad suggestion. That’s okay. The important thing is to think seriously about every piece of feedback, and if it’s wrong, cross it out.

Usually, once you complete this process, you’ll find that you have a significantly different game than what you started out with. And you know what that means? You need another round of play tests.

How do you know when you’re done? I’ll be addressing that in another post.

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