MemberMarch 24, 2022 at 7:46 am
Great question, Robert. As a therapist, I have a practice and I firmly believe that we’re never perfect, even when we’re so-called experts – we’re always practicing, always improving. So, even though I might have “mastered” the craft of designing a game, there are sooooo many facets to game design – so many hats! – that mastering the whole job is, perhaps, not realistic. It takes a village to raise a child, it takes a team to make a game.
Part of that team is playtesters and one thing we learned while making MIND MGMT was that we can’t rely on the same teams to test repeatedly on complex games. We need to remember that the FIRST play of a game is likely the most impactful. If someone can’t get past the first play, they won’t get to experience all of the goodness you have in store for them!
We experienced this testing MIND MGMT with Matt Leacock of Pandemic fame. He was playing the full version with everything in the now-soft locked SHiFT system in play, because that’s the way our playtest groups liked it – they had started playing from the beginning and kept asking for more and more challenges which we, as most designers can attest to, were more than happy to provide them with. The problem with this is that this lead to skill creep – our testers had mastered all of the previous levels of play and so they wanted more more more. That cumulative experience broke the brain of Matt Leacock, arguably one of the best game designers of the modern era. So it was back to the drawing board for us.
We had to figure out a way to keep all of the cool and awesome stuff we made while stripping the game down to it’s essentials for first time players.
We needed to make the game APPROACHABLE and not intimidating.