Designing a board game requires a lot of creativity, but also some discipline when it comes to the most vital part of the process: playtesting your game. The Fail Faster Playtesting Journal will guide you throughout your playtesting process to ensure that you’re capturing the right information as well as guide you towards improving your design.
At its core, the Fail Faster Playtesting Journal contains pages to keep track of 36 playtests. The journal is most useful if you dedicate one journal to each game that you are designing, but you could easily use one journal to keep track of all the different games you’re designing. Each section has been tested and planned for optimal use of space.
Here's an overview of what's included in this journal. Scroll down lower to see more details about each section of the journal.
Here's a video of Jamey Stegmaier going into more detail about his thoughts on the Fail Faster Playtesting Journal.
This journal got a lot better as we achieved certain thresholds! We earned badges throughout the campaign and once we earned enough badges for a stretch goal to be unlocked, we held a poll. The poll asked if you preferred to redeem the badges for the first stretch goal, or if you preferred to wait and save up the badges for a different stretch goal. Majority prevailed! With 12 badges left at the end of the campaign, there was one more vote, but we can't edit the campaign once it's closed, so here's a snapshot of where we ended up:
VIDEO EXPLAINING STRETCH GOALS
Here's a video explaining how the Stretch Goals work, in case this didn't make any sense!
Whenever we made it to the end of any row in the Stretch Goal chart, we also unlocked a RED TROPHY! Red trophies unlocked more content for the journal and didn't cost any extra badges! Here's what we unlocked:
1) Contract Checklist: A checklist of everything you need to consider before signing that contract!
2) Blind Playtest Feedback form: A form to provide your blind playtesters to ensure you get the feedback you need. This will only be included in the PDF since it doesn't really make sense to include in the final copy of the journal. As a reminder, everyone who backs this campaign for at least 1 physical copy of the journal will also receive the PDF!
Fail Faster is the culmination of ideas from Jay Cormier who co-designed all of the games pictured above, with many more signed to come out soon. He has detailed his journey on how he got his games published along with Sen-Foong Lim, at www.bamboozlebrothers.com. He teaches Game Theory at the Vancouver Film School and has done so for the last 6 years.
It's possible that content and images shown below could change by the time we go to print. Mostly this will be due to listening to feedback from you, the backers!
Playtesters and Scores: The top left corner includes spaces for name, version, number of tests and date. Then an area to write your playtesters name - including a box to indicate if it's their first time playing the game and columns to keep track of various scores, or even times when players achieve specific thresholds.
Times: Here’s where you can keep track of the time it took to explain rules and play your game and if you were able to play to the end or not.
Rules Changes and Focus: Do you have any rules changes since your last playtest that you don’t want to forget? Write them here before you start your playtest. Then keep track of any observations you have as well as any questions your playtesters asked you while playing.
Winning Strategies: Keep track of the winning player’s strategy up here to see, over time, if there are dominant strategies. There's a nice reminder here to take a photo of the end game state. This can be useful when analyzing afterwards.
Feedback: Feedback from your playtesters is written here. The questions that are asked vary on each page, and start by assuming you’re in the Alpha phase of game design and by the end of the journal, the questions are more geared towards games in the Gamma phase.
Additional tools and resources
The journal is full of other interesting tools and resources that will help make you a better game designer.
On the fold out cover, ten behaviours have been identified that, when followed, will make you a better playtester of your game and ultimately, a better designer.
When you have accomplished one of these behaviours in your playtest, shade in the next box. When you reach a badge on any of the rows, flip open the fold-out cover and colour in that badge on the front.
If we unlock the sticker stretch goal, then the journal will come with stickers of each badge which will really pop when placed on the cover!
You can also keep track of your overall designer level by totaling up the number of badges you’ve earned from previous journals. Write in the lifetime sum total in the top of your journal. If we reach our sticker stretch goal, then there will be stickers available to indicate your level as a designer for all to see.
Game Idea Generator
The inside of the fold-out front cover contains a Game Idea Generator. Simply roll 2 dice three times to get a random Mechanic, Theme and even a Constraint. Don’t have 2 dice lying around? No worries because that’s also built into the journal.
Simply flip the journal open to any page and the bottom left corner will have a random 2d6 result. This can be handy while playtesting your game if you forgot dice. Twenty-six of the middle pages also have a random letter tile on it for those games that require a random letter.
How to Get Your Game Published (in PDF version only)
There's a guide showing you how to get your game published.
The back cover will have a page full of information from manufacturer, Panda that will help you as a designer.
The inside back cover has a scoreboard in case you need one during your playtest. It folds out too, so you can still use the rest of your journal! It also has a metric ruler along the side.
The front page has an area for you to write your own SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-Bound), and if you work towards those goals, they too can earn you badges that you can put on the cover.
The bottom of each playtesting page contains a different ProTip that comes from over 10 years of designing board games.
Game Crafter Coupon
Every Kickstarter version of the physical journal comes with a $5 coupon for The Game Crafter - a great source for components as well as print-on-demand games. The retail version and any digital version will not come with this coupon.
Watch Jay Cormier get interviewed by Edo about Playtesting as well as the Fail Faster Playtesting Journal.
Here's an interview by Inquisitive Meeple where Jay Cormier dishes out a lot of facts and history about the Fail Faster Playtesting Journal
Photos: Dylan Hamm, www.dylanhammphoto.com
Video: Nathan Watkins, nathanwatkinsfilm.com
Web Design: Jason Gorber, www.bearshark.com
Graphic Design of Journal: David Mak, www.honeycombgraphics.ca
Social Media Consultant: Gerald King III, ko-fi.com/mrking
Risks and challenges
While I've had numerous games on Kickstarter (Belfort, Tortuga, This Town Ain't Big Enough for the 2-4 of Us, But Wait There's More, In the Hall of the Mountain King), I've never had to run one myself. I've learned a lot from my experiences and from others in the business. The risk could be that I missed something or forgot about something, but that should really only affect me and not you. There could be delays to final delivery based on things I'm not aware of, but I tried to even buffer the delivery date with some extra time to allow for that.
So other than that, I'm hoping there are minimal risks!
- (23 days)