How to make a Board Game: Testing Rules
The rules of a game give instructions on how to carry out specific tasks. They define, restrict, and educate. The mechanics of our games are regulated by game rules to ensure that they are compatible with the messages we wish to deliver to players. Sean and I will go through everything in further detail. The following is a minimally modified transcript of our Discord direct messages.
This guide is divided into four sections:
- Pointers for developing effective rules
- Putting your rules to the test
- In-progress rule(s) testing
Pointers for developing effective rules
Learning how to write effective rules comes down to mastering the art of education and communication. Empathy, in my opinion, is the most important tool for comprehending and utilizing that art form. When creating rules, you must have a thorough understanding of and empathy for the person in the circumstance you’re writing for. In other circumstances, you may want to elicit a specific emotion, preferably not one that is really bad, but one that propels that player ahead so that they may strategically exploit future possibilities that may arise in order to continue playing the game.
You don’t want to isolate the player to the point that the game becomes unplayable. Isolation and making a game tough are two very different things, which is why it’s critical to write clear rules to avoid misunderstanding during gameplay.
For example, “lose 50% of your action points this turn” and “Action points are reduced to half this turn” are operationally identical, but there is a significant difference in framing. The latter simply sounds more appealing.
Rules should be brief, unambiguous, and stated in a nonthreatening manner. It’s critical not to complicate rules that describe anything what you want the player to do. It’s critical not to make regulations overly ambiguous when they explain. When it comes to rules that limit, it’s critical to phrase them as neutrally as possible.
Putting your rules to the test
It all comes down to how others interpret the regulation.
This is why it’s critical to test with as many individuals as possible who are completely unfamiliar with the game. Granted, it’s also crucial to have repeat testers in order to ensure that the game rules flow perfectly. Much so, it’s even more important to play with fresh folks on a regular basis. The reason for this is that initial impressions are really important. That is a good rule if someone can read your rule and execute the action on the activity flawlessly. If it takes them longer, it might be due to a variety of factors.
- The game itself is extremely complicated, which has been known to happen in the past because certain games are purposefully constructed in this manner.
- The game is extremely complicated, which wasn’t the aim at all, and this is a broader issue.
- The printed rule and/or visual assistance are both in poor condition and should be updated.
There are three (if not more) stages of testing —
- Mechanical testing on a short-term basis. This sort of testing harkens back to the days of brainstorming and fine-tuning ideas, then testing each one separately depending on what has been written down.
- Testing in a private setting. This is where I will invite a select group of game testers to playtest my game if they have the time.
- Blind play testing are conducted in public. The majority of the rules have been hammered out and are appropriate for use during a prototype, whether in person or online using a simulator. This phase is intended to aid in the detection of discrepancies as well as the documentation of any unanticipated inquiries that players may have about any of the rules.
In-progress rule(s) testing
Let’s start with a basic concept like doing harm. The important thing to remember here is that we will almost always begin by designing something based on our own experiences, but once you’ve created the groundwork, you must begin to include other experiences.
We might first run into several problems during the private testing period. “Who is attacking the monsters?” and “how are they taking damage?”
We can tackle these problems with a “threat system,” in which each player has a “threat meter,” and the minion or boss attacks the person with the most threat. In a storytelling device, each participant could recount the narrative in turn.
It’s a way to settle battle situations using the threat mechanic. Your first rule priority was to make it simple to execute and easy to remember.
Developing and revising rules is a time-consuming task. I hope this guide will assist you in developing rules that are balanced, clear, and a lot of fun.