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TIGSource ForumsDeveloperDesignIs it normal to feel sick at the thought of someone playtesting your game?
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BeauBo
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« on: November 20, 2020, 01:44:49 AM »

(There may be the occasional missing letters in this post sorry! My keyboard is reaching it's limit and I'll try replace any that go missing but I may have missed a few)

So my current project after about 2 weeks of work is about to reach my first playtest stage, which when I first planned out this project (since I wanted to playtest as early as I could with a reasonable user experience) I was really excited to playtest my game and learn from it, the game is pretty experimental so I'm expecting a lot of issues to arise obviously but I was still excited to learn from it and find out if my weird game is actually playable.

But as I started to plan out my playtesting schedule and began creating the levels for it, the thought of someone playing this game all of a sudden made me feel incredibly sick and terrified (even thinking about this now to type this out is making my hands shake lol). I'm not sure what it is about this playtest in particular that's making me act like this, because I've seen people play my games before (mostly game jam games) and even playtested a few larger projects with a few people before, but something about this project and this playtest in particular is making me feel really weird.

The only things different about this playtest are pretty minor things aside from that the mechanics are a bit unorthodox and weird, but I've had friends play game jam games with similarly weird mechanics and didn't feel a thing.

So I was wondering, is this a normal feeling from time to time when it comes to playtesting? Or is my nervousness rational somehow and I just haven't realized what I should be nervous about yet?
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JobLeonard
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« Reply #1 on: November 20, 2020, 02:12:22 AM »

Well, I don't know if "normal" and "weird" are useful terms to categorize what's happening here to begin with.

It's not uncommon to be scared of showing something deeply personal to others, usually because it makes us feel exposed and vulnerable. If the thought of showing this game to others does that to you, then maybe you put something deeply personal in the game somewhere. I suggest reflecting on this possible cause for a moment, and see if anything concrete comes to mind.

If so, you can try to reflect on what makes this game different and whether or not the fear that comes from this represents a real threat to you or not, and if so to which aspect.
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BeauBo
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« Reply #2 on: November 20, 2020, 04:35:38 AM »

Well, I don't know if "normal" and "weird" are useful terms to categorize what's happening here to begin with.

It's not uncommon to be scared of showing something deeply personal to others, usually because it makes us feel exposed and vulnerable. If the thought of showing this game to others does that to you, then maybe you put something deeply personal in the game somewhere. I suggest reflecting on this possible cause for a moment, and see if anything concrete comes to mind.

If so, you can try to reflect on what makes this game different and whether or not the fear that comes from this represents a real threat to you or not, and if so to which aspect.

Nothing really came to mind at first since it's a very mechanics heavy playtest without any of the narrative elements I was going to add it that I would expect to have more deeply personal elements, but when thinking about it more, you are probably right.

While I'm not really sure it's exposing anything threatening or vulnerable, it might be because the mechanics, more so than any other game I've made are very close to me in a weird, kinda personal way. It's the less dependent on pre-existing game conventions and ideas compared to any of my other games by a fair margin, which I guess makes it feel like if the whole idea falls apart it's representative of me and my ability to conceptualize ideas, rather than just my technical ability at actually putting the game together, which is something that feels more like a personal failing on my part and more reflective of me in general.

Reading that back I realize it sounds a little bit silly, and I don't think it's exactly what I'm feeling, but it's as good as I'm going to get, I've already spent like 15 minutes trying to word this already lol.

Anyway, thank you! I think knowing, at least in part why it makes me nervous helps me work with it a bit better? At the very least I feel less sick thinking about the idea now.
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JobLeonard
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« Reply #3 on: November 20, 2020, 04:40:08 AM »

Glad it helped a bit!  Hand Thumbs Up Left Smiley

And what you describe all sounds like very understandable trains of thought to me, even if some of the (for the lack of a better word) "emotional conclusions" that your mind draws are too judgemental of yourself.

Try to be kind to yourself - if this doesn't work it doesn't reflect badly on you as a designer, it just means it needs more polish and iterations.

What actually would reflect badly on a designer would be an inability to see when something isn't working, meaning a need for improvement. Often that is due to arrogance, right? And based on what you're sharing here you clearly don't have that problem Wink
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michaelplzno
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« Reply #4 on: November 21, 2020, 12:11:56 PM »

I have this sometimes, not so much feeling sick, but it does feel weird to get feedback sometimes. Most of the games I work on I put a lot of myself into even if they are pretty conventional things. I'm working on a pretty simple puzzle game but my reactions to play-testers is obviously emotional on a number of levels. I care a lot about making games so no matter what it gets personal.

I guess you could say I'm arrogant, I do think highly of myself, but really one of my big issues is not being condescending when I explain my games. I would put in a lot of text like "PRESS HERE YOU DAMN CAN OF BEANS!" if I were being honest with how I feel, but obviously that isn't really good. I think there might be some people who wouldn't mind that kind of instruction really, not sure what the audience age level for that would be. As in the "nasty boot camp" tutorial.

Just generally there is a lot of tension about being exposed to a new game system, and being the creator of that system. Its a strange relationship: as a game designer you are creating everything someone sees and experiences and can do for a period of time. That's a lot. It can be truly excruciating for me to watch people play my games when they *are* explicitly personal to me.

IDK what the answer to this is. In my puzzle game I had my sister explain that when the game board appeared she didn't realize that you needed to start, and she wanted something that says go. I was so angry, not even at her, or myself, just it upset me the miscommunication. Then when I made the instructions more explicit and added in more screens of "flavor text" trying to make the game explanation more fun, my mom explained that she just wanted to play the game.

But sometimes being the mediator of competing wills is the roll of a game designer: even when your own will as the designer is one of the forces that are competing.

Anyway, just wanted to tell you that you aren't alone in having strong feelings about people playing your games.
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Borek
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« Reply #5 on: December 02, 2020, 02:28:44 PM »

Think about it this way: you have invested ONLY two weeks of your time. Could be much worse.

Yes, I know, that doesn't address your main issue. Still, one has to look for small, positive things Wink Good luck!
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Silbereisen
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« Reply #6 on: December 08, 2020, 05:56:45 AM »

I may get defensive occasionally, but ultimately I'm grateful for any feedback and playtesting I can get. The true soul crushing experience is releasing something you put a lot of work into and no one giving a fuck.
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JobLeonard
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« Reply #7 on: December 08, 2020, 06:39:14 AM »

Yeah, unless the process of doing so is fulfilling on its own this (or any creative endeavor for that matter) will be soulcrushing whenever you finish something
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michaelplzno
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« Reply #8 on: December 09, 2020, 09:46:41 PM »

its easy to get a reaction from your art if you have a collaborative process:



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