Post by: Grant Rodiek
UPDATE: I’m leaving this up so others can read, but this program is no longer active.
One of the greatest challenges facing me and many others as designers is the lack of testing. Great ideas will take a game only so far. Consumers and publishers are first and foremost interested in GREAT GAMES, not great ideas. There are some outstanding programs to help designers with this.
UnPub brings designers together for a day of honest testing and feedback. Alas, it’s on the east coast and I’m here in California. Board Game Designers Guild of Utah does this with great frequency, but is in Utah. Protospiel is the grand daddy, but I have a hard time spending vacation time and money for 4 days of testing. It’s what I want, but not necessarily what my finances and life want.
I was walking to the bus last night and thinking about how I want more feedback on Empire, but it recently cost me $120 to send 2 copies to 2 people. I thought about how I wanted to play the 6 PNPs in my inbox, but didn’t really have the time or components to build and play them. Then, I realized that it’s quite simple to do this remotely. Why not borrow from UnPub and Netflix and the United States Postal Service to deliver the prototyping event directly to one’s home?
Today, here, I’d like to get everyone involved! Let’s create a long-distance relationship built upon dice rolling and clever card play. Let’s become… Prototyping Pen Pals (this name is awful, but I loved the alliteration, which I should note is the trap of bad writers).
Here’s how it works:
- telling me you want to participate
- Tell me how many games you want to provide
- Provide me the shipping address (I’ll keep all of this private)
Once I have enough people…really, 2 for starters (me and you!), we’ll ship each other a prototype. We will then play this prototype a few times, provide feedback, input, suggestions, and more. Then, I’ll give you an address and you’ll pass the prototype along. Over time you’ll gain outstanding blind test feedback from enthusiastic people and it’ll only cost you one game and the cost to ship it to the next one on the list.
The games you can submit to this will have a few simple qualifiers. Firstly, make sure the game works. The game needs to be in at least an alpha state, perhaps even a beta state. The goal of this program is not to tell you the wheels fell off your car, but to identify the tiny, less obvious problems that keep a good game from being a great game. Please test a little before you send this to your peers!
Secondly, please do the bare minimum to build a prototype with essential pieces. If you have cards, put them in penny sleeves with common magic cards so we can shuffle them. Or use index cards or something we can shuffle. Please use labels, not handwriting, so that it’s possible to play. I recommend sites like The Game Crafter, Superior POD, ArtsCow, or DriveThruCards, but that isn’t required. We know you’re on a budget. But, at the very least, make it better than flimsy paper.
Playtesters will play your game at least twice and will fill out, at minimum, a simple survey with information on the game. But, ideally you receive pages of notes on your rules, game play, and more.
That’s it! I intend to do all the paperwork for this, which includes keeping track of members, identifying the next recipient in line, and even gathering feedback if desired.
Let’s do this! and we’ll get going!