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Active Design During Playtesting
This past weekend was PAX Prime here in Seattle. I was fortunate enough to be able to help Game Designers Clubhouse host a PlaytestNW event in the new Olive 8 tabletop space this year, and we had an amazing turnout. Over 800 gamers stopped by throughout the weekend to playtest over 20 indie game designs by local, and some not-so-local, game designers. Going into the show, I had no intention of playtesting a game; I had decided that Fishin’ Hole, my dexterity fishing game, was “done”. Then, on Sunday, an extra table opened up, and the game, quite literally, was changed.

The feedback I got was amazing, all stuff I hadn’t heard before, so I immediately started working on updating the game. Now all I had to do was get it done before Monday at 9pm, the deadline for the design contest I was entering. Some may call this rash change to the game so late in the process a mistake, and I certainly might be disqualified for having an “unfinished” design, but it was a risk I was wiling to take. What I did learn during the process was how to actively design during playtesting, something I think every designer should try whenever possible. Today I’ll cover some tips on how to be flexible with your design, even in the middle of a playtest. It’s not easy showing the inner workings of your process to players, but the payoff is worth it, so let’s get to it!

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