I just had my first play testing session for Chip Shop and returned with lots of feedback. The three players helped me identify a lot of small problems with the game as well as a couple of larger issues that need some refining to make the game work better. None of them so big to break the game, but some important ideas to ponder. Depending on the decisions I make, they may change move the game in a slightly different direction.
I will revisit these individually in future posts, but for now I wanted to discuss the testing process more generally.
After fifteen years working in software development I am of course highly aware of the importance of the testing process and I was maybe naive to think that testing a board game would be any different.
I was amazed how many fundamental things I overlooked during my own run-throughs of the game and the same has of course happened in software projects I worked on. It often takes a new and un-involved eye to spot things that someone deeply involved with a project never will, some of which are surprisingly obvious and you wonder how you missed them in the first place.
The testing process is easier with software than other products. Software can be tested (largely) automatically, physical products require a constant cycle of production, testing and re-production. I am looking forward to testing the new wave of digital tabletop tools to see how they may be able to assist in the testing process, especially as my game is already created in that realm.