Testing times and thick skin

When you find or create something that you love and then expose it to the world, you need to be ready to have thick skin.

My prototype game, Dive, has been played and enjoyed by a lot of my friends back in Sheffield. My wife, Amy, especially loves it (although she may be a little biased).

I’m good friends with a gamer group called the Hairy Gamelords. They had a crack at an early iteration of a ballroom dancing game – a theme I’m confident none of them would tend to buy into – and so I knew they’d support me with testing anything!

The Hairy Gamelords enjoyed Dive and gave some helpful early feedback and encouragement. Dreams were sowed of producing the game and maybe even seeing a polished version our local games shop’s shelves…

However, this last week I attended my first board games conference (see earlier post) and met about 40 other gamers!

With trepidation and excitement (mostly excitement) I unpacked my game and shared it with small groups of people I didn’t know.

After explaining the rules, we had some great playthroughs. I’m pleased to say I haven’t had a bad playthrough of Dive yet, come to think of it. During games, I often wrote plenty of notes on questions, clarifications and nitpicks.

Writing notes and comments is a must.

It wasn’t too long before learned that I had to be quick to listen and slow to speak during feedback. Not only did I need to make sure I gave people freedom to question and critique, but I realised that other players would often come out with answers for themselves!

I decided that at the end of each game I would leave the players with pen and paper and ask them to fill it with thoughts, questions, critiques and ideas. This proved very helpful and there was a lot of crossover in feedback that confirmed my thoughts.

I’m currently on my trip back to Sheffield and am glad to return with a further developed game.

We came up with a significant improvement to make the game more balanced regarding storming ahead and catching up, various minor yet helpful tweaks, and plenty for me to chew over as we take steps to further improve the game.

I’ve tried my best to humbly listen to feedback and opening up the development process to strangers who are now new friends has been a very positive one.

It could have been very easy to have been too scared to let others in – either because of insecurity or mistrust – but I would have missed out on so much in the ways of growing Dive and might’ve personally lost out on meeting such lovely and supportive people.

If you’ve got a dream, don’t be afraid to share it with others!

Whether you want to basket weave the Statue of Liberty, start a cheese farm or be the MP for Upper Ramsbottom, don’t go it alone. Share it with somebody today!

You can even share ideas and dreams in the comments. I’d like to believe that I’d never laugh at another person’s dream. Although I’d find it tricky if it was about something Upper Ramsbottom.

Dream big!

4 thoughts on “Testing times and thick skin

  1. Thanks so much for sharing the game with us in France, and your thoughts here! I loved the game even though I only caught half of a playtest – can’t wait to back it on Kickstarter (or buy it from an established publisher, if you can go down that route!), because I think what you’ve done is brilliant 🙂

  2. Hi James, The Dice Tower did a video about top ten things for new games designers or something like that. One of the key tests is to send it out blind. It is easy to teach to folk yourself as it is your ‘baby’, but you can learn a lot from sending out a prototype with the rules to some gamers who haven’t played it to see if it makes sense.

    I only mention it, because I’d love to have a go at it 🙂

    1. Thanks for the comment, Wayne, I’ll have to look that video up! I’ve been really looking forward to doing a blind test, but need to finish my rulebook.

      And I’d love for you to try it! Sorry that we didn’t get chance in France!

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