This week we did play testing with a close to final product. We expected to make some minor tweaks to improve player experience. The two groups who play tested gave great advice and seemed to have fun in the process.
The first group had Professor Parks in it. He gave the most advice by volume. His most helpful advice came when he ran into a situation that we never encountered, where a player was stuck in a corner and had no chance of winning. We had never had this happen, perhaps because we all played with some similar strategies. His input allowed us to get a new rule in that is really quite important. He also suggested for all that we get a reference card. I did not think we needed one, but it seems to be a recurring theme that people like reference cards and it helps the learning process. Part of my bias may be because developing what a player does each turn has been a primary task of mine.
The second group added some player experience tips. We were able to even play a second time and integrate the suggestions. One of those suggestions was changing the position of the starting player each round. While it did not seem to make a difference in giving players an even chance, it did make them feel like it was more even. Another suggestion that I think both groups had was altering the hazard cards. Making them equally bad for all players seemed to be a theme, as well as less severe cards. A few hazards were so severe that they made an instant negative player experience. The second round we played with the altered cards people were on edge right before a hazard and there was a relief or an enjoyable set back. The set backs were seen as a challenge by the players, not as a beating down.
There were a few other minor tweaks that we made but the ones that I have written about are the tweaks of importance. I had a great time play testing and the play testers all said they had a great time playing. I think (and hope) that their experiences are a good sign.