Thursday, December 19, 2013

Lessons Learnt On What To Ask On a Blind Play Tester Feedback Form

What did I learn about blind play testing questions from my recent blind playtest of my game Post Position?  Back in October I came up with a series of questions to help me to construct a blind play tester feedback form.  (Link to: What to Ask on a Blind Play Tester Feedback Form?)  The feedback forms are now back and I will give a quick run down over the questions that worked well and the one that did not.

Did you like the game, why or why not?
Here is a question that was not on the original list of questions to try.  The question was a standard question on the old UNPUB feedback forms.  I discovered for a blind play testing this question was wasted ink.  The problem with the question was that people are way too nice.  
No one ever said they disliked the game, even though some players found the game to be difficult and too long.  Plus answers were short on detail so it was not clear what they really liked or disliked about the game.
That said, the sort of questions that did provide useful details about the parts of the game play testers enjoyed and the parts of the game they disliked was when I asked the straight up “What was your favorite part of this game?” and “What was your least favorite part of this game? “  Players were liberated from trying to come up with a reason why they liked the game or disliked the game and just went straight to the details about the parts of the game that were good and bad.
What I discovered was the most important question was actually a group of questions that I will call the four essential questions.
What was your least favorite part of the game?
Name one improvement you would make to the game?
What strategies did not or did work for you in the game?
What was the hardest rule to learn and why?
These four essential questions not only highlighted which rule in the game was the hardest for players to learn, but they also provided illustrations on how that rule affected overall game play.  In form after form, when a player listed their least favorite part of the game they would look to find an improvement to fix that part.  When they talked about their game strategies you could observe how that mechanism made it harder for them to succeed.  And when they talk about the hardest rule to learn it almost always was the player least favorite part of the game.
The four essential questions combined gave me an insight into not only what rule gave the player a problem, but how that problem affected their gameplay and what sort of things I need to try to fix that problem.  
For example, short position selling in my game Post Position could be a player’s least favorite part of the game.  Then the player would suggest a change to the short position selling form as an improvement to the game.  When the player talks about game strategy they then talk about how short position selling was a bad strategy for them and that there were uncertain why a player would ever engage in short position sales.  Finally, when asked what was the hardest rule to learn the player listed short position selling.
What did I learn? I learned the player did not understand the purpose of short position selling and was therefore not able to execute the maneuver in the game.  This means I need to do a better job of not just explaining how to conduct a short position sale but also include a short explanation on why a player might want to engage in a short position sale so they have a little intuition when it should be used.
This is concrete feedback that I will use to improve the game.  No matter the issue with the game, the four essential questions produced similar feedback.  These are the questions I am convinced should be in ever blind game play testing feedback form.

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