Here are my observations and highlights of Valve’s Approach to Playtest with evaluation of my playtests
- This was similar in process to John and Colleen’s Game Design and Play.
- Traditional Playtest Methodologies that I included were direct observation and verbal user suggestions.
- Playtesting goal for me was ‘Fun’ and ‘Experience’ and nothing else, as described in my prototyping purposes. This was the key here because while Valve proposes no bug testing, or no game balancing, this is intertwined with ‘fun’ and ‘experience’ because a bad rule or an imbalanced rule takes away from the fun and experience and adds to confusion in the gameplay. Hence this was the most important part of playtesting.
- There were indeed ancillary benefits with idea generation and adding to simplify the rules while still holding onto the criteria of the game experience.
After forming each rule set, they were refined and reduced for efficiency by prototyping with one or more of these four methods:
After writing down and printing the rule set, I used my prototype to play with myself as three players. The confusion for myself was very apparent with certain rules, and hence they had to be eliminated. These complications do not arise when I imagined them within the system. Hence this method was valuable.
- Snowball Effect
Adding one simple or small rule to the game seemed fine until a playtest was done. With each passing round of the game and that simple rule snowballed to become complicated further into the game. These rules had to be eliminated.
- Pitch Perfect
I tried an exercise of explaining my rules to my peers from the other design studio within 1-2 minutes. This was done for about two hours constantly. With each visitor that I made my pitch too, I realised the complications in understanding the rule set. Towards the last visitor who checked my game, the pitch became shorter, clearer and simpler and the user was able to easily understand the essence of the game.
- K.I.S.S. Principle
‘Keep It Simple Silly’ was a principle suggested by my studio Professor Morry Galonoy. This, in essence, reflects all the valuable inferences I obtained from the above three methods.