Is your next playtest scheduled?

Jessica Berlin Playtesting 3 Comments

When is your next playtest scheduled? Is it on the calendar? Is it firm? Nothing’s going to change it? You’re going to get your game ready and actually do the playtest, right? Have you ever had a playtest on your calendar, maybe at a local convention, an Unpub Mini or Protospiel event, or just a meetup with other game designers or your local board gaming group, but then when that date actually came around you didn’t really think your game was ready to be playtested, so you decided not to go, or maybe you went, but didn’t bring your game out? You figured it could wait until the next time, right? No big deal. But, what do you think you …

Getting gamers to play your prototype

Jessica Berlin Playtesting 2 Comments

Recently, we’ve struggled a little bit at our last couple of events to get people to play our prototype game and I’m sure other game designers have this problem also. If you take your game to a board game convention that isn’t specifically for playtesting prototypes, then it seems like gamers aren’t usually all that interested. They want to play published games. Or, they already have a group of people they’re playing with and a plan for their day, which doesn’t usually include playtesting prototypes. We need as many people as possible to play our game and give us feedback, so we can make sure that it plays well and we can work out all the bugs. And we can’t …

Searching for local game conventions

Jessica Berlin Conventions 1 Comment

Recently, I’ve been trying to figure out where else we can take our game to playtest it. We’re in San Diego, Calif., which means we’re pretty far away from most of the big gaming conventions in the U.S. (why are there so many in the eastern part of the country?!). We have a couple small local board gaming cons here in the San Diego area (we’ve been to both Kingdom-Con and EsCon) and there’s Strategicon three times a year in LA, which is great. But, I’ve been trying to cast a wider net and see what else is out there that we might be able to participate in and get some playtesting in for our game. While I was searching …

Fill in the blank: teaching your game to new players

Jessica Berlin Playtesting 0 Comments

You’ve signed up to playtest your game at an Unpub Mini or Protospiel event or local board game convention. Or, maybe you’re taking it to the First Exposure Playtest Hall at Gen Con. You have a limited time slot – maybe 60 or 90 minutes. You have players sit down to play your game. You start explaining the rules of the game and then 30 minutes later you realize your players still haven’t started playing yet. This is a problem. One of the hardest parts of running a playtest for your game is explaining the game in a way that is simple, easy to understand, and gets the basics across quickly. Your ultimate goal when you’re running a playtest is …

Gen Con tips for the first timer

Jessica Berlin Conventions 0 Comments

My two business partners, Dave and Ryan, attended Gen Con for the first time last year. Afterwards, Dave wrote the following blog post with his thoughts and reflections on his experiences. We’re posting it again here as game designers around the world are getting ready for Gen Con 2016. We won’t be attending this year, but we hope to go again soon. And if you are planning on going, we hope these tips help you out. As a new company in the board game industry, we don’t measure success by the number of games we publish in a year or by the revenue those games (would hypothetically) generate. Success to us means meeting important players in the industry, practicing our …

Finding playtesters beyond your dining room table

Jessica Berlin Playtesting 4 Comments

Playtesting is key to game design. You need people to play your game. If you can’t playtest it (like a million times), you’re never going to get anywhere with your game. But, sitting at home with your carefully crafted prototype waiting for playtesters to come to you isn’t going to work. You’re going to have to get out there. Go forth and find playtesters! But, where do you start? For our games, we started at our own dining room table, but then soon learned we needed to venture out past that. Where to find playtesters: Yourself/significant other: When you’re very early in the design process, you’ve just come up with this game and it’s a very rough handwritten prototype, you …

How one conversation at a local game convention saved us from Kickstarter hell

Jessica Berlin Conventions 1 Comment

How do I maximize my presence at small local game conventions as a new game designer? Local conventions are such a great place to get your feet wet as a game designer before you invest in larger conventions like Gen Con or Origins. One of the greatest things we’ve discovered about attending local conventions is the connections you can make and things you can learn from other people in the board gaming industry. Get out there and talk to people. We’ve attended Strategicon in Los Angeles several times and the first time we went we had been planning to launch a Kickstarter for our first game that was in progress at the time. We ended up meeting and talking to …