There were hundreds of people who submitted requests to playtest Numenera. Far more than we could take. We finally settled on about 160 or so groups. When you add that to the 600+ people who will be getting the playtest documents as part of their Kickstarter rewards (who can contribute feedback if they wish, but are not obligated to do so), that’s a lot of potential playtesters. Which is good and bad.
Before I get to that, it does mean that if you submitted your name for playtesting and didn’t get an email about it yesterday, I can’t use your help this time. Thank you for your interest, though. I really appreciate it.
If you did get the email, you’ll be hearing from me this week for further instructions, documents, and whatnot. The sheer number of playtesters is good for the game, but do keep in mind that it will limit any amount of personal attention an individual playtester will get to ask questions and whatnot. Feedback for the game will have to come through rather regimented channels (explained in the instructions) and no other way.
It also occurs to me that I forgot something in my recent post about designers and playtesting. There will inevitably be a request that there should be some kind of mailing list or forum so that playtesters can communicate with each other. This seems like a smart thing to do, but in fact it’s not. It taints feedback, as well-spoken or strong-willed forum posters convince other playtesters of their point of view. They then give feedback based not on their experience, but on the persuasiveness of others’ experiences. I have watched as this happened (I’ve been doing this for 25 years). So that won’t be happening.
But as a point of more general interest, I thought I would–in addition to thanking everyone who submitted–point out some of the more interesting things from the results of the playtest forms people filled out.
First of all, it was extremely international, which is awesome. Numenera will have playtesters in the UK, Canada, Brazil, Japan, Poland, Germany, and many other countries.
I also found the answers to the “what’s your favorite rpg?” question fascinating. Oh, to be sure, most of the answers were not that surprising: D&D, Pathfinder, Savage Worlds, various FATE games, World of Darkness. But there were some interesting and surprising outliers. More than one person listed Earthdawn. Multiple people answered the original Marvel Super Heroes game. Two people put Fading Suns. Lots of people put Call of Cthulhu (its appearance isn’t surprising, it’s the number of people that put it down that raised eyebrows). Someone put Kult.
It’s also interesting to see people who look at games very differently than I do. When asked to explain why their listed game was their favorite, submitters frequently listed qualities of the game that I never would have attributed to it. Games that I see as quite rigid being called “flexible.” Games that I see as very tactical being praised for the roleplaying opportunities. It’s a good reminder of how much the group brings to a game. A table of great roleplayers are going to get great roleplaying out of a game of Risk. A group of tacticians and rules lawyers are going to min-max Apples to Apples. It’s one more thing to be aware of as a designer with a game in playtesting, and a good reason to have a lot of different groups doing the testing.