Gathering Playtest Feedback without Conventions

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Before the Pandemic, nearly all of our player feedback was handled in-person. We went to conventions like Unpub, Metatopia, PAX Unplugged and the First Exposure Playtest Hall at Gencon to playtest games we were working on. Those conventions all came with their own feedback forms that players could fill out and of course someone from Rock Manor Games was also there observing and running the playtest. I enjoyed this process and thought it worked pretty well for us.

It’s been almost a year since we were able to playtest things in person and in order to prepare games for the future we still need to playtest. The past year we’ve participated in several online conventions – playtesting and demoing games online in Tabletop Simulator or the like, but the volume of plays just isn’t there. So what are we going to do? Delay all our games until conventions come back? I’ve been wrestling with these questions as I’ve been working on Maximum Apocalypse: Wasted Wilds and decided the best path forward was just to make the game/prototype as available as possible to the public. We posted a PNP online last week and have a Tabletop Simulator mod available as well.

The problem wasn’t in making this stuff available; we’ve regularly done Print and Plays and TTS mods. The problem was how are we going to collect feedback on these playtests? This lead me on a search for other forms (like the ones I’ve used in the past) and I stumbled onto quite a great little resource at:

The article above takes a more academic approach to designer feedback. TLDR, playtest feedback is important and tell you what Works, what needs Improvement, what New ideas can be explored, and what Questions do players have (WINQ). These are all fantastic things to collect data on as a game designer. Best of all the resource above includes links to a BUNCH of playtest and game feedback forms:

Some of them are a bit too Academic/Intense to the average playtester

Needless to say, I found the information on this site useful and permanently bookmarked it. Reading through what they do in the classroom and then having so many vastly different forms, really informed me how to structure our online playtest form for things moving forward. Helping me pick the feedback that I want to collect without making our form too academic for a player to fill out. If you’re interested in game design, I highly recommend you take a look. Maybe I’ll even print out our own form when we go to conventions again in the future.

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