Three Problems

When you play test a game you will most likely get feedback that points out “problems” with your game. This is good. It’s the whole point of the play test. I was thinking today that those problems can be sorted into three categories.

The first is the easiest. You agree that it’s a problem and immediately have an idea to fix it. Maybe it’s something you were already thinking about before the test and it solves this problem perfectly. That’s a nice feeling and you can easily make the next iteration.

The second is more of a struggle. You agree that it’s a problem and don’t know how to fix it. This happens a lot. It’s why it takes some time in between play tests to make a new iteration. Sometimes it’s so hard to solve, you shelve the design or give up on it completely. Sometimes it just requires some concentrated effort to work out a solution. This is great feedback to get, but can be tough to work through.

The third is the most dangerous. You disagree that it’s a problem. Only you can decide what you game is supposed to be. Maybe the player wants a different kind of game. Maybe they don’t understand your amazing vision. But be careful with this feedback. Don’t disagree with it on the spot. Take your notes and move on. But don’t disregard it. Maybe you’re right and it’s not a problem. But you could be wrong. Make sure you examine your reasons for disagreeing. Is it because it isn’t a problem? Or is it because you are being protective of some aspect of the game that isn’t really as good as you think?

Always try to reflect on why you think something is or isn’t a problem. It helps to have a design goal for your game to focus on and judge changes by. If your goal is to make a quick, easy to learn, card game, you can judge changes on how well they make it quicker, easier, and made of cards.

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