Designer Tips

The Role of Playtesting in Game Design

Written by Matt Pavlovich

In his article about vanity, Alex mentioned the importance of playtesting and acquiring useful information from playtests. In this article, I’ll give some examples from the recent open playtest of the next edition of Dungeons and Dragons and how the principles applied there carry over to strategy game design. While the goals in designing a roleplaying game aren’t the same as for making a board or card game, some of the lessons learned in the D&D Next playtest are valuable ones for all sorts of game design.

Quality Control

First, well designed games can (nearly) be played right out of the box. One of the key lessons that the design team learned was that players have certain pre-conceived notions about how a game ought to operate. In a strategy game, these ideas might be based on the game’s theme, its genre, or even its designer. Players might expect a game about empire building to reward controlling a large amount of territory on the board, or a game with colorful cards to contain a set collection mechanic, or a game by Stefan Feld to involve a menu of available actions based on rolling dice.


Vanity and the Downfall of Aspiring Game Designers

Written by Alex Harkey

Analog game design has grown steadily, or at least has appeared to grow steadily in recent years. Emergent paths to publication via crowdfunding and print-on-demand sources have given rise to a growing interest in boardgame design. Still, we face some recurring questions from new game designers which may indicate a concern I’d like to address.

What if someone steals my game idea?
How long does it take to get my game published?
How can I get more people to support my game on Kickstarter?

Idea Theft

All of these questions are common and entirely reasonable from a newcomer to game design and inspire generally positive and helpful responses in game design forums but seeing a flurry of these questions that included “I”, “My” or “Me” recently sparked an idea for this article which I hope you’ll find useful in your worthwhile pursuit of publication.

Avoid the greatest downfall of an aspiring game designer: the Ego.