59: Solo

59: Solo

How do you approach self-playtesting? In what part of the process do you play the game by yourself, and what are you looking for early on?



I do quite a bit of solo testing with new prototypes. I find this is a great way of catching big flaws before subjecting testers to them! Of course this isn’t as useful for some designs, especially those with more social or psychological player interaction. At this stage of the process, I am looking for a spark of excitement or tension in the system. If I can feel this in a solo game with only prototype components, then it often suggests the design is worth pursuing.

Phil Walker-Harding

I playtest solo at first for all my games. I test small parts, single mechanics, and then play as the max number of players and see what works and what doesn’t before I ask any one else to test it.

Adrienne Ezell

I usually don’t self-playtest, or just in my head when going to sleep.

Bruno Faidutti

For me the whole point of solo playtesting is in getting the game to a state where I am not embarrassed to show it to family and friends for the next round of playtesting. At this stage the biggest source of potential embarrassment is if the game is not fun to play – so that is really what I am looking for in the earliest stages of design.

Sam Illingworth

At this stage of the process, I am looking for a spark of excitement or tension in the system…it often suggests the design is worth pursuing. — Phil Walker-Harding

I solo test from the first moment I have an idea. My process involves making parts and moving them around, and I think that counts as playtesting because I’m making decisions and looking for the moments that are interesting or engaging or fun in the ideas. As the game evolves I typically stop solo testing because I have access to a community of other designers who all test each other’s alpha-stage projects and are very tolerant of trying bad ideas! If I didn’t have that, I’d solo test until the game felt like it was coming together and then table it with real humans (because wearing out your playtesters is a real concern — they are the most valuable and important resource you have as a designer!).

Jessey Wright

I generally don’t do a lot of solo self-playtesting once a game is playable by others, unless it’s for a solo mode or a co-op game. I do a lot of self-play in the early stages of design, when the game isn’t a fully playable prototype yet, but after that my self-play is usually limited towards testing some specific interaction rather than trying to create and entire game experience.

Isaac Shalev

Outside of playtesting a solo mode specifically, I am only playtesting alone at two points: Very early on to make sure everything at least barely functions or later if I need to make a big change later. I think the solo playtesting of a multiplayer game runs out of usefulness very quickly. I can mime through the actions, but it’s too much of a burden playing as two human players trying to win: it dulls the senses to the key moments of fun I am trying to discover, issues of balance or strategic potential.

James Naylor

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