brutal play testing with Dave Chalker

Dave Chalker is a brutal play tester. He will mercilessly cut the still-beating heart out of your game and feed it to you as, in shock, you weep tears of remorse over months and years of wasted effort. You will question your worth as a designer until you grasp hold of your pain and grow from it. And you will thank him for it.

I did.

Back in June of 2013, at the Roundhouse Retreat, I play tested Roma with Dave and another brilliant minimalist designer and fellow brutal play tester, Kory Heath. I really didn’t know what I was in for at the time, but I’ll be forever grateful for that shock to the system; my abilities as a designer have grown steadily with this game’s progress, and we are both greatly improved.

The details of that cathartic play test and the epiphany that followed are a story for another blog post. For now, listen to Dave and his co-panelist John Stavropoulos at Metatopia 2013, where Dave uses that Roma (called Rhome at the time) play test as an example of his method of brutal play testing.

“Your best friend, your spouse, and your grandma all say they like your game, so it must be ready to be published, right? WRONG. The most refined games come from an extended playtesting process, where your decisions are challenged and every mechanic is put through the burning forge of brutal playtesting. Learn how to examine games of your own design and others for ways to streamline, balance, and otherwise turn into a better game by “killing your darlings” and learning what red flags to watch out for in the playtesting process that could sink you after publication.”

See the post at Genesis of Legend here: Episode 47 – Playtesting Brutally

Or stream it directly here:

 RPG Design PanelCast, Episode 47: Playtesting Brutally

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